Federal Register Vol. 80, No.216,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 216 (November 9, 2015)

Page Range69111-69561
FR Document

80_FR_216
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 69559 - Notice of Intention To Enter Into the Trans- Pacific Partnership AgreementPDF
80 FR 69251 - Sunshine Act Meeting of the National Museum and Library Services BoardPDF
80 FR 69179 - Great Lakes Pilotage Rates-2016 Annual Review and Changes to MethodologyPDF
80 FR 69258 - In the Matter of Friendly Energy Exploration, Public Media Works, Inc., VRDT Corp., and Zoro Mining Corp., File No. 500-1; Order of Suspension of TradingPDF
80 FR 69247 - Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Management of Osage Nation Oil and Gas Resources, Osage County, OklahomaPDF
80 FR 69219 - Proposed CERCLA Administrative Cost Recovery Settlement; RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC, RBF Frozen Desserts Site, West Hartford, ConnecticutPDF
80 FR 69201 - Notice of Intent To Prepare an Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Santa Cruz River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study, Pinal County, ArizonaPDF
80 FR 69221 - Notice of a Public Meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory CouncilPDF
80 FR 69271 - Membership in the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group Aviation Rulemaking CommitteePDF
80 FR 69220 - Release of Draft Integrated Review Plan for the Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of SulfurPDF
80 FR 69220 - Underground Injection Control Program; Hazardous Waste Injection Restrictions; Petition for Exemption Reissuance-Class I Hazardous Waste Injection; DuPont Pontchartrain, LaPlace, LouisianaPDF
80 FR 69235 - Certificate of Alternative Compliance for the M/V LEIGH ANN MORAN, 1261986PDF
80 FR 69248 - Notice of Public Meeting: Resource Advisory Council (RAC) to the Boise DistrictPDF
80 FR 69242 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Application To File Declaration of Intention, Form N-300; Revision of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
80 FR 69268 - Virginia Disaster #VA-00058PDF
80 FR 69269 - Washington Disaster Number WA-00060PDF
80 FR 69245 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Disaster ManagementPDF
80 FR 69193 - Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative ReviewsPDF
80 FR 69193 - Approval of Subzone Status; Springsteen Logistics, LLC; Rock Hill and Fort Lawn, South CarolinaPDF
80 FR 69193 - Foreign-Trade Zone 76-Bridgeport, Connecticut; Application for Subzone; MannKind Corporation; Danbury, ConnecticutPDF
80 FR 69245 - Fair Housing Initiatives Program-Fiscal Year 2016-Solicitation of CommentPDF
80 FR 69226 - A Vapor Containment Performance Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
80 FR 69252 - Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 69253 - Proposal Review Panel for Computing and Communication Foundation; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 69227 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69228 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69269 - Advisory Committee on Private International Law: Public Meeting on Online Dispute ResolutionPDF
80 FR 69270 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Affidavit of Identifying WitnessPDF
80 FR 69179 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2016-2018 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass SpecificationsPDF
80 FR 69188 - Notice of Request for Extension of Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
80 FR 69275 - U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Board of Visitors MeetingPDF
80 FR 69111 - Guidance for Reporting and Use of Information Concerning Recipient Integrity and Performance; CorrectionsPDF
80 FR 69231 - Findings of Research Misconduct; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 69203 - Application To Export Electric Energy; EDF Trading North America, LLCPDF
80 FR 69202 - ConocoPhillips Alaska Natural Gas Corporation; Application for Blanket Authorization To Export Liquefied Natural Gas to Non-Free Trade Agreement Nations on a Short-Term BasisPDF
80 FR 69230 - Findings of Research MisconductPDF
80 FR 69230 - National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Revised Amount of the Average Cost of a Health Insurance PolicyPDF
80 FR 69200 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69253 - Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Notice of Computer Matching Program (Railroad Retirement Board and Social Security Administration, Match Number 1007)PDF
80 FR 69166 - National Security Education Program (NSEP) and NSEP Service AgreementPDF
80 FR 69199 - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); MeetingPDF
80 FR 69248 - WCO Sixth Review Cycle: Request for Proposals To Amend the International Harmonized System for Implementation in 2022PDF
80 FR 69209 - FirstLight Hydro Generation Company; Notice of Availability of Environmental AssessmentPDF
80 FR 69213 - Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and ProtestsPDF
80 FR 69214 - South Jersey Energy IS010, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 69211 - South Jersey Energy IS09, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 69204 - Big Sandy Peaker Plant, LLC, Wolf Hills Energy, LLC, Crete Energy Venture, LLC, Lincoln Generating Facility, LLC, Rolling Hills Generating, L.L.C. v. PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.; Notice of ComplaintPDF
80 FR 69217 - East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. v. Louisville Gas and Electric Company/Kentucky Utilities Company; Notice of ComplaintPDF
80 FR 69210 - CPV Shore, LLC; Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective DatePDF
80 FR 69213 - Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission; Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel; Maine Office of the Public Advocate; George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General; New Hampshire Office of Consumer Advocate; Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; Vermont Department of Public Service; Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company; Associated Industries of Massachusetts; The Energy Consortium; Power Options, Inc.; and the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Company; Central Maine Power Company; New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid; New Hampshire Transmission LLC d/b/a NextEra; NSTAR Electric and Gas Corporation; Northeast Utilities Service Company; The United Illuminating Company; Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company; Vermont Transco, LLC; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 69204 - Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Prior Notice Request Under Blanket AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 69212 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 69205 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 69188 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69233 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69270 - Commission MeetingPDF
80 FR 69138 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Process for Divestiture of Excess Quota Shares in the Individual Fishing Quota FisheryPDF
80 FR 69272 - Addressing Rail Head Surface Conditions Identified During the Internal Rail Inspection ProcessPDF
80 FR 69223 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 69225 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 69250 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Unemployment Insurance Title XII Advances and Voluntary Repayment ProcessPDF
80 FR 69246 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for CommentsPDF
80 FR 69256 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Designation of a Longer Period for Commission Action on Proposed Rule Change To Establish a Retail Order Process Known as “RTFY”PDF
80 FR 69256 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; International Securities Exchange; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Comply With the Requirements of Rule 1004 of Regulation SCIPDF
80 FR 69266 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ISE Gemini, LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Comply With the Requirements of Rule 1004 of Regulation SCIPDF
80 FR 69261 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ICE Clear Credit LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Revise the ICC Risk Management Framework and ICC Treasury Operations Policies and Procedures, and Adopt the ICC Risk Management Model Description DocumentPDF
80 FR 69264 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; EDGA Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rules 3.22, Proxy Voting, and 13.3, Forwarding of Proxy and Other Issuer MaterialsPDF
80 FR 69259 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; EDGX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rules 3.22, Proxy Voting, and 13.3, Forwarding of Proxy and Other Issuer MaterialsPDF
80 FR 69254 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69215 - Combined Notice of Filings-1PDF
80 FR 69205 - Combined Notice of Filings-2PDF
80 FR 69210 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 69218 - Records Governing Off-the-Record Communications; Public NoticePDF
80 FR 69219 - Grafton Hydro, LLC; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 69209 - Mahoning Hydropower, LLC; Notice of Surrender of Preliminary PermitPDF
80 FR 69209 - City of Vernon, California; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 69212 - Combined Notice of Filings #3PDF
80 FR 69216 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 69223 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
80 FR 69251 - Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
80 FR 69229 - Food Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 69232 - National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 69231 - National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 69232 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 69232 - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health And Human Development; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 69241 - Agency Information Collection Activities: CISOMB Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey (Ombudsman Form DHS-NEW)PDF
80 FR 69252 - Notice of Permit Applications Received Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
80 FR 69252 - Notice of Permit Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
80 FR 69161 - Notice of Intent To Establish a Negotiated Rulemaking CommitteePDF
80 FR 69244 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for the Return of Original Documents, Form G-884; Revision of an Existing Information Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69243 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Application To Replace Permanent Resident Card, Form I-90; Revision of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
80 FR 69236 - South Carolina; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of an Emergency DeclarationPDF
80 FR 69236 - South Carolina; Amendment No. 11 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
80 FR 69236 - South Carolina; Amendment No. 10 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
80 FR 69237 - South Carolina; Amendment No. 9 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
80 FR 69276 - Advisory Group to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; Renewal of CharterPDF
80 FR 69234 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 69222 - Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of MainePDF
80 FR 69222 - Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of AlabamaPDF
80 FR 69272 - Petition for Modification of Special Approval for Designation of Repair LocationsPDF
80 FR 69271 - Petition for Waiver of CompliancePDF
80 FR 69275 - Petition for Waiver of CompliancePDF
80 FR 69237 - Employment Authorization for Nepali F-1 Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of the April 25, 2015 Earthquake in the Federal Democratic Republic of NepalPDF
80 FR 69173 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; Utah; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter StandardPDF
80 FR 69172 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; Idaho; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter StandardsPDF
80 FR 69113 - Airworthiness Directives; Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH GlidersPDF
80 FR 69111 - Airworthiness Directives; Agusta S.p.A. HelicoptersPDF
80 FR 69144 - Safety Standard for High ChairsPDF
80 FR 69115 - Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety ActPDF
80 FR 69457 - Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements Under the Clean Air ActPDF
80 FR 69277 - Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedures for Central Air Conditioners and Heat PumpsPDF

Issue

80 216 Monday, November 9, 2015 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69223-69226 2015-28408 2015-28409 Vapor Containment Performance Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs, 69226-69227 2015-28456 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69227-69229 2015-28448 2015-28449 Coast Guard Coast Guard PROPOSED RULES Great Lakes Pilotage Rates: 2016 Annual Review and Changes to Methodology, 69179 2015-28590 NOTICES Certificates of Alternative Compliance: M/V LEIGH ANN MORAN, 69235-69236 2015-28480 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69188-69193 2015-28410 2015-28416
Consumer Product Consumer Product Safety Commission PROPOSED RULES Safety Standard for High Chairs, 69144-69161 2015-28300 Defense Department Defense Department See

Engineers Corps

PROPOSED RULES National Security Education Program and Service Agreement, 69166-69171 2015-28431
Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

PROPOSED RULES Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedures for Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps, 69278-69456 2015-23439 NOTICES Applications to Export Electric Energy: EDF Trading North America, LLC, 69203 2015-28439 Authorization to Export Liquefied Natural Gas; Applications: ConocoPhillips Alaska Natural Gas Corp., 69202-69203 2015-28438
Engineers Engineers Corps NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Lower Santa Cruz River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study, Pinal County, AZ, 69201-69202 2015-28495 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Idaho; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standards, 69172-69173 2015-28358 Utah; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standard, 69173-69179 2015-28359 Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act, 69458-69558 2015-26946 NOTICES Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Alabama; Authorized Program Revision Approvals, 69222 2015-28365 Maine; Authorized Program Revision Approval, 69222-69223 2015-28366 Draft Integrated Review Plans: Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulfur, 69220-69221 2015-28487 Meetings: National Drinking Water Advisory Council, 69221-69222 2015-28494 Petitions for Exemption Reissuance: Class I Hazardous Waste Injection; DuPont Pontchartrain, LaPlace, LA, 69220 2015-28484 Proposed Administrative Cost Recovery Settlements under CERCLA: RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC, RBF Frozen Desserts Site, West Hartford, CT, 69219-69220 2015-28496 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Agusta S.p.A. Helicopters, 69111-69113 2015-28314 Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Gliders, 69113-69115 2015-28339 NOTICES Committee Memberships: National Parks Overflights Advisory Group Aviation Rulemaking Committee, 69271 2015-28489 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69223 2015-28389 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Emergencies and Related Determinations: South Carolina; Amendment No.1, 69236-69237 2015-28375 Major Disaster Declarations: South Carolina; Amendment No. 9, 69237 2015-28372 South Carolina; Amendment No.10, 69236 2015-28373 South Carolina; Amendment No.11, 69236 2015-28374 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 69205-69213, 69215-69217 2015-28390 2015-28391 2015-28396 2015-28397 2015-28398 2015-28418 2015-28419 Complaints: Big Sandy Peaker Plant, LLC; Wolf Hills Energy, LLC; Crete Energy Venture, LLC, et al. v. PJM Interconnection, LLC, 69204-69205 2015-28424 *East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. v. Louisville Gas and Electric Co./Kentucky Utilities Co., 69217-69218 2015-28423 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: FirstLight Hydro Generation Co., 69209-69210 2015-28428 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: South Jersey Energy IS010, LLC, 69214-69215 2015-28426 South Jersey Energy IS09, LLC, 69211 2015-28425 License Amendment Applications; Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP, 69213-69214 2015-28427 Preliminary Permit Applications: Grafton Hydro, LLC, 69219 2015-28394 Preliminary Permit Surrenders: Mahoning Hydropower, LLC, 69209 2015-28393 Records Governing Off-the-Record Communications, 69218 2015-28395 Refund Effective Dates: CPV Shore, LLC, 69210 2015-28422 Requests under Blanket Authorizations: Transwestern Pipeline Co., LLC, 69204 2015-28420 Tariff Filings: City of Vernon, CA, 69209 2015-28392 Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; et al., v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.; Central Maine Power Co.; et al., 69213 2015-28421 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration NOTICES Addressing Rail Head Surface Conditions Identified during the Internal Rail Inspection Process, 69272-69275 2015-28411 Petitions for Modifications: Special Approval for Designation of Repair Locations, 69272 2015-28364 Petitions for Waivers of Compliance, 69271-69272, 69275 2015-28362 2015-28363 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Meetings: Food Advisory Committe, 69229 2015-28387 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Applications for Subzone Status: MannKind Corp., Foreign-Trade Zone 76, Bridgeport, CT, 69193 2015-28458 Approvals of Subzone Status: Springsteen Logistics, LLC, Rock Hill and Fort Lawn, SC, 69193 2015-28459 Geological Geological Survey NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69246-69247 2015-28406 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

NOTICES Findings of Research Misconduct, 69230-69231 2015-28437 Findings of Research Misconduct; Correction, 69231 2015-28440
Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Revised Amount of the Average Cost of a Health Insurance Policy, 69230 2015-28436 Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: CISOMB Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey, 69241-69242 2015-28382 Employment Authorizations: Nepali F-1 Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of the April 25, 2015 Earthquake, 69237-69241 2015-28360
Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Disaster Management, 69245-69246 2015-28461 Fair Housing Initiatives Program, 69245 2015-28457 Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau PROPOSED RULES Intent to Establish a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, 69161-69166 2015-28379 NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Management of Osage Nation Oil and Gas Resources, Osage County, OK, 69247-69248 2015-28507 Institute of Museum and Library Services Institute of Museum and Library Services NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 69251 2015-28619 Interior Interior Department See

Geological Survey

See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Land Management Bureau

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service NOTICES Charter Renewals: Advisory Group to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 69276 2015-28371 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews, 69193-69199 2015-28460 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Requests for Proposals: International Harmonized System; Amendments, 69248-69250 2015-28429 Labor Department Labor Department See

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Unemployment Insurance Title XII Advances and Voluntary Repayment Process, 69250-69251 2015-28407
Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Resource Advisory Council to the Boise District, 69248 2015-28470 Management Management and Budget Office RULES Guidance for Reporting and Use of Information Concerning Recipient Integrity and Performance; Corrections, 69111 2015-28441 Maritime Maritime Administration NOTICES Meetings: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Board of Visitors, 69275-69276 2015-28442 National Foundation National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities See

Institute of Museum and Library Services

National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 69232 2015-28384 Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 69232 2015-28383 National Institute of Mental Health, 69231 2015-28385 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 69232 2015-28386 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries off West Coast States: Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Process for Divestiture of Excess Quota Shares in the Individual Fishing Quota Fishery, 69138-69143 2015-28412 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2016-2018 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications, 69179-69187 2015-28444 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69200-69201 2015-28434 2015-28435 Meetings: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 69199 2015-28430 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, 69252 2015-28451 Proposal Review Panel for Computing and Communication Foundations, 69253 2015-28450 Permit Applications: Antarctic Conservation Act, 69251-69253 2015-28380 2015-28381 2015-28388 Occupational Safety Health Adm Occupational Safety and Health Administration RULES Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act, 69115-69138 2015-28040 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; Intention To Enter (Notice of November 5, 2015), 69559-69561 2015-28709 Railroad Retirement Railroad Retirement Board NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records: Computer Matching Program (Railroad Retirement Board and Social Security Administration, Match Number 1007), 69253-69254 2015-28433 Rural Business Rural Business-Cooperative Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69188 2015-28443 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69254-69255 2015-28399 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: EDGA Exchange, Inc., 69264-69266 2015-28401 EDGX Exchange, Inc., 69259-69261 2015-28400 ICE Clear Credit, LLC, 69261-69264 2015-28402 International Securities Exchange, 69256-69258 2015-28404 ISE Gemini, LLC, 69266-69268 2015-28403 The NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC, 69256 2015-28405 Trading Suspension Orders: Friendly Energy Exploration, Public Media Works, Inc., VRDT Corp., and Zoro Mining Corp., 69258-69259 2015-28549 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Virginia, 69268-69269 2015-28463 Washington; Amendment 1, 69269 2015-28462 State Department State Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Affidavit of Identifying Witness, 69270 2015-28445 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Private International Law, 69269-69270 2015-28446 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 69233-69235 2015-28368 2015-28415 Susquehanna Susquehanna River Basin Commission NOTICES Meetings: Commission Meeting, 69270-69271 2015-28414 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

Maritime Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Internal Revenue Service

U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application to File Declaration of Intention, 69242-69243 2015-28465 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, 69243-69244 2015-28376 Request for the Return of Original Documents, 69244-69245 2015-28378 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Energy Department, 69278-69456 2015-23439 Part III Environmental Protection Agency, 69458-69558 2015-26946 Part IV Presidential Documents, 69559-69561 2015-28709 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.

80 216 Monday, November 9, 2015 Rules and Regulations OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET 2 CFR Part 200 Guidance for Reporting and Use of Information Concerning Recipient Integrity and Performance; Corrections AGENCY:

Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget.

ACTION:

Correcting amendments.

SUMMARY:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is correcting the final guidance that appeared in the Federal Register on July 22, 2015 (80 FR 43301). OMB is amending the guidance to make technical corrections where necessary. The final guidance is revised to reflect that due to the 14 day delay of the publically available information entered into the OMB-designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), Federal awarding agencies should review the non-public segment of the system when conducting their risk review as described in the guidance. This will ensure that Federal awarding agencies have the most current information available when completing the review.

DATES:

Effective date: November 9, 2015.

The applicability date of the final guidance remains January 1, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rhea Hubbard, Office of Federal Financial Management, [email protected], or via telephone at (202) 395-3993.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On July 22, 2015 (80 FR 43301), OMB issued a number of changes to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR part 180 and 2 CFR part 200). These changes provided guidance to Federal agencies to implement Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009. As Section 872 required, OMB and the General Services Administration (GSA) have established an integrity and performance system that includes governmentwide data with specified information related to the integrity and performance of entities awarded Federal grants and contracts. This is the second set of corrections. The first set of corrections was published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2015 (80 FR 45395) to advance the effective date to July 30, 2015 and reflect that the applicability date is January 1, 2016. This set of corrections reflects that Federal awarding agencies should check the non-public segment of the OMB-designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM when conducting their risk review.

List of Subjects in 2 CFR Part 200

Accounting, Auditing, Colleges and universities, State and local governments, Grant programs, Grants administration, Hospitals, Indians, Nonprofit organizations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Mark Reger, Deputy Controller.

Under the authority of the Chief Financial Officer Act of 1990 (31 U.S.C. 503), the Office of Management and Budget amends 2 CFR part 200 by making the following correcting amendments:

PART 200—UNIFORM ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS, COST PRINCIPLES, AND AUDIT REQUIREMENTS FOR FEDERAL AWARDS 1. The authority citation for part 200 continues to read as follows: Authority:

31 U.S.C. 503.

§ 200.205 [Amended]
2. Amend § 200.205 paragraph (a)(2) by removing “publicly available information in” and adding, in its place “non-public segment of”.
[FR Doc. 2015-28441 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3110-01-P.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3969; Directorate Identifier 2014-SW-010-AD; Amendment 39-18318; AD 2015-23-02] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Agusta S.p.A. Helicopters AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model AB412 helicopters. This AD requires inspecting the filters installed on the pressure lines of utility hydraulic systems for metal particles. This AD is prompted by a report of a pump failure on the hydraulic external hoist caused by metal particles. These actions are intended to detect metal particles in the filter of the pressure line and prevent the pumps' failure, which could lead to a hoisting accident and injury to persons.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective November 24, 2015.

We must receive comments on this AD by January 8, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Docket: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

Hand Delivery: Deliver to the “Mail” address between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3969 or in person at the Docket Operations Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

For service information identified in this AD, contact AgustaWestland, Product Support Engineering, Via del Gregge, 100, 21015 Lonate Pozzolo (VA) Italy, ATTN: Maurizio D'Angelo; telephone 39-0331-664757; fax 39-0331-664680; or at http://www.agustawestland.com/technical-bulletins. You may review the referenced service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Matt Wilbanks, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations and Policy Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

This AD is a final rule that involves requirements affecting flight safety, and we did not provide you with notice and an opportunity to provide your comments prior to it becoming effective. However, we invite you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views. We also invite comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that resulted from adopting this AD. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the AD, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should submit them only one time. We will file in the docket all comments that we receive, as well as a report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerning this rulemaking during the comment period. We will consider all the comments we receive and may conduct additional rulemaking based on those comments.

Discussion

EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, issued EASA AD No. 2014-0063-E, dated March 12, 2014, to correct an unsafe condition for Agusta Model AB412 helicopters. EASA advises that during a hoist operation, a pressure line pump part number (P/N) 1-8072 Rev. A failed on a Model AB412 helicopter. Preliminary investigations reveal that unusual wear of an internal subcomponent generated metal particles, which caused the pump to fail, EASA advises. The root cause of this wear has not been determined.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to future pump failures, resulting in hoisting accidents and injuries. As a result, EASA requires repetitive inspections of the pump's filter for metal particles and replacement of the pressure line pump if particles exist. EASA advises that its AD is an interim action and that further AD action may follow, depending on the outcome of the investigations.

FAA's Determination

These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of Italy and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with Italy, EASA, its technical representative, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the EASA AD. We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of these same type designs.

Related Service Information

AgustaWestland has issued Bollettino Tecnico No. 412-140, dated March 11, 2014 (BT), for Model AB412 helicopters with a hydraulic external hoist P/N BL10300-60 installed. The BT notes that Agusta received a report that pump P/N 1-8072 Rev. A failed during a hoist operation on a Model AB412 helicopter due to metal particles generated by unusual wear of an internal subcomponent. The BT calls for inspecting the filter installed on the external hoist's pressure line for metal particles. The BT notes that an investigation is underway to determine the failure's root causes and that the BT could be updated.

AD Requirements

This AD requires, within 10 hours time-in-service (TIS) and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 25 hours TIS, inspecting to determine whether metal particles are in the filter installed on the pressure line of the utility hydraulic system. If there are any metal particles, this AD requires, before the next flight, flushing the utility hydraulic system, replacing the filter with an airworthy filter, and replacing the pressure line pump with an airworthy pressure line pump.

Interim Action

We consider this AD to be an interim action. The design approval holder is investigating the root cause for the unsafe condition identified in this AD. Once the investigation is completed, we might consider additional rulemaking.

Costs of Compliance

There are no costs of compliance with this AD because there are no helicopters with this type certificate on the U.S. Registry.

FAA's Justification and Determination of the Effective Date

There are no helicopters with this type certificate are on the U.S. Registry. Therefore, we believe it is unlikely that we will receive any adverse comments or useful information about this AD from U.S. Operators.

Since an unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of this AD, we determined that notice and opportunity for public comment before issuing this AD are unnecessary because there are none of these helicopters on the U.S. Registry and that good cause exists for making this amendment effective in less than 30 days.

Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

Regulatory Findings

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

For the reasons discussed, I certify that this AD:

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

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

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction; and

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

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-23-02 Agusta S.p.A.: Amendment 39-18318; Docket No. FAA-2015-3969; Directorate Identifier 2014-SW-010-AD. (a) Applicability

This AD applies to Model AB412 helicopters with a hydraulic external hoist part number BL10300-60 installed, certificated in any category.

(b) Unsafe Condition

This AD defines the unsafe condition as failure of a hydraulic external hoist pressure line pump. This condition, if not detected and prevented, could result in loss of hydraulic pressure and subsequent injury to persons being lifted in the hoist.

(c) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective November 24, 2015.

(d) Compliance

You are responsible for performing each action required by this AD within the specified compliance time unless it has already been accomplished prior to that time.

(e) Required Actions

Within 10 hours time-in-service (TIS) and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 25 hours TIS:

(1) Inspect the hydraulic external hoist pressure line filter for metal particles.

(2) If there are any metal particles, before further flight, flush the utility hydraulic system, replace the pressure line pump, and replace the filter.

(f) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Matt Wilbanks, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations and Policy Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; email [email protected]

(2) For operations conducted under a 14 CFR part 119 operating certificate or under 14 CFR part 91, subpart K, we suggest that you notify your principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office or certificate holding district office, before operating any aircraft complying with this AD through an AMOC.

(g) Additional Information

(1) AgustaWestland Bollettino Tecnico No. 412-140, dated March 11, 2014, which is not incorporated by reference, contains additional information about the subject of this AD. For service information identified in this AD, contact AgustaWestland, Product Support Engineering, Via del Gregge, 100, 21015 Lonate Pozzolo (VA) Italy, ATTN: Maurizio D'Angelo; telephone 39-0331-664757; fax 39-0331-664680; or at http://www.agustawestland.com/technical-bulletins. You may review a copy of the service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

(2) The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD No. 2014-0063-E, dated March 12, 2014. You may view the EASA AD on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-3969.

(h) Subject

Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 2550, Cargo Compartments.

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 30, 2015. James A. Grigg, Acting Assistant Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-28314 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3224; Directorate Identifier 2015-CE-026-AD; Amendment 39-18290; AD 2015-20-11] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Gliders AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule; correction.

SUMMARY:

The FAA is correcting an airworthiness directive (AD) that published in the Federal Register. That AD applies to certain Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Models Duo Discus and Duo Discus T gliders. The Model Duo Discus gliders were incorrectly referenced as powered sailplanes in the Applicability section. This document corrects that error and refers to both models as just gliders as in previous ADs. In all other respects, the original document remains the same; however we are publishing the entire rule in the Federal Register.

DATES:

This final rule is effective November 18, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3224; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jim Rutherford, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4165; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Airworthiness Directive 2015-20-11, Amendment 39-18290 (80 FR 61722, October 14, 2015), currently requires inspecting and replacing the airbrake bell crank and the airbrake drive funnels and inspecting the airbrake control system for proper clearance and making necessary adjustments.

As published, the Model Duo Discus gliders were incorrectly referenced as powered sailplanes in the Applicability section. This could cause confusion because the Model Duo Discus does not have an engine. This document corrects that error and refers to both models as just gliders as in previous ADs.

Although no other part of the preamble or regulatory information has been corrected, we are publishing the entire rule in the Federal Register.

The effective date of this AD remains November 18, 2015.

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new AD: 2015-20-11 Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH: Amendment 39-18290; Docket No. FAA-2015-3224; Directorate Identifier 2015-CE-026-AD. (a) Effective Date

This airworthiness directive (AD) becomes effective on November 18, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Model Duo Discus gliders, serial numbers 1 through 639, and Model Duo Discus T gliders, serial numbers 1 through 110 and 112 through 247, certificated in any category.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association of America (ATA) Code 27: Flight Controls.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as excessive load on the air brake system. We are issuing this AD to prevent uncontrolled actuation of the air brakes (symmetric or asymmetric), which could result in reduced control.

(f) Actions and Compliance

Unless already done, do the actions in paragraph (f)(1) through (f)(5) of this AD.

(1) Within 40 days after November 18, 2015 (the effective date of this AD) and repetitively thereafter at intervals not to exceed 100 hours time-in-service until the terminating replacement action required in paragraphs (f)(2) and (f)(3) of this AD (as applicable) is done, inspect the airbrake bell crank, the airbrake drive funnels, and the airbrake control system.

(i) Inspect the airbrake bell crank and the airbrake drive funnels for cracks and damage following Action 1 in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Technical Note No. 380 -2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Revision 1, issued July 13, 2015 (published as a single document).

(ii) Inspect the airbrake control system for proper clearance following Paragraph 2.d. of Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(2) If cracks or damage is found on the airbrake bell cranks or the airbrake drive funnels during any inspection required in paragraph (f)(1) of this AD, before further flight, replace each cracked or damaged part with a reinforced part. Installing a reinforced part terminates the repetitive inspections required in paragraph (f)(1) of this AD for that part.

(i) For replacement of the airbrake bell cranks, follow Picture 2: Reinforced version of airbrake bell crank according to HS 11-50.016, Revision a or later, in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(ii) For replacement of the airbrake drive funnels, follow Picture 5: Airbrake drive funnel in fuselage “Reinforcement of airbrake drive funnel according to drawing S14RB703, Revision a, in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(3) If no cracks or damage were found on the airbrake bell cranks or the airbrake drive funnels during any inspection required in paragraph (f)(1) of this AD, within 12 months after November 18, 2015 (the effective date of this AD), replace each of the airbrake bell cranks and airbrake drive funnels with a reinforced part. These replacements terminate the repetitive inspections required in paragraph (f)(1) of this AD.

(i) For replacement of the airbrake bell cranks, follow Picture 2: Reinforced version of airbrake bell crank according to HS 11-50.016, Revision a or later, in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(ii) For replacement of the airbrake drive funnels, follow Picture 5: Airbrake drive funnel in fuselage, “Reinforcement of airbrake drive funnel according to drawing S14RB703, Revision a,” in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(4) If the airbrake control system is found to not have proper clearance during the inspection required in paragraph (f)(1) of this AD, before further flight, make all necessary corrective adjustments following Paragraph 2.d. of Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(5) As of November 18, 2015 (the effective date of this AD), only install an airbrake bell crank or an airbrake drive funnel that corresponds to Picture 2: Reinforced version of airbrake bell crank according to HS 11-50.016, Revision a or later, and Picture 5: Airbrake drive funnel in fuselage, “Reinforcement of airbrake drive funnel according to drawing S14RB703, Revision a,” in Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015, as applicable.

(g) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, Standards Office, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. Send information to ATTN: Jim Rutherford, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4165; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC on any glider to which the AMOC applies, notify your appropriate principal inspector (PI) in the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), or lacking a PI, your local FSDO.

(2) Airworthy Product: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer or other source, use these actions if they are FAA-approved. Corrective actions are considered FAA-approved if they are approved by the State of Design Authority (or their delegated agent). You are required to assure the product is airworthy before it is returned to service.

(h) Related Information

Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD No. 2015-0139R1, dated July 15, 2015, for related information. You may examine the MCAI on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-3224-0002.

(i) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(i) Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Technical Note No. 380 -2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Revision 1, issued July 13, 2015 (published as a single document).

(ii) Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH Working instruction for Technical Note No. 380-2/396-17/868-22/890-14, Ausgabe (English translation: issue) 1, Datum (English translation: dated) May 11, 2015.

(3) For Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH service information identified in this AD, contact Schempp-Hirth Flugzeugbau GmbH, Krebenstrasse 25, 73230 Kirchheim/Teck, Germany; telephone: +49 7021 7298-0; fax: +49 7021 7298-199; email: [email protected]; Internet: http://www.schempp-hirth.com.

(4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148. In addition, you can access this service information on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3224.

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

Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 2, 2015. Melvin Johnson, Acting Manager, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-28339 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Occupational Safety and Health Administration 29 CFR Part 1982 [Docket Number: OSHA-2008-0027] RIN 1218-AC36 Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act AGENCY:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This document provides the final text of regulations governing the employee protection provisions of the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA), enacted as Section 1413 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Commission Act), and the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), as amended by Section 1521 of the 9/11 Commission Act. The 9/11 Commission Act was enacted into law on August 3, 2007. FRSA was amended further in 2008. An interim final rule establishing procedures for these provisions and a request for public comment was published in the Federal Register on August 31, 2010. Ten comments were received. This rule responds to those comments and establishes the final procedures and time frames for the handling of retaliation complaints under NTSSA and FRSA, including procedures and time frames for employee complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), investigations by OSHA, appeals of OSHA determinations to an administrative law judge (ALJ) for a hearing de novo, hearings by ALJs, review of ALJ decisions by the Administrative Review Board (ARB) (acting on behalf of the Secretary of Labor), and judicial review of the Secretary of Labor's final decision.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on November 9, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rob Swick, Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-4618, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 693-2199 (this is not a toll-free number); email [email protected] This Federal Register document is available in alternative formats. The alternative formats available are large print, electronic file on computer disk (Word Perfect, ASCII, Mates with Duxbury Braille System) and audiotape.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

NTSSA, which was enacted by the 9/11 Commission Act, establishes employee protection provisions for public transportation agency employees who engage in whistleblowing activities pertaining to public transportation safety or security (or, in circumstances covered by the statute, employees perceived to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity). See Public Law 110-53, Title XIV, § 1413, 121 Stat. 414 (2007) (NTSSA, codified at 6 U.S.C. 1142).

FRSA, which was amended by the 9/11 Commission Act, establishes employee protection provisions for railroad carrier employees who engage in whistleblowing activities pertaining to railroad safety or security (or, in circumstances covered by the statute, employees perceived to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity). Public Law 110-53, Title XV, § 1521, 121 Stat. 444 (2007) (FRSA, codified at 49 U.S.C. 20109). FRSA, as further amended in 2008, establishes whistleblower provisions for railroad carrier employees who are retaliated against for requesting medical or first aid treatment, or for following orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician. See Public Law 110-432, Div. A, Title IV, § 419, 122 Stat. 4892 (Oct. 16, 2008) (FRSA, codified at 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(2)). The 2008 FRSA amendments also prohibit railroad carriers and other covered persons from denying, delaying, or interfering with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee, and require that an injured employee be promptly transported to the nearest hospital upon request. 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1). These rules establish final procedures for the handling of whistleblower complaints under NTSSA and FRSA.

II. Summary of Statutory Procedures

Prior to the 9/11 Commission Act amendment of FRSA, whistleblower retaliation complaints by railroad carrier employees were subject to mandatory dispute resolution pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), which included whistleblower proceedings before the National Railroad Adjustment Board, as well as other dispute resolution procedures. The amendment changed the procedures for resolution of such complaints and transferred the authority to implement the whistleblower provisions for railroad carrier employees to the Secretary of Labor (Secretary).

The procedures for filing and adjudicating whistleblower complaints under NTSSA and FRSA, as amended, are generally the same.1 FRSA provides that the rules and procedures set forth in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR 21), 49 U.S.C. 42121(b), govern in FRSA actions, 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2). AIR 21's rules and procedures are very similar to the procedures provided in NTSSA, 6 U.S.C. 1142(c). The NTSSA and FRSA whistleblower provisions include procedures that allow a covered employee to file, within 180 days of the alleged retaliation, a complaint with the Secretary. Upon receipt of the complaint, the Secretary must provide written notice to the person or persons named in the complaint alleged to have violated NTSSA or FRSA (respondent) of the filing of the complaint, the allegations contained in the complaint, the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint, and the rights afforded the respondent during the investigation. The Secretary must then, within 60 days of receipt of the complaint, afford the respondent an opportunity to submit a response and meet with the investigator to present statements from witnesses, and conduct an investigation.

1 The regulatory provisions in this part have been written and organized to be consistent with other whistleblower regulations promulgated by OSHA to the extent possible within the bounds of the statutory language of NTSSA and FRSA. Responsibility for receiving and investigating complaints under NTSSA and FRSA has been delegated to the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health. Secretary's Order 01-2012 (Jan. 18, 2012), 77 FR 3912 (Jan. 25, 2012). Hearings on determinations by the Assistant Secretary are conducted by the Office of Administrative Law Judges, and appeals from decisions by ALJs are decided by the ARB. Secretary of Labor's Order No. 2-2012 (Oct. 19, 2012), 77 FR 69378 (Nov. 16, 2012).

The Secretary may conduct an investigation only if the complainant has made a prima facie showing that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action alleged in the complaint and the respondent has not demonstrated, through clear and convincing evidence, that the employer would have taken the same adverse action in the absence of that activity. Under OSHA's procedures, a complainant may meet this burden through the complaint supplemented by interviews of the complainant.

After investigating a complaint, the Secretary will issue written findings. If, as a result of the investigation, the Secretary finds there is reasonable cause to believe that retaliation has occurred, the Secretary must notify the respondent of those findings, along with a preliminary order which includes the relief available under FRSA or NTSSA as applicable, including: An order that the respondent abate the violation; reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had but for the retaliation; back pay with interest; and compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. The preliminary order may also require payment of punitive damages up to $250,000.

The complainant and the respondent then have 30 days after receipt of the Secretary's notification in which to file objections to the findings and/or preliminary order and request a hearing before an ALJ. The filing of objections under NTSSA or FRSA will stay any remedy in the preliminary order except for preliminary reinstatement. If a hearing before an ALJ is not requested within 30 days, the preliminary order becomes final and is not subject to judicial review.

If a hearing is held, NTSSA and FRSA require the hearing to be conducted “expeditiously.” The Secretary then has 120 days after the conclusion of a hearing in which to issue a final order, which may provide the relief authorized by the statute or deny the complaint. Until the Secretary's final order is issued, the Secretary, the complainant, and the respondent may enter into a settlement agreement that terminates the proceeding. Under NTSSA, the Secretary also may award a prevailing employer reasonable attorney fees, not exceeding $1,000, if the Secretary finds that the complaint is frivolous or has been brought in bad faith.

Within 60 days of the issuance of the final order, any person adversely affected or aggrieved by the Secretary's final order may file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the violation occurred or the circuit where the complainant resided on the date of the violation.

NTSSA and FRSA permit the employee to seek de novo review of the complaint by a United States district court in the event that the Secretary has not issued a final decision within 210 days after the filing of the complaint, and there is no showing that the delay is due to the bad faith of the complainant. The court will have jurisdiction over the action without regard to the amount in controversy and the case will be tried before a jury at the request of either party. The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA each provide that an employee may not seek protection under those respective provisions and another provision of law for the same allegedly unlawful act of the public transportation agency (under NTSSA) or railroad carrier (under FRSA). 6 U.S.C. 1142(e); 49 U.S.C. 20109(f). The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA also provide that nothing in their respective provisions preempts or diminishes any other safeguards against discrimination, demotion, discharge, suspension, threats, harassment, reprimand, retaliation, or any other manner of discrimination provided by Federal or State law. 6 U.S.C. 1142(f); 49 U.S.C. 20109(g). The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA further provide that nothing in their respective provisions shall be construed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any Federal or State law or under any collective bargaining agreement and that the rights and remedies in the whistleblower provisions of NTSSA or FRSA may not be waived by any agreement, policy, form, or condition of employment. 6 U.S.C. 1142(g); 49 U.S.C. 20109(h).

III. Summary and Discussion of Rulemaking Proceedings and Regulatory Provisions

On August 31, 2010, OSHA published in the Federal Register an interim final rule, promulgating rules governing the employee protection provisions of NTSSA and FRSA. 75 FR 53522. In addition to promulgating the interim final rule, OSHA's notice included a request for public comment on the interim rules by November 1, 2010.

In response, several organizations and individuals filed comments with the agency within the public comment period. Comments were received from the National Whistleblower Center (NWC); the Government Accountability Project (GAP); nine railroad labor organizations (collectively Rail Labor) that submitted one collective set of comments; the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, which represents 32 unions; the Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner Commuter Rail; the American Public Transportation Association; the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA); the Association of American Railroads (AAR); Charles Goetsch; and Todd Miller.

OSHA has reviewed and considered the comments and now adopts this final rule, which has been revised in part in response to the comments. The following discussion addresses the comments and OSHA's responses in the order of the provisions of the rule.

General Comments Comments Regarding the Treatment of Complaints Under Section 20109(c)(1)

In the preamble to the interim final rule, OSHA stated that the procedural rules provided in this part would not apply to complaints under paragraph 20109(c)(1) of FRSA. That paragraph provides:

A railroad carrier or person covered under this section may not deny, delay, or interfere with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment. If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee who is injured during the course of employment, the railroad shall promptly arrange to have the injured employee transported to the nearest hospital where the employee can receive safe and appropriate medical care.

OSHA stated that section 20109(c)(1) is not a whistleblower provision because it appears to prohibit certain conduct by railroad carriers irrespective of any protected activity by an employee. 75 FR at 53522. Rail Labor, the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, and Charles Goetsch all disagreed and urged the Secretary to apply the procedures in this part to complaints under section 20109(c)(1). These commenters noted that section 20109(d) of FRSA gives the Secretary the authority and duty to enforce the statute when an employee alleges “discharge, discipline, or other discrimination in violation of subsection (a), (b), or (c)[.]” 49 U.S.C. 20109(d). They noted that the legislative history shows that the prompt medical attention provision was originally drafted as a stand-alone provision, but was transferred to section 20109, which is the only section in FRSA not assigned to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Therefore, they concluded, enforcement of section 20109, including paragraph (c)(1), is assigned to the Secretary. They further asserted that “other discrimination” in section 20109(d)(1) encompasses the denial, delay, or interference with medical treatment prohibited in paragraph (c)(1), and that “other discrimination” is not limited to situations involving protected activity. Consequently, according to these commenters, any denial or infringement of the right under paragraph (c)(1) to prompt medical attention constitutes per se discrimination. They also argued that it is wrong to assume that paragraph (c)(1) involves no protected activity. The prohibited conduct in paragraph (c)(1) (i.e., the denial, delay, or interference) only occurs if an employee has requested medical treatment. In other words, the commenters suggest that an employee has to have requested medical treatment for that treatment to be denied, delayed, or interfered with. Thus, they maintained, the protected activity under paragraph (c)(1) is requesting medical treatment. Lastly, they argued that it would be illogical to prohibit a railroad carrier from disciplining an employee for requesting medical treatment as paragraph (c)(2) does, but not to prohibit the railroad carrier from denying, delaying, or interfering with that medical treatment. Treating paragraph (c)(1) as if it were not a whistleblower provision would, they claimed, permit a railroad carrier to use the denial, delay, or interference with an employee's medical treatment as the means of retaliating against the employee rather than having to discipline the employee, which would violate paragraph (c)(2). They urged OSHA to reconsider its position and to process paragraph (c)(1) complaints under the procedures applicable to all other complaints arising under 49 U.S.C. 20109.

Apart from these comments on paragraph (c)(1), the ARB set out its interpretation of paragraph (c)(1) in Santiago v. Metro-North Commuter R.R. Co., Inc., ARB No. 10-147, 2012 WL 3164360 (ARB June 12, 2015), pet. for review filed, Santiago v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, Case No. 15-2551 (2d Cir. Aug. 13, 2015). The ARB treated a complaint under paragraph (c)(1) as a whistleblower claim subject to the same procedures and burdens of proof as a claim under paragraphs (a) or (b). See id. at *5. The ARB reasoned that paragraph (c) implicitly identifies protected activity as requesting or receiving medical treatment or complying with treatment plans for work injuries, and identifies the prohibited discrimination as delaying, denying, or interfering, or imposing or threatening to impose discipline. See id. The ARB further reasoned that AIR 21's procedural burdens of proof govern claims under paragraph (c), but must be tailored to apply to the processing of such claims. See id. at *6. The ARB also outlined how the burdens of proof would apply to complaints under paragraph (c)(1). See id. at *10-12. Because FRSA grants to the Secretary the authority to enforce and adjudicate FRSA claims, 49 U.S.C. 20109(c), and because the Secretary has delegated his adjudicative authority under FRSA to the ARB, Secretary of Labor's Order No. 2-2012 (Oct. 19, 2012), 77 FR 69378 (Nov. 16, 2012), the ARB's decision in Santiago constitutes the Secretary's interpretation of paragraph (c).

Based on the statutory text, the legislative history of paragraph (c)(1), and the ARB's decision in Santiago outlined above, the procedures provided in 49 U.S.C. 20109(d) apply to complaints alleging violations of paragraph (c)(1). The language and structure of the statute, together with the legislative history, show that FRSA provides employees the ability to file complaints regarding violations of paragraph (c)(1) with the Secretary and recover the remedies listed in section 20109(e) in the event of a violation.

Paragraph (d)(1) states that “[a]n employee who alleges discharge, discipline or other discrimination in violation of subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section, may seek relief in accordance with the provisions of this section, with any petition or other request for relief under this section to be initiated by filing a complaint with the [Secretary].” 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(1). The plain language of paragraph (d)(1) does not distinguish between complaints alleging violations of paragraph (c)(1) or (c)(2) in prescribing the treatment of complaints, but rather broadly applies to “any petition or request for relief under this section.” (Emphasis added.) Further, no other provision in 49 U.S.C. 20109 contains an alternative mechanism for adjudication of complaints under paragraph (c)(1). Therefore, the “other discrimination” for which an employee may seek relief under paragraph (d)(1) necessarily includes a denial, delay, or interference with medical or first aid treatment, or failing to promptly transport an injured employee to the nearest hospital upon the employee's request. See Delgado v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 12 C 2596, 2012 WL 4854588, at *3 (N.D. Ill.) (“[T]he obstruction of an injured employee seeking medical attention is itself discrimination against an employee and therefore provides a basis for private enforcement under subsection (d)(1).”).

The legislative history also supports the conclusion that the Secretary has the authority to enforce paragraph (c)(1) and that the procedures outlined elsewhere in section 20109 also apply to complaints alleging violations of paragraph (c)(1). As the commenters and the ARB in Santiago noted, Congress originally proposed to prohibit the denial, delay, or interference with medical or first aid treatment in a freestanding section of FRSA, over which the Secretary of Labor would not have enforcement authority, but made a conscious decision to move that prohibition to paragraph (c)(1) of section 20109. See Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007, H.R. 2095, 110th Cong. Title VI, § 606 (2007) (proposed bill, which would have included the provision at 49 U.S.C. 20162); Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, H.R. Res. 1492 110th Cong. § 419 (2008) (reconciling H.R. 2095 with Senate amendments and moving the prohibition on the denial, delay, or interference with medical or first aid treatment from section 20162 to section 20109). Moving the provision to section 20109 indicates that Congress intended employees to have the same right to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor seeking damages and other remedies following an unlawful denial, delay or interference with medical or first aid treatment that employees have for other violations of section 20109. Santiago, 2012 WL 3255136, at *9 (describing this history as “a progressive expansion of anti-retaliation measures in an effort to address continuing concerns about railroad safety and injury reporting”). For all of these reasons, and in light of the ARB's decision in Santiago, the procedures established in 29 CFR part 1982 apply to complaints alleging violations of 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1), and OSHA has accordingly revised sections 1982.100 and 1982.102 to reflect this protection.

Comments Regarding the Proper Interpretation of the Election of Remedies, No Preemption, and Rights Retained by Employees Provisions

The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA each provide that an employee may not seek protection under those respective provisions and another provision of law for the same allegedly unlawful act of the public transportation agency (under NTSSA) or railroad carrier (under FRSA). 6 U.S.C. 1142(e); 49 U.S.C. 20109(f). The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA also provide that nothing in those respective provisions preempts or diminishes any other safeguards against discrimination, demotion, discharge, suspension, threats, harassment, reprimand, retaliation, or any other manner of discrimination provided by Federal or State law. 6 U.S.C. 1142(f); 49 U.S.C. 20109(g). The whistleblower provisions of NTSSA and FRSA further provide that nothing in those respective provisions shall be construed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any Federal or State law or under any collective bargaining agreement and that the rights and remedies in the whistleblower provisions of NTSSA or FRSA may not be waived by any agreement, policy, form, or condition of employment. 6 U.S.C. 1142(g); 49 U.S.C. 20109(h).

Several commenters addressed the provisions in FRSA regarding election of remedies, no preemption, and rights retained by employees, 49 U.S.C. 20109(f), (g), and (h). (NTSSA contains these same provisions, 6 U.S.C. 1142(e), (f), and (g), but the comments specifically referenced FRSA.) The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department asserted that railroad employees have the right to seek relief under both collective bargaining agreements and the whistleblower provision in 49 U.S.C. 20109, and that a claim or grievance filed by a railroad employee for an alleged violation of the collective bargaining agreement should not bar the employee from seeking remedies available under FRSA. This commenter stated that the rights to organize, to bargain collectively, and to file grievances for collective bargaining agreement violations provided for in the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq., which governs labor-management relations in the railroad industry, “are essential to maintaining decent wages, and health and retirement benefits, as well as providing a legal remedy for workers who have been wronged by their employers.” According to this commenter, it would make no sense for Congress to have intended “to strip rail employees of contractual rights” when it provided whistleblower railroad employees a statutory remedy against retaliation. Rail Labor urged OSHA to interpret paragraph (f) of FRSA, the election of remedies provision, as not barring claims made by an employee under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq., or a collective bargaining agreement, when a FRSA claim has been filed, or vice versa. Rather, Rail Labor suggested, the election of remedies provision could apply to state public policy doctrines or state whistleblower statutes or regulations. Rail Labor urged OSHA to interpret section 20109(g) of FRSA, the no-preemption provision, to mean that FRSA has no bearing on FRA's jurisdiction under 49 CFR part 225 to investigate, make findings, and levy and enforce penalties against railroad carriers for prohibited conduct. Also referencing the FRA regulation at 49 CFR part 225, the Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner Commuter Rail commented that all railroad carriers are already governed by 49 CFR 225.33(a)(1) and (2), and suggested that OSHA should cross-reference these regulations to avoid regulatory duplication. Rail Labor also urged OSHA to interpret paragraph (h) of FRSA, the rights retained by an employee provision, to mean that section 20109 has no bearing on matters under the RLA or collective bargaining agreements, and that the rights provided for in FRSA are not a proper subject of collective bargaining and not subject to waiver. Lastly, Rail Labor urged OSHA to state that the RLA and railroad collective bargaining agreements do not provide whistleblower protection, that a railroad carrier's pre-disciplinary investigations and disciplinary decisions do not address an employee's whistleblower claims, and that the National Railroad Adjustment Board has no jurisdiction to adjudicate whistleblower claims under FRSA.

OSHA does not believe that the changes to the text of these procedural rules suggested by these commenters are necessary. However, OSHA notes that the specific issue of the applicability of FRSA's election of remedies provision to an arbitration brought pursuant to the employee's collective bargaining agreement under the RLA was decided by the ARB in the consolidated cases of Koger v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. and Mercier v. Union Pacific Railroad, ARB Nos. 09-101 and 09-121, 2011 WL 4889278 (ARB Sept. 29, 2011). The ARB concluded that FRSA's election of remedies provision permits a whistleblower claim to proceed notwithstanding the employee's pursuit of a grievance or arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement. Id. at *8. The ARB's decision constitutes the Secretary's interpretation of the election of remedies provision on this issue and nothing in these final rules alters the ARB's conclusion. Three circuit courts of appeals and numerous district courts have agreed with the Secretary's conclusion. See Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Perez, 778 F.3d 507 (6th Cir. 2015); Grimes v. BNSF Ry. Co., 746 F.3d 184 (5th Cir. 2014); Reed v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 740 F.3d 420 (7th Cir. 2014); Koger v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., No. 1:13-12030, 2014 WL 2778793 (S.D.W. Va. June 19, 2014); Pfeiffer v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., No. 12-cv-2485, 2014 WL 2573326 (D. Kan. June 9, 2014); Ray v. Union Pac. R.R., 971 F. Supp. 2d 869 (S.D. Iowa 2013); Ratledge v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., No. 1:12-cv-402, 2013 WL 3872793 (E.D. Tenn. July 25, 2013); cf. Battenfield v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 12-cv-213, 2013 WL 1309439 (N.D. Okla. Mar. 26, 2013) (examining section 20109(f) and permitting plaintiff to add FRSA retaliation claim despite having challenged his termination under his CBA); Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Solis, 915 F. Supp. 2d 32, 43-45 (D.D.C. 2013) (concluding that court did not have jurisdiction to review ARB's Mercier decision because the ARB's statutory interpretation was, at a minimum, a colorable interpretation of FRSA's election of remedies provision).

Furthermore, FRSA's election of remedies provision generally does not bar complainants from bringing both a FRSA retaliation claim and a complaint for compensation for a workplace injury under FELA. A worker who files a claim under FRSA and separately under FELA generally is not seeking “protection under both [FRSA] and another provision of law for the same allegedly unlawful act of the railroad carrier.” Under FRSA, a worker may seek reinstatement, back pay, and damages resulting from an act of retaliation by the railroad because of the worker's protected activity. Under FELA, a worker may seek damages for a workplace injury that was due in whole or part to the railroad's negligence. The conduct that gives rise to a retaliation claim under FRSA generally differs from the conduct that causes a worker's injury, which is the subject of a FELA claim. The latter involves a general standard of care that a railroad owes a worker while the former is akin to an intentional tort. OSHA notes that employees routinely pursue a FRSA claim and a FELA claim concurrently in district court. See, e.g., Davis v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., _ F. Supp. 2d _, 2014 WL 3499228 (W.D. La. Jul. 14, 2014); Barati v. Metro-North R.R., 939 F. Supp. 2d 153 (D. Conn. 2013); Cook v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., No. 10-6339-TC, 2011 WL 5842795 (D. Or. Nov. 18, 2011).

Additionally, in response to Rail Labor's and Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner Commuter Rail's comments concerning FRA's regulation at 49 CFR part 225, OSHA notes that an employee's ability to pursue a retaliation claim under FRSA seeking reinstatement and a monetary remedy is separate from and is not limited by FRA's authority to investigate, make findings, levy and enforce penalties, or take other enforcement action against railroads for conduct prohibited by 49 CFR part 225, including violations of 49 CFR 225.33. Likewise, an employee's ability to pursue a retaliation claim under FRSA does not limit FRA's authority to enforce 49 CFR part 225. As previously explained, 49 CFR 225.33(a)(1) requires that each railroad carrier adopt and comply with an internal control plan that includes a policy statement declaring the railroad carrier's commitment to complete and accurate reporting of all accidents, incidents, injuries, and occupational illnesses arising from the operation of the railroad carrier. The policy statement must also declare the railroad carrier's commitment to prohibiting harassment or intimidation of any person that is intended to discourage or prevent such person from receiving proper medical treatment for or from reporting such accident, incident, injury, and illness. In addition, 49 CFR 225.33(a)(2) requires that each railroad carrier disseminate such policy statement to all employees, have procedures to process complaints that the policy statement has been violated, and impose discipline on the individual(s) violating the policy statement. While an act of intimidation and harassment, such as a threat of discipline, may run afoul of both 49 CFR 225.33 and 49 U.S.C. 20109, this overlap does not lead to regulatory duplication. FRA's ability to utilize its enforcement tools to cite a railroad for a violation of its policy statement against harassment and intimidation calculated to prevent an employee from reporting a casualty or accident or receiving proper medical treatment, and FRA's ability to discipline an individual such as a manager for violation of such policy, is not a remedy for the individual railroad employee who may have suffered retaliation as result of reporting an injury or requesting medical treatment. By contrast, FRSA gives employees the right to obtain reinstatement, back pay and appropriate damages resulting from a railroad's retaliation because the employee reports an injury or requests medical treatment.

Comment Regarding the Secretary's Compliance With Statutory Timelines

Mr. Todd Miller commented generally that the regulations do not provide a means for redress where OSHA does not meet the timelines provided for in the statute. Courts and the ARB have long recognized that failure to complete the investigation or issue a final decision within the statutory time frame does not deprive the Secretary of jurisdiction over a whistleblower complaint. See, e.g., Passaic Valley Sewerage Comm'rs v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 992 F.2d 474, 477 n.7 (3d Cir. 1993); Roadway Express, Inc. v. Dole, 929 F.2d 1060, 1066 (5th Cir. 1991); Lewis v. Metro. Transp. Auth., ARB No. 11-070, 2011 WL 3882486, at *2 (ARB Aug. 8, 2011); Welch v. Cardinal Bankshares, ARB No. 04-054, 2004 WL 5030301 (ARB May 13, 2004). The Secretary is cognizant of NTSSA and FRSA's statutory directives regarding completion of the OSHA investigation and administrative proceedings and the need to resolve whistleblower complaints expeditiously. However, in those instances where the agency cannot complete the administrative proceedings within the statutory timeframes, NTSSA's and FRSA's “kick-out” provisions, which allow a complainant to file a complaint for de novo review in federal district court if the Secretary has not issued a final decision within 210 days of the filing of the complaint, allow the complainant an alternative avenue for resolution of the whistleblower complaint.

Subpart AComplaints, Investigations, Findings and Preliminary Orders Section 1982.100 Purpose and Scope

This section describes the purpose of the regulations implementing NTSSA and FRSA and provides an overview of the procedures covered by these regulations. No comments were received on this section. However, OSHA has added a statement in subparagraph (a) noting that FRSA protects employees against delay, denial or interference with first aid or medical treatment for workplace injuries. OSHA has also added a statement in subparagraph (b) noting that these rules set forth the Secretary's interpretations of NTSSA and FRSA on certain statutory issues.

Section 1982.101 Definitions

This section includes general definitions applicable to the employee protection provisions of NTSSA and FRSA.

The definition section of NTSSA, 6 U.S.C. 1131(5), defines “public transportation agency” as “a publicly owned operator of public transportation eligible to receive federal assistance under chapter 53 of title 49.” Chapter 53 of title 49, 49 U.S.C. 5302(14), defines “public transportation” as “regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by age, disability, or low income; and does not include: Intercity passenger rail transportation provided by the entity described in chapter 243 (or a successor to such entity); intercity bus service; charter bus service; school bus service; sightseeing service; courtesy shuttle service for patrons of one or more specific establishments; or intra-terminal or intra-facility shuttle services.” Chapter 243, 49 U.S.C. 24301 et seq., governs Amtrak. The definition of “public transportation” has been updated as needed to be consistent with 2012 amendments to 49 U.S.C. 5302.

In the interim final rule, OSHA stated that the definition section of FRSA, 49 U.S.C. 20102(2), defined “railroad carrier” as “a person providing railroad transportation,” and that section 20102(1) defined “railroad” as “any form of nonhighway ground transportation that runs on rails or electromagnetic guideways, including commuter or other short-haul railroad passenger service in a metropolitan or suburban area and commuter railroad service that was operated by the Consolidated Rail Corporation on January 1, 1979; and high speed ground transportation systems that connect metropolitan areas, without regard to whether those systems use new technologies not associated with traditional railroads; but does not include rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not connected to the general railroad system of transportation.” 75 FR at 53523-24. It has come to OSHA's attention that these citations were incorrect. Section 20102 of FRSA was amended such that the definition of “railroad carrier” is now in paragraph (3), not (2), and that the definition of “railroad” is now in paragraph (2), not (1). Public Law 110-432, 122 Stat. 4850, 4886 (Oct. 16, 2008). In addition, the definition of “railroad carrier” was modified: It is defined as “a person providing railroad transportation, except that, upon petition by a group of commonly controlled railroad carriers that the Secretary [of Transportation] determines is operating within the United States as a single, integrated rail system, the Secretary [of Transportation] may by order treat the group of railroad carriers as a single railroad carrier for purposes of one or more provisions of part A, subtitle V of [ ] title [49] and implementing regulations and order, subject to any appropriate conditions that the Secretary [of Transportation] may impose.” 49 U.S.C. 20102(3). The regulatory text in section 1982.101(k) is modified accordingly in the final rule. The definition of “railroad” remains the same as in the interim final rule.

The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department suggested that OSHA define “public transportation agency” and “railroad carrier” to include explicitly as covered employers owners, as well as contractors and subcontractors acting as operators. Rail Labor suggested that OSHA supplement these definitions by clarifying coverage over joint employers because, according to Rail Labor, the current regulatory definition does not address retaliation by railroad owners who are not operators. Under NTSSA, a covered employer is a “public transportation agency,” which the statute defines in relevant part as “a publicly owned operator of public transportation.” Similarly, under FRSA, a covered employer is a “railroad carrier,” which the statute defines in relevant part as “a person providing railroad transportation.” Thus, these statutes contain specific definitions of a covered employer. The determination of whether an “operator” (in the case of NTSSA) or “a person providing” (in the case of FRSA) includes owners who are not operators may turn on the facts of a given case and is better addressed through the adjudication of cases under NTSSA and FRSA rather than in these procedural rules. OSHA notes that NTSSA prohibits a contractor or subcontractor of a public transportation agency from engaging in the retaliatory conduct prohibited under the statute. 6 U.S.C. 1142(a) and (b). Similarly, FRSA prohibits a contractor or subcontractor of a railroad carrier from engaging in certain retaliatory conduct prohibited under the statue. 49 U.S.C. 20109(a). Therefore, OSHA declines to make the changes to this section suggested by AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and Rail Labor.

Section 1982.102 Obligations and Prohibited Acts

This section describes the activities that are protected under NTSSA and FRSA, and the conduct that is prohibited in response to any protected activities. Minor corrections have been made throughout this section to more closely parallel NTSSA and FRSA and OSHA's procedural rules under other whistleblower statutes and the section has been renumbered to better comply with the drafting requirements of the Federal Register.

In light of OSHA's revised position regarding 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1) discussed above, the regulatory text for this section of FRSA has been modified to more closely mirror the statutory text of section 20109(c) and to include the (c)(1) provision as 29 CFR 1982.102(b)(3)(i).

Rail Labor and the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department each commented on the exception to FRSA's prompt medical attention provision in 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(2) permitting a railroad carrier to refuse to allow an employee to return to work when that refusal is pursuant to FRA's medical standards for fitness of duty, or, if no such standards exist, then pursuant to the railroad carrier's own medical standards for fitness of duty. They argued that this exception gives railroad carriers the ability to use groundless medical refusals as a substitute for retaliatory discipline or other forms of retaliation. Therefore, they urged OSHA to include a statement in the regulation that a railroad carrier's refusal must be done in good faith and with a reasonable basis of medical fact, and that when the railroad carrier is relying on its own standards, those standards must be established in the carrier's official policies, be medically reasonable, and uniformly applied. By contrast, the American Public Transportation Association commented that the protection against discipline for requesting medical treatment or following a treatment plan ignores management's right to discipline employees whose injuries are directly caused by a violation of work rules or procedures. This commenter suggested that this rule should recognize management's right to discipline employees in such situations, and that this right is independent of management's obligation not to discipline an employee for requesting medical treatment.

OSHA declines to change the text of these regulations in response to these comments but notes that these commenters raise legitimate concerns regarding the adjudication of cases under FRSA. For example, the question of whether a railroad's discipline of an employee is in retaliation for requesting medical treatment or results from the legitimate application of a work rule or procedure is often the central question in a FRSA complaint. In each complaint, that question should be resolved based on the specific facts of the case and the applicable case law.

Similarly, OSHA believes that the safe-harbor in 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(2) requires that the railroad's refusal to allow an employee to return to work be in good faith. A retaliatory refusal to permit an employee to return to work cannot properly be regarded as made “pursuant to” FRA's or the carrier's own medical standards for fitness for duty under the statute. Any other interpretation of the provision would permit a railroad carrier to refuse to allow an employee to return to work in retaliation against the employee for reporting the injury (which would violate 20109(a)(4)) or as a means for extending retaliatory discipline prohibited by 20109(c)(2). However, OSHA declines to incorporate the language proposed by the commenters into the rule, which mirrors the statutory language. Evidence that a railroad carrier's refusal to allow an employee to return to work is not reasonable based on the employee's medical condition may be important to show that the refusal is not in good faith and constitutes retaliation. Evidence that a refusal is based on carrier standards that are not recorded in the carrier's official policies, not uniformly applied or not medically reasonable likewise may help to demonstrate that the refusal is due not to a legitimate safety concern of the railroad carrier but rather is motivated by retaliatory intent. However, the question of whether a particular refusal to permit an employee to return to work falls outside 20109(c)(2)'s safe harbor turns on the facts of the case and should be adjudicated in accordance with the applicable case law.

Finally, in a change that is not intended to have substantive effect, the terms “retaliate” and “retaliation” have been substituted for the terms “discriminate” and “discrimination,” which were used in the interim final rule. This change makes the terminology used in this rule consistent with the terminology in OSHA's more recently promulgated whistleblower rules. Subheadings have been added to more clearly indicate which activities are protected under NTSSA and which are protected under FRSA and the paragraphs have been renumbered as needed to comply with Federal Register drafting requirements and to reflect that the protections in 49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1) have been added.

Section 1982.103 Filing of Retaliation Complaints

This section explains the requirements for filing a retaliation complaint under NTSSA and FRSA. To be timely, a complaint must be filed within 180 days of when the alleged violation occurs. Under Delaware State College v. Ricks, 449 U.S. 250, 258 (1980), this is considered to be when the retaliatory decision has been both made and communicated to the complainant. In other words, the limitations period commences once the employee is aware or reasonably should be aware of the employer's decision to take an adverse action, not when the employee learns of the retaliatory nature of the action. See Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 249 F.3d 557, 561-62 (6th Cir. 2001). Complaints filed under NTSSA or FRSA need not be in any particular form. They may be either oral or in writing. If the complainant is unable to file the complaint in English, OSHA will accept the complaint in any language. With the consent of the employee, complaints may be filed by any person on the employee's behalf.

GAP expressed support for Sections 1982.103(b) (nature of filing) and (d) (time for filing), which outline the form of filing and the time for filing, respectively, and commented that they improved protection for whistleblowers. GAP also asked that the text of section 1982.103(d) clarify that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing a complaint under FRSA and NTSSA does not begin to run until an employee becomes aware of an alleged retaliatory act. OSHA believes that the rule as drafted properly states the statute of limitations but has added a sentence to further explain that because OSHA may consider the statute of limitations tolled for reasons warranted by applicable case law. OSHA may, for example, consider the time for filing a complaint equitably tolled if a complainant mistakenly files a complaint with another agency instead of OSHA within 180 days after becoming aware of the alleged violation.

AAR asserted that complaints should be accepted only in writing, not orally as well. AAR argued that permitting oral complaints is not consistent with the regulations in AIR 21, which section 20109(d)(2) of FRSA requires the Secretary to follow in administering FRSA actions. AAR further argues that FRSA's use of the word “filing” in section 20109(d)(1) contemplates a writing. According to AAR, requiring written complaints is better from a policy perspective because written complaints are clearer and less burdensome and inefficient for both OSHA and employers. ASLRRA similarly urged OSHA to require that all complaints must be in writing, for much the same reasons that AAR expressed. In addition, ASLRRA suggested that written complaints must include a statement of the acts and omissions, with pertinent dates, that are believed to have created the statutory violation.

OSHA declines to adopt AAR's and ASLRRA's suggestion and will permit complaints to be made orally or in writing. Submission of a complaint in writing is not a statutory requirement of NTSSA, FRSA, or AIR 21. Cf. Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 131 S. Ct. 1325, 2011 WL 977061, at *2 (2011) (the statutory term “filed any complaint” in the Fair Labor Standards Act includes oral as well as written complaints). OSHA is generally updating its whistleblower procedures to allow oral complaints. Permitting oral complaints is consistent with decisions of the ARB permitting oral complaints. See, e.g., Roberts v. Rivas Env't Consultants, Inc., ARB No. 97-026, 1997 WL 578330, at *3 n.6 (ARB Sept. 17, 1997) (complainant's oral statement to an OSHA investigator, and the subsequent preparation of an internal memorandum by that investigator summarizing the oral complaint, satisfies the “in writing” requirement of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9610(b), and the Department's accompanying regulations in 29 CFR part 24); Dartey v. Zack Co. of Chicago, No. 82-ERA-2, 1983 WL 189787, at *3 n.1 (Office of Admin. App. Apr. 25, 1983) (adopting ALJ's findings that complainant's filing of a complaint to the wrong DOL office did not render the filing invalid and that the agency's memorandum of the complaint satisfied the “in writing” requirement of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, as amended, (ERA), 42 U.S.C. 5851, and the Department's accompanying regulations in 29 CFR part 24). Moreover, this is consistent with OSHA's longstanding practice of accepting oral complaints filed under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 660(c); Section 211 of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986, 15 U.S.C. 2651; Section 7 of the International Safe Container Act of 1977, 46 U.S.C. 80507; and the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, 49 U.S.C. 31105.

OSHA notes that a complaint of retaliation filed with OSHA under NTSSA and FRSA is not a formal document and need not conform to the pleading standards for complaints filed in federal district court articulated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). See Sylvester v. Parexel Int'l, Inc., ARB No. 07-123, 2011 WL 2165854, at *9-10 (ARB May 26, 2011) (holding whistleblower complaints filed with OSHA under analogous provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act need not conform to federal court pleading standards). Rather, the complaint filed with OSHA under this section simply alerts the agency to the existence of the alleged retaliation and the complainant's desire that the agency investigate the complaint. Upon the filing of a complaint with OSHA, OSHA is to determine whether “the complaint, supplemented as appropriate by interviews of the complainant” alleges “the existence of facts and evidence to make a prima facie showing,” 29 CFR 1982.104(e). As explained in section 1982.104(e), if the complaint, supplemented as appropriate, contains a prima facie allegation, and the respondent does not show clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the alleged protected activity, OSHA conducts an investigation to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that retaliation has occurred. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(2)(B) (providing burdens of proof applicable to complaints under NTSSA); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(2)(B) (providing the burdens of proof applicable to complaints under FRSA).

In the final rule, OSHA has deleted the phrase “by an employer” from paragraph (a) of this section in order to better reflect NTSSA's and FRSA's statutory provisions prohibiting retaliation by officers and employees as well as railroad carriers, public transportation agencies and those entities' contractors and subcontractors, and has made other minor changes as needed to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.104 Investigation

This section describes the procedures that apply to the investigation of complaints under NTSSA and FRSA. Paragraph (a) of this section outlines the procedures for notifying the parties and appropriate federal agencies of the complaint and notifying the respondent of its rights under these regulations. Paragraph (b) describes the procedures for the respondent to submit its response to the complaint. As explained below, paragraph (c) has been revised in response to the comments to state that OSHA will request that the parties provide each other with copies of their submissions to OSHA during the investigation and that, if a party does not provide such copies, OSHA will do so at a time permitting the other party an opportunity to respond to those submissions. Before providing such materials, OSHA will redact them in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, et seq., and other applicable confidentiality laws. Paragraph (d) of this section discusses confidentiality of information provided during investigations.

Paragraph (e) of this section sets forth NTSSA's and FRSA's statutory burdens of proof. FRSA adopts the burdens of proof provided under AIR 21, 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(2), which are the same as those provided under NTSSA. Therefore, this paragraph generally conforms to the similar provision in the regulations implementing AIR 21.

The statutes require that a complainant make an initial prima facie showing that a protected activity was “a contributing factor” in the adverse action alleged in the complaint, i.e., that the protected activity, alone or in combination with other factors, affected in some way the outcome of the employer's decision. The complainant will be considered to have met the required burden if the complaint on its face, supplemented as appropriate through interviews of the complainant, alleges the existence of facts and either direct or circumstantial evidence to meet the required showing. The complainant's burden may be satisfied, for example, if he or she shows that the adverse action took place within a temporal proximity of the protected activity, or at the first opportunity available to the respondent, giving rise to the inference that it was a contributing factor in the adverse action. See, e.g., Porter v. Cal. Dep't of Corrs., 419 F.3d 885, 895 (9th Cir. 2005) (years between the protected activity and the retaliatory actions did not defeat a finding of a causal connection where the defendant did not have the opportunity to retaliate until he was given responsibility for making personnel decisions).

If the complainant does not make the required prima facie showing, the investigation must be discontinued and the complaint dismissed. See Trimmer v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 174 F.3d 1098, 1101 (10th Cir. 1999) (noting that the burden-shifting framework of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (ERA), which is the same as those under NTSSA and FRSA, serves a “gatekeeping function” that “stem[s] frivolous complaints”). Even in cases where the complainant successfully makes a prima facie showing, the investigation must be discontinued if the employer demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have taken the same adverse action in the absence of the protected activity. Thus, OSHA must dismiss a complaint under NTSSA or FRSA and not investigate further if either: (1) The complainant fails to meet the prima facie showing that protected activity was a contributing factor in the alleged adverse action; or (2) the employer rebuts that showing by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same adverse action absent the protected activity.

Assuming that an investigation proceeds beyond the gatekeeping phase, the statute requires OSHA to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that protected activity was a contributing factor in the alleged adverse action. A contributing factor is “any factor which, alone or in connection with other factors, tends to affect in any way the outcome of the decision.” Araujo v. New Jersey Transit Rail Ops., Inc., 708 F.3d 152, 158 (3d Cir. 2013), quoting Marano v. Dep't of Justice, 2 F.3d 1137, 1140 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks, emphasis and citation omitted) (discussing the Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. 1221(e)(1)). For protected activity to be a contributing factor in the adverse action, “a complainant need not necessarily prove that the respondent's articulated reason was a pretext in order to prevail,” because a complainant alternatively can prevail by showing that the respondent's “reason, while true, is only one of the reasons for its conduct,” and that another reason was the complainant's protected activity. See Klopfenstein v. PCC Flow Techs. Holdings, Inc., ARB No. 04-149, 2006 WL 3246904, at *13 (ARB May 31, 2006) (quoting Rachid v. Jack in the Box, Inc., 376 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2004)) (discussing contributing factor test under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower provision), aff'd sub nom. Klopfenstein v. Admin. Review Bd., U.S. Dep't of Labor, 402 F. App'x 936, 2010 WL 4746668 (5th Cir. 2010).

If OSHA finds reasonable cause to believe that the alleged protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action, OSHA may not order relief if the employer demonstrates by “clear and convincing evidence” that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the protected activity. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(2)(B)(iv); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(2)(B)(iv). The “clear and convincing evidence” standard is a higher burden of proof than a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain. Clarke v. Navajo Express, ARB No. 09-114, 2011 WL 2614326, at *3 (ARB June 29, 2011); see also Araujo, 708 F.3d at 159.

Paragraph (f) describes the procedures OSHA will follow prior to the issuance of findings and a preliminary order when OSHA has reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred and that preliminary reinstatement is warranted.

NWC, GAP, AAR, and ASLRRA commented on the provisions in section 1982.104. NWC suggested that the phrase “other applicable confidentiality laws” in 1982.104(c) be replaced with more specific language describing the confidentiality laws that might apply to a respondent's answer. NWC also suggested that OSHA provide a copy of the response to the complainant, and give the complainant an opportunity to respond. NWC noted that to conduct a full and fair investigation, OSHA needs to obtain the available, responsive information from both parties. If one party does not have the information submitted by the other, NWC explained, that party cannot help the investigation by providing available information to shed light on the matter.

GAP commented that while it was pleased with the provisions in section 1982.104 providing copies of respondent's submissions to complainants and protecting witness confidentiality, it was concerned that the procedures under section 1982.104(f) “disenfranchise[d] the victim, giving only one side of the dispute the chance to participate in the most significant step of the process” and that “[a]t a minimum, this procedural favoritism means there will not be an even playing field in the administrative hearing.” GAP advocated removing section 1982.104(f).

AAR commented that a complainant should not have access to a railroad carrier's confidential and/or privileged information, including internal business records, and investigative materials. According to AAR, it would be unfair for OSHA to provide such information to the complainant when a railroad carrier would be able to protect itself from the disclosure of such information in the context of litigation. AAR proposed that OSHA amend the language in 1982.104(c) to state that OSHA will not provide the complainant with any information the railroad carrier marks “confidential,” and that if OSHA disagrees with the railroad carrier's determination, OSHA will afford the railroad carrier an opportunity to justify its position before disclosure.

AAR also proposed that OSHA should allow railroad carriers access to all of OSHA's interview notes, submissions, testimony, and other evidence (redacted if necessary). It also suggested that OSHA broaden the language in paragraph (f) to require OSHA to provide the employer with the allegations and evidence relied upon by the complainant as OSHA processes a complaint, and that the employer should receive this information regardless of whether reinstatement is an issue. AAR argued that, overall, section 1982.104 puts the railroad carrier and the complainant on unequal footing, with the complainant having more timely access to information than the railroad carrier. AAR further noted that the comparable regulation under AIR 21, 29 CFR 1979.104(a), requires OSHA to provide the respondent “the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint” upon receipt of the complaint, rather than waiting until the Secretary believes preliminary reinstatement is warranted as in section 1982.104(f). According to AAR, providing the respondent with the evidence supporting the complaint at that late stage in the proceeding, as is contemplated by section 1982.104, is inconsistent with the statutory directive that AIR 21 procedures apply. AAR suggested that the respondent be provided with all of the evidence at the outset of a case, as well as throughout the course of a case.

Lastly, ASLRRA expressed concern with the statement in section 1982.104(e)(3) that a complainant may satisfy his prima facie showing requirement by showing that the adverse action took place shortly after the protected activity. According to ASLRRA, timing alone is insufficient to establish a prima face case of retaliation as timing is only one of many factors to consider. Further, according to ASLRRA, relying on timing is particularly problematic in a unionized workplace, where employers are contractually obligated to follow certain disciplinary procedures with short time limits.

Regarding NWC's suggestion that OSHA provide more specific information about the confidentiality laws that may protect portions of the information submitted by a respondent and AAR's concern regarding protection of information that would not otherwise be discoverable, OSHA believes that the vast majority of respondent submissions will not be subject to any confidentiality laws. However, OSHA recognizes that, in addition to the Privacy Act, a variety of confidentiality provisions may protect information submitted during the course of an investigation. For example, a respondent may submit information that the respondent identifies as confidential commercial or financial information exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OSHA's procedures for handling information identified as confidential during an investigation are explained in OSHA's Whistleblower Investigations Manual, available at: http://www.whistleblowers.gov/regulations_page.html. As the investigation manual illustrates, OSHA is cognizant of the protections available to employers and therefore believes there is no need to modify the regulatory text to ensure that employers' confidential information is protected.

With regard to NWC and GAP's comments seeking more opportunities for the complainant to be involved in the investigation of the complainant's whistleblower complaint, OSHA agrees with NWC and GAP that the input of both parties in the investigation is important to ensuring that OSHA reaches the proper outcome during its investigation and has made two changes in response to these comments. Section 1982.104(c) of the IFR provided that, throughout the investigation, the agency would provide the complainant (or the complainant's legal counsel if the complainant is represented by counsel) a copy of all of respondent's submissions to the agency that are responsive to the complainant's whistleblower complaint, redacted of confidential information as necessary. In response to the commenters, the final rule has been revised to state that OSHA will request that the parties provide each other with copies of their submissions to OSHA during the investigation and that, if a party does not provide such copies, OSHA will do so at a time permitting the other party an opportunity to respond to those submissions. Also, section 1982.104(f) provides that the complainant will receive a copy of the materials that must be provided to the respondent under that paragraph.

With regard to GAP's comment that section 1982.104(f) should be removed and AAR's comment that this provision should be expanded to all cases regardless of whether reinstatement is at issue, OSHA notes that the purpose of 1982.104(f) is to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling in Brock v. Roadway Express, 481 U.S. 252, 264 (1987). In that decision, the Court upheld the facial constitutionality of the analogous provisions providing for preliminary reinstatement under STAA, 49 U.S.C. 31105, and the procedures adopted by OSHA to protect the respondent's rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, but ruled that the record failed to show that OSHA investigators had informed the respondent of the substance of the evidence to support reinstatement of the discharged employee. In so finding, the Court noted that although a formal hearing was not required before OSHA ordered preliminary reinstatement “minimum due process for the employer in this context requires notice of the employee's allegations, notice of the substance of the relevant supporting evidence, an opportunity to submit a written response, and an opportunity to meet with the investigator and present statements from rebuttal witnesses.” Roadway Express, 481 U.S. at 264; see Bechtel v. Competitive Techs., Inc., 448 F.3d 469, 480-81 (Leval, J., concurring) (finding OSHA's preliminary reinstatement order under Sarbanes-Oxley unenforceable because the information provided to the respondent did not meet the requirements of Roadway Express). Thus, OSHA declines to remove the language providing the respondent notice and opportunity to respond under section 1982.104(f). Also, because in cases not involving preliminary reinstatement all of the remedies in the Secretary's preliminary order are stayed if the respondent files objections and requests a hearing, OSHA believes that the hearing procedures provided by these rules adequately protect respondents' due process rights in those cases. Expanding the application of section 1982.104(f) to cases not involving preliminary reinstatement would significantly delay investigations of FRSA and NTSSA cases but would not ensure any additional due process rights for respondents.

Also in response to AAR's comments regarding the information to be provided to respondents during the investigation, OSHA agrees, in part, with AAR's comments. NTSAA and FRSA, through its incorporation of AIR 21's rules and procedures, both indicate that the Secretary, upon receipt of a complaint, shall notify the respondent not only of the filing of the complaint, but also of the allegations contained in the complaint and of the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(1); 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(1). Accordingly, the Department has revised section 1982.104(a) to reflect this statutory language and to be consistent with AIR 21's regulation at section 1979.104(a).

Lastly, OSHA rejects ASLRRA's comment that 1982.104(e) should be revised to state that the timing of an adverse action alone is insufficient to establish a causal connection between the complainant's protected activity and the adverse action. At the gatekeeping phase, where OSHA is simply determining whether to conduct an investigation, the timing of the adverse action may be sufficient to give rise to an inference that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action so that the investigation may proceed. See Taylor v. Wells Fargo Bank, ARB No. 05-062, 2007 WL 7143176, at *3 n.12 (ARB June 28, 2007) (temporal proximity may establish the causal connection component of the prima facie case under Sarbanes-Oxley); see also Bullington v. United Air Lines, Inc., 186 F.3d 1301, 1320 (10th Cir. 1999) (the causal connection necessary to show a prima facie case under Title VII or the ADEA may be inferred by protected conduct closely followed by adverse action); Davis v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., Civ. A. No. 5:12-CV-2738, 2014 WL 3499228, at *9 (W.D. La. July 14, 2014) (finding temporal proximity between protected injury report and adverse action sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment for railroad). This approach is consistent with the approach that OSHA has taken under other whistleblower statutes employing the same burdens of proof as FRSA and NTSSA. See, e.g., 29 CFR 1979.104(e) (AIR 21); 29 CFR 1980.104(e) (Sarbanes-Oxley); Procedures for the Handling of Discrimination Complaints under Federal Employee Protection Statutes, 63 FR 6614-01, 6618 (Feb. 9, 1998) (explaining that under ERA temporal proximity is normally sufficient to establish causation at the gatekeeping phase). OSHA believes that it would be overly restrictive to require a complainant to provide evidence of retaliation (as distinguished from a showing) when the only purpose is to trigger an investigation to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that retaliation has occurred. Complainants in many cases do not have the knowledge or the resources to submit “evidence” of retaliation other than temporal proximity at the outset of OSHA's investigation.

In addition to the revisions noted above, minor changes were made as needed in this section to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.105 Issuance of Findings and Preliminary Orders

This section provides that, on the basis of information obtained in the investigation, the Assistant Secretary will issue, within 60 days of the filing of a complaint, written findings regarding whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the complaint has merit. If the findings are that there is reasonable cause to believe that the complaint has merit, the Assistant Secretary will order appropriate relief, including preliminary reinstatement and back pay with interest and compensatory damages. To reflect the statutory language of FRSA and NTSSA and the agency's current practice, OSHA modified paragraph (a)(1) in the final rule to mirror the remedies listed in the statutes, including adding “interest” to the description of compensation that can be included in the preliminary order.

In ordering interest on back pay under FRSA and NTSSA, the Secretary has determined that interest due will be computed by compounding daily the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interest rate for the underpayment of taxes which, under 26 U.S.C. 6621, is generally the Federal short-term rate plus three percentage points.

In the Secretary's view, 26 U.S.C. 6621 provides the appropriate rate of interest to ensure that victims of unlawful retaliation under FRSA and NTSSA are made whole. The Secretary has long applied the interest rate in 26 U.S.C. 6621 to calculate interest on back pay in whistleblower cases. Doyle v. Hydro Nuclear Servs., ARB Nos. 99-041, 99-042, 00-012, 2000 WL 694384, at * 14-15, 17 (ARB May 17, 2000); see also Cefalu v. Roadway Express, Inc., ARB No. 09-070, 2011 WL 1247212, at * 2 (ARB Mar. 17, 2011); Pollock v. Cont'l Express, ARB Nos. 07-073, 08-051, 2010 WL 1776974, at * 8 (ARB Apr. 10, 2010); Murray v. Air Ride, Inc., ARB No. 00-045, slip op. at 9 (ARB Dec. 29, 2000). Section 6621 provides the appropriate measure of compensation under NTSSA, FRSA and other DOL-administered whistleblower statutes because it ensures the complainant will be placed in the same position he or she would have been in if no unlawful retaliation occurred. See Ass't Sec'y v. Double R. Trucking, Inc., ARB Case No. 99-061, slip op. at 5 (ARB July 16, 1999) (interest awards pursuant to § 6621 are mandatory elements of complainant's make-whole remedy). Section 6621 provides a reasonably accurate prediction of market outcomes (which represents the loss of investment opportunity by the complainant and the employer's benefit from use of the withheld money) and thus provides the complainant with appropriate make-whole relief. See EEOC v. Erie Cnty., 751 F.2d 79, 82 (2d Cir. 1984) (“[s]ince the goal of a suit under the [Fair Labor Standards Act] and the Equal Pay Act is to make whole the victims of the unlawful underpayment of wages, and since [§ 6621] has been adopted as a good indicator of the value of the use of money, it was well within” the district court's discretion to calculate prejudgment interest under § 6621); New Horizons for the Retarded, 283 N.L.R.B. No. 181, 1987 WL 89652, at * 2 (May 28, 1987) (observing that “the short-term Federal rate [used by § 6621] is based on average market yields on marketable Federal obligations and is influenced by private economic market forces”).

The Secretary also believes that daily compounding of interest achieves the make-whole purpose of a back pay award. Daily compounding of interest has become the norm in private lending and was found to be the most appropriate method of calculating interest on back pay by the National Labor Relations Board. See Jackson Hosp. Corp. v. United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Mfg., Energy, Allied Indus. & Serv. Workers Int'l Union, 356 N.L.R.B. No. 8, 2010 WL 4318371, at * 3-4 (Oct. 22, 2010). Additionally, interest on tax underpayments under the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 6621, is compounded daily pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 6622(a). Thus, paragraph (a)(1) of this section now states that interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily.

In ordering back pay, OSHA also will require the respondent to submit the appropriate documentation to the Railroad Retirement Board or the Social Security Administration, as appropriate, allocating the back pay to the appropriate months (for employees who may be entitled to benefits under the Railroad Retirement Act) or calendar quarters (for employees who may be entitled to Social Security benefits). Requiring the reporting of back pay allocation to the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security Administration serves the remedial purposes of FRSA and NTSSA by ensuring that employees subjected to retaliation are truly made whole. See Don Chavas, LLC d/b/a Tortillas Don Chavas, 361 NLRB No. 10, 2014 WL 3897178, at * 4-5 (NLRB Aug. 8, 2014). As the NLRB has explained, when back pay is not properly allocated to the years covered by the award, a complainant may be disadvantaged in several ways. First, improper allocation may interfere with a complainant's ability to qualify for any old-age Social Security benefit. Id. at * 4 (“Unless a [complainant's] multiyear backpay award is allocated to the appropriate years, she will not receive appropriate credit for the entire period covered by the award, and could therefore fail to qualify for any old-age social security benefit.”). Second, improper allocation may reduce the complainant's eventual monthly benefit. Id. As the NLRB explained, “if a backpay award covering a multi-year period is posted as income for 1 year, it may result in SSA treating the [complainant] as having received wages in that year in excess of the annual contribution and benefit base.” Id. Wages above this base are not subject to Social Security taxes, which reduces the amount paid on the employee's behalf. “As a result, the [complainant's] eventual monthly benefit will be reduced because participants receive a greater benefit when they have paid more into the system.” Id. Finally, “social security benefits are calculated using a progressive formula: Although a participant receives more in benefits when she pays more into the system, the rate of return diminishes at higher annual incomes.” Therefore, a complainant may “receive a smaller monthly benefit when a multiyear award is posted to 1 year rather than being allocated to the appropriate periods, even if social security taxes were paid on the entire amount.” Id. The purpose of a make-whole remedy such as back pay is to put the complainant in the same position the complainant would have been absent the prohibited retaliation. That purpose is not achieved when the complainant suffers the disadvantages described above. Therefore, OSHA has revised section (a)(1) of this paragraph to state that a preliminary order containing an award of back pay will also require the respondent to submit documentation to the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security Administration to properly allocate back pay to the appropriate months or calendar quarters.

The findings and, where appropriate, preliminary order, advise the parties of their right to file objections to the findings of the Assistant Secretary and to request a hearing. The findings and, where appropriate, preliminary order, also advise the respondent of the right under NTSSA to request an award of attorney fees not exceeding $1,000 from the ALJ, regardless of whether the respondent has filed objections, if the respondent alleges that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith. If no objections are filed within 30 days of receipt of the findings, the findings and any preliminary order of the Assistant Secretary become the final findings and order of the Secretary. If objections are timely filed, any order of preliminary reinstatement will take effect, but the remaining provisions of the order will not take effect until administrative proceedings are completed.

In appropriate circumstances, in lieu of preliminary reinstatement, OSHA may order that the complainant receive the same pay and benefits that he received prior to his termination, but not actually return to work. Such “economic reinstatement” frequently is employed in cases arising under Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which protects miners from retaliation (30 U.S.C. 815(c)). See, e.g., Sec'y of Labor on behalf of York v. BR&D Enters., Inc., 23 FMSHRC 697, 2001 WL 1806020, at * 1 (ALJ June 26, 2001).

AAR and ASLRRA commented on the language in the preamble regarding economic reinstatement and urged OSHA to delete any reference to economic reinstatement. ASLRRA argued that OSHA does not have the authority under FRSA to require this remedy because it is not discussed in the statute and reliance on the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act is insufficient. AAR similarly argued that section 20109(d) of FRSA specifies the exclusive remedies available, and economic reinstatement is not listed as one of those remedies. In addition, both ASLRRA and AAR maintained that it is unfair to order economic reinstatement given the fact that it may take many months before the preliminary order requiring economic reinstatement is fully adjudicated and reviewed and that the employer cannot recover the costs of economic reinstatement if the employer ultimately prevails. AAR asserted that the only instance in which economic reinstatement is appropriate is when the railroad carrier voluntarily agrees to such a remedy.

OSHA declines to revise the rule in response to these comments. OSHA believes that it has the authority to order economic reinstatement. Economic reinstatement is akin to an order of front pay. Front pay has been recognized as a possible remedy under whistleblower statutes in limited circumstances where actual reinstatement would not be possible. See, e.g., Moder v. Vill. of Jackson, ARB Nos. 01-095, 02-039, 2003 WL 21499864, at * 10 (ARB June 30, 2003) (under environmental whistleblower statutes, “front pay may be an appropriate substitute when the parties prove the impossibility of a productive and amicable working relationship, or the company no longer has a position for which the complainant is qualified”); Hobby v. Georgia Power Co., ARB No. 98-166, 2001 WL 168898, at * 6-10 (ARB Feb. 9, 2001), aff'd sub nom. Hobby v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, No. 01-10916 (11th Cir. Sept. 30, 2002) (unpublished) (noting circumstances where front pay may be available in lieu of reinstatement but ordering reinstatement); Michaud v. BSP Transp., Inc., ARB Nos. 97-113, 1997 WL 626849, at * 4 (ARB Oct. 9, 1997) (under STAA, front pay appropriate where employee was unable to work due to major depression resulting from the retaliation); Doyle v. Hydro Nuclear Servs., ARB Nos. 99-041, 99-042, 00-012, 1996 WL 518592, at * 6 (ARB Sept. 6, 1996) (under ERA, front pay appropriate where employer had eliminated the employee's position); Brown v. Lockheed Martin Corp., ALJ No. 2008-SOX-49, 2010 WL 2054426, at * 55-56 (ALJ Jan. 15, 2010) (noting that while reinstatement is the “presumptive remedy” under Sarbanes-Oxley, front pay may be awarded as a substitute when reinstatement is inappropriate).

However, OSHA emphasizes that Congress intended that employees be preliminarily reinstated to their positions if OSHA finds reasonable cause to believe that they were discharged in violation of NTSSA or FRSA. When a violation is found, the norm is for OSHA to order immediate preliminary reinstatement. Neither an employer nor an employee has a statutory right to choose economic reinstatement. Rather, economic reinstatement is designed to accommodate situations in which evidence establishes to OSHA's satisfaction that reinstatement is inadvisable for some reason, notwithstanding the employer's retaliatory discharge of the employee. In such situations, actual reinstatement might be delayed until after the administrative adjudication is completed as long as the employee continues to receive his or her pay and benefits and is not otherwise disadvantaged by a delay in reinstatement. There is no statutory basis for allowing the employer to recover the costs of economically reinstating an employee should the employer ultimately prevail in the whistleblower adjudication.

Two commenters addressed OSHA's authority to order reinstatement under FRSA in situations in which the railroad carrier asserts that such reinstatement will endanger the public, its property, and/or other employees. ASLRRA suggested that OSHA include an exception to the requirement that an employee be preliminarily reinstated immediately when a party has filed objections to OSHA's findings and/or order for situations in which the railroad carrier establishes that the employee poses a direct threat to the health or safety of himself or others. As support for this suggestion, ASLRRA pointed to a similar provision in the regulations under AIR 21 in which a preliminary reinstatement order is not appropriate when the employer establishes that the employee is a security risk, 29 CFR 1979.105(a)(1). Rail Labor suggested that OSHA respond to any arguments by railroad carriers that preliminary reinstatement is inappropriate when such reinstatement will endanger the public, the railroad carrier's property, or other employees by supplementing the regulatory language to state that the Assistant Secretary has sufficient discretion pursuant to section 1982.105 to balance the competing interests of the public, all employees, and the railroad carrier, and that the full range of remedies is available.

OSHA does not believe that it is necessary to include such an exception in the regulation as ASLRRA suggested or to supplement the language in the regulation as Rail Labor suggested because such cases may be adequately determined based on applicable case law. Also, the ALJ and the ARB each have sufficient discretion to stay a reinstatement order for exceptional circumstances, which may include the types of situations discussed by ASLRRA. See 1982.106(b); 1982.110(b).

AAR commented on the reference to “abatement” in section 1982.105(a)(1), and suggested that abatement under FRSA should be limited to relief for the individual employee. AAR asserted that, while section 20109 incorporates AIR 21's rules and procedures and AIR 21 provides for abatement as a remedy, 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(3)(B)(i), section 20109 of FRSA contains its own remedy provision, 49 U.S.C. 20109(e), and nothing in section 20109(e) provides for abatement orders directed at an employer's practices and procedures. As an initial matter, OSHA notes that this comment addresses FRSA only. NTSSA, like AIR 21, explicitly permits the Secretary to order the respondent to “take affirmative action to abate the violation.” 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(3)(B)(i).

As AAR notes, FRSA contains its own remedies provision, apart from AIR 21's remedies provision. FRSA prescribes remedies to make the employee whole, 49 U.S.C. 20109(e), notwithstanding FRSA's incorporation of the “rules and procedures” of AIR 21, 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A). OSHA believes that injunctive relief to abate a violation of a specific employee's rights can be an important element of making the employee whole. Such relief could include, for example, an order requiring a railroad carrier to expunge certain records from an employee's personnel file or an order requiring that a particular company policy not be applied to an employee where application of the policy would penalize the employee for having engaged in protected activity. The posting of a notice to employees regarding the resolution of a whistleblower complaint can be important to remedying the reputational harm an employee has suffered as a result of retaliation. In some instances, an order to provide training to managers or notice to employees regarding the rights protected by the statute at issue can assist in making the employee whole by ensuring that the circumstances that led to retaliation do not persist, thus remedying the employee's fear of future retaliation for having engaged in the protected activity that gave rise to employee's whistleblower complaint. Therefore, while OSHA is cognizant of the textual differences between NTSSA and FRSA, it has made no change in response to this comment to the text of 1982.105, which permits an order of abatement where appropriate.

In addition to the revisions noted above, which clarify the provision of interest on back pay awards and the allocation of back pay to the appropriate calendar quarters or months, minor changes were made as needed to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Subpart BLitigation Section 1982.106 Objections to the Findings and the Preliminary Order and Requests for a Hearing

To be effective, objections to the findings of the Assistant Secretary must be in writing and must be filed with the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20001 within 30 days of receipt of the findings. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or electronic communication transmittal is considered the date of the filing; if the objection is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the objection is filed upon receipt. The filing of objections is considered a request for a hearing before an ALJ. Although the parties are directed to serve a copy of their objections on the other parties of record, as well as the OSHA official who issued the findings and order, the Assistant Secretary, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards, the failure to serve copies of the objections on the other parties of record does not affect the ALJ's jurisdiction to hear and decide the merits of the case. See Shirani v. Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Inc., ARB No. 04-101, 2005 WL 2865915, at * 7 (ARB Oct. 31, 2005).

The timely filing of objections stays all provisions of the preliminary order, except for the portion requiring reinstatement. A respondent may file a motion to stay OSHA's preliminary order of reinstatement with the Office of Administrative Law Judges. However, such a motion will be granted only based on exceptional circumstances. Language was added to paragraph (b) of this section to make this point clear. A stay of the Assistant Secretary's preliminary order of reinstatement under FRSA or NTSSA would be appropriate only where the respondent can establish the necessary criteria for equitable injunctive relief, i.e., irreparable injury, likelihood of success on the merits, a balancing of possible harms to the parties, and the public interest favors a stay. See Bailey v. Consol. Rail Corp., ARB Nos. 13-030 13-033, 2013 WL 1385563, at * 2 (ARB Mar. 27, 2013) (discussing the factors for obtaining a stay of reinstatement under FRSA). If no timely objection to OSHA's findings and/or preliminary order is filed, then OSHA's findings and/or preliminary order become the final decision of the Secretary not subject to judicial review.

No comments were received on this section. The term “electronic communication transmittal” was substituted for “email communication” and other minor changes were made as needed to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.107 Hearings

This section adopts the rules of practice and procedure for administrative hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges at 29 CFR part 18 subpart A. It specifically provides for hearings to be consolidated where both the complainant and respondent object to the findings and/or order of the Assistant Secretary. This section further provides that the hearing is to commence expeditiously, except upon a showing of good cause or unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. Hearings will be conducted de novo, on the record.

In a revision from the interim final rule, paragraph (b) now notes the broad authority of ALJs to limit discovery in order to expedite the hearing. This change was made for consistency with OSHA's rules under other whistleblower statutes, which similarly note that the ALJ has broad authority to limit discovery. See, e.g., 29 CFR 1979.107 (AIR 21); 29 CFR 1980.107 (Sarbanes-Oxley). As with other whistleblower statutes administered by OSHA, FRSA, and NTSSA dictate that hearings “shall be conducted expeditiously” and allow complainants to seek de novo review of the complaint in federal court if the Secretary has not issued a final decision within 210 days after the filing of the complaint. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(7) and 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(3). The ALJ's broad discretion to limit discovery, for example by limiting the number of interrogatories, requests for production of documents, or depositions allowed, furthers Congress's intent to provide for expeditious hearings under FRSA and NTSSA.

Finally, this section has been revised to add paragraph (d), which specifies that the formal rules of evidence will not apply to proceedings before an ALJ under section 1982.107, but rules or principles designed to assure the production of the most probative evidence will be applied. The Department has taken the same approach under the other whistleblower statutes administered by OSHA. See, e.g., 29 CFR 1979.107 (AIR 21); 29 CFR 1980.107 (Sarbanes-Oxley). This approach is also consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides at 5 U.S.C. 556(d): “Any oral or documentary evidence may be received, but the agency as a matter of policy shall provide for the exclusion of irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence.” See also Federal Trade Comm'n v. Cement Inst., 333 U.S. 683, 805-06 (1948) (administrative agencies not restricted by rigid rules of evidence). The Secretary believes that it is inappropriate to apply the rules of evidence at 29 CFR part 18 subpart B because whistleblowers often appear pro se and may be disadvantaged by strict adherence to formal rules of evidence. Furthermore, hearsay evidence is often appropriate in whistleblower cases, as there often are no relevant documents or witnesses other than hearsay to prove retaliation ALJs have the responsibility to determine the appropriate weight to be given such evidence. For these reasons, the interests of determining all of the relevant facts are best served by not requiring strict evidentiary rules.

No comments were received on this section, but, as explained above, this section was revised to specify that the formal rules of evidence will not apply to proceedings before an ALJ under this section.

Section 1982.108 Role of Federal Agencies

The Assistant Secretary, at his or her discretion, may participate as a party or amicus curiae at any time in the administrative proceedings under NTSSA or FRSA. For example, the Assistant Secretary may exercise his or her discretion to prosecute the case in the administrative proceeding before an ALJ; petition for review of a decision of an ALJ, including a decision based on a settlement agreement between the complainant and the respondent, regardless of whether the Assistant Secretary participated before the ALJ; or participate as amicus curiae before the ALJ or in the ARB proceeding. Although OSHA anticipates that ordinarily the Assistant Secretary will not participate, the Assistant Secretary may choose to do so in appropriate cases, such as cases involving important or novel legal issues, large numbers of employees, alleged violations which appear egregious, or where the interests of justice might require participation by the Assistant Secretary. The Department of Transportation or the Department of Homeland Security, at each agency's discretion, also may participate as amicus curiae at any time in the proceedings. No comments were received on this section; however, it has been revised to specify that parties need only send documents to OSHA and the Department of Labor's Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards when OSHA requests that documents be sent, OSHA is participating in the proceeding, or service on OSHA is otherwise required by these rules. Other minor changes were made as needed to clarify this provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.109 Decision and Orders of the Administrative Law Judge

This section sets forth the requirements for the content of the decision and order of the ALJ, and includes the standard for finding a violation under NTSSA or FRSA. Paragraphs (a) and (b) set forth the burdens of proof that apply to claims under NTSSA and FRSA. Specifically, the complainant must demonstrate (i.e. prove by a preponderance of the evidence) that the protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the adverse action. See, e.g., Allen v. Admin. Review Bd., 514 F.3d 468, 475 n.1 (5th Cir. 2008) (“The term `demonstrates' [under identical burden-shifting scheme in the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower provision] means to prove by a preponderance of the evidence.”). If the employee demonstrates that the alleged protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action, the employer, to escape liability, must demonstrate by “clear and convincing evidence” that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the protected activity. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(2)(B)(iv); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(2)(B)(iv). The section further provides that the Assistant Secretary's determination to dismiss the complaint without an investigation or without a complete investigation pursuant to section 1982.104 is not subject to review. Thus, paragraph (c) of section 1982.109 clarifies that the Assistant Secretary's determinations on whether to proceed with an investigation under NTSSA or FRSA and whether to make particular investigative findings under either of the statutes subject to this part are discretionary decisions not subject to review by the ALJ. The ALJ hears cases de novo and, therefore, as a general matter, may not remand cases to the Assistant Secretary to conduct an investigation or make further factual findings. A full discussion of the burdens of proof used by the Department to resolve whistleblower cases under this part is set forth above in the discussion of section 1982.104.

Paragraph (d) notes the remedies that the ALJ may order under NTSSA or FRSA and, as discussed under section 1982.105 above, provides that interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily. Paragraph (d) has also been revised to provide that the respondent will be required to submit appropriate documentation to the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, as appropriate, allocating any back pay award to the appropriate calendar quarters or months.

Paragraph (e) requires that the ALJ's decision be served on all parties to the proceeding, the Assistant Secretary, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards. Paragraph (e) also provides that any ALJ decision requiring reinstatement or lifting an order of reinstatement by the Assistant Secretary will be effective immediately upon receipt of the decision by the respondent. All other portions of the ALJ's order will be effective 14 days after the date of the decision unless a timely petition for review has been filed with the Administrative Review Board.

OSHA has revised the period for filing a timely petition for review with the ARB to 14 days rather than 10 business days. With this change, the final rule expresses the time for a petition for review in a way that is consistent with the other deadlines for filings before the ALJs and the ARB in the rule, which are also expressed in days rather than business days. This change also makes the final rule congruent with the 2009 amendments to Rule 6(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 26(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which govern computation of time before those tribunals and express filing deadlines as days rather than business days. Accordingly, the ALJ's order will become the final order of the Secretary 14 days after the date of the decision, rather than after 10 business days, unless a timely petition for review is filed. As a practical matter, this revision does not substantively alter the window of time for filing a petition for review before the ALJ's order becomes final.

AAR urged OSHA to include in this section a provision permitting an ALJ in a FRSA case to award the employer up to $1,000 in reasonable attorney fees if the ALJ determines that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith. AAR pointed out that FRSA requires that AIR 21 rules and procedures be used in FRSA actions, and that the AIR 21 statute and regulations provide for attorney fees in such circumstances. See 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(3)(C); 29 CFR 1979.109(b). OSHA does not believe that such a provision is warranted under FRSA. FRSA incorporates only the rules and procedures of AIR 21. It does not incorporate the attorney-fee provision from AIR 21. See Vason v. Port Auth. Trans Hudson, ALJ No. 2010-FRS-00038, at 3-4 (ALJ Dec. 20, 2010) (concluding that AIR 21's attorney fee provision for cases that are frivolous or brought in bad faith is not a “rule” or “procedure” and therefore FRSA's incorporation of AIR 21's rules and procedures does not incorporate AIR 21's attorney fee provision).

Modifications were made to this section to match the language regarding remedies in 1982.105(a)(1). The statement that the decision of the ALJ will become the final order of the Secretary unless a petition for review is timely filed with the ARB and the ARB accepts the petition for review was deleted from section 1982.110(a) and moved to paragraph (e) of this section. Additional minor changes were made to clarify this provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.110 Decision and Orders of the Administrative Review Board

Upon the issuance of the ALJ's decision, the parties have 14 days within which to petition the ARB for review of that decision. If no timely petition for review is filed with the ARB, the decision of the ALJ becomes the final decision of the Secretary and is not subject to judicial review. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or electronic communication transmittal is considered to be the date of filing of the petition; if the petition is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the petition is considered filed upon receipt.

The appeal provisions in this part provide that an appeal to the ARB is not a matter of right but is accepted at the discretion of the ARB. The parties should identify in their petitions for review the legal conclusions or orders to which they object, or the objections may be deemed waived. The ARB has 30 days to decide whether to grant the petition for review. If the ARB does not grant the petition, the decision of the ALJ becomes the final decision of the Secretary. If a timely petition for review is filed with the ARB, any relief ordered by the ALJ, except for that portion ordering reinstatement, is inoperative while the matter is pending before the ARB. When the ARB accepts a petition for review, the ALJ's factual determinations will be reviewed under the substantial evidence standard. In order to be consistent with the practices and procedures followed in OSHA's other whistleblower programs, and to provide further clarification of the regulatory text, OSHA has modified the language of section 1982.110(c) to clarify when the ALJ proceedings conclude and when the final decision of the ARB will be issued.

This section also provides that, based on exceptional circumstances, the ARB may grant a motion to stay an ALJ's preliminary order of reinstatement under NTSSA or FRSA, which otherwise would be effective, while review is conducted by the ARB. A stay of an ALJ's preliminary order of reinstatement under NTSSA or FRSA would be appropriate only where the respondent can establish the necessary criteria for equitable injunctive relief, i.e., irreparable injury, likelihood of success on the merits, a balancing of possible harms to the parties, and the public interest favors a stay. See Bailey, 2013 WL 1385563, at * 2 (discussing the factors for obtaining a stay of reinstatement under FRSA).

If the ARB concludes that the respondent has violated the law, it will order the remedies listed in paragraph (d). Interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily. If the ARB determines that the respondent has not violated the law, an order will be issued denying the complaint. In addition, when back pay is ordered, the respondent will be required to submit appropriate documentation to the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, as appropriate, allocating any back pay award to the appropriate months or calendar quarters. If, upon the request of the respondent, the ARB determines that a complaint filed under NTSSA was frivolous or was brought in bad faith, the ARB may award to the respondent reasonable attorney fees, not exceeding $1,000.

With regard to section 1982.110(a), NWC urged deletion of the provision in the interim final rule that “[a]ny exception not specifically urged will ordinarily be deemed waived by the parties.” NWC commented that parties should be allowed to add additional grounds for review in subsequent briefs and that allowing parties to do so would further the goal of deciding cases on the merits. In response, OSHA notes that its inclusion of this provision is not intended to limit the circumstances in which parties can add additional grounds for review as a case progresses before the ARB; rather, the rules include this provision to put the public on notice of the possible consequences of failing to specify the basis of an appeal to the ARB. OSHA recognizes that while the ARB has held in some instances that an exception not specifically urged may be deemed waived, the ARB also has found that the rules provide for exceptions to this general rule. See, e.g., Furland v. American Airlines, Inc., ARB Nos. 09-102, 10-130, 2011 WL 3413364, at * 10, n.5 (ARB July 27, 2011) (where complainant consistently made an argument throughout the administrative proceedings the argument was not waived simply because it appeared in complainant's reply brief to the ARB rather than in the petition for review); Avlon v. American Express Co., ARB No. 09-089, 2011 WL 4915756, at * 4, * 5, n.1 (ARB Sept. 14, 2011) (consideration of an argument not specifically raised in complainant's petition for review is within the authority of the ARB, and parallel provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower regulations do not mandate the ARB limit its review to ALJ conclusions assigned as error in the petition for review). However, recognizing that the interim final rule may have suggested too stringent a standard, OSHA has replaced the phrase “ordinarily will” with “may.” NWC also suggested that the review period be extended from ten to thirty days to make this section parallel to the provision in 1982.105(c), which allows for thirty days within which to file an objection. OSHA declines to extend the review period to 30 days because a shorter review period is consistent with the practices and procedures followed in OSHA's other whistleblower programs. Furthermore, parties may file a motion for extension of time to appeal an ALJ's decision, and the ARB has discretion to grant such extensions. However, as explained above, OSHA has revised the period to petition for review of an ALJ decision to 14 days rather than 10 business days. As a practical matter, this revision does not substantively alter the window of time for filing a petition for review before the ALJ's order becomes final.

Similarly, section 1982.110(c), which provides that the ARB will issue a final decision within 120 days of the conclusion of the ALJ hearing, was similarly revised to state that the conclusion of the ALJ hearing will be deemed to be 14 days after the date of the decision of the ALJ, rather than after 10 business days, unless a motion for reconsideration has been filed with the ALJ in the interim. Like the revision to section 1982.110(a), this revision does not substantively alter the length of time before the ALJ hearing will be deemed to have been concluded.

In addition to the changes noted above, OSHA moved the statement in paragraph (a) that if no timely petition for review is filed with the ARB, the decision of the ALJ becomes the final decision of the Secretary and is not subject to judicial review to section 1982.109(e) for clarity. Modifications were made paragraph (d) of this section to match the language regarding remedies in section 1982.105(a)(1). Lastly, OSHA has revised this section slightly to clarify that interest on back pay awards will be compounded daily and to make several minor changes to clarify the provision and more closely mirror the language used in the statutes.

Subpart CMiscellaneous Provisions Section 1982.111 Withdrawal of Complaints, Findings, Objections, and Petitions for Review; Settlement

This section provides for the procedures and time periods for withdrawal of complaints, the withdrawal of findings and/or preliminary orders by the Assistant Secretary, and the withdrawal of objections to findings and/or orders. It also provides for approval of settlements at the investigative and adjudicative stages of the case.

AAR and Rail Labor both submitted comments relating to settlements. AAR stated that OSHA should not be overly involved in settlements as such involvement could frustrate the parties' ability to reach settlements. In addition, AAR noted that an employee often files a collective bargaining or statutory claim, such as a FELA claim, simultaneously with a FRSA claim. According to AAR, a settlement may resolve all of the employee's claims. OSHA has jurisdiction only over the FRSA claim and therefore cannot review the aspects of the settlement that do not involve the FRSA claim. Rail Labor similarly commented that it is possible that an employee may pursue multiple claims simultaneously. Rail Labor suggested modifying the language in section 1982.111(d) to clarify how a settlement will affect other pending cases and other parties involved in a particular case.

While OSHA recognizes that, in whistleblower cases generally, an employee may have more than one cause of action against the employer, OSHA does not believe that any change in the procedures for handling whistleblower complaints is necessary to accommodate this possibility. NTSSA and FRSA both provide that, at any time before the issuance of a final order of the Secretary, a proceeding before the agency may be terminated on the basis of a settlement “entered into” by the Secretary, the complainant, and the respondent. 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(3)(A); 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A); 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(3)(A). The procedures for submission of settlements to the agency under section 1982.111 implement these statutory requirements to ensure that settlements of whistleblower claims under NTSSA and FRSA are fair, adequate, and reasonable, in the public interest, and that the employee's consent was knowing and voluntary.

The final rule adopts a revision to section 1982.111(a) that permits complainants to withdraw their complaints orally. In such circumstances, OSHA will, in writing, confirm a complainant's desire to withdraw. This revision will reduce burdens on complainants who no longer want to pursue their claims. Other minor changes were made as needed to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.112 Judicial Review

This section describes the statutory provisions for judicial review of decisions of the Secretary and requires, in cases where judicial review is sought, the ALJ or the ARB to submit the record of proceedings to the appropriate court pursuant to the rules of such court. This section also states that a final order is not subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding. NTSSA explicitly provides that “[a]n order of the Secretary of Labor with respect to which review could have been obtained [in the court of appeals] shall not be subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding.” 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(4)(B). In addition, the Secretary interprets FRSA as also prohibiting collateral attack on a final order of the Secretary. This interpretation is consistent with well-established case law that, where “a direct-review statute specifically gives the court of appeals subject-matter jurisdiction to directly review agency action[,]” district courts do not have federal question jurisdiction. Watts v. Securities and Exchange Comm'n, 482 F.3d 501, 505 (D.C. Cir. 2007); see Thunder Basin Coal Co. v. Reich, 510 U.S. 200, 208 (1994) (district court did not have jurisdiction over an action by mine operators challenging an administrative order because the statute only expressly authorized district court jurisdiction in actions by the Secretary and provided for judicial review in the court of appeals); Sturm, Ruger & Co. v. Chao, 300 F.3d 867, 873 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (dismissing action claiming that Secretary lacked statutory authority to conduct a survey because the action was not one of those over which district courts had jurisdiction under the statute and statute provided for judicial review of agency action in the court of appeals); Griffith v. Fed. Labor Relations Auth., 842 F.2d 487, 491 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (district court did not have jurisdiction because, while the statute explicitly authorized district court review of some types of actions, it did not authorize review of the particular action at issue and judicial review was available in the court of appeals). No comments were received on this section. However, minor changes have been made to clarify it.

Section 1982.113 Judicial Enforcement

This section describes the Secretary's authority under NTSSA and FRSA to obtain judicial enforcement of orders and the terms of a settlement agreement.

FRSA expressly authorizes district courts to enforce orders, including preliminary orders of reinstatement, issued by the Secretary under 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A) (adopting the rules and procedures set forth in AIR 21, 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)). 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A)(iii) (“If a person fails to comply with an order issued by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to the procedures in section 42121(b), the Secretary of Labor may bring a civil action to enforce the order in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which the violation occurred, as set forth in 42121.”). FRSA permits the Secretary to bring an action to obtain such enforcement. 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(2)(A)(iii). However, there is no provision in FRSA permitting the person on whose behalf the order was issued to bring such an action.

NTSSA gives district courts authority to enforce orders, including preliminary reinstatement orders, issued by the Secretary. Specifically, reinstatement orders issued under subsection (c)(3) are immediately enforceable in district court under 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(5) and (6). Subsections (c)(3)(B)(ii) and (d)(2)(A) provide that the Secretary shall order the person who has committed a violation to reinstate the complainant to his or her former position. Subsection (c)(2)(A) instructs the Secretary to accompany any reasonable cause finding that a violation occurred with a preliminary order containing the relief prescribed by subsection (c)(3)(B), which includes reinstatement. 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(3)(B)(ii) and (d)(2)(A). Subsection (c)(2)(A) also declares that the subsection (c)(3)(B)'s relief of reinstatement contained in a preliminary order is not stayed upon the filing of objections. 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(2)(A) (“The filing of such objections shall not operate to stay any reinstatement remedy contained in the preliminary order.”) Thus, under the statute, enforceable orders issued under subsection (c)(3)(B) include preliminary orders that contain the relief of reinstatement prescribed by subsection (c)(3)(B) and (d)(2)(A). This statutory interpretation of FRSA and NTSSA is consistent with the Secretary's interpretation of similar language in AIR 21 and Sarbanes-Oxley. See Brief for the Secretary of Labor, Solis v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., No. 4:12-cv-00304 BLW (D. Id. 2012); Brief for the Intervenor/Plaintiff-Appellee Secretary of Labor, Solis v. Tenn. Commerce Bancorp, Inc., No. 10-5602 (6th Cir. 2010); Solis v. Tenn. Commerce Bancorp, Inc., 713 F. Supp. 2d 701 (M.D. Tenn. 2010); but see Bechtel v. Competitive Techs., Inc., 448 F.3d 469 (2d Cir. 2006); Solis v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., No. 4:12-cv-00304 BLW, 2013 WL 440707 (D. Id. Jan. 11, 2013); Welch v. Cardinal Bankshares Corp., 454 F. Supp. 2d 552 (W.D. Va. 2006) (decision vacated, appeal dismissed, No. 06-2995 (4th Cir. Feb. 20, 2008)). NTSSA also permits the person on whose behalf the order was issued under NTSSA to obtain judicial enforcement of orders and the terms of a settlement agreement.

Rail Labor commented on this provision (it labeled its comment as related to section 1982.112, which addresses judicial review, but it is clear from the substance of the comment that it is related to section 1982.113, which addresses judicial enforcement). Rail Labor disagreed with the statement in the proposal that, under FRSA, the person on whose behalf an order was issued cannot bring an action to enforce such order (only the Secretary can). However, if OSHA's interpretation is correct, Rail Labor expressed concern that the language in section 1982.113 gives unrestricted discretion to OSHA to enforce an order. Therefore, Rail Labor suggested that this section should be modified to clarify that the Secretary will, in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, enforce an order.

OSHA declines to change this section as suggested. FRSA provides that the Secretary may bring an action to enforce an order, such as a preliminary reinstatement order. FRSA also states that an order of preliminary reinstatement will not be stayed during the administrative proceedings, making clear that preliminary reinstatement is the presumptive remedy for retaliation. OSHA does not believe any further explanation of the circumstances in which the Secretary will seek enforcement of an order, such as a preliminary reinstatement order, is necessary in these rules.

OSHA has made two changes to this section that are not intended to have substantive effects. First, OSHA has revised this section to more closely parallel the differing provisions of NTSSA and FRSA regarding the proper venue for enforcement actions. Second, the list of remedies that formerly appeared in this section has been moved to section 1982.114. This revision does not reflect a change in the Secretary's views regarding the remedies that are available under NTSSA and FRSA in an action to enforce an order of the Secretary. The revision has been made to better parallel the statutory structure of NTSSA and FRSA which both contemplate enforcement of a Secretary's order and specify the remedies that are available in an action for de novo review of a retaliation complaint in district court.

Section 1982.114 District Court Jurisdiction of Retaliation Complaints

This section sets forth NTSSA's and FRSA's respective provisions allowing a complainant to bring an original de novo action in district court, alleging the same allegations contained in the complaint filed with OSHA, if there has been no final decision of the Secretary within 210 days of the filing of the complaint and there is no delay due to the complainant's bad faith.

In the Secretary's view, the right to seek de novo review in district court under these provisions terminates when the Secretary issues a final decision, even if the date of the final decision is more than 210 days after the filing of the complaint. The purpose of these “kick-out” provisions is to aid the complainant in receiving a prompt decision. That goal is not implicated in a situation where the complainant already has received a final decision from the Secretary. In addition, as previously discussed with regard to § 1982.112 above, permitting the complainant to file a new case in district court in such circumstances would be a collateral attack on the Secretary's final order and, as such, is inconsistent with the provisions providing parties the right to seek judicial review of the Secretary's final decision in the court of appeals.

OSHA has revised paragraph (a) of this section to incorporate the statutory provision allowing a jury trial at the request of either party in a district court action under NTSSA and FRSA. OSHA also has added paragraph (b) to specify the burdens of proof applicable to “kick out” actions under this section and the statutory remedies available in those actions. For both NTSSA and FRSA complaints, the same burdens of proof that apply in proceedings before the ALJ, as outlined in section 1982.109, apply to “kick out” actions. See 6 U.S.C. 1142(c)(7); Araujo, 708 F.3d at 157-58 (holding that the burdens of proof in 49 U.S.C. 42121 apply to “kick out” actions under FRSA). Paragraph (b) also notes the remedies available to an employee who prevails in an action in district court, which are the same under NTSSA and FRSA. Both NTSSA and FRSA provide that an employee who prevails in an action in district court shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole and that remedies shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation, any back pay with interest, and payment of compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. The relief for an employee who prevails in an action in district court under NTSSA or FRSA may also include punitive damages in an amount not to exceed $250,000. See 6 U.S.C. 1142 (d); 49 U.S.C. 20109(e).

In paragraph (c) of this section, OSHA eliminated the requirement in the interim final rule that complainants provide the agency 15 days advance notice before filing a de novo complaint in district court. Instead, this section now provides that within seven days after filing a complaint in district court, a complainant must provide a file-stamped copy of the complaint to the Assistant Secretary, the ALJ, or the ARB, depending on where the proceeding is pending. In all cases a copy of the district court complaint also must be provided to the Regional Administrator, the Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards. This provision is necessary to notify the agency that the complainant has opted to file a complaint in district court. This provision is not a substitute for the complainant's compliance with the requirements for service of process of the district court complaint contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the local rules of the district court where the complaint is filed.

This change responds to NWC's comment that the 15-day advance notice requirement for filing a suit in district court should be eliminated because it inhibits complainants' access to federal courts. OSHA believes that a provision for notifying the agency of the district court complaint is necessary to avoid unnecessary expenditure of agency resources once a complainant has decided to remove the complaint to federal district court. OSHA believes that the revised provision adequately balances the complainant's interest in ready access to federal court and the agency's interest in receiving prompt notice that the complainant no longer wishes to continue with the administrative proceeding. Other minor changes were made as needed to clarify the provision without changing its meaning.

Section 1982.115 Special Circumstances; Waiver of Rules

This section provides that in circumstances not contemplated by these rules or for good cause the ALJ or the ARB may, upon application and notice to the parties, waive any rule as justice or the administration of NTSSA or FRSA requires.

Rail Labor commented that the waiver provision raises due process concerns and should therefore be deleted. According to Rail Labor, any waiver works to the disadvantage of one party and the advantage of the other party, and it creates a drain on limited agency resources.

OSHA believes that, because these procedural rules cannot cover every conceivable contingency, there may be occasions where certain exceptions to the rules are necessary. OSHA notes that a similar section appears in the regulations for handling complaints under the whistleblower provisions of AIR 21 and Sarbanes-Oxley and that both the ALJs and the ARB have relied upon the rule on occasion. See, e.g., Haefling v. United Parcel Serv., ALJ No. 98-STA-6 (ALJ Mar. 23, 1998); Caimano v. Brink's Inc., ARB No 97-041, 1997 WL 24368 (ARB Jan 22, 1997). Thus, OSHA has made no changes to this section.

IV. Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule contains a reporting provision (filing a retaliation complaint, section 1982.103) which was previously reviewed and approved for use by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (Pub. L. 104-13). The assigned OMB control number is 1218-0236.

V. Administrative Procedure Act

The notice and comment rulemaking procedures of section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) do not apply “to interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice.” (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A)). This is a rule of agency procedure, practice and interpretation within the meaning of that section. Therefore, publication in the Federal Register of a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments were not required for these regulations, which provide the procedures for the handling of retaliation complaints and set forth the Secretary's interpretations on certain statutory issues. The Assistant Secretary, however, sought and considered comments to enable the agency to improve the rules by taking into account the concerns of interested persons.

Furthermore, because this rule is procedural and interpretative rather than substantive, the normal requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553(d) that a rule be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register is inapplicable. The Assistant Secretary also finds good cause to provide an immediate effective date for this final rule. It is in the public interest that the rule be effective immediately so that parties may know what procedures are applicable to pending cases.

VI. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563; Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995; Executive Order 13132

The Department has concluded that this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” within the meaning of Executive Order 12866, reaffirmed by Executive Order 13563, because it is not likely to: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities; (2) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, no economic impact analysis under Section 6(a)(3)(C) of Executive Order 12866 has been prepared. For the same reason, and because no notice of proposed rulemaking has been published, no statement is required under Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1532. In any event, this rulemaking is procedural and interpretive in nature and is thus not expected to have a significant economic impact. Finally, this rule does not have “federalism implications.” The rule does not have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government” and therefore is not subject to Executive Order 13132 (Federalism).

VII. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

The notice and comment rulemaking procedures of Section 553 of the APA do not apply “to interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice.” 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). Rules that are exempt from APA notice and comment requirements are also exempt from the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). See SBA Office of Advocacy, A Guide for Government Agencies: How to Comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, at 9; also found at https://www.sba.gov/advocacy/guide-government-agencies-how-comply-regulatory-flexibility-act. This is a rule of agency procedure, practice, and interpretation within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 553; and therefore the rule is exempt from both the notice and comment rulemaking procedures of the APA and the requirements under the RFA.

Document Preparation: This document was prepared under the direction and control of the Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 1982

Administrative practice and procedure, Employment, Homeland security, Investigations, Mass transportation, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Public transportation, Railroads, Safety, Transportation, Whistleblowing.

Authority and Signature

This document was prepared under the direction and control of David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Signed at Washington, DC, on October 28, 2015. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the preamble, 29 CFR part 1982 is revised to read as follows:

PART 1982—PROCEDURES FOR THE HANDLING OF RETALIATION COMPLAINTS UNDER THE NATIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEMS SECURITY ACT AND THE FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY ACT Subpart A—Complaints, Investigations, Findings and Preliminary Orders Sec. 1982.100 Purpose and scope. 1982.101 Definitions. 1982.102 Obligations and prohibited acts. 1982.103 Filing of retaliation complaints. 1982.104 Investigation. 1982.105 Issuance of findings and preliminary orders. Subpart B—Litigation 1982.106 Objections to the findings and the preliminary order and requests for a hearing. 1982.107 Hearings. 1982.108 Role of Federal agencies. 1982.109 Decision and orders of the administrative law judge. 1982.110 Decision and orders of the Administrative Review Board. Subpart C—Miscellaneous Provisions 1982.111 Withdrawal of complaints, findings, objections, and petitions for review; settlement. 1982.112 Judicial review. 1982.113 Judicial enforcement. 1982.114 District court jurisdiction of retaliation complaints. 1982.115 Special circumstances; waiver of rules. Authority:

6 U.S.C. 1142 and 49 U.S.C. 20109; Secretary of Labor's Order 01-2012 (Jan. 18, 2012), 77 FR 3912 (Jan. 25, 2012); Secretary of Labor's Order No. 2-2012 (Oct. 19, 2012), 77 FR 69378 (Nov. 16, 2012).

Subpart A—Complaints, Investigations, Findings and Preliminary Orders
§ 1982.100 Purpose and scope.

(a) This part implements procedures of the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA), 6 U.S.C. 1142, and the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. 20109, as amended. NTSSA provides for employee protection from retaliation because the employee has engaged in protected activity pertaining to public transportation safety or security (or, in circumstances covered by the statute, the employee is perceived to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity). FRSA provides for employee protection from retaliation because the employee has engaged in protected activity pertaining to railroad safety or security (or, in circumstances covered by the statute, the employee is perceived to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity), has requested medical or first aid treatment, or has followed orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician. It also protects an employee against delay, denial or interference with first aid or medical treatment for a workplace injury.

(b) This part establishes procedures under NTSSA and FRSA for the expeditious handling of retaliation complaints filed by employees, or by persons acting on their behalf, and sets forth the Secretary's interpretations of NTSSA and FRSA on certain statutory issues. These rules, together with those codified at 29 CFR part 18, set forth the procedures under NTSSA or FRSA for submission of complaints, investigations, issuance of findings and preliminary orders, objections to findings and orders, litigation before administrative law judges, post-hearing administrative review, and withdrawals and settlements.

§ 1982.101 Definitions.

As used in this part:

(a) Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health or the person or persons to whom he or she delegates authority under NTSSA or FRSA.

(b) Business days means days other than Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

(c) Complainant means the employee who filed a NTSSA or FRSA complaint or on whose behalf a complaint was filed.

(d) Employee means an individual presently or formerly working for, an individual applying to work for, or an individual whose employment could be affected by a public transportation agency or a railroad carrier, or a contractor or subcontractor of a public transportation agency or a railroad carrier.

(e) FRSA means Section 1521 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-053, August 3, 2007, as further amended by Public Law 110-432, October, 16, 2008, codified at 49 U.S.C. 20109.

(f) NTSSA means Section 1413 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-053, August 3, 2007, codified at 6 U.S.C. 1142.

(g) OSHA means the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor.

(h) Public transportation means regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by age, disability, or low income; and does not include: Intercity passenger rail transportation provided by the entity described in chapter 243 (or a successor to such entity); intercity bus service; charter bus service; school bus service; sightseeing service; courtesy shuttle service for patrons of one or more specific establishments; or intra-terminal or intra-facility shuttle services.

(i) Public transportation agency means a publicly owned operator of public transportation eligible to receive federal assistance under 49 U.S.C. chapter 53.

(j) Railroad means any form of nonhighway ground transportation that runs on rails or electromagnetic guideways, including commuter or other short-haul railroad passenger service in a metropolitan or suburban area and commuter railroad service that was operated by the Consolidated Rail Corporation on January 1, 1979; and high speed ground transportation systems that connect metropolitan areas, without regard to whether those systems use new technologies not associated with traditional railroads; but does not include rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not connected to the general railroad system of transportation.

(k) Railroad carrier means a person providing railroad transportation, except that, upon petition by a group of commonly controlled railroad carriers that the Secretary of Transportation determines is operating within the United States as a single, integrated rail system, the Secretary of Transportation may by order treat the group of railroad carriers as a single railroad carrier for purposes of one or more provisions of part A, subtitle V of title 49 and implementing regulations and order, subject to any appropriate conditions that the Secretary of Transportation may impose.

(l) Respondent means the person alleged to have violated NTSSA or FRSA.

(m) Secretary means the Secretary of Labor or person to whom authority under NTSSA or FRSA has been delegated.

(n) Any future statutory amendments that affect the definition of a term or terms listed in this section will apply in lieu of the definition stated herein.

§ 1982.102 Obligations and prohibited acts.

(a) National Transit Systems Security Act. (1) A public transportation agency, contractor, or subcontractor of such agency, or officer or employee of such agency, shall not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way retaliate against, including but not limited to intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, blacklisting, or disciplining, an employee if such retaliation is due, in whole or in part, to the employee's lawful, good faith act done, or perceived by the employer to have been done or about to be done—

(i) To provide information, directly cause information to be provided, or otherwise directly assist in any investigation regarding any conduct which the employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to public transportation safety or security, or fraud, waste, or abuse of Federal grants or other public funds intended to be used for public transportation safety or security, if the information or assistance is provided to or an investigation stemming from the provided information is conducted by—

(A) A Federal, State or local regulatory or law enforcement agency (including an office of the Inspector General under the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.; Pub. L. 95-452));

(B) Any Member of Congress, any Committee of Congress, or the Government Accountability Office; or

(C) A person with supervisory authority over the employee or such other person who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate the misconduct;

(ii) To refuse to violate or assist in the violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to public transportation safety or security;

(iii) To file a complaint or directly cause to be brought a proceeding related to the enforcement of this section or to testify in that proceeding;

(iv) To cooperate with a safety or security investigation by the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the National Transportation Safety Board; or

(v) To furnish information to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency as to the facts relating to any accident or incident resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with public transportation.

(2)(i) A public transportation agency, contractor, or subcontractor of such agency, or officer or employee of such agency, shall not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way retaliate against, including but not limited to intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, blacklisting, or disciplining, an employee for—

(A) Reporting a hazardous safety or security condition;

(B) Refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee's duties, if the conditions described in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section exist; or

(C) Refusing to authorize the use of any safety- or security-related equipment, track, or structures, if the employee is responsible for the inspection or repair of the equipment, track, or structures, when the employee believes that the equipment, track, or structures are in a hazardous safety or security condition, if the conditions described in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section exist.

(ii) A refusal is protected under paragraph (a)(2)(i)(B) and (C) of this section if—

(A) The refusal is made in good faith and no reasonable alternative to the refusal is available to the employee;

(B) A reasonable individual in the circumstances then confronting the employee would conclude that—

(1) The hazardous condition presents an imminent danger of death or serious injury; and

(2) The urgency of the situation does not allow sufficient time to eliminate the danger without such refusal; and

(C) The employee, where possible, has notified the public transportation agency of the existence of the hazardous condition and the intention not to perform further work, or not to authorize the use of the hazardous equipment, track, or structures, unless the condition is corrected immediately or the equipment, track, or structures are repaired properly or replaced.

(iii) In this paragraph (a)(2), only paragraph (a)(2)(i)(A) shall apply to security personnel, including transit police, employed or utilized by a public transportation agency to protect riders, equipment, assets, or facilities.

(b) Federal Railroad Safety Act. (1) A railroad carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, a contractor or a subcontractor of such a railroad carrier, or an officer or employee of such a railroad carrier, may not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way retaliate against, including but not limited to intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, blacklisting, or disciplining, an employee if such retaliation is due, in whole or in part, to the employee's lawful, good faith act done, or perceived by the employer to have been done or about to be done—

(i) To provide information, directly cause information to be provided, or otherwise directly assist in any investigation regarding any conduct which the employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, or gross fraud, waste, or abuse of Federal grants or other public funds intended to be used for railroad safety or security, if the information or assistance is provided to or an investigation stemming from the provided information is conducted by—

(A) A Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency (including an office of the Inspector General under the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.; Public Law 95-452));

(B) Any Member of Congress, any committee of Congress, or the Government Accountability Office; or

(C) A person with supervisory authority over the employee or such other person who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate the misconduct;

(ii) To refuse to violate or assist in the violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security;

(iii) To file a complaint, or directly cause to be brought a proceeding related to the enforcement of 49 U.S.C. part A of subtitle V or, as applicable to railroad safety or security, 49 U.S.C. chapter 51 or 57, or to testify in that proceeding;

(iv) To notify, or attempt to notify, the railroad carrier or the Secretary of Transportation of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness of an employee;

(v) To cooperate with a safety or security investigation by the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the National Transportation Safety Board;

(vi) To furnish information to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency as to the facts relating to any accident or incident resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with railroad transportation; or

(vii) To accurately report hours on duty pursuant to 49 U.S.C. chapter 211.

(2)(i) A railroad carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, or an officer or employee of such a railroad carrier, shall not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way retaliate against, including but not limited to intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, blacklisting, or disciplining, an employee for—

(A) Reporting, in good faith, a hazardous safety or security condition;

(B) Refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee's duties, if the conditions described in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section exist; or

(C) Refusing to authorize the use of any safety-related equipment, track, or structures, if the employee is responsible for the inspection or repair of the equipment, track, or structures, when the employee believes that the equipment, track, or structures are in a hazardous safety or security condition, if the conditions described in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section exist.

(ii) A refusal is protected under paragraph (b)(2)(i)(B) and (C) of this section if—

(A) The refusal is made in good faith and no reasonable alternative to the refusal is available to the employee;

(B) A reasonable individual in the circumstances then confronting the employee would conclude that—

(1) The hazardous condition presents an imminent danger of death or serious injury; and

(2) The urgency of the situation does not allow sufficient time to eliminate the danger without such refusal; and

(C) The employee, where possible, has notified the railroad carrier of the existence of the hazardous condition and the intention not to perform further work, or not to authorize the use of the hazardous equipment, track, or structures, unless the condition is corrected immediately or the equipment, track, or structures are repaired properly or replaced.

(iii) In this paragraph (b)(2), only paragraph (b)(2)(i)(A) shall apply to security personnel employed by a railroad carrier to protect individuals and property transported by railroad.

(3) A railroad carrier or person covered under this section may not:

(i) Deny, delay, or interfere with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment. If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee injured during the course of employment, the railroad shall promptly arrange to have the injured employee transported to the nearest hospital where the employee can receive safe and appropriate medical care.

(ii) Discipline, or threaten discipline to, an employee for requesting medical or first aid treatment, or for following orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician, except that—

(A) A railroad carrier's refusal to permit an employee to return to work following medical treatment shall not be considered a violation of FRSA if the refusal is pursuant to Federal Railroad Administration medical standards for fitness of duty or, if there are no pertinent Federal Railroad Administration standards, a carrier's medical standards for fitness for duty.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “discipline” means to bring charges against a person in a disciplinary proceeding, suspend, terminate, place on probation, or make note of reprimand on an employee's record.

§ 1982.103 Filing of retaliation complaints.

(a) Who may file. An employee who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of NTSSA or FRSA may file, or have filed by any person on the employee's behalf, a complaint alleging such retaliation.

(b) Nature of filing. No particular form of complaint is required. A complaint may be filed orally or in writing. Oral complaints will be reduced to writing by OSHA. If the complainant is unable to file the complaint in English, OSHA will accept the complaint in any language.

(c) Place of filing. The complaint should be filed with the OSHA office responsible for enforcement activities in the geographical area where the employee resides or was employed, but may be filed with any OSHA officer or employee. Addresses and telephone numbers for these officials are set forth in local directories and at the following Internet address: http://www.osha.gov.

(d) Time for Filing. Within 180 days after an alleged violation of NTSSA or FRSA occurs, any employee who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of NTSSA or FRSA may file, or have filed by any person on the employee's behalf, a complaint alleging such retaliation. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, electronic communication transmittal, telephone call, hand-delivery, delivery to a third-party commercial carrier, or in-person filing at an OSHA office will be considered the date of filing. The time for filing a complaint may be tolled for reasons warranted by applicable case law. For example, OSHA may consider the time for filing a complaint equitably tolled if a complainant mistakenly files a complaint with another agency instead of OSHA within 180 days after becoming aware of the alleged violation.

§ 1982.104 Investigation.

(a) Upon receipt of a complaint in the investigating office, OSHA will notify the respondent of the filing of the complaint, of the allegations contained in the complaint, and of the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint. Such materials will be redacted, if necessary, consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and other applicable confidentiality laws. OSHA will also notify the respondent of its rights under paragraphs (b) and (f) of this section and § 1982.110(e). OSHA will provide an unredacted copy of these same materials to the complainant (or the complainant's legal counsel if complainant is represented by counsel), and to the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, or the Transportation Security Administration as appropriate.

(b) Within 20 days of receipt of the notice of the filing of the complaint provided under paragraph (a) of this section, the respondent may submit to OSHA a written statement and any affidavits or documents substantiating its position. Within the same 20 days, the respondent may request a meeting with OSHA to present its position.

(c) During the investigation, OSHA will request that each party provide the other parties to the whistleblower complaint with a copy of submissions to OSHA that are pertinent to the whistleblower complaint. Alternatively, if a party does not provide its submissions to OSHA to the other party, OSHA will provide them to the other party (or the party's legal counsel if the party is represented by counsel) at a time permitting the other party an opportunity to respond. Before providing such materials to the other party, OSHA will redact them, if necessary, consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and other applicable confidentiality laws. OSHA will also provide each party with an opportunity to respond to the other party's submissions.

(d) Investigations will be conducted in a manner that protects the confidentiality of any person who provides information on a confidential basis, other than the complainant, in accordance with part 70 of this title.

(e)(1) A complaint will be dismissed unless the complainant has made a prima facie showing that protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action alleged in the complaint.

(2) The complaint, supplemented as appropriate by interviews of the complainant, must allege the existence of facts and evidence to make a prima facie showing as follows:

(i) The employee engaged in a protected activity (or, in circumstances covered by NTSSA and FRSA, was perceived to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity);

(ii) The respondent knew or suspected that the employee engaged in the protected activity (or, in circumstances covered by NTSSA and FRSA, perceived the employee to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity);

(iii) The employee suffered an adverse action; and

(iv) The circumstances were sufficient to raise the inference that the protected activity (or perception thereof) was a contributing factor in the adverse action.

(3) For purposes of determining whether to investigate, the complainant will be considered to have met the required burden if the complaint on its face, supplemented as appropriate through interviews of the complainant, alleges the existence of facts and either direct or circumstantial evidence to meet the required showing, i.e., to give rise to an inference that the respondent knew or suspected that the employee engaged in protected activity (or, in circumstances covered by NTSSA and FRSA, perceived the employee to have engaged or to be about to engage in protected activity), and that the protected activity (or perception thereof) was a contributing factor in the adverse action. The burden may be satisfied, for example, if the complaint shows that the adverse action took place shortly after the protected activity, or at the first opportunity available to the respondent, giving rise to the inference that it was a contributing factor in the adverse action. If the required showing has not been made, the complainant (or the complainant's legal counsel if complainant is represented by counsel) will be so notified and the investigation will not commence.

(4) Notwithstanding a finding that a complainant has made a prima facie showing, as required by this section, further investigation of the complaint will not be conducted if the respondent demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same adverse action in the absence of the complainant's protected activity.

(5) If the respondent fails to make a timely response or fails to satisfy the burden set forth in the prior paragraph, OSHA will proceed with the investigation. The investigation will proceed whenever it is necessary or appropriate to confirm or verify the information provided by the respondent.

(f) Prior to the issuance of findings and a preliminary order as provided for in § 1982.105, if OSHA has reasonable cause, on the basis of information gathered under the procedures of this part, to believe that the respondent has violated NTSSA or FRSA and that preliminary reinstatement is warranted, OSHA will contact the respondent (or the respondent's legal counsel if respondent is represented by counsel) to give notice of the substance of the relevant evidence supporting the complainant's allegations as developed during the course of the investigation. This evidence includes any witness statements, which will be redacted to protect the identity of confidential informants where statements were given in confidence; if the statements cannot be redacted without revealing the identity of confidential informants, summaries of their contents will be provided. The complainant will also receive a copy of the materials that must be provided to the respondent under this paragraph. Before providing such materials, OSHA will redact them, if necessary, consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and other applicable confidentiality laws. The respondent will be given the opportunity to submit a written response, to meet with the investigators, to present statements from witnesses in support of its position, and to present legal and factual arguments. The respondent must present this evidence within 10 business days of OSHA's notification pursuant to this paragraph, or as soon afterwards as OSHA and the respondent can agree, if the interests of justice so require.

§ 1982.105 Issuance of findings and preliminary orders.

(a) After considering all the relevant information collected during the investigation, the Assistant Secretary will issue, within 60 days of filing of the complaint, written findings as to whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has retaliated against the complainant in violation of NTSSA or FRSA.

(1) If the Assistant Secretary concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the Assistant Secretary will accompany the findings with a preliminary order providing relief to the complainant. The preliminary order will include, where appropriate: Affirmative action to abate the violation; reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation; any back pay with interest; and payment of compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. Interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily. The preliminary order will also require the respondent to submit documentation to the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, as appropriate, allocating any back pay award to the appropriate months or calendar quarters. The preliminary order may also require the respondent to pay punitive damages up to $250,000.

(2) If the Assistant Secretary concludes that a violation has not occurred, the Assistant Secretary will notify the parties of that finding.

(b) The findings and, where appropriate, the preliminary order will be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all parties of record (and each party's legal counsel if the party is represented by counsel). The findings and, where appropriate, the preliminary order will inform the parties of the right to object to the findings and/or order and to request a hearing, and of the right of the respondent under NTSSA to request award of attorney fees not exceeding $1,000 from the administrative law judge (ALJ) regardless of whether the respondent has filed objections, if the respondent alleges that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith. The findings and, where appropriate, the preliminary order also will give the address of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor. At the same time, the Assistant Secretary will file with the Chief Administrative Law Judge a copy of the original complaint and a copy of the findings and/or order.

(c) The findings and any preliminary order will be effective 30 days after receipt by the respondent (or the respondent's legal counsel if the respondent is represented by counsel), or on the compliance date set forth in the preliminary order, whichever is later, unless an objection and/or a request for a hearing has been timely filed as provided at § 1982.106. However, the portion of any preliminary order requiring reinstatement will be effective immediately upon the respondent's receipt of the findings and of the preliminary order, regardless of any objections to the findings and/or the order.

Subpart B—Litigation
§ 1982.106 Objections to the findings and the preliminary order and requests for a hearing.

(a) Any party who desires review, including judicial review, of the findings and preliminary order, or a respondent alleging that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith who seeks an award of attorney fees under NTSSA, must file any objections and/or a request for a hearing on the record within 30 days of receipt of the findings and preliminary order pursuant to § 1982.105. The objections, request for a hearing, and/or request for attorney fees must be in writing and state whether the objections are to the findings, the preliminary order, and/or whether there should be an award of attorney fees. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or electronic communication transmittal is considered the date of filing; if the objection is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the objection is filed upon receipt. Objections must be filed with the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, and copies of the objections must be mailed at the same time to the other parties of record, the OSHA official who issued the findings and order, the Assistant Secretary, and the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor.

(b) If a timely objection is filed, all provisions of the preliminary order will be stayed, except for the portion requiring preliminary reinstatement, which will not be automatically stayed. The portion of the preliminary order requiring reinstatement will be effective immediately upon the respondent's receipt of the findings and preliminary order, regardless of any objections to the order. The respondent may file a motion with the Office of Administrative Law Judges for a stay of the Assistant Secretary's preliminary order of reinstatement, which shall be granted only based on exceptional circumstances. If no timely objection is filed with respect to either the findings and/or the preliminary order, the findings or preliminary order will become the final decision of the Secretary, not subject to judicial review.

§ 1982.107 Hearings.

(a) Except as provided in this part, proceedings will be conducted in accordance with the rules of practice and procedure for administrative hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, codified at subpart A of part 18 of this title.

(b) Upon receipt of an objection and request for hearing, the Chief Administrative Law Judge will promptly assign the case to an ALJ who will notify the parties, by certified mail, of the day, time, and place of hearing. The hearing is to commence expeditiously, except upon a showing of good cause or unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. Hearings will be conducted de novo on the record. Administrative Law Judges have broad discretion to limit discovery in order to expedite the hearing.

(c) If both the complainant and the respondent object to the findings and/or order, the objections will be consolidated and a single hearing will be conducted.

(d) Formal rules of evidence will not apply, but rules or principles designed to assure production of the most probative evidence will be applied. The ALJ may exclude evidence that is immaterial, irrelevant, or unduly repetitious.

§ 1982.108 Role of Federal agencies.

(a)(1) The complainant and the respondent will be parties in every proceeding and must be served with copies of all documents in the case. At the Assistant Secretary's discretion, the Assistant Secretary may participate as a party or as amicus curiae at any time at any stage of the proceeding. This right to participate includes, but is not limited to, the right to petition for review of a decision of an ALJ, including a decision approving or rejecting a settlement agreement between the complainant and the respondent.

(2) Parties must send copies of documents to OSHA and to the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, only upon request of OSHA, or when OSHA is participating in the proceeding, or when service on OSHA and the Associate Solicitor is otherwise required by these rules.

(b) The Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Transportation, if interested in a proceeding, may participate as amicus curiae at any time in the proceeding, at those agencies' discretion. At the request of the interested federal agency, copies of all documents in a case must be sent to the federal agency, whether or not the agency is participating in the proceeding.

§ 1982.109 Decision and orders of the administrative law judge.

(a) The decision of the ALJ will contain appropriate findings, conclusions, and an order pertaining to the remedies provided in paragraph (d) of this section, as appropriate. A determination that a violation has occurred may be made only if the complainant has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action alleged in the complaint.

(b) If the complainant has satisfied the burden set forth in the prior paragraph, relief may not be ordered if the respondent demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same adverse action in the absence of any protected activity.

(c) Neither OSHA's determination to dismiss a complaint without completing an investigation pursuant to § 1982.104(e) nor OSHA's determination to proceed with an investigation is subject to review by the ALJ, and a complaint may not be remanded for the completion of an investigation or for additional findings on the basis that a determination to dismiss was made in error. Rather, if there otherwise is jurisdiction, the ALJ will hear the case on the merits or dispose of the matter without a hearing if the facts and circumstances warrant.

(d)(1) If the ALJ concludes that the respondent has violated the law, the ALJ will issue an order that will include, where appropriate: Affirmative action to abate the violation; reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation; any back pay with interest; and payment of compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. Interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily. The order will also require the respondent to submit documentation to the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, as appropriate, allocating any back pay award to the appropriate months or calendar quarters. The order may also require the respondent to pay punitive damages up to $250,000.

(2) If the ALJ determines that the respondent has not violated the law, an order will be issued denying the complaint. If, upon the request of the respondent, the ALJ determines that a complaint filed under NTSSA was frivolous or was brought in bad faith, the ALJ may award to the respondent a reasonable attorney fee, not exceeding $1,000.

(e) The decision will be served upon all parties to the proceeding, the Assistant Secretary, and the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor. Any ALJ's decision requiring reinstatement or lifting an order of reinstatement by the Assistant Secretary will be effective immediately upon receipt of the decision by the respondent. All other portions of the ALJ's order will be effective 14 days after the date of the decision unless a timely petition for review has been filed with the Administrative Review Board (ARB), U.S. Department of Labor. The decision of the ALJ will become the final order of the Secretary unless a petition for review is timely filed with the ARB and the ARB accepts the petition for review.

§ 1982.110 Decision and orders of the Administrative Review Board.

(a) Any party desiring to seek review, including judicial review, of a decision of the ALJ, or a respondent alleging that the complaint under NTSSA was frivolous or brought in bad faith who seeks an award of attorney fees, must file a written petition for review with the ARB, which has been delegated the authority to act for the Secretary and issue final decisions under this part. The parties should identify in their petitions for review the legal conclusions or orders to which they object, or the objections may be deemed waived. A petition must be filed within 14 days of the date of the decision of the ALJ. The date of the postmark, facsimile transmittal, or electronic communication transmittal will be considered to be the date of filing; if the petition is filed in person, by hand-delivery or other means, the petition is considered filed upon receipt. The petition must be served on all parties and on the Chief Administrative Law Judge at the time it is filed with the ARB. Copies of the petition for review must be served on the Assistant Secretary, and on the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor.

(b) If a timely petition for review is filed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the decision of the ALJ will become the final order of the Secretary unless the ARB, within 30 days of the filing of the petition, issues an order notifying the parties that the case has been accepted for review. If a case is accepted for review, the decision of the ALJ will be inoperative unless and until the ARB issues an order adopting the decision, except that any order of reinstatement will be effective while review is conducted by the ARB, unless the ARB grants a motion by the respondent to stay that order based on exceptional circumstances. The ARB will specify the terms under which any briefs are to be filed. The ARB will review the factual determinations of the ALJ under the substantial evidence standard. If no timely petition for review is filed, or the ARB denies review, the decision of the ALJ will become the final order of the Secretary. If no timely petition for review is filed, the resulting final order is not subject to judicial review.

(c) The final decision of the ARB will be issued within 120 days of the conclusion of the hearing, which will be deemed to be 14 days after the date of the decision of the ALJ, unless a motion for reconsideration has been filed with the ALJ in the interim. In such case, the conclusion of the hearing is the date the motion for reconsideration is denied or 14 days after a new decision is issued. The ARB's final decision will be served upon all parties and the Chief Administrative Law Judge by mail. The final decision also will be served on the Assistant Secretary, and on the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor, even if the Assistant Secretary is not a party.

(d) If the ARB concludes that the respondent has violated the law, the ARB will issue a final order providing relief to the complainant. The final order will include, where appropriate: Affirmative action to abate the violation; reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation; any back pay with interest; and payment of compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. Interest on back pay will be calculated using the interest rate applicable to underpayment of taxes under 26 U.S.C. 6621 and will be compounded daily. The order will also require the respondent to submit documentation to the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board, as appropriate, allocating any back pay award to the appropriate months or calendar quarters. The order may also require the respondent to pay punitive damages up to $250,000.

(e) If the ARB determines that the respondent has not violated the law, an order will be issued denying the complaint. If, upon the request of the respondent, the ARB determines that a complaint under NTSSA was frivolous or was brought in bad faith, the ARB may award to the respondent reasonable attorney fees, not exceeding $1,000.

Subpart C—Miscellaneous Provisions
§ 1982.111 Withdrawal of complaints, findings, objections, and petitions for review; settlement.

(a) At any time prior to the filing of objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or preliminary order, a complainant may withdraw his or her complaint by notifying OSHA, orally or in writing, of his or her withdrawal. OSHA then will confirm in writing the complainant's desire to withdraw and determine whether to approve the withdrawal. OSHA will notify the parties (or each party's legal counsel if the party is represented by counsel) of the approval of any withdrawal. If the complaint is withdrawn because of settlement, the settlement must be submitted for approval in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section. A complainant may not withdraw his or her complaint after the filing of objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or preliminary order.

(b) The Assistant Secretary may withdraw the findings and/or preliminary order at any time before the expiration of the 30-day objection period described in § 1982.106, provided that no objection has been filed yet, and substitute new findings and/or a new preliminary order. The date of the receipt of the substituted findings or order will begin a new 30-day objection period.

(c) At any time before the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order become final, a party may withdraw its objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order by filing a written withdrawal with the ALJ. If the case is on review with the ARB, a party may withdraw its petition for review of an ALJ's decision at any time before that decision becomes final by filing a written withdrawal with the ARB. The ALJ or the ARB, as the case may be, will determine whether to approve the withdrawal of the objections or the petition for review. If the ALJ approves a request to withdraw objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order, and there are no other pending objections, the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order will become the final order of the Secretary. If the ARB approves a request to withdraw a petition for review of an ALJ decision, and there are no other pending petitions for review of that decision, the ALJ's decision will become the final order of the Secretary. If objections or a petition for review are withdrawn because of settlement, the settlement must be submitted for approval in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.

(d)(1) Investigative settlements. At any time after the filing of a complaint, and before the findings and/or order are objected to or become a final order by operation of law, the case may be settled if OSHA, the complainant, and the respondent agree to a settlement. OSHA's approval of a settlement reached by the respondent and the complainant demonstrates OSHA's consent and achieves the consent of all three parties.

(2) Adjudicatory settlements. At any time after the filing of objections to the Assistant Secretary's findings and/or order, the case may be settled if the participating parties agree to a settlement and the settlement is approved by the ALJ if the case is before the ALJ, or by the ARB if the ARB has accepted the case for review. A copy of the settlement will be filed with the ALJ or the ARB, as the case may be.

(e) Any settlement approved by OSHA, the ALJ, or the ARB will constitute the final order of the Secretary and may be enforced in United States district court pursuant to § 1982.113.

§ 1982.112 Judicial review.

(a) Within 60 days after the issuance of a final order under §§ 1982.109 and 1982.110, any person adversely affected or aggrieved by the order may file a petition for review of the order in the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the violation allegedly occurred or the circuit in which the complainant resided on the date of the violation.

(b) A final order is not subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding.

(c) If a timely petition for review is filed, the record of a case, including the record of proceedings before the ALJ, will be transmitted by the ARB or the ALJ, as the case may be, to the appropriate court pursuant to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the local rules of such court.

§ 1982.113 Judicial enforcement.

(a) Whenever any person has failed to comply with a preliminary order of reinstatement, or a final order, including one approving a settlement agreement, issued under NTSSA, the Secretary may file a civil action seeking enforcement of the order in the United States district court for the district in which the violation was found to have occurred. Whenever any person has failed to comply with a preliminary order of reinstatement, or a final order, including one approving a settlement agreement, issued under NTSSA, a person on whose behalf the order was issued may file a civil action seeking enforcement of the order in the appropriate United States district court.

(b) Whenever a person has failed to comply with a preliminary order of reinstatement, or a final order, including one approving a settlement agreement, issued under FRSA, the Secretary may file a civil action seeking enforcement of the order in the United States district court for the district in which the violation was found to have occurred.

§ 1982.114 District court jurisdiction of retaliation complaints.

(a) If there is no final order of the Secretary, 210 days have passed since the filing of the complaint, and there is no showing that there has been delay due to the bad faith of the complainant, the complainant may bring an action at law or equity for de novo review in the appropriate district court of the United States, which will have jurisdiction over such an action without regard to the amount in controversy. At the request of either party, the action shall be tried by the court with a jury.

(b) A proceeding under paragraph (a) of this section shall be governed by the same legal burdens of proof specified in § 1982.109. An employee prevailing in a proceeding under paragraph (a) shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole, including, where appropriate: Reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation; any back pay with interest; and payment of compensatory damages, including compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees. The court may also order punitive damages in an amount not to exceed $250,000.

(c) Within 7 days after filing a complaint in federal court, a complainant must file with the Assistant Secretary, the ALJ, or the ARB, depending upon where the proceeding is pending, a copy of the file-stamped complaint. In all cases, a copy of the complaint must also be served on the OSHA official who issued the findings and/or preliminary order, the Assistant Secretary, and the Associate Solicitor, Division of Fair Labor Standards, U.S. Department of Labor.

§ 1982.115 Special circumstances; waiver of rules.

In special circumstances not contemplated by the provisions of these rules, or for good cause shown, the ALJ or the ARB on review may, upon application, after three-days notice to all parties, waive any rule or issue such orders that justice or the administration of NTSSA or FRSA requires.

[FR Doc. 2015-28040 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-26-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 150721634-5999-02] RIN 0648-BF11 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Process for Divestiture of Excess Quota Shares in the Individual Fishing Quota Fishery AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

In January 2011, NMFS implemented the trawl rationalization program (a catch share program) for the Pacific coast groundfish limited entry trawl fishery. The program was implemented through Amendment 20 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and the corresponding implementing regulations. Amendment 20 established the trawl rationalization program, which includes an Individual Fishing Quota program for limited entry trawl participants. Under current regulations, quota share permit owners must divest quota share holdings that exceed accumulation limits by November 30, 2015. This final rule makes narrow procedural additions to regulations to clarify how divestiture and revocation of excess quota share will occur in November 2015, and establishes procedures for the future if divestiture becomes necessary.

DATES:

Effective November 4, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), which is summarized in the Classification section of this final rule. NMFS also prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) for the proposed rule. Copies of the IRFA, FRFA and the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available from William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070; or by phone at 206-526-6150. Copies of the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available on the West Coast Region's Web site at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule may be submitted to the West Coast Region and by email to [email protected], or fax to (202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sarah Towne, 206-526-4140, [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

NMFS implemented a trawl rationalization program in 2011 for the Pacific coast groundfish limited entry trawl fishery. Amendment 20 to the FMP established the program and was approved in 2010 and implemented through two rulemakings: the first published on October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60868) and implemented the initial quota share allocations; the second published December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78344).

The shorebased trawl sector is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program where quota share (QS) permit owners hold QS and individual bycatch quota (IBQ) shares for up to 30 IFQ species. Current regulations set accumulation limits on the amount of QS or IBQ that a person, individually or collectively, may own or control in the shorebased IFQ program. There are individual control limits for each of the 30 IFQ species, as well as an aggregate nonwhiting control limit across species. Consistent with the trawl rationalization program, some QS permit owners were initially allocated an amount of QS and/or IBQ that exceeded one or more of the control limits, based on their catch history during the qualifying years. The regulations provide these QS permit owners an adjustment period to hold the excess shares, but they must completely divest of any excess QS or IBQ by November 30, 2015. For any QS permit owner who does not divest of his excess shares by the deadline, the regulations specify that NMFS will revoke his excess QS or IBQ and redistribute it to other QS permit owners in proportion to their current QS or IBQ holdings, up to the control limits.

This action adds the revocation protocols for cases where QS permit owners do not voluntarily divest of QS holdings in excess of the control limits by the divestiture deadline, adds an option where QS permit owners who exceed the aggregate nonwhiting control limit can abandon excess QS to NMFS, and establishes procedures if divestiture becomes necessary in 2016 and beyond.

NMFS published a proposed rule for this action on September 2, 2015 (80 FR 53088). The preamble to the proposed rule provides more background and information on accumulation limits and divestiture, and describes the method for revoking and redistributing QS in excess of the accumulation limits after the divestiture deadline, as well as the method and deadline for abandonment, which are not repeated here.

Response to Comments

The comment period on the proposed rule ended on October 2, 2015. NMFS received two comment letters, one from a processors' association and one from a harvester/processor company. The first letter addressed the proposed abandonment procedure. The second letter opposed the process for proportional revocation and redistribution of excess QS and requested that NMFS retract and reevaluate the aggregate control limit that was adopted in 2010 as part of Amendment 20. Comments from both letters are addressed below.

Comment 1: The commenter supported the proposed QS abandonment option for permit owners over the aggregate nonwhiting control limit, but requested that NMFS add an abandonment option for those cases where a permit owner exceeds one or more individual species control limits across multiple permits. The commenter noted that such an option would be simpler and provide more flexibility than the proportional reduction method described in the proposed rule, and would create less work for NMFS while still meeting the objective of ownership caps.

Response: Under the existing regulations, QS permit owners who exceed an individual species control limit across multiple permits have the ability to divest themselves of individual species shares presently, and if they do not divest by the deadline, NMFS will only revoke excess shares of that species. Thus there is no need to provide an option for abandonment at the individual species level. On the other hand, if a QS permit owner who exceeds the aggregate nonwhiting control limit does not divest by the deadline, NMFS will revoke some shares of each non-widow species contributing to the aggregate calculation, up to 27 species (revocation of widow species will not occur until widow reallocation is complete). NMFS agrees with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) that an abandonment option for the aggregate nonwhiting control limit is appropriate because proportional reduction of 27 species would be cumbersome, and could result in high value species being automatically revoked, while divestiture of an individual species, whether across multiple QS permits or not, does not necessitate an abandonment option.

Comment 2: The commenter supported the proposed notification process for QS permit owners who may exceed an accumulation limit in 2016 and beyond, but asked NMFS to consider a deadline longer than 60 days.

Response: NMFS agrees and has modified the final rule to implement a 90-day deadline for divestiture if NMFS determines that a QS permit owner exceeds an accumulation limit in 2016 or beyond (instead of the 60-day deadline in the proposed rule). In addition, if a QS permit owner was found to exceed the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting holdings in 2016 or beyond, the QS permit owner may abandon QS to NMFS within 60 days of notification by NMFS (instead of the 30-day deadline in the proposed rule).

Comment 3: The commenter asked NMFS to reconsider the proportional revocation of QS at the individual species level and across multiple QS permits because it is unfair, inefficient, and unaligned with conservation goals. The commenter also opposed proportional revocation for the aggregate nonwhiting control limit. The commenter asserted that proportional revocation is inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Response: Revocation of QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits was approved and implemented under Amendment 20 and is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. This rulemaking adds specifics for revocation when a QS permit owner exceeds a control limit across multiple permits or exceeds the aggregate nonwhiting control limit. If a QS permit owner exceeds an individual species control limit in just one QS permit, NMFS will revoke excess QS or IBQ at the species level. There will be no proportional method necessary, just a simple revocation of the excess amount. However, if a QS permit owner exceeds an individual species control limit across multiple permits after the divestiture deadline, under this rulemaking NMFS will revoke QS or IBQ for that species from each permit contributing to the overage, in proportion to the amount the QS percentage from each permit contributes to the total QS percentage owned. If a QS permit owner exceeds the aggregate nonwhiting control limit after the divestiture deadline, under this rulemaking NMFS will revoke QS at the species level in proportion to the amount of the aggregate overage divided by the aggregate total owned.

Proportional revocation will only be used in cases where QS permit owners do not voluntarily divest of their excess QS or IBQ by the divestiture deadline, whether across multiple permits or at the aggregate nonwhiting control limit level. The choice is completely in the hands of participants: Sell or trade or otherwise divest by the deadline, or excess QS or IBQ across multiple permits or above the aggregate nonwhiting control limit will be revoked proportionally.

By the November 30, 2015 divestiture deadline, QS permit owners initially allocated excess shares could have held excess QS or IBQ for nearly 5 years (the IFQ program began on January 11, 2011) and will have had nearly 2 years to divest of excess shares (QS trading began on January 1, 2014). NMFS agrees with the Council that proportional revocation is a fair method to revoke QS or IBQ after the divestiture deadline, whether across multiple permits or if someone exceeds the aggregate nonwhiting control limit.

Comment 4: The commenter asserted that the proportional redistribution of abandoned or revoked QS to all other QS permit owners is economically inefficient, harmful to conservation goals, and reduces the fishery's ability to harvest the optimum yield. They also state that NMFS should have considered how proportional redistribution satisfies the objectives of MSA, the Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP), and Amendments 20 and 21 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. In addition, they suggest that NMFS should auction abandoned or revoked QS.

Response: Proportional redistribution was approved and implemented under Amendment 20 and is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. If excess QS is abandoned to NMFS by the abandonment deadline (in the case of QS in excess of the aggregate nonwhiting control limit), or if QS or IBQ is revoked by NMFS after the divestiture deadline, NMFS will redistribute the abandoned or revoked QS or IBQ to all other QS permit owners in proportion to their current share holdings. Proportional redistribution of abandoned or revoked QS or IBQ will only be used in cases where QS permit owners choose to abandon QS or do not voluntarily divest of their excess QS or IBQ by the divestiture deadline. The choice is completely in the hands of participants to sell or trade or otherwise divest excess QS or IBQ prior to the divestiture deadline, abandon excess QS to NMFS for species of their choosing if they are over the aggregate nonwhiting control limit, and/or have excess QS or IBQ revoked by NMFS if they do not divest by the divestiture deadline. NMFS agrees with the Council that proportional redistribution of abandoned or revoked excess QS or IBQ to current QS permit owners is a fair outcome.

The implementation of an auction for abandoned or revoked QS is also outside of the scope of this rulemaking. This is an administrative rule to add to existing procedures for the revocation and redistribution of excess QS after the divestiture deadline. While NMFS agrees that an auction for revocation and redistribution of QS or IBQ in 2016 or beyond may be worthy of consideration, this proposal needs to make its way through the Council process. The commenter can choose to participate in the 5-year review to pursue this issue. (The response to Comment 6 provides more information about how to participate in the 5-year review.)

Comment 5: The commenter asserted that NMFS' decision to proceed with the existing divestiture deadline of November 30, 2015, instead of delaying divestiture until after the widow rockfish reallocation, is unreasonable and violates the MSA and the APA because NMFS did not address that decision in the proposed rule.

Response: NMFS brought this issue with several alternatives to the Council for consideration in November 2014 and April 2015 (see the November 2014 Agenda Item J.2.b NMFS Report; the November 2014 Agenda Item J.2.b Supplemental NMFS Report 2; and the April 2015 Agenda Item E.6.a NMFS Report). After much Council-level discussion of the alternatives for delaying both the individual and aggregate control limits until after the widow reallocation, the Council did not modify its original decision and the divestiture requirement and deadline remain in place, with widow rockfish excluded until reallocation is complete. All participants have been on notice about the divestiture requirement since 2010, and many have been planning how to divest or have already divested down to the control limits. Because the reallocation of widow rockfish will only affect one IFQ species, it is not overly complicated to exclude widow rockfish from the divestiture deadline and address divestiture of that species as part of the widow reallocation process.

Comment 6: The commenter asserted that the aggregate control limit of 2.7% for the nonwhiting, shorebased groundfish fishery established under Amendment 20 in 2010 violates the APA, MSA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and requested that NMFS retract and properly evaluate the aggregate nonwhiting control limit in a manner consistent with all laws.

Response: The aggregate control limit of 2.7% for the nonwhiting, shorebased groundfish fishery was approved by NMFS in 2010 and is beyond the scope of this rulemaking, which addresses final implementation aspects of the control limits. Further, NMFS does not agree that the 2.7% nonwhiting control limit violates applicable law and should be retracted. The MSA requires specification of maximum shares, expressed as a percentage of the total limited access privileges, which a limited access privilege holder is permitted to hold, acquire, or use, such that no privilege holder may acquire an excessive share of the total privileges in the program. This requirement is similar to National Standard 4, which requires fair and equitable allocations that are reasonably calculated to promote conservation and carried out so no individual or entity acquires an excessive share of the privileges. The Council, including its advisory committees, considered over several years various options and analyses in developing the control limits that were ultimately approved by NMFS in 2010. The accumulation limits were developed based on a review of past participation in the fishery, available policy guidance on excessive shares and market control, and the concept of distributing quota and fishing activity among more participants in order to address concerns such as community impacts and the program's potential effects on new entrants. The choice of the control limits represents a balance between these sometimes competing interests.

No comments specific to the aggregate control limit of 2.7% for the nonwhiting, shorebased groundfish fishery were submitted to NMFS during the 2010 rulemaking to implement the program. As discussed above, all participants have been aware of the control limits and the requirement to divest since 2010. One of the significant issues for the Council and NMFS was whether, once the required accumulation limits were adopted, there should be an adjustment period for participants who owned or controlled excess QS. The Council adopted and NMFS approved a divestiture period to occur during years 3 and 4 of the program, after considerable discussion and public comment. The divestiture period was extended due to unrelated litigation that resulted in reconsideration of the initial allocation of Pacific whiting because the agency and Council determined that no transfers of Pacific whiting shares should occur until resolution of the initial allocation. Thus, participants have had nearly 5 years to prepare for this divestiture requirement.

The Council and NMFS have initiated a 5-year review of the trawl rationalization program. If the commenter wishes that this program review include an examination of the impacts and appropriateness of the nonwhiting aggregate control limit, the commenter should participate in the program review. The 5-year review is next scheduled for discussion at the Council level at the June 23-28, 2016, meeting in Tacoma, WA. The commenter may submit a comment for the 5-year program review to the open comment section of the briefing book for any Council meeting prior to June 2016, or may submit a comment to the briefing book under the trawl rationalization program five-year review agenda item for the June 2016 Council meeting.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

In response to comments, NMFS changed the deadline to divest in 2016 or beyond from 60 days from the date of notification by NMFS to 90 days from the date of notification by NMFS. Linked with this deadline change, NMFS also changed the deadline to abandon QS in excess of the aggregate nonwhiting control limit from 30 days from the date of notification by NMFS to 60 days from the date of notification by NMFS, to provide more time for QS permit owners to determine if they would like to use the abandonment option.

Classification

Pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(a) and 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

The need to implement these measures in a timely manner constitutes good cause under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the thirty day waiting period and make the rule effective immediately upon filing for public inspection by the Office of the Federal Register. It would be impractical to have to wait thirty days before the rule is effective because all QS permit owners must be made aware of the clarified divestiture protocols in this final rule prior to the November 30, 2015 divestiture deadline. There is also a public interest need to implement this action immediately to allow QS permit owners who exceed the aggregate nonwhiting control limit the ability and flexibility to abandon excess QS of the species of their choosing to NMFS by the November 15, 2015 deadline. Otherwise NMFS will revoke excess QS for these permit owners according to the procedures established in this rule. Finally, the final rule only makes minor procedural modifications to clarify existing divestiture and revocation regulations.

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

A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, and NMFS responses to those comments, and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action are addressed below. NMFS also prepared a Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for this action. A copy of the RIR/FRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA, per the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 604(a) follows:

NMFS, pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, has prepared a FRFA. The FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) prepared for the proposed rule and proposed specifications. The analysis in the IRFA is not repeated here in its entirety. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION Background section of the preamble and in the preamble of the proposed rule.

NMFS did not receive any comments on the IRFA. This final rule will affect small entities. There are 138 quota shareholders potentially directly affected by the aggregate species limits as reductions of excess shares will be taken from the quota share percentages listed on the permit. At the first level of ownership and based on affiliations, there are 96 unique businesses. Even if some first-level owners are persons, they are considered businesses for purposes for determining the effects on small businesses. These QS holders must direct quota pounds to various vessel accounts so that quota pounds can be fished. Quite frequently they also own limited entry permits, the vessels attached to these permits, or processing facilities. As compared to secondary owners or investors, first-level quota shareholders are active participants in the fishery, and thus are businesses for purposes of this rule. Also, when renewing their quota share permits, all quota shareholders must respond to questions of whether they consider themselves a large or small business. All 138 quota shareholders are businesses. Of these businesses, 15 are large. There are nine entities affected by the control limit for one or more individual species. These entities are affected only in the sense that NMFS is showing how it will calculate excess shares across multiple permits. There are three or less affected entities by the aggregate species limit divestiture rules. When combined, there are nine unique entities affected by this rule—seven small and two large.

Recordkeeping and reporting requirements are being modified by this final rule. NMFS is amending the supporting statement for the Pacific Coast groundfish trawl rationalization program permit and license information collection Office of Management and Business (OMB) Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requirements (number 0648-0620) to reflect the abandonment protocols described in the preamble to this final rule. NMFS requests any comments on the PRA abandonment protocol, including whether those minor paperwork protocols described above would unnecessarily burden any QS owners.

There are no significant alternatives to the rule that accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and that minimize any of the significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. Inclusion of the abandonment process and the extension of divestiture and abandonment deadlines should aid small businesses in meeting the other divestiture requirements. There are no relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this action.

This final rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been approved by OMB under control number 0648-0620. Public reporting burden for QS permit owners who exceed the aggregate nonwhiting control limit and wish to abandon QS to NMFS is estimated to average 10 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by email to [email protected], or fax to 202-395-7285.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this rule was developed after meaningful collaboration with tribal officials from the area covered by the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting members of the Pacific Council must be a representative of an Indian tribe with federally recognized fishing rights from the area of the Council's jurisdiction. The regulations do not require the tribes to change from their current practices.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries.

Dated: November 3, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

For the reasons stated 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. In § 660.140, revise paragraph (d)(4)(v) to read as follows:
§ 660.140 Shorebased IFQ Program.

(d) * * *

(4) * * *

(v) Divestiture. Accumulation limits will be calculated by first calculating the aggregate non-whiting QS limit and then the individual species QS or IBQ control limits. For QS permit owners (including any person who has ownership interest in the owner named on the permit) that are found to exceed the accumulation limits during the initial issuance of QS permits, an adjustment period will be provided during which they will have to completely divest their QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits. QS or IBQ will be issued for amounts in excess of accumulation limits only for owners of limited entry permits as of November 8, 2008, if such ownership has been registered with NMFS by November 30, 2008. The owner of any permit acquired after November 8, 2008, or if acquired earlier, not registered with NMFS by November 30, 2008, will only be eligible to receive an initial allocation for that permit of those QS or IBQ that are within the accumulation limits; any QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits will be redistributed to the remainder of the initial recipients of QS or IBQ in proportion to each recipient's initial allocation of QS or IBQ for each species. Any person that qualifies for an initial allocation of QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits will be allowed to receive that allocation, but must divest themselves of the QS (except for widow rockfish QS) or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits by November 30, 2015, according to the procedure provided under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) of this section. If NMFS identifies that a QS permit owner exceeds the accumulation limits in 2016 or beyond, the QS permit owner must divest of the QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits according to the procedure provided under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(B) of this section. Owners of QS or IBQ in excess of the control limits may receive and use the QP or IBQ pounds associated with that excess, up to the time their divestiture is completed.

(A) Divestiture and redistribution process in 2015. QS permit owners in excess of the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings may abandon QS to NMFS by November 15, 2015 using the procedure provided under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(C) of this section. QS permit owners must divest themselves of any QS or IBQ in excess of the accumulation limits by November 30, 2015, except for widow rockfish QS, which cannot be transferred as described in paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(B)(2) of this section. After the November 30, 2015 divestiture deadline, NMFS will revoke all QS or IBQ held by a person (including any person who has ownership interest in the owner names on the permit) in excess of the accumulation limits following the procedures specified under paragraphs (d)(4)(v)(D) through (G) of this section. All abandoned or revoked shares will be redistributed to all other QS permit owners in proportion to their QS or IBQ holdings on or about January 1, 2016, based on current ownership records, except that no person will be allocated an amount of QS or IBQ that would put that person over an accumulation limit.

(B) Divestiture and redistribution process in 2016 and beyond. Any person owning or controlling QS or IBQ must comply with the accumulation limits, even if that control is not reflected in the ownership records available to NMFS as specified under paragraphs (d)(4)(i) and (iii) of this section. If NMFS identifies that a QS permit owner exceeds an accumulation limit in 2016 or beyond, NMFS will notify the QS permit owner that he or she has 90 days to divest of the excess QS or IBQ. In the case that a QS permit owner exceeds the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings, the QS permit owner may abandon QS to NMFS within 60 days of the notification by NMFS, using the procedure provided under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(C) of this section. After the 90-day divestiture period, NMFS will revoke all QS or IBQ held by a person (including any person who has ownership interest in the owner names on the permit) in excess of the accumulation limits following the procedures specified under paragraphs (d)(4)(v)(D) through (G) of this section. All abandoned or revoked shares will be redistributed to all other QS permit owners in proportion to their QS or IBQ holdings on or about January 1 of the following calendar year, based on current ownership records, except that no person will be allocated an amount of QS or IBQ that would put that person over an accumulation limit.

(C) Abandonment of QS. QS permit owners that are over the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings may voluntarily abandon QS if they notify NMFS in writing by the applicable deadline specified under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. The written abandonment request must include the following information: QS permit number, IFQ species, and the QS percentage to be abandoned. Either the QS permit owner or an authorized representative of the QS permit owner must sign the request. QS permit owners choosing to utilize the abandonment option will permanently relinquish to NMFS any right to the abandoned QS, and the QS will be redistributed as described under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. No compensation will be due for any abandoned shares.

(D) Revocation. NMFS will revoke QS from any QS permit owner who exceeds an accumulation limit after the divestiture deadline specified under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. NMFS will follow the revocation approach summarized in the following table and explained under paragraphs (d)(4)(v)(E) through (G) of this section:

If, after the divestiture deadline, a QS permit owner exceeds . . . Then . . . An individual species control limit (non-widow until reallocation is complete) in one QS permit NMFS will revoke excess QS at the species level. An individual species control limit (non-widow until reallocation is complete) across multiple QS permits NMFS will revoke QS at the species level in proportion to the amount the QS percentage from each permit contributes to the total QS percentage owned. The control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings NMFS will revoke QS at the species level in proportion to the amount of the aggregate overage divided by the aggregate total owned. Until widow reallocation is complete, the proportion will be adjusted to hold widow QS at a constant level while bringing the aggregate percentage owned to 2.700%, using normal rounding rules.

(E) Revocation of excess QS or IBQ from one QS permit. In cases where a person has not divested to the control limits for individual species (non-widow until reallocation is complete) in one QS permit by the deadline specified under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section, NMFS will revoke excess QS at the species level in order to get that person to the limits. NMFS will redistribute the revoked QS following the process specified in paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. No compensation will be due for any revoked shares.

(F) Revocation of excess QS or IBQ from multiple QS permits. In cases where a person has not divested to the control limits for individual species (non-widow QS until reallocation is complete) across QS permits by the deadline specified under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section, NMFS will revoke QS at the species level in proportion to the amount the QS percentage from each permit contributes to the total QS percentage owned. NMFS will redistribute the revoked QS following the process specified in paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. No compensation will be due for any revoked shares.

(G) Revocation of QS in excess of the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings. In cases where a QS permit owner has not divested to the control limit for aggregate nonwhiting QS holdings by the deadline specified under paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section, NMFS will revoke QS at the species level in proportion to the amount of the aggregate overage divided by the aggregate total owned. Until widow reallocation is complete and transfer of widow is allowed, widow will continue to be included in the aggregate calculation, but the proportion will be adjusted to hold widow QS at a constant level while bringing the aggregate percentage owned to 2.700%, using normal rounding rules. NMFS will redistribute the revoked QS following the process in paragraph (d)(4)(v)(A) or (B) of this section. No compensation will be due for any revoked shares.

[FR Doc. 2015-28412 Filed 11-4-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
80 216 Monday, November 9, 2015 Proposed Rules CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION 16 CFR Parts 1112 and 1231 [Docket No. CPSC-2015-0031] Safety Standard for High Chairs AGENCY:

Consumer Product Safety Commission.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA”; Pub. L. 110-314, 122 Stat. 3016), requires the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“Commission” or “CPSC”) to promulgate consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. These standards must be substantially the same as applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with a product. In response to the direction under section 104(b) of the CPSIA, the Commission is proposing a safety standard for high chairs. The proposed rule would incorporate by reference ASTM F404-15, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for High Chairs (“ASTM F404-15”) into our new regulation and impose more stringent requirements for rearward stability and warnings on labels and in instructional literature. In addition, the Commission proposes to amend our regulations to include the newly proposed high chair standard in the list of notice of requirements (“NORs”) issued by the Commission.

DATES:

Submit comments by January 25, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

Comments related to the Paperwork Reduction Act aspects of the labeling and instructional literature requirements of the proposed mandatory standard for high chairs should be directed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Management and Budget, Attn: CPSC Desk Officer, FAX: 202-395-6974, or emailed to [email protected]

Other comments, identified by Docket No. CPSC-2015-0031, may be submitted electronically or in writing:

Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. The Commission does not accept comments submitted by electronic mail (email), except through www.regulations.gov. The Commission encourages you to submit electronic comments by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, as described above.

Written Submissions: Submit written comments by mail/hand delivery/courier to: Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504-7923.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this proposed rulemaking. All comments received may be posted without change, including any personal identifiers, contact information, or other personal information provided, to: http://www.regulations.gov. Do not submit confidential business information, trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information that you do not want to be available to the public. If furnished at all, such information should be submitted by mail/hand delivery/courier.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to: http://www.regulations.gov, and insert the docket number, CPSC-2015-0031, into the “Search” box, and follow the prompts.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Stefanie C. Marques, Project Manager, Directorate for Health Sciences, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 5 Research Place, Rockville, MD 20850; telephone: 301-987-2581; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background and Statutory Authority

The CPSIA was enacted on August 14, 2008. Section 104(b) of the CPSIA, part of the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, requires the Commission to: (1) examine and assess the effectiveness of voluntary consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products, in consultation with representatives of consumer groups, juvenile product manufacturers, and independent child product engineers and experts; and (2) promulgate consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. Any standard the Commission adopts under this directive must be substantially the same as the applicable voluntary standard or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product.

The term “durable infant or toddler product” is defined in section 104(f)(1) of the CPSIA as “a durable product intended for use, or that may be reasonably expected to be used, by children under the age of 5 years.” Section 104(f)(2)(C) of the CPSIA specifically identifies high chairs as a durable infant or toddler product.

Pursuant to section 104(b)(1)(A) of the CPSIA, the Commission consulted with representatives of manufacturers, consumer groups, consultants, retailers, industry trade groups, and government agencies in reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of the existing voluntary standard for high chairs, ASTM F404-15, largely through ASTM International's (“ASTM”; formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) standard-development process. The standard the Commission is proposing in this notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPR”) is based on ASTM F404-15 with more stringent requirements for rearward stability and warnings in labels and instructional literature.

The testing and certification requirements of section 14(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (“CPSA”; 15 U.S.C. 2051-2089) apply to the standards promulgated under section 104 of the CPSIA. Section 14(a)(3) of the CPSA requires the Commission to publish an NOR for the accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies (i.e., test laboratories) to assess whether a children's product conforms to applicable children's product safety rules. If adopted, the proposed rule for high chairs would be a children's product safety rule that requires the issuance of an NOR. For this reason, this NPR also proposes to amend 16 CFR part 1112 to include proposed 16 CFR part 1231, the section in which the high chair standard would be codified.

II. The Product A. Definition

ASTM F404-15 defines a “high chair” as “a free standing chair for a child up to 3 years of age which has a seating surface more than 15 in. above the floor and elevates the child normally for the purposes of feeding or eating.” The ASTM standard further specifies that a high chair may be sold with or without a tray, have adjustable heights, and recline for infants.

There are various designs and construction materials for high chairs. Typical high chairs consist of a plastic, wood, or metal frame, often with a padded fabric seat. Some models fold for storage and transport or convert for continued use as a child grows. Some high chairs include a removable snack tray or mounted toy accessories and some have no trays. High chairs may have a passive crotch restraint (i.e., two separate bounded openings for the occupant's legs), a rigid front torso support, a three-point restraint system, or a five-point restraint system with shoulder harnesses. High chair designs include restaurant-style chairs, four-legged A-frame styles, single-leg pedestals, and Z-frame styles. Restaurant-style high chairs are discussed further in section VII. of this preamble.

B. Market Description

In 2013, the CPSC conducted a Durable Nursery Product Exposure Survey (“DNPES”) of U.S. households with children under the age of 6. Data from DNPES indicate that there are approximately 9.74 million high chairs in U.S. households with children under the age of 6 and about 7.14 million high chairs actually in use in those households. High chairs range in price from $35 to $650.

Staff identified 62 firms supplying high chairs to the U.S. market. Fifty-one of these are domestic, including 27 manufacturers, 19 importers, and five wholesalers. The remaining 11 firms are foreign, including nine manufacturers, one importer, and one retailer. Of these 62 firms, 48 market their high chairs to consumers. The remaining 14 firms market their high chairs for use in commercial settings, primarily in restaurants, but these products generally also are available to consumers.

III. Incident Data

The Commission receives data regarding product-related injuries from several sources. One such source is the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (“NEISS”), from which CPSC can estimate the number of injuries associated with specific consumer products that are treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (“EDs”) nationwide, based on a probability sample. Other sources include reports from consumers and others through the Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System (which also includes some NEISS data) and reports from retailers and manufacturers through CPSC's Retailer Reporting System (collectively referred to as Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System data (“CPSRMS”)).

Through CPSRMS sources, the Commission has received 1,296 reports of incidents related to high chairs that occurred between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. Because several of these reports include more than one incident or issue, the total number of incidents is 1,308. These reports include one fatality and 138 injuries; for the remaining incidents, no injury occurred, or no injury was reported. Table 1 provides the number of incidents, injuries, and fatalities by year for 2011 to 2014.

Table 1—CPSRMS Incident Reports Involving High Chairs Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014 Incident year Total Injuries Fatalities 2011 276 44 0 2012 * 360 51 0 2013 * 491 28 0 2014 * 169 15 1 Total 1,296 138 1 Source: CPSC's Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System * data collection is ongoing

Of the 1,296 reports CPSC received from CPSRMS sources, 923 provided the age of the child involved. For incidents in which age was reported, the majority involved children between 7 and 18 months old.

EDs participating in NEISS reported 1,078 injuries and no deaths related to high chairs between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. Extrapolating from this probability sample, there were approximately 31,300 injuries and no fatalities related to high chairs treated in EDs between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. Approximately 75 percent of injuries reported through NEISS involved children between 7 and 23 months old.

A. Fatalities

The Commission received a report in 2014 of one fatality associated with a high chair. Apart from indicating that the high chair involved had broken, the report provided little information about the decedent or the circumstances of the incident. The Commission has been unable to obtain additional information regarding this incident.

B. Nonfatal Injuries

Of the 138 CPSRMS injuries related to high chairs that occurred between 2011 and 2014, three resulted in moderate injuries treated in EDs. These injuries included a puncture wound to the forehead, a broken collarbone, and a lacerated finger. There were no severe injuries, and the remaining injuries primarily resulted in contusions, abrasions, and lacerations. Many of the incident descriptions in the remaining 1,157 reports that did not state that an injury had occurred, nevertheless, indicated the potential for injury.

For injuries reported through NEISS, 94 percent were treated and released. The most commonly injured body parts were the head (65 percent) and face (17 percent). The most common types of injuries were injuries to internal organs (48 percent), contusions and abrasions (22 percent), and lacerations (11 percent). In 1,540 of the estimated 31,300 injuries treated in U.S. EDs, severe head injuries, such as fractured skulls and concussions, occurred.

C. Hazard Pattern Identification

CPSC staff reviewed NEISS and CPSRMS data to identify hazard patterns associated with high chairs. Because CPSRMS data sources generally provide greater detail about incidents, staff was able to identify more distinct hazard patterns using this data than NEISS data. CPSC staff identified several hazard patterns associated with high chairs in reviewing the 1,308 CPSRMS incidents. Approximately 96 percent of the 1,308 incidents involved issues with specific components of the high chair, including the frame, seat, restraint system, armrest, tray, toy accessories, wheels, footrest, and other features. Approximately 4 percent involved general problems with the high chair, including the design and stability, and less than 1 percent fell into other categories, including consumer observations and incidents in which reports provided insufficient information to identify a hazard pattern (i.e., undetermined). Staff was unable to identify the hazard pattern for the one fatality because there was insufficient information in the report. Table 2 provides the frequency of each hazard pattern and category.

Table 2—Hazard Patterns for CPSRMS Incidents Involving High Chairs Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014 Hazard pattern Total incidents Injuries Fatalities Frame 650 20 0 Seat 205 41 0 Restraint System 139 12 0 Armrest 81 2 0 Tray 75 33 0 Toy Accessories 70 1 0 Wheels 21 1 0 Footrest 14 0 0 Miscellaneous Issues 8 1 0 Design 22 13 0 Stability 16 12 0 Consumer Observations 3 0 0 Undetermined 4 2 1 Total 1,308 138 1

Issues with frames account for the greatest number of incidents. Examples of these incidents include broken frames, legs, seat supports, and loose screws. Issues with seats are associated with the greatest number of injuries. Examples of these incidents include torn, cracked, or peeling seat pads and seat-reclining issues. Examples of restraint system incidents include broken buckles and prongs, jamming, easy release, torn or fraying straps, pinching, and ineffective restraints. Examples of issues with armrests include cracking or breaking. Examples of tray incidents include trays failing to lock or remain locked, trays releasing too easily, difficulty releasing trays, and pinching. Examples of toy accessory incidents include cracked or broken toy accessories. Examples of incidents involving wheels include broken or loose wheels or wheels not locking. Examples of footrest incidents include cracked or broken footrests. Examples of other miscellaneous issues include unclear assembly instructions, excessive lead content in paint, finish coming off, poor construction quality, and loose hardware.

General issues with the design and stability of high chairs also contributed to incidents and injuries. Examples of incidents related to design issues include children's limbs, fingers, and toes becoming entrapped in spaces or openings. In two separate incidents, children were entrapped by the neck in the seatback opening and leg opening of high chairs. Examples of incidents involving stability issues include a high chair actually or nearly tipping over.

CPSC identified two additional categories that do not represent particular hazard patterns. First, several incident reports included consumer observations that did not indicate an incident with a high chair had occurred. Examples of these include perceived safety hazards and unauthorized sales of recalled high chairs. Second, several reports, including a fatality report, provided insufficient information for CPSC to determine the circumstances or cause of the incident.

One issue that relates to several of these hazard patterns is prevalent in both NEISS and CPSRMS incidents—namely, falls from high chairs. Many of the incidents reported through NEISS and CPSRMS sources involved children falling from high chairs. Within NEISS data, 78 percent of incidents involved falls but did not specify the cause, and an additional 18 percent involved mainly falls that occurred when a component of a high chair failed, a high chair tipped over, or a child climbed in or out of a high chair. Many of the CPSRMS incidents also involved falls from a high chair. Fall incidents are particularly evident in the stability, restraint system, tray, and frame hazard patterns. Falls often occurred when these features fail or the restraint system is not used properly. Fall incidents have the potential to result in serious injuries, including severe head injuries, which can cause brain damage and impact a child's development and cognitive skills. Of the 1,308 CPSRMS incidents, 79 fall incidents showed the potential for serious injuries, and in many of these incidents, the child sustained a head injury. Of the 31,300 estimated NEISS incidents, 1,540 resulted in severe head injuries.

D. Product Recalls

Since January 1, 2010, there have been 10 recalls of high chairs involving eight firms. The recalled high chairs were responsible for a total of 72 injuries, including 44 injuries involving bumps and bruises, 11 lacerations requiring medical closure (stitches, tape, or glue), one scratched cornea, and one hairline fracture to the arm. These injuries were primarily due to falls from the high chair.

IV. International Standards for High Chairs

CPSC is aware of four international standards that apply to high chairs:

• ASTM F404-15;

• EN 14988: 2006, Children's High Chairs—Safety Requirements and Test Methods (“European standard”);

• AS 4684-2009, High Chairs—Safety Requirements (“Australian standard”); and

• ISO 9221: 1992, Furniture—Children's High Chairs (“ISO standard”).

CPSC staff reviewed the provisions in these four standards and believes that ASTM F404-15 best addresses the hazard patterns indicated in the incident data CPSC has received. In most areas, ASTM F404-15 includes more stringent requirements than the other three international standards. For example, to test forward stability, the European standard requires testing with an 11-pound load and 5.6 foot-pound force, while ASTM F404-15 requires testing with a 40-pound load and 14 foot-pound force, making it the more stringent standard.

In reviewing the provisions in which one of the other international standards includes more stringent requirements than ASTM F404-15, CPSC found that incident data do not indicate that the more stringent standard is necessary to reduce the risk of injury, and the requirements in ASTM F404-15 are sufficient. For example, the European standard has height requirements for the sides of high chairs, while ASTM F404-15 does not. However, incident data do not indicate that side height is a factor in fall hazard patterns. Similarly, the Australian standard requires castors or gliders to be in specific configurations, and the ISO standard only allows castors for convertible high chairs, while ASTM F404-15 has no requirements for castors. However, incident data do not indicate that castors are a common cause of injury.

Based on these comparisons, CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 is, in general, a more stringent standard than the other three international standards and is better tailored to address the hazard patterns shown in the incident data.

V. ASTM F404-15 A. History of ASTM F404-15

ASTM first approved and published a standard for high chairs in 1975, as ASTM F404-75, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for High Chairs. ASTM has revised the voluntary standard many times since then, adding and modifying requirements. Some of the more substantial additions over the past 5 years include requirements for tray-release mechanisms, visibility and permanency of labels, restraint system installation, and restraint anchor integrity. ASTM approved the current version, ASTM F404-15, on May 15, 2015.

B. Description of ASTM F404-15

CPSC staff, together with stakeholders on the ASTM subcommittee task group for high chairs, developed modified and new requirements for ASTM F404-15 to address the hazards associated with high chairs. ASTM F404-15 includes the following key provisions: scope, terminology, calibration and standardization, general requirements, performance requirements, test methods, labeling and warnings, and instructional literature. The following provides an overview of these provisions; to view the complete standard, see the instructions in section X. of this preamble.

1. Scope

This section states the scope and intent of the standard.

2. Terminology

This section provides definitions of terms specific to the standard.

3. Calibration and Standardization

This section provides general instructions for conducting tests.

4. General Requirements

This section includes general requirements regarding various issues, such as components of a high chair, conversion kits, accessories, threaded fasteners, sharp edges and points, small parts, wood parts, latching or locking mechanisms, labels, openings, toy components, and lead in paint.

5. Performance Requirements and Test Methods

These sections contain performance requirements and associated test methods for high chairs. The following summarizes key requirements in these sections.

a. Protective Components: These requirements provide for testing protective components such as caps and plugs.

b. Tray or Front Torso Support—Drop Test: Each removable tray and front torso support must be dropped from a specified height in multiple orientations. The purpose of this requirement is to test whether high chair components continue to function or exhibit mechanical hazards (e.g., sharp edges) after the drop test.

c. Tray or Front Torso Support—Pull Tests: The tray or front torso support must be pulled multiple times from multiple sides and directions with a specified force. The purpose of this requirement is to test whether frontal support can withstand kicking or pulling.

d. Static Load: A high chair must support specified weights on the seat, tray, step, and footrest. The purpose of this requirement is to test whether the high chair seat and step can support more than the weight of a child and whether the tray can withstand overloading.

e. Stability: A high chair must not tip over when pulled forward, backward, or sideways by a specified force. The purpose of this requirement is to test the high chair's resistance to falling over if an occupant leans forward, pushes off a nearby surface, or the high chair is otherwise pushed.

f. Exposed Coil Springs: Any exposed coil springs that reach a specified distance from each other during static load testing must be designed to prevent pinching or entrapment.

g. Scissoring, Shearing, and Pinching: Each accessible point at which components move (e.g., fastening points, pivots) must admit a probe with a specified diameter. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent scissoring, shearing, and pinching of an occupant.

h. Restraint System: The standard requires an active restraint system, such as a belt, to secure a child in the high chair. The restraint system must include waist and crotch restraints. In addition, the restraints must withstand upward and downward force tests as well as testing to pull on restraint system attachments. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that the restraint system and its closing means remain anchored and functional under various forces.

i. Completely-Bounded Openings: This section requires high chairs with completely-bounded openings in front of the occupant to have a passive crotch restraint with specified maximum sizes for gaps and openings. The crotch restraint must be installed or tethered in place to prevent consumers from mis-installing or not installing it and tethers must withstand specified forces. The purpose of these provisions is to reduce the likelihood of injury or death from an occupant sliding through and being entrapped in an opening.

j. Structural Integrity: A high chair must withstand dynamic cycle testing, involving repeated drops of a weight on the seat, without any structural components breaking or the seat height or angle changing beyond a set limit. The purpose of this requirement is to test whether the high chair can withstand the dynamic loads to which it will be subjected.

k. Tray Latch Release Mechanisms: The standard includes requirements for tray latches to prevent unintentional or accidental release. These requirements include specific types and placements for latch release mechanisms and testing to ensure they can withstand a specified force. The purpose of these requirements is to address incidents in which occupants fell from high chairs that had passive restraints integrated into the tray.

l. Side Containment: Any completely-bounded openings on the sides of the seat must meet specified maximum dimensions for gaps and openings. The purpose of this requirement is to reduce the likelihood of injury or death from an occupant sliding through and being entrapped in an opening.

m. Protrusions: Projections must meet certain dimensional requirements if they are located on the outside of high chair legs at a height a toddler is susceptible to falling into. The purpose of this requirement is to address the incidents in which children outside of high chairs sustained injuries from falling into tray storage hooks or other protrusions.

n. Locking Mechanisms: Locking mechanisms must be able to withstand a specified force.

o. Permanency of Labels and Warnings: This section specifies testing and criteria for determining the permanency of labels.

6. Labeling and Warnings

This section contains various requirements related to warnings and labels, including content, format, and prominence requirements.

7. Instructional Literature

This section requires that instructions be provided with high chairs and be easy to read and understand. The instructions must comply with content, format, and prominence requirements.

VI. Assessment of ASTM F404-15

CPSC considered the fatalities, injuries, and non-injury incidents associated with high chairs that occurred between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014, and staff evaluated ASTM F404-15 to determine whether the voluntary standard addresses these hazards or whether more stringent standards would reduce the risk of injury associated with high chairs. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the hazards indicated in the incident data, with the exception of two areas. CPSC believes that more stringent requirements than those in ASTM F404-15 would further reduce the risk of injury associated with high chairs regarding rearward stability and warnings on labels and in instructional literature. Consequently, CPSC proposes additional requirements for those areas.

This section provides CPSC's assessments of how ASTM F404-15 addresses the hazard patterns in the incident data. In its analysis, CPSC identified broad categories into which the incidents fall. One category is components of high chairs, including issues with frames, seats, restraint systems, armrests, trays, toy accessories, wheels, footrests, and miscellaneous issues. Another category is general problems with high chairs, including design and stability issues. And the final category includes incidents that did not clearly fall within any of the above groupings—these are listed below as consumer observations and undetermined. This section discusses each of these hazard patterns, in descending order of frequency of incidents within each of the three categories (see Table 2, above). Section VIII. discusses the additional requirements that CPSC proposes for rearward stability and warnings.

A. Frame

There were 650 CPSRMS incidents involving the frame of a high chair, resulting in a total of 20 injuries. Common incidents included cracked frames or height adjustors, loose screws, and buckling legs. More than 80 percent of frame-related incidents involved cracked components on two similar high chair models from one manufacturer and resulted in only a few minor injuries.

ASTM F404-15 contains two separate requirements intended to provide structural integrity to high chair frames—a static load test and a drop test. Several general requirements also address the hazards associated with frame failures, such as the requirements regarding the use of certain screws for key structural elements to provide for proper installation and durability over time. Since frame-related incidents are not an industry-wide problem, CPSC believes that the ASTM F404-15 requirements for structural integrity, load tests, and fasteners effectively address the safety hazards related to high chair frames.

B. Seat

There were a total of 205 incidents involving the seat of a high chair, resulting in 41 injuries. Seat-related issues include cracked or peeling seat pads, broken seat reclining hardware, seat backs detaching, and loose screws. Nearly 60 percent of seat issues involved a single manufacturer's seat pads cracking or peeling after multiple washings. Eighty-three percent of seat-related injuries involved cracked or peeling seat pads scratching occupants' legs.

ASTM F404-15 contains two requirements that address the integrity of structural components of a high chair, including the seat. These are the static load test and drop test. General requirements, such as those regarding sharp points and small parts, also address the risk of laceration or choking on pieces that detach from the seat. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the hazards associated with high chair seats.

C. Restraint System

There were 139 incidents involving the restraint system of a high chair, resulting in 12 injuries. These issues generally fall into two categories—restraint systems that failed and unused restraint systems.

Within the first category, incidents included buckles breaking or separating from straps, straps tearing or pulling out of anchor points, and other issues. To address these issues, ASTM F404-15 requires all high chairs to be shipped with two types of restraint systems—a pre-attached “active” crotch and waist belt restraint system and a “passive” crotch restraint—that have undergone testing to ensure they work as intended. ASTM F404-15 also requires the restraint anchors to withstand a pull test. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the hazard pattern associated with restraint system failures.

As for the second category, unused restraint systems, CPSC believes that a more stringent standard for labels and instructional literature than ASTM F404-15 would further reduce the risk of injuries associated with this issue. CPSRMS and NEISS data indicate that, in many incidents, caregivers did not use the restraint system. CPSC believes more effective warnings would increase consumer use of restraint systems and reduce these incidents.

CPSC's review of CPSRMS data revealed that of the 1,308 incidents involving high chairs, there were numerous cases in which the caregiver did not use the high chair restraints, resulting in the child falling or nearly falling from the high chair. Although many incident reports have limited detail, CPSC noted that several incidents involved a child falling from a high chair when the tray disengaged, suggesting the tray was used as the sole restraint. Several reports also indicated that a caregiver's attention was elsewhere when the incident occurred. And several other reports suggested that the restraint system was ineffective at restraining the child or was used improperly.

CPSC's review of NEISS data revealed a similar pattern. The vast majority of NEISS incidents involved falls, which suggests that restraints were unused or ineffective. Although NEISS data provide limited details, many reports state that the child was not restrained or that the restraint had just been removed when the incident occurred. In some cases, the incident happened when a caregiver turned away from the child, and some reports stated the child was strapped in before the fall, suggesting the restraint fit poorly or was not adjusted properly.

CPSC believes that the requirements in ASTM F404-15 do not adequately address the risk of injury associated with unused or improperly used restraint systems. ASTM F404-15 includes three types of requirements relevant to this hazard. First, the standard requires the passive crotch restraint to arrive attached or tethered to its manufacturer's recommended use position to reduce the chances that the restraint is not installed before use. Second, section 8 of ASTM F404-15 requires warnings about the risk of serious injury or death from falling or sliding out of a high chair, instructions to use the restraint system, and a warning never to leave a child unattended. Some of these warnings must be visible to a person standing near the high chair at any one position when a child is in the high chair, but not necessarily visible from all positions. Other warnings must be visible to a caregiver while placing a child in the high chair, but not necessarily visible when the child is in the high chair. Third, section 9 of ASTM F404-15 specifies that instructional literature provided with a high chair must include the same warning statements that are on the high chair; state that only children capable of sitting upright unassisted should use a high chair; advise consumers to use the restraint system; and inform consumers that the tray is not a restraint system.

CPSC believes that more stringent content, form, and placement requirements for warnings than ASTM F404-15's would further reduce the risk of injury associated with unused restraint systems. Section VIII. discusses CPSC's proposed labeling and instructional literature requirements in greater detail.

D. Armrest

Eighty-one high chair incidents involved armrests and resulted in two injuries. Many of the reports indicate armrests broke as users removed the tray. All but one of the armrest incidents involved a single high chair model.

ASTM F404-15 includes several performance tests that address this hazard. For example, the static load and pull tests for trays also evaluate the durability of armrests because trays are typically attached to armrests. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the armrest hazard pattern. The incident reports indicate this is not an industry-wide problem; there were only a small number of minor injuries associated with armrests, and ASTM F404-15 includes tests for armrest durability.

E. Tray

A total of 75 high chair incidents involved trays and resulted in 33 injuries. Common tray incidents included pinching, and in addition, falls that occurred when trays unexpectedly detached or released too easily.

ASTM F404-15 contains several performance requirements that address tray incidents, including pull tests, a static load test, and specific tray-latching requirements. Provisions on tray latch accessibility and latch actuation that ASTM adopted in 2007 and 2010 have been effective at reducing tray-related incidents, as data show a decline in incidents for models manufactured after those revisions. General requirements, such as those for sharp edges and scissoring, shearing, and pinching, also address these hazards. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the tray hazard pattern.

F. Toy Accessories

Toy accessories were involved in 70 high chair incidents, resulting in one injury. These reports indicate toy accessories cracked or broke.

ASTM F404-15 includes requirements for toy accessory durability, requiring manufacturers to attach toy accessories to the high chair for testing, including tray drop testing and load cycle testing. CPSC believes ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the toy accessory hazard pattern. CPSC expects the toy durability requirements in ASTM F404-15, as well as the general requirement in ASTM F404-15 calling for compliance with ASTM's toy standard, ASTM F963, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, to reduce hazards related to cracked or broken toy accessories.

G. Wheels

Wheels were involved in 21 high chair incidents, resulting in one injury. Common incidents involved wheels becoming loose, breaking, or not locking. All but two of these incident reports cited cracked or broken components of high chairs from one manufacturer and almost all of these were the same model. In the single incident that resulted in an injury, the wheel was only a minor contributing factor.

ASTM F404-15 evaluates wheel durability through a static load test and drop test. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses this hazard pattern, as wheel issues do not appear to be an industry-wide hazard pattern, do not contribute to a substantial number of injuries, and ASTM F404-15 contains provisions that evaluate wheel integrity.

H. Footrests

Fourteen high chair incidents involved footrests and resulted in no injuries. All of the incident reports cited footrests cracking on a single high chair model.

ASTM F404-15 includes a static load test to evaluate the durability of footrests. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses this hazard pattern, as this is not an industry-wide issue, and ASTM F404-15 includes requirements for footrest durability.

I. Miscellaneous Issues

High chair incident reports included various additional issues, such as paint with excessive lead content, cracked wood finish, loose screws, and assembly problems. Eight high chair incident reports cited these miscellaneous issues and resulted in one injury.

ASTM F404-15 contains several requirements that address these various issues, such as issues with screws on consumer-assembled structural components, sharp edges, small parts, exposed wood, and compliance with 16 CFR part 1303 (banning lead-containing paint). ASTM F404-15 also includes requirements for instructional literature, intended to provide clear assembly instructions. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses these issues.

J. Design

Design issues were involved in 22 high chair incidents, resulting in 13 injuries. Incident reports relating to the design of a high chair primarily cited designs that create entrapment hazards. These hazards commonly resulted in children's arms being entrapped between the back of a high chair and the tray or children's legs catching in the gap between the bottom of the tray and the top of the passive crotch restraint. In the most severe cases, children slid into leg hole openings under the tray and hung by their necks.

To address these “submarining” cases, ASTM F404-15 contains several performance tests that specifically address openings, including a probe test for gaps and completely-bounded openings in front of occupants, around the passive crotch restraint, and between horizontal portions and the tray. The standard also includes a test for leg openings and openings around the sides of the high chair seat to ensure that occupants cannot slide through and become entrapped. ASTM F404-15 requires manufacturers to attach passive crotch restraints to the high chair to increase the likelihood that consumers will use restraints and reduce submarining incidents. ASTM F404-15's requirements on openings and scissoring, shearing, and pinching address less serious entrapment hazards. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the design hazard pattern.

K. Stability

Stability issues played a role in 16 high chair incidents, resulting in 12 injuries. This hazard pattern includes forward tip-overs, side tip-overs, and rearward tip-overs. Tip-overs generally occur when a child leans out of the high chair or pushes off a nearby surface. In NEISS reports that included enough detail to identify the cause of the incident, the vast majority of the incidents were falls resulting from tip-overs, mostly rearward tip-overs. CPSRMS data also included reports of many injuries resulting from high chairs tipping over, also frequently rearward tip-overs.

ASTM F404-15 requires forward, sideways, and rearward tip-over testing. The standard also contains a stability requirement to simulate the load applied by a child climbing into the chair. CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses forward and sideways tip-overs. However, based on the frequency of rearward tip-over incidents, CPSC believes that ASTM F404-15 does not adequately address rearward tip-over hazards and a more stringent standard is necessary. Section VIII. discusses CPSC's proposed rearward stability standard.

L. Consumer Observations

Three incident reports involved consumers' perceived safety hazards or complaints about high chairs, but none of the incidents resulted in injuries. These reports did not provide enough information for CPSC to assess the adequacy of ASTM F404-15 regarding the reported concerns.

M. Undetermined

Four high chair incident reports did not provide sufficient information for CPSC to determine how the incidents, including the one reported death and two injuries, occurred. The lack of information available in these incident reports made it impossible for CPSC to assess the effectiveness of ASTM F404-15 in addressing these issues.

VII. Restaurant-Style High Chairs

ASTM F404-15 applies to high chairs without distinguishing where consumers use them. However, many high chairs are designed to be used in commercial settings, primarily restaurants (“restaurant-style high chairs”). These high chairs generally include features that are particularly useful in commercial or restaurant settings and may not present the same hazards as high chairs used in the home. Based on CPSC's review of incident data and the potential economic impact of the requirements proposed in this NPR, it is possible that, due to the unique environmental factors in restaurant settings, high chairs used in these settings may present lesser hazards and warrant fewer requirements to reduce the risk of injury associated with high chairs. The following describes the factors that weigh in favor of and against distinguishing restaurant-style high chairs from other high chairs and possible options for distinguishing them.

Of the 1,296 CPSRMS incident reports, three explicitly state that the incidents occurred in restaurants while consumers used the establishments' high chairs. Restaurant-style high chairs have several distinct features. This style of chair is generally constructed from robust materials, such as wood or plastic and do not have trays. Therefore, restaurant-style high chairs can be pulled up to a table. In addition, restaurant-style high chairs are designed to be compact and stackable for easy storage and have little space available for labels. Restaurant-style high chairs are also generally designed to be lower to the ground and narrower than high chairs intended for home use. Additionally, restaurant-style high chairs are designed not only to accommodate a wide range of ages, from infants to toddlers, but also accommodate bulky outerwear and shoes. These design attributes are desirable in a restaurant setting to adapt to the environment and be versatile and compact. However, these features also make it difficult for these high chairs to comply with the requirements in ASTM F404-15 and the additional requirements proposed in this NPR.

There are several requirements that restaurant-style high chairs frequently do not follow. Contrary to ASTM F404-15, wedge blocks can generally pass through the leg openings of restaurant-style high chairs. The large side and back openings also do not meet ASTM F404-15. The belt used as a passive restraint often fits loosely over the top rail of the high chair and does not meet the passive restraint requirements of ASTM F404-15. The lower and narrower stance of these high chairs also may impact the chairs' compliance with the stability requirements in ASTM F404-15. Moreover, there is little space on these high chairs to accommodate the label requirements in ASTM F404-15 or the additional requirements CPSC proposes.

There are several reasons it may be appropriate to apply different requirements to restaurant-style high chairs. First, the environment in which restaurant-style high chairs are used may not present the same hazards that are common in the home. In a restaurant environment, caregivers sit next to the child seated in the high chair, are unlikely to leave a child unattended in the high chair, and are not distracted by the tasks that may divert the caregiver's attention in a home environment. For these reasons, a caregiver would likely be able to prevent an incident from occurring, or correct any issue quickly, before serious injury or death could occur. None of the three incidents involving restaurant-style high chairs reported to CPSC involved children who were unattended and entrapped in the openings of the high chair. Because caregivers are likely to be nearby and attentive, it is likely to be less necessary for warnings regarding attending the child to be visible when the child is in the high chair. Second, modifying restaurant-style high chairs to comply with ASTM F404-15 would likely reduce their utility because these high chairs would no longer accommodate larger children or bulky clothes, and would be less compact and not stackable. Finally, given the possible lesser safety issues, the proposed requirements in this NPR impose proportionately high costs on restaurant-style high chair suppliers because these products require more changes to come into compliance.

There are also several reasons to apply the same requirements to restaurant-style high chairs and other high chairs. First, restaurant-style high chairs are readily available to consumers and are also used in homes. Two of the firms that market their products to consumers produce high chairs identical to the wooden high chairs used in restaurants. This negates the environmental factors that support distinguishing high chairs used in restaurants. Second, there is minimal incident data to indicate whether high chairs actually pose lesser safety risks in restaurant settings. It is also possible that, although caregivers in restaurants are near the child, caregivers may be less likely to attend to the child or use the restraint system because caregivers assume they are near enough to the child to prevent an incident. As the incident data indicate, this may not be correct, as incidents can happen quickly. Finally, because high chairs are readily available to consumers, it may be difficult, practically, to apply different requirements to these high chairs.

Some options for treating restaurant style-high chairs differently than other high chairs include excluding restaurant-style high chairs from the proposed standard or modifying individual requirements, such as label placement and bounded-openings, to reflect the features and lesser safety issues associated with restaurant-style high chairs.

CPSC requests comments on the following factors: whether it is appropriate to distinguish these high chairs, which requirements should differ, and how CPSC could apply those distinctions.

VIII. Description of Proposed Changes to ASTM Standard

The proposed rule would create part 1231, titled, Safety Standard for High Chairs. As explained above, the Commission believes that ASTM F404-15 effectively addresses the safety hazards associated with high chairs, with the exception of rearward stability and warnings in labels and instructional literature. For this reason, the Commission proposes to incorporate by reference ASTM F404-15, with modified requirements for rearward stability and warnings. This section discusses the proposed changes to ASTM F404-15.

A. Rearward Stability

Based on the incident data discussed above, CPSC believes that a more stringent standard than ASTM F404-15 for rearward stability would further reduce the risk of injury. CPSC staff has tested the high chair models involved in incidents and found that the tested models passed the requirements of ASTM F404-15. To develop a performance test to measure and improve the rearward stability of high chairs, CPSC worked with an ASTM task group to develop an alternative rearward stability test, based on CPSC staff's and manufacturers' testing. Although this test is not included in ASTM F404-15, ASTM may adopt the test in future revisions. CPSC proposes to adopt this test, in lieu of the rearward stability test in ASTM F404-15.

The proposed standard is based on a rearward stability index (“SI”) rating that evaluates the factors that contribute to rearward tip-overs and sets a minimum SI score for high chairs. The task group developed the SI based on a review of various stability requirements, the incident data, and testing numerous high chair models, including those involved in rearward tip-over incidents and those not reported to be involved in such incidents. The SI measures the elements associated with high chair occupants pushing back from a surface. The SI rates high chairs based on two characteristics associated with rearward tip-overs—the force (“F”) required to tip the chair over in the rearward direction and the distance (“D”) that a reference point on the seat travels as the chair tilts from the manufacturer's recommended use position to the point of instability just before tipping over. A chair design will score well if it requires a large push-off force and/or a long distance to reach its tipping point. CPSC's and manufacturers' tests determined that the tip force is a more critical factor in identifying unstable chairs. As such, the SI weights F twice as heavily as D: SI = 2F + D.

The test method CPSC developed through this testing and proposes in this NPR includes the following elements:

• Attach a force gauge to the center line of the back of the seat, 7.25″ above the seating surface and preload it with 3 pounds of force (to eliminate any slack in fabric or loose seats);

• Establish an initial reference point along the plane of the force gauge;

• Gradually apply a rearward, horizontal force until the point at which the chair becomes unstable and begins to tip over backward;

• Record the maximum force applied during the tip test, along with the total distance the reference point moved from its predetermined position; and

• Calculate the SI by multiplying the force by a factor of two and adding the distance. Based on the product testing conducted, CPSC proposes requiring high chairs to have an SI of 50 or more.

CPSC also proposes to include requirements for the test surface and positioning of the high chair for rearward stability testing. These requirements are based on CPSC staff's testing initiative and aim to reduce variation in test results. First, CPSC proposes to require the high chair seat back, tray, seat, and wheels to be in specific positions for rearward stability testing. This will decrease variability in test methods and results, and based on testing, CPSC believes that these positions are the most effective for assessing high chair stability.

Second, CPSC proposes to require a specific test surface, including 60-grit sandpaper to prevent sliding and maximum parameters for the stop block placed behind a high chair with wheels to instigate tipping. Without these requirements, test results vary because test surfaces differ and the height of a stop block affects the amount of force necessary to tip over a high chair.

The proposed rearward stability requirement and test procedure are effective at identifying high chairs that have been involved in rearward tip-over incidents. As such, CPSC believes this more stringent standard would further reduce the risk of injury associated with rearward high chair tip-overs, and proposes requiring this modification to ASTM F404-15.

B. Warnings in Labels

Based on incident data discussed above and research on effective warnings, CPSC believes that the on-product warning requirements in ASTM F404-15 do not adequately address the safety risks associated with high chairs; therefore, CPSC proposes more stringent requirements that would further reduce the risk of injury associated with falls from high chairs. Specifically, CPSC proposes additional content, form, and placement provisions for on-product warnings labels. Tab E of CPSC staff's briefing package for this proposed rule includes additional details about these proposed requirements and the rationale behind them. The briefing package is available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/FOIA/Commission-Briefing-Packages/.

1. Content

CPSC proposes to require high chairs to bear labels that address the following statements:

Children have suffered skull fractures after falling from high chairs. Falls can happen quickly if child is not restrained properly.

• Always use restraints, and adjust to fit snugly. Tray is not designed to hold child in chair.

• Stay near and watch your child during use.

CPSC believes this language would be more effective than ASTM F404-15's language at reducing the risk of injury associated with falls from high chairs. CPSC developed the proposed warning language from information developed through research on the content of warnings. The proposed rule refers to ANSI Z535.4, Product Safety Signs and Labels (“ANSI Z535.4”), for guidance on warning label designs. ANSI Z535.4 is the primary U.S. voluntary consensus standard for product safety signs and labels. The standard is available at: http://www.ansi.org/. ANSI Z535.4 addresses the design, application, use, and placement of on-product warning labels. CPSC's Division of Human Factors regularly uses ANSI Z535.4.

As the staff briefing package discusses, literature and guidelines about warnings consistently recommend that on-product warnings include:

• A description of the hazard;

• information about the consequences of exposure to the hazard; and

• instructions about appropriate hazard-avoidance behaviors.

The warning statements in ASTM F404-15 lack important details regarding the hazard and its consequences, providing only a vague description of the types of injuries that may occur. As staff's briefing package for this proposed rule indicates, providing more detailed and vivid information in a warning increases its effectiveness. Accordingly, CPSC developed the proposed language, describing the specific hazard, consequent injuries, and precise actions that can help reduce the likelihood of the hazard.

As Tab E of CPSC staff's briefing package for this proposed rule discusses, incident data and other research reveals the following:

• Falls can happen quickly;

• falls occur when caregivers are not close by or watching a child;

• falls occur when caregivers do not use the restraint system;

• falls occur when caregivers do not use the restraint system properly; and

• receiving information about a hazard, its consequences, and mitigating actions, motivates appropriate behavior.

As discussed in further detail in Tab E of CPSC staff's briefing package, CPSC does not believe that ASTM F404-15 includes adequately detailed requirements to address many of these factors. To increase the effectiveness of warnings and further reduce the risk of injury, CPSC proposes the following for high chair warnings:

• A statement describing the speed with which incidents can occur;

• a detailed description of what “attending” means, including staying near and watching a child;

• an instruction to use the restraint system and a statement that the tray is not part of the restraint system;

• an instruction to adjust the restraints to fit the child snugly; and

• a warning statement regarding the hazard, consequences, and appropriate actions to appear together on a label.

Similarly to ASTM F404-15, CPSC proposes that for high chairs that have a seating component that is also used as a seating component for a stroller, the content of the labels must comply with ASTM F833, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Carriages and Strollers (“ASTM F833”). However, although ASTM F404-15 only requires compliance with section 8.2.2.2 of ASTM F833, CPSC also proposes to require the additional warning provided in section 8.2.2.1. CPSC incorporated the most recent revision of this standard (ASTM F833-13b) into 16 CFR part 1227 as the safety standard for carriages and strollers, with some modifications, effective September 10, 2015. 79 FR 13,208 (Mar. 10, 2014).

2. Form

Research indicates that the form of a warning can affect the extent to which consumers notice and read the warning. The form of a warning can also communicate the seriousness of a hazard, which can affect compliance with recommended behavior. CPSC considered research on effective forms for warnings, including the requirements in ANSI Z535.4, in developing the proposed form requirements. ASTM F404-15 does not include several of the features that have been found to be effective, including colors, contrast, typeface, and layout.

As discussed in Tab E of CPSC staff's briefing package for this proposed rule, research indicates the following points about the format of warnings:

• Certain colors, particularly red, orange, and yellow, attract attention and help convey the presence of a hazard;

• the degree of contrast contributes to readability;

• certain typeface styles, such as sentence capitalization (i.e., mixed upper and lowercase) and boldface, are easier to read and more effective at highlighting information than extensive capitalization;

• left-justified text is easier to read than fully-justified text;

• condensed or narrow typeface is less effective at conveying information; and

• lists and outline formats provide for better absorption and retention of information than continuous paragraph text.

ASTM F404-15 does not include specific requirements for many of these factors. To increase the effectiveness of warnings and further reduce the risk of injury, based on this research, CPSC proposes the following for high chair warnings:

• Red, orange, or yellow on-product warnings;

• highly contrasting colors, such as black and white;

• sentence capitalization, with key phrases emphasized in boldface;

• left-justified text;

• non-condensed typeface; and

• outline format.

3. Placement

As discussed above, the warning placement and visibility requirements in ASTM F404-15 permit different portions of warning information to appear on separate labels. CPSC believes that to be most effective, all of the warning information should appear together because the hazard description and potential injuries help motivate caregivers to take the recommended actions. Similarly, CPSC believes that it is important for caregivers to be able to see the warnings when putting a child into a high chair and when the child is in it. This will remind users to use the restraint system when putting the child into the high chair and to stay near and watch the child once the high chair is in use. ASTM F404-15 only requires certain warning information to be visible when a caretaker is placing a child in the high chair, not once the chair is occupied; and the standard requires other warning information to be visible when the child is in the chair. Based on the incident data, CPSC believes it would more effectively reduce the risk of injury associated with falls from high chairs if users could see the warning after putting a child in the high chair and before leaving the child unattended. As such, CPSC proposes requiring warning labels to be visible when placing the occupant in the high chair and once the child is in the high chair.

4. Additional Guidance

CPSC also proposes to include a note in the regulatory text referencing ANSI Z535.4 for optional additional guidance. CPSC would not require compliance with ANSI Z535.4, but the standard may offer regulated entities additional useful information for developing effective labels.

C. Warnings in Instructional Literature

For reasons similar to using warnings in on-product labels, CPSC proposes more stringent requirements for warnings in instructional literature than ASTM F404-15 provides. CPSC believes that more stringent requirements will further reduce the risk of injury associated with high chairs by providing more effective warnings regarding the hazard, potential injuries, and recommended behavior. This includes requirements about the content and form of warnings in instructional literature. The discussion below provides the rationale for these more-stringent requirements, and the requirements are discussed in additional detail in Tab E of CPSC staff's briefing package for this proposed rule.

1. Content

Section 9.2 of ASTM F404-15 requires that instructional literature contain the same warnings as the warnings required on the high chair. CPSC believes that this requirement is appropriate. However, because CPSC proposes to require different on-product warning label content than ASTM F404-15, the more-stringent warning requirements also would apply to instructional literature. The Commission agrees with the additional content requirement listed in section 9.2.1 of ASTM F404-15. Therefore, CPSC does not propose to modify that requirement.

2. Form

Unlike on-product warning labels, ASTM F404-15 does not specify the form in which warning statements in instructional literature must appear. Similarly to on-product warning labels, research and guidance indicate that specific forms are more effective at conveying information. The proposed rule refers to ANSI Z535.6, Product Safety Information in Product Manuals, Instructions, and Other Collateral Materials (“ANSI Z535.6”) for guidance on the design and location of product safety messages in instructional literature. The standard is available at: http://www.ansi.org/.

CPSC proposes to require the same form requirements for warnings in instructional literature as the requirements proposed for on-product warning labels, with one exception. CPSC believes that these form requirements will further reduce the risk of injury associated with high chairs for the same reasons discussed for on-product warning labels. However, CPSC does not propose to require the use of specific colors (i.e., red, orange, yellow) for warnings in instructional literature unless a manufacturer opts to use color, in which case the same color requirements as on-product labels would apply.

3. Additional Guidance

Similar to ANSI Z535.4, CPSC also proposes to include a note in the regulatory text referencing ANSI Z535.6 for optional additional guidance. CPSC would not require compliance with ANSI Z535.6, but the standard may offer regulated entities additional useful information for developing effective warnings in instructional literature.

IX. Amendment to 16 CFR Part 1112 To Include NOR for High Chair Standard

Section 14 of the CPSA establishes requirements for product testing and certification. Manufacturers of products that are subject to a consumer product safety rule under the CPSA or another rule the Commission enforces must certify, based on product testing, that their product complies with all such rules. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(1). Additionally, manufacturers of children's products that are subject to a children's product safety rule must have these products tested by a third party conformity assessment body that CPSC has accredited, and manufacturers must certify that their products comply with all applicable children's product safety rules. Id. at 2063(a)(2). The Commission must publish an NOR for the accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies to assess conformity with a children's product safety rule. Id. at 2063(a)(3). Because the proposed rule is a children's product safety rule, if the Commission issues 16 CFR part 1231, Safety Standard for High Chairs, as a final rule, the CPSC must also issue an NOR.

The Commission published a final rule, codified at 16 CFR part 1112, titled, Requirements Pertaining to Third Party Conformity Assessment Bodies, which established requirements for accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies to test for conformity with children's product safety rules in accordance with the CPSA. 78 FR 15836 (Mar. 12, 2013). Part 1112 also codifies all of the NORs the Commission previously issued.

NORs for new children's product safety rules, such as the high chair standard, require the Commission to amend part 1112. To accomplish this, as part of this NPR, the Commission proposes to amend part 1112 to add high chairs to the list of children's product safety rules for which CPSC has issued an NOR.

Test laboratories applying for acceptance as a CPSC-accepted third party conformity assessment body to test for compliance with the proposed standard for high chairs would be required to meet the third party conformity assessment body accreditation requirements in part 1112. When a laboratory meets the requirements of a CPSC-accepted third party conformity assessment body, the laboratory can apply to CPSC to have 16 CFR part 1231, Safety Standard for High Chairs, included in the laboratory's scope of accreditation of CPSC safety rules listed for the laboratory on the CPSC Web site at: www.cpsc.gov/labsearch.

X. Incorporation by Reference

Section 1231.2(a) of the proposed rule incorporates by reference ASTM F404-15. The Office of the Federal Register (“OFR”) has regulations concerning incorporation by reference. 1 CFR part 51. Under these regulations, in the preamble of the NPR, an agency must summarize the incorporated material and discuss the ways the material is reasonably available to interested parties or how the agency worked to make the materials reasonably available. 1 CFR 51.5(a).

In accordance with the OFR's requirements, section V.B. of this preamble summarizes the provisions of ASTM F404-15 that the Commission proposes to incorporate by reference. ASTM F404-15 is copyrighted. By permission of ASTM, interested parties may view the standard as a read-only document during the comment period of this NPR at: http://www.astm.org/cpsc.htm. Interested parties may also purchase a copy of ASTM F404-15 from ASTM International, 100 Bar Harbor Drive, P.O. Box 0700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428; http://www.astm.org/cpsc.htm. You may also inspect a copy at CPSC's Office of the Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone 301-504-7923.

XI. Effective Date

The Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 551-559) generally requires that the effective date of a rule be at least 30 days after publication of the final rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d). To allow time for high chairs to come into compliance with the standard, the Commission proposes that the standard become effective 6 months after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register. Without evidence to the contrary, CPSC generally considers 6 months to be sufficient time for suppliers to come into compliance with a new standard, and 6 months is typical for other CPSIA section 104 rules. Six months is also the period that the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (“JPMA”) typically allows for products in the JPMA certification program to transition to a new standard once that standard is published. We also propose that the amendment to part 1112 become effective 6 months after publication of the final rule. We ask for comments on this proposed effective date.

XII. Regulatory Flexibility Act A. Introduction

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (“RFA”; 5 U.S.C. 601-612) requires agencies to consider the impact of proposed rules on small entities, including small businesses. Section 603 of the RFA requires the Commission to prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (“IRFA”) and make it available to the public for comment when the NPR is published. The IRFA must describe the impact of the proposed rule on small entities and identify significant alternatives that accomplish the statutory objectives and minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. Specifically, the IRFA must discuss:

• The reasons the agency is considering the action;

• the objectives and legal basis of the proposed rule;

• the small entities that would be subject to the proposed rule and, when possible, an estimate of the number of small entities that would be impacted;

• the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the proposed rule, including the classes of small entities subject to it and the professional skills necessary to prepare the reports or records; and

• the relevant federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule. 5 U.S.C. 603.

This section summarizes the IRFA for this proposed rule. Based on CPSC's analysis, staff cannot rule out a significant economic impact for 20 of the 38 firms (53 percent) operating in the U.S. market for high chairs.

B. Market Description

CPSC identified 62 firms that supply high chairs to the U.S. market. The majority of these firms are domestic (including 27 manufacturers, 19 importers, and 5 wholesalers). The remaining 11 firms are foreign (including 9 manufacturers, 1 importer, and 1 retailer). Forty-eight of these firms market their products to consumers, while 14 firms market their products for use in commercial settings, such as restaurants, hotels, and day care centers. However, consumers are able to purchase high chairs that are generally designed and marketed for use in commercial settings; two of the firms that market their products to consumers also produce high chairs identical to the wooden high chairs used in restaurants.

C. Reason for Agency Action, Objectives, and Legal Basis for Proposed Rule

Section 104 of the CPSIA requires the CPSC to promulgate a mandatory standard for high chairs that is substantially the same as the voluntary standard or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product.

D. Description of the Proposed Rule

CPSC proposes to adopt ASTM F404-15 with modifications to the rearward stability test and requirements for warnings on labels and instructional literature. Section V. of this preamble discusses key provisions of ASTM F404-15.

CPSC believes that the high chairs of 37 firms comply with ASTM F404. This is because JPMA has certified the high chairs supplied by 12 firms, and the remaining 25 firms state that they comply with the voluntary standard. As such, these firms will not incur additional costs to comply with the provisions of ASTM F404-15, which CPSC proposes to adopt.

In addition to incorporating ASTM F404-15 by reference, CPSC proposes to adopt modified requirements for rearward stability and warnings in labels and instructional literature because CPSC believes that more stringent standards in these areas would further reduce the risk of injury. Section VIII. of this preamble discusses these proposed provisions.

Preliminary testing by CPSC staff and other members of the ASTM task group indicates that most high chairs would pass the proposed rearward stability test, and therefore, would not require any modifications to meet the proposed standard. Through testing high chairs and other market research, staff identified only three high chairs that might not pass the modified rearward stability test, based on their design. However, CPSC expects that the cost of modifying the design to increase rearward stability would be low, and that this could likely be accomplished by adding flat supports to the bottom of each back leg.

The Commission is also proposing more stringent requirements for warnings in labels and instructional literature. All firms would be affected by the proposed requirements for warnings in labels and instructional literature. Each firm would need to modify the text and formatting of the warnings for both the product and the instructional literature. Firms would need to move warning labels to the specified location, ensuring that the warnings are visible when the child is placed in the high chair and when the child is in the high chair. If the high chair can be used with and without padding, this would require placing the warning on both the high chair and the padding. Section XII.F. of this preamble discusses staff's assessment of the impact of these proposed requirements on small entities.

E. Other Relevant Federal Rules

CPSC staff has not identified any federal or state rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with the proposed rule.

F. Impact of the Proposed Rule on Small Businesses

CPSC is aware of approximately 62 firms currently marketing high chairs in the United States, 51 of which are domestic firms. Under U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) guidelines, a high chair manufacturer is “small” if it has 500 or fewer employees, and importers and wholesalers are small if they have 100 or fewer employees. CPSC limited its analysis to domestic firms because SBA guidelines and definitions pertain to U.S. entities. Based on these guidelines and available information about the firms, staff has identified 38 of the 51 domestic suppliers as small (21 manufacturers, 13 importers, and 4 wholesalers). There may be additional small domestic high chair suppliers that CPSC is not aware of who are operating in the U.S. market. Table 3 lists the number of firms by category:

Table 3—Firms That Market High Chairs in the U.S. Category Number of firms Domestic 51 Small 38 Manufacturers 21 Compliant with ASTM F404 12 Not Compliant with ASTM F404 9 Importers and Wholesalers 17 Compliant with ASTM F404 9 Not Compliant with ASTM F404 8 Large 13 Foreign 11 Total 62 1. Small Manufacturers With Compliant High Chairs

Of the 21 small manufacturers, 12 produce high chairs that comply with ASTM F404-14. In general, CPSC expects small manufacturers that already comply with the voluntary standard will continue to comply with the standard as the standard evolves because they follow, and in three cases, actively participate in ASTM's standard-development process. As such, compliance with the voluntary standard is part of these firms' established business practice. Because ASTM approved ASTM F404-15 on May 15, 2015, these firms would likely be in compliance with the standard before the proposed rule would take effect.

For this reason, the economic impact of the proposed rule should be small for 10 of the 12 small domestic manufacturers. These 10 firms include one firm that may need to modify its high chair to meet the proposed rearward stability test; as discussed above, the cost associated with this modification is likely small.

However, the proposed warning label requirements may create a significant economic impact for two small manufacturers. Both firms produce high chairs with compact designs, with one serving the commercial restaurant market. Redesigning the seat back would provide additional space for warning labels, but may reduce the chairs' compactness, which may be an important feature for marketability. For one firm, high chairs represent a small part of its product line, but it is unclear whether the firm could stop producing high chairs because CPSC was unable to obtain sales revenue information. For the second firm, high chairs represent an integral part of its commercial product line, so discontinuing that product line could create a significant economic burden. CPSC requests input on consumer preferences for compact high chairs, how compact high chair manufacturers would respond to the proposed warning label requirements, and the costs of developing a compliant product.

2. Small Manufacturers with NonCompliant High Chairs

Nine small manufacturers produce high chairs that do not comply with the voluntary standard, five who market their products for use in commercial settings, primarily in restaurants. CPSC believes it is possible that there would be a significant economic impact on some of these manufacturers. The five producers of restaurant-style high chairs would need to make several changes to meet the base requirements of ASTM F404-15. As discussed previously, different circumstances and needs exist for restaurant-style high chairs. Complying with the proposed rule may undermine some of the characteristics that make certain high chair features desirable in restaurant settings. For example, leg holes tend to be larger for restaurant-style high chairs to accommodate children clothed in outerwear and children of varied ages and sizes. The proposed standard would preclude some features.

Manufacturers of restaurant-style high chairs may also need to make changes to meet the proposed warning label requirements. For example, two firms manufacture plastic high chairs that may need to be redesigned to comply with the proposed warning label requirements.

Four firms that do not currently comply with the ASTM standard produce high chairs for home use. One of these four firms likely would need to make significant changes to its product to meet the proposed warning label requirements, given the compact design of its product. The three remaining firms appear to have sufficient room on their high chairs to accommodate the proposed warning labels without redesign, and any modifications to the high chairs would be due to the requirements of ASTM F404-15. However, CPSC staff could not determine the extent or cost of the changes that may be necessary, so we cannot rule out a significant economic impact.

CPSC requests comments on the differences between restaurant-style high chairs and high chairs produced for home use, as well as the desirability of particular features in these respective environments. CPSC also requests information about the changes that would be necessary to meet the proposed requirement, including whether redesign or retrofitting would be necessary and whether there would be any associated costs.

3. Third Party Testing Costs for Small Manufacturers

Under section 14 of the CPSA, if CPSC adopts the proposed high chair requirements, all manufacturers will be subject to the third party testing and certification requirements under 16 CFR part 1107. Third party testing would include any physical and mechanical test requirements specified in a final high chair rule. Manufacturers and importers should already be conducting required lead testing for high chairs. Third party testing costs would be in addition to the direct costs of meeting the high chair standard.

More than half of small high chair manufacturers (11 out of 21) are already testing their products to verify compliance with the ASTM standard, although not necessarily by a third party laboratory. For these manufacturers, the impact on testing costs would be limited to the difference between the cost of third party tests and the cost of current testing regimes. The suppliers that CPSC staff contacted estimate that obtaining third party testing for high chairs would cost about $600 to $900 per model sample. For manufacturers that are already testing, the incremental costs will be lower than that.

Based on CPSC staff's examination of firm revenues from recent Dun & Bradstreet or ReferenceUSAGov reports, the impact of third party testing, alone is unlikely to be economically significant for small manufacturers of noncompliant high chairs. Even without knowing how many samples would be needed to meet the “high degree of assurance” criterion in part 1107, more than 12 units per model would be required before testing costs exceed 1 percent of gross revenue for the small manufacturer with the lowest gross revenue. CPSC could not obtain revenue information for one small manufacturer, and therefore, could not evaluate the impact on that firm. CPSC requests comments on testing costs and incremental costs of third party testing (i.e., how much does moving from a voluntary to a mandatory third party testing regime add to testing costs, in total, and on a per-test basis). In particular, CPSC requests comments on the preliminary determination that third party testing is unlikely to lead to significant economic impacts for small high chair manufacturers. In addition, CPSC would like comments about the number of high chair units that typically need to be tested to provide a “high degree of assurance.”

4. Small Importers and Wholesalers With Compliant High Chairs

CPSC considered the economic impact to importers and wholesalers together, because both rely on outside firms to supply the products they distribute to the U.S. market. Importers distribute products made by foreign firms and are often closely related to the firms producing their products. CPSC was unable to determine the source of wholesalers' high chairs, but the sources are likely from other suppliers that may be foreign or domestic.

In the absence of a mandatory regulation, the nine firms (seven small importers and two small wholesalers) currently in compliance with the voluntary standard likely would remain in compliance with new versions. However, the high chairs these firms supply would require modifications to meet the proposed requirements. There are two firms that may require modifications to meet the rearward stability requirement (one importer and one wholesaler) but, as discussed above, these costs are likely to be low. The cost of modifying the wording and format of the warnings should be small, as well, given that such changes typically add only a few cents per unit to production costs.

The proposed placement requirements for warnings, however, could be more costly, possibly requiring firms to retrofit or redesign their high chairs. Four of the nine firms likely would have to modify the design of their high chairs to meet the proposed warnings label visibility requirement. The high chairs of two firms have compact designs, making the display of warning labels difficult. The remaining two firms provide information in a number of languages that would exceed the space available on their high chairs. Finding an alternative supply source would not be a viable alternative for three of the four firms, due to close relationships with their suppliers; however, all three firms supply a sufficient number of other products that could probably allow these firms to eliminate high chairs from their product line entirely. The fourth firm is a commercial supplier, and high chairs are an integral part of this firm's product line; therefore, exiting the high chair market would likely cause this firm to go out of business. CPSC requests comments on how importers would respond to the proposed rule and what are the costs of developing a compliant product.

5. Small Importers and Wholesalers With Noncompliant High Chairs

There is insufficient information to rule out a significant impact for any of the eight importers and wholesalers of noncompliant high chairs. Whether there would be a significant economic impact would depend upon the extent of the changes required for these firms to come into compliance and the response of their suppliers. Their suppliers may pass on to the importers and wholesalers any increase in production costs that result from the proposed changes.

Six of the eight importers and wholesalers with noncompliant high chairs do not appear to have direct ties to their product suppliers. Therefore, these firms may choose to switch to alternative suppliers or manufacture other products, rather than bear the costs of complying with the proposed standard. It is unclear whether the costs of complying with the proposed requirements would be significant for these firms. Three firms supply restaurant-style high chairs, including one plastic high chair. As such, although the three firms may find compliant high chairs from alternative supply sources, these firms would share the same concerns as restaurant-style high chair manufacturers regarding the desirability of their product to their customers. Two of the six firms supply high chairs to the consumer market that are identical to several supplied to the commercial market. Although the costs of complying with the proposed standard could be significant for these two firms, high chairs make up only a small part of their product lines. Therefore, the two firms may eliminate high chairs from their product lines or select compliant high chairs from another supplier. However, CPSC was unable to obtain sales revenue for high chairs and could not determine whether exiting the high chair market would generate significant economic impacts.

The remaining two firms are directly tied to their foreign suppliers. Therefore, finding an alternative supply source would not be a viable alternative. However, these foreign suppliers may wish to comply with the proposed requirements to continue to market their products in the United States. Although it is possible that these firms could stop selling high chairs, it is unlikely for two of these firms because high chairs represent one of only a few products in their lines. Again, CPSC could not determine whether exiting the high chair market would generate significant economic impacts, given the lack of sales revenue for high chairs.

6. Third Party Testing Costs for Small Importers and Wholesalers

As with manufacturers, all importers and wholesalers would be subject to third party testing and certification requirements, if CPSC adopts a final high chair standard. Consequently, importers and wholesalers would be subject to costs similar to manufacturers' costs if the foreign suppliers of importers and wholesalers do not obtain third party testing. Just over half of high chair importers and wholesalers (9 out of 17) already test their products to verify compliance with the ASTM standard. Any additional costs associated with a final high chair rule thus would be limited to the incremental costs of third party testing over the current testing regime.

There may be significant costs for two or three firms that do not comply with the ASTM standard to obtain third party certification. Specifically, for two firms, the cost of testing as few as three units per model could exceed 1 percent of their gross revenue. A third firm would need to test about six units per model before testing costs would exceed 1 percent of its gross revenue. CPSC was unable to obtain revenue data for one small, noncompliant importer, and therefore, could not examine the size of the impact on that firm.

7. Summary of Impacts

CPSC staff is aware of 38 small firms that currently market high chairs in the United States, of which 21 are domestic manufacturers and 17 are domestic importers or wholesalers. Of the 21 small manufacturers, 10 are unlikely to experience significant economic impacts as a result of the proposed rule. However, CPSC cannot rule out a significant economic impact for the remaining 11 manufacturers. For eight of the small importers and wholesalers, it is unlikely the proposed rule would have a significant economic impact, based on a review of firm revenues and the options available to each firm. However, it is possible that the proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on the remaining nine small importers and wholesalers. Therefore, in total, based on current information, CPSC cannot rule out a significant economic impact for 20 of the 38 firms (53 percent) operating in the U.S. high chair market.

8. Impacts of Test Laboratory Accreditation Requirements on Small Laboratories

In accordance with section 14 of the CPSA, all children's products that are subject to a children's product safety rule must be tested by a third party conformity assessment body that has been accredited by CPSC. These third party conformity assessment bodies test products for compliance with applicable children's product safety rules. Testing laboratories that want to conduct this testing must meet the NOR for third party conformity testing. CPSC has codified NORs in 16 CFR part 1112. CPSC proposes to amend 16 CFR part 1112 to establish an NOR for testing laboratories to test for compliance with the proposed high chair standard. This section assesses the impact of this proposed amendment on small laboratories.

CPSC conducted a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (“FRFA”) when it adopted part 1112. 78 FR 15836 (Mar. 12, 2013). The FRFA concluded that the accreditation requirements would not have a significant adverse impact on a substantial number of small laboratories because no requirements were imposed on laboratories that did not intend to provide third party testing services. The only laboratories that were expected to provide such services were laboratories that anticipated receiving sufficient revenue from the mandated testing to justify accepting the requirements as a business decision.

For the same reasons, including the NOR for high chairs in part 1112 would not have a significant adverse impact on small laboratories. Moreover, CPSC expects that only a small number of laboratories would request accreditation to test high chairs, based on the number of laboratories that have applied for CPSC accreditation to test for conformance to other juvenile product standards. Most laboratories would already have accreditation to test for conformance to other juvenile product standards, and then the only costs would be to add the high chair standard to their scope of accreditation. Test laboratories have indicated that this cost is extremely low when they are already accredited for other CPSIA section 104 rules. Therefore, the Commission certifies that the NOR for the high chair standard will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities.

G. Alternatives

At least four alternatives are available to minimize the economic impact on small entities supplying high chairs while also complying with the direction of section 104 of the CPSIA: (1) Adopt ASTM F404-15 with no modifications; (2) adopt ASTM F404-15 with the proposed modifications, except for requirements on the placement of warning labels; (3) adopt ASTM F404-15 with the proposed modifications, but exclude restaurant-style high chairs from the scope of the rule; and (4) provide a later effective date for some or all high chairs.

First, section 104 of the CPSIA directs the Commission to promulgate a standard that is either substantially the same as the voluntary standard or more stringent if the Commission determines that would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. Therefore, adopting ASTM F404-15 with no modifications is the least stringent rule CPSC could adopt. This alternative would reduce the economic impact on all of the small businesses supplying high chairs to the U.S. market. Although, choosing this alternative would not reduce the testing costs associated with the rule, this option would eliminate the economic impact of complying with the requirements that CPSC proposes in addition to ASTM F404-15 for many firms. Specifically, this option would eliminate the cost of complying with the additional requirements for the 10 small domestic manufacturers and 9 small importers and wholesalers with compliant high chairs, all of whom would likely comply with ASTM F404-15 by the time a CPSC final rule for high chairs would take effect. However, the requirements that CPSC proposes in addition to ASTM F404-15 would reduce the risk of injuries associated with backward tip-over incidents and fall incidents where caregivers did not use restraints or used the restraints improperly. Adopting ASTM F404-15 with no modifications would not meet these objectives.

Second, the Commission could reduce impacts to small businesses by adopting ASTM F404-15 with the proposed modifications, except for the requirement regarding the placement and visibility requirements for warning labels. One option is to require warning labels to be visible only as a child is being placed into the high chair. This would reduce the proportion of high chair models with backs that would need to be redesigned and expanded to accommodate labels that are visible when the high chair is occupied. Another option would be to allow duplicate labels. Manufacturers could place one label on the front seat back, which would be visible when the child is placed in the seat, and manufacturers could place a second label in a location that is visible when the child is in the high chair. This alternative would reduce the economic impact on compact high chairs or high chairs with smaller backs.

Third, because a substantial portion of the economic impact of the proposed rule would fall on small, restaurant-style high chair suppliers, CPSC could exclude restaurant-style high chairs from this rule. Restaurant settings have unique requirements, including a need for smaller high chairs and to accommodate children of various sizes. It would be difficult to retain these features and comply with the proposed requirements. Moreover, CPSC has identified only a few injuries that involved high chairs in restaurant settings. Therefore, the reduction in safety benefits associated with limiting the rule's scope likely would be minimal.

If restaurants could no longer provide high chairs with the desirable attributes, restaurants may stop providing high chairs for customers, which could result in customers using less safe options, such as placing infant carriers on tables or chairs, or using booster seats for children under the appropriate age. CPSC requests comments on the potential impact of excluding restaurant-style high chairs from the proposed rule, including cost and safety impacts.

Because restaurant-style high chairs are also available to consumers for home use, CPSC could take steps to reduce the potential safety risks of these high chairs through other means. For example, CPSC could require restaurant-style high chair suppliers to label their products: “not intended for home use.” Additionally, CPSC could develop separate warning label requirements for these products to inform users of the specific hazard patterns related to restaurant-style high chairs. ASTM could also develop requirements specific to restaurant-style high chairs. CPSC requests comments on the possibility of excluding restaurant-style high chairs from the proposed requirements, including the implications for safety and costs.

Fourth, the Commission could reduce the economic impact of the proposed rule on small businesses by setting a later effective date for some or all high chairs. A later effective date would reduce the economic impact on firms in two ways. First, firms would be less likely to experience a lapse in production or imports that could result if they are unable to come into compliance and secure third party testing within the required timeframe. Second, firms could spread costs over a longer period, thereby reducing annual costs, as well as the present value of total costs. CPSC requests comments on the 6-month effective date, as well as feedback on how firms likely would address the proposed rule. CPSC could also consider a longer effective date for firms that supply restaurant-style high chairs. However, this may not reduce the economic impact on these firms because the primary cost issue for them is the utility of their high chairs, not the time needed to comply with the standard. Nevertheless, CPSC requests comments, particularly from restaurants and other commercial establishments, on the validity of this conclusion.

XIII. Environmental Considerations

The Commission's regulations outline the types of agency actions that require an environmental assessment (“EA”) or environmental impact statement (“EIS”). Rules that have “little or no potential for affecting the human environment” fall within a “categorical exclusion” under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”; 42 U.S.C. 4231-4370h) and the regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and do not normally require an EA or EIS. As stated in 16 CFR 1021.5(c)(1), rules or safety standards that provide design or performance requirements for products fall within that categorical exclusion. Because this proposed rule would create design and performance requirements for high chairs, the proposed rule falls within the categorical exclusion, and thus, no EA or EIS is required.

XIV. Paperwork Reduction Act

This proposed rule contains information collection requirements that are subject to public comment and review by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (“PRA”; 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521). Under 44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D), an agency must publish the following information:

• a title for the collection of information;

• a summary of the collection of information;

• a brief description of the need for the information and the proposed use of the information;

• a description of the likely respondents and proposed frequency of response to the collection of information;

• an estimate of the burden that shall result from the collection of information; and

• notice that comments may be submitted to OMB.

In accordance with this requirement, the Commission provides the following information:

Title: Safety Standard for High Chairs

Description: The proposed rule would require each high chair to comply with ASTM F404-15, with additional requirements regarding rearward stability and warnings in labels and instructional literature. Sections 8 and 9 of ASTM F404-15 contain requirements for labels and instructional literature. These requirements fall within the definition of “collection of information” provided in the PRA at 44 U.S.C. 3502(3).

Description of Respondents: Persons who manufacture or import high chairs.

Estimated Burden: CPSC estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

Table 4—Estimated Annual Reporting Burden 16 CFR section Number of
  • respondents
  • Frequency of responses Total annual responses Hours per
  • response
  • Total burden hours
    1231.2 62 2 124 1 124

    CPSC's estimate is based on the following:

    Section 8.1 of ASTM F404-15 requires that the name and address (city, state, and zip code) of the manufacturer, distributor, or seller be marked on each high chair. Section 8.2 of ASTM F404-15 requires a code mark or other product identification on each high chair and the high chair's package that indicates the date (month and year) of manufacture.

    Sixty-two known entities supply high chairs to the U.S. market and may need to modify their existing labels to comply with ASTM F404-15. CPSC estimates that the time required to make these modifications is about 1 hour per model. Based on an evaluation of supplier product lines, each entity supplies an average of two models of high chairs. Therefore, the estimated burden associated with labels is 1 hour per model × 62 entities × 2 models per entity = 124 hours. CPSC estimates the hourly compensation for the time required to create and update labels is $30.19 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employer Costs for Employee Compensation,” Mar. 2015, Table 9, total compensation for all sales and office workers in goods-producing private industries: http://www.bls.gov/ncs/). Therefore, the estimated annual cost associated with the proposed labeling requirements is $3,743.56 ($30.19 per hour × 124 hours = $3,743.56). No operating, maintenance, or capital costs are associated with the collection.

    Section 9.1 of ASTM F404-15 requires instructions to be supplied with a high chair. High chairs are products that generally require use and assembly instructions. As such, high chairs sold without use and assembly instructions would not be able to compete successfully with high chairs that supply this information. Under OMB's regulations, the time, effort, and financial resources necessary to comply with a collection of information incurred by parties in the “normal course of their activities” are excluded from a burden estimate when an agency demonstrates that the disclosure activities required are “usual and customary.” 5 CFR 1320.3(b)(2). CPSC is unaware of high chairs that generally require use or assembly instructions but lack such instructions. Therefore, CPSC estimates that no burden hours are associated with section 9.1 of ASTM F404-15, because any burden associated with supplying instructions with high chairs would be “usual and customary,” and thus, excluded from “burden” estimates under OMB's regulations.

    Based on this analysis, the proposed standard for high chairs would impose a burden to industry of 124 hours at a cost of $3,743.56 annually.

    CPSC has submitted the information collection requirements of this rule to OMB for review in accordance with PRA requirements. 44 U.S.C. 3507(d). CPSC requests interested parties submit comments regarding information collection to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB (see the ADDRESSES section at the beginning of this notice). Pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), the Commission invites comments on:

    • whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of CPSC's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    • the accuracy of CPSC's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    • ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information the Commission proposes to collect;

    • ways to reduce the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques, when appropriate, and other forms of information technology; and

    • the estimated burden hours associated with modifying labels and instructional literature, including any alternative estimates.

    XV. Preemption

    Under section 26(a) of the CPSA, no state or political subdivision of a state may establish or continue in effect a requirement dealing with the same risk of injury as a federal consumer product safety standard under the CPSA unless the state requirement is identical to the federal standard. 15 U.S.C. 2075(a). States or political subdivisions of states may, however, apply to the Commission for an exemption, allowing them to establish or continue such a requirement if the state requirement provides a significantly high degree of protection from the risk of injury and does not unduly burden interstate commerce. Id. at 2075(c).

    One of the functions of the CPSIA was to amend the CPSA, adding several provisions to CPSA, including CPSIA section 104 in 15 U.S.C. 2056a. As such, consumer product safety standards that the Commission creates under CPSIA section 104 are covered by the preemption provision in the CPSA. Consequently, the rule proposed in this NPR would be a federal consumer product safety standard, and the preemption provision in section 26 of the CPSA would apply.

    XVI. Request for Comments

    This NPR begins a rulemaking proceeding under section 104(b) of the CPSIA to issue a consumer product safety standard for high chairs and to amend part 1112 to add high chairs to the list of children's product safety rules for which CPSC has issued an NOR. We invite all interested persons to submit comments on any aspect of the proposed mandatory safety standard for high chairs and on the proposed amendment to part 1112. Specifically, the Commission requests comments on the following:

    • the requirements in ASTM F404-15, including their effectiveness in addressing the risk of injury associated with high chairs and the costs of complying with these requirements;

    • the additional requirements proposed for rearward stability, including its effectiveness in addressing the risk of injury associated with rearward tip-overs and the costs of complying with these requirements;

    • the additional requirements proposed for warnings in labels and instructional literature, including their effectiveness at addressing the risk of injury associated with falls from high chairs and the costs of complying with these requirements;

    • whether application of different requirements to restaurant-style high chairs is appropriate, relevant safety implications, and options for applying distinct standards;

    • the costs to small businesses associated with the requirements proposed in this NPR, including the costs to comply with the proposed rearward stability requirements, content and form requirements for labels and instructional literature, and placement requirements for labels;

    • alternatives to the proposed standard that would reduce impacts on small businesses;

    • the proposed effective date and whether an extended effective date would further mitigate the impact on small businesses and to what extent; and

    • any additional information relevant to the issues discussed in this NPR and the proposed requirements.

    During the comment period, ASTM F404-15 is available for review. Please see section X. for instructions on viewing it.

    Please submit comments in accordance with the instructions in the ADDRESSES section at the beginning of this NPR.

    List of Subjects 16 CFR Part 1112

    Administrative practice and procedure, Audit, Consumer protection, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Third party conformity assessment body.

    16 CFR Part 1231

    Consumer protection, Imports, Incorporation by reference, Infants and children, Labeling, Law enforcement, and Toys.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Commission proposes to amend Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 1112—REQUIREMENTS PERTAINING TO THIRD PARTY CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT BODIES 1. The authority citation for part 1112 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Pub. L. 110-314, section 3, 122 Stat. 3016, 3017 (2008); 15 U.S.C. 2063.

    2. Amend § 1112.15 by adding paragraph (b)(44) to read as follows:
    § 1112.15 When can a third party conformity assessment body apply for CPSC acceptance for a particular CPSC rule or test method?

    (b) * * *

    (44) 16 CFR part 1231, Safety Standard for High Chairs.

    3. Add part 1231 to read as follows: PART 1231-SAFETY STANDARD FOR HIGH CHAIRS Sec. 1231.1 Scope. 1231.2 Requirements for high chairs. Authority:

    The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-314, § 104, 122 Stat. 3016 (August 14, 2008); Pub. L. 112-28, 125 Stat. 273 (August 12, 2011).

    § 1231.1 Scope.

    This part establishes a consumer product safety standard for high chairs.

    § 1231.2 Requirements for high chairs.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section, each high chair must comply with all applicable provisions of ASTM F404-15, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for High Chairs, approved on May 15, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. You may obtain a copy from ASTM International, 100 Bar Harbor Drive, P.O. Box 0700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428; http://www.astm.org/cpsc.htm. You may inspect a copy at the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone 301-504-7923, or at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    (b) Instead of complying with section 6.5 of ASTM F404-15, comply with the following:

    (1) 6.5.1 Forward and sideways stability—A chair shall not tip over when forces are applied in accordance with 7.7.2.4 and 7.7.2.5.

    (2) 6.5.2 Rearward stability—When tested in accordance with 7.7.2.6 (paragraph (c)(3) of this section), a high chair shall not have a Rearward Stability Index of 50 or more.

    (c) For rearward stability testing, instead of complying with sections 7.7.2.1, 7.7.2.2, and 7.7.2.6 of ASTM F404-15, comply with the following:

    (1) 7.7.2.1 Place the high chair in a manufacturer's recommended use position with all legs on a level floor and with the seat back adjusted into the most upright position. Attach the tray in the rear position, closest to the high chair seat back. For high chairs with height-adjustable seats, adjust the seat into the highest manufacturer's recommended use position or the position deemed most likely to fail. If a high chair has lockable wheels, those wheels shall be locked during stability testing.

    (2) 7.7.2.2 Place the high chair on a rigid, horizontal test surface covered with 60 grit sandpaper or equivalent to prevent the chair from sliding on the test surface during the test. If a high chair slides on the test surface during the test or has wheels that do not lock, place a stop on the test surface to prevent sliding during the test. The stop shall be low profile, minimum height required to prevent sliding, and shall not inhibit the tipping of the high chair or affect the test results.

    (3) 7.7.2.6 Rearward stability

    (i) 7.7.2.6.1 Attach a force gauge to the rear surface of the seat back at the lateral centerline and 7 1/4 in. (184 mm) above the occupant seating surface as shown in Figure 1. For high chairs with a seat back 7 1/4 in. (184 mm) high or less, attach the force gauge at the lateral centerline and top surface of the seat back.

    EP09NO15.319

    (ii) 7.7.2.6.2 With the high chair in the at rest position, gradually apply a preload force “F” of 3 lbf (13 N) to the seat back surface of the high chair and while maintaining the force, establish the initial location of a reference point some distance away from the force gauge as shown in Figure 1.

    (iii) 7.7.2.6.3 Gradually increase the horizontal force over a period of at least 5 seconds and continue to pull the high chair rearward until the high chair reaches the point that it becomes unstable and is on the verge of tipping over. Record the maximum force “F” in pounds (lbs.) applied during the test and the horizontal distance “D” in inches (in.) from the initial location of the reference point to the location of the reference point where the high chair becomes unstable and is on the verge of tipping over. Force “F” shall be maintained in a horizontal direction throughout the test.

    (iv) 7.7.2.6.4 Calculate the Rearward Stability Index using the formula shown below.

    Rearward Stability Index = 2F + D Force “F” is measured in pounds (lbs.). Distance “D” in measured in inches (in.)

    (d) Instead of complying with section 8.4 of ASTM F404-15, comply with the following:

    (1) 8.4 Warning StatementsEach Product Shall Have Warning Statements:

    (i) 8.4.1 The warnings shall be easy to read and understand and be in the English language at a minimum.

    (ii) 8.4.2 Any labels or written instructions provided in addition to those required by this section shall not contradict or confuse the meaning of the required information, or be otherwise misleading to the consumer.

    (iii) 8.4.3 The warning statements shall be conspicuous, in highly contrasting color(s) (e.g., black text on a white background), permanent, and in non-condensed sans serif style type.

    (iv) 8.4.4 Each warning statement or group of warning statements shall be preceded by the Safety Alert Symbol

    EP09NO15.320 and the signal word “WARNING” in bold uppercase letters. If warnings are placed directly under or adjacent to one another, then the safety alert symbol and the signal word WARNING need to be displayed only once. The Safety Alert Symbol EP09NO15.320 and the signal word “WARNING” shall not be less than 0.2 in. (5 mm) high and the remainder of the text shall be in characters whose uppercase shall not be less than 0.1 in. (2.5 mm) high. The height of the safety alert symbol shall equal or exceed the signal word height.

    (v) 8.4.5 The safety alert symbol

    EP09NO15.320 and the signal word “WARNING” shall be in contrasting color to the background and delineated with solid black line borders. The background color behind the safety alert symbol EP09NO15.320 and the signal word “WARNING” shall be orange, red, or yellow, whichever provides the best contrast against the product background. The signal word “WARNING” and the solid triangle portion of the safety alert symbol EP09NO15.320 shall be black. The exclamation mark of the safety alert symbol EP09NO15.320 shall be the same color as the background. The remainder of the text shall be black, with key words highlighted using boldface, on a white background surrounded by a solid black line border. This text also shall be left-justified, in upper and lowercase letters (i.e., sentence capitalization), and in list or outline format, with precautionary statements indented from hazard statements and preceded with bullet points. An example label in the format described in this section is shown in Figure 2. EP09NO15.321 Note:

    For optional additional guidance on the design of warnings, see the most-recent edition of ANSI Z535.4, Product Safety Signs and Labels, American National Standards Institute, Inc., available at http://www.ansi.org/.

    (vi) 8.4.6 The warning statements shall be in a location that is visible by the caregiver while placing the occupant into the high chair in each of the manufacturer's recommended use positions.

    (vii) 8.4.7 High chairs that do not have a seating component that is also used as a seating component of a stroller, shall, in the same label, address the following warning statements:

    Children have suffered skull fractures after falling from high chairs. Falls can happen quickly if child is not restrained properly.

    • Always use restraints, and adjust to fit snugly. Tray is not designed to hold child in chair.

    • Stay near and watch your child during use.

    (viii) 8.4.8 High chairs that have a seating component that is also used as a seating component of a stroller shall use the warning statements as specified in subsections 8.2.2.1 and 8.2.2.2 of the version of the standard that is incorporated by reference in part 1227 of this subchapter, in place of the warning statements in 8.4.7 (paragraph (d)(vii) of this section).

    (e) Instead of complying with section 9.2 of ASTM F404-15, comply with the following:

    (1) 9.2 The instructions shall contain the warnings as specified in section 8.4 (paragraph (d)(1) of this section). Additional warnings similar to the statements included in this section shall also be included. These required warning statements shall meet the requirements described in section 8.4 (paragraph (d)(1) of this section), except for the color requirements (i.e., the background of the signal word panel need not be orange, red, or yellow). However, the warning statements still must be in highly contrasting color(s) (e.g., black text on a white background), and if color is used, those colors must meet the color requirements specified in section 8.4 (paragraph (d)(1) of this section).

    (2) Reference to section 9.2 of ASTM F404-15 in paragraph (e) of this section includes only the introductory paragraph of section 9.2 and does not include subsections 9.2.1 or 9.2.2 of ASTM F404-15.

    Note:

    For optional additional guidance on the design of warnings for instructional literature, see the most-recent addition of ANSI Z535.6, Product Safety Information in Product Manuals, Instructions, and Other Collateral Materials, American National Standards Institute, Inc., available at http://www.ansi.org/.

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Todd A. Stevenson, Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28300 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6355-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs 25 CFR Part 30 [167 A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900] Notice of Intent To Establish a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee AGENCY:

    Bureau of Indian Education, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent; request for nominations for tribal representatives; and comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is announcing its intent to establish an Accountability Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (Committee). The Committee will recommend revisions to the existing regulations for BIE's accountability system. As required by applicable statutes, the Secretary will select representatives of Indian tribes for the Committee from among individuals nominated by tribes whose students attend BIE-funded schools operated by either the BIE or by the tribe through a contract or grant and who would be affected by a final rule. The BIE also solicits comments on the proposal to establish the Committee, including comments on additional interests not identified in this notice of intent, and invites tribes to nominate representatives for membership on the Committee.

    DATES:

    Submit nominations for Committee members or written comments on this notice of intent on or before December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit nominations for Committee members or written comments on this notice of intent by any of the following methods:

    • Send comments or nominations to Ms. Sue Bement, Designated Federal Officer, Bureau of Indian Education, 1011 Indian School Road NW., Suite 332, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87104; email: [email protected]; Telephone: (505) 563-5274; Fax: (505) 563-5281; or

    • Hand-carry comments or use an overnight courier service to Manuel Lujan Jr. Building, Building II, Suite 332, 1011 Indian School Road NW., Suite 332, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Sue Bement, Designated Federal Officer; Telephone: (505) 563-5274; Fax (505) 563-5281.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), student achievement data is used to determine whether schools are successfully educating their students. Under current law, this accountability measure is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The law requires States to use a single accountability system for schools to determine whether all students, as well as individual subgroups of students, are making progress toward meeting State academic content standards. The goal, as stated in the ESEA, was to have all students reaching proficient levels in reading and math by 2014 as measured by performance on State tests. The ESEA requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs to promulgate regulations through negotiated rulemaking for the accountability system to be used in Bureau-funded schools. See 20 U.S.C. 6316(g)(1)(A)(i); 25 U.S.C. 2017-2018.

    In 2005, BIA promulgated such regulations. See 70 FR 22178 (April 28, 2005). These regulations, codified at 25 CFR 30.104, require BIE to use the accountability system of the State in which a BIE-funded school is located.

    The BIE-funded schools are located in 23 different States; and each State has its own accountability system. As a result, each State system produces student achievement data that cannot be directly compared with data from other States. For BIE, comparison is necessary to identify under-performing schools and direct resources effectively. Regardless of whether AYP continues to be the accountability measure required under law, BIE must address this deeply fragmented accountability system through negotiated rulemaking to create a more cohesive accountability system.

    The BIE had previously developed a method for comparing academic achievement across States despite the variances in academic standards. Beginning in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education began to grant flexibility waivers to States for certain provisions of ESEA, which has complicated the method BIE uses to effectively compare achievement. It is necessary, therefore, to revise 25 CFR Part 30, and to receive recommendations from a negotiated rulemaking committee on how BIE can compare academic achievement across the 23 States.

    This rulemaking would not change the existing authority for tribes to adopt their own tribal definition of AYP. The BIE encourages tribal self-determination in Native education, encouraging tribes to develop alternative accountability systems (and definitions of AYP) and providing technical assistance. For example, on June 1, 2015, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the Miccosukee Indian School received flexibility from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to use a definition of AYP that meets their students' unique academic and cultural needs. Local tribal communities know best what their children need, and BIE prioritizes tribal self-determination in Indian education. This rulemaking aims only to make the existing system more effective and efficient. It would impact only those BIE-funded schools that do not wish to develop alternative definitions of AYP, though the option will remain open to them regardless.

    In 2012, BIE conducted four regional meetings on the topic of accountability in BIE-funded schools. Meetings were held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on July 17, 2012; Flagstaff, Arizona, on July 20, 2012; Seattle, Washington, on July 24, 2012; and Bismarck, North Dakota, on July 27, 2012. Transcripts of those meetings can be referenced at http://www.bie.edu/consultation/index.htm.

    During the four meetings, BIE received feedback from the tribes on the ESEA Flexibility Request and the BIE's proposed flexibility waiver. At the consultation sessions, BIE and the tribes discussed adopting Common Core standards—initially in reading, language arts, and mathematics—to reflect tribal values and employ a single assessment system for all BIE-funded schools.

    II. Statutory Provisions

    The Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1996 (NRA) (5 U.S.C. 561 et seq.); the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2); and the NCLB (20 U.S.C. 2000 et seq.)

    III. The Committee and Its Process

    In a negotiated rulemaking, recommended provisions of a proposed rule are developed by a committee composed of at least one representative of the Federal Government and representatives of the interests that will be significantly affected by the rule. Decisions are made by consensus, which means unanimous concurrence among the interests represented on the Committee, unless the Committee agrees to define “consensus” to mean a general but not unanimous concurrence, or agrees upon another specified definition. 5 U.S.C. 562(2)(A) and (B).

    As part of the negotiated rulemaking process, BIE has identified interests potentially affected by the rulemaking under consideration, including students enrolled at 174 BIE-funded schools, parents of such students, school administrators, Tribes, and the Indian communities served by these schools. By this notice of intent, BIE is soliciting: (1) comments on its proposal to form a negotiated rulemaking committee; and (2) nominations for Committee members who will adequately represent the interests that are likely to be significantly affected by the proposed rule.

    Following the receipt of nominations and comments, BIE will publish a second notice in the Federal Register with a list of persons to represent the interests that are likely to be significantly affected by the rule, and the person or persons proposed to represent BIE. Persons who will be significantly affected by the proposed rule and who believe that their interests will not be adequately represented by any person specified in that second Federal Register notice will be given an opportunity to apply or nominate another person for membership on the negotiated rulemaking committee to represent such interests with respect to the proposed rule.

    Following the second Federal Register notice and responses to it, BIE expects to establish the Committee. After the Committee reaches consensus on the recommended provisions of the proposed rule, as discussed in more detail below, BIE will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 563, the head of the agency is required to determine that the use of the negotiated rulemaking procedure is in the public interest.

    In making such a determination, the agency head must consider certain factors. Taking these factors into account, the Secretary, through the authority delegated to the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, has determined that a negotiated rulemaking is in the public interest because:

    1. A rule is needed. The ESEA directs the Secretary to conduct a negotiated rulemaking pursuant to the NRA. The current definition of AYP creates a fragmented accountability system that prevents the BIE from developing and implementing comprehensive school reform initiatives in the 174 BIE-funded schools with academic programs in 23 States.

    2. A limited number of identifiable interests will be significantly affected by the rule. The 174 BIE-funded schools, students enrolled at these schools, school teachers and administrators, tribes, and Indian communities served by these schools will be significantly affected by this review and the recommendations made by this Committee.

    3. There is a reasonable likelihood that the Committee can be convened with a balanced representation of persons who can adequately represent the interests discussed in item 2, above, and who are willing to negotiate in good faith to attempt to reach a consensus on provisions of a proposed rule.

    4. There is a reasonable likelihood that the Committee will reach consensus on a proposed rule within a fixed period of time.

    5. The use of negotiated rulemaking will not unreasonably delay the development of a proposed rule because time limits will be placed on the negotiation. We anticipate that these negotiations will expedite a proposed rule and ultimately the acceptance of a final rule.

    6. The BIE is making a commitment to ensure that the Committee has sufficient resources to complete its work in a timely fashion.

    7. The BIE, to the maximum extent possible and consistent with the legal obligations of the Agency, will use the consensus report of the Committee as the basis for a proposed rule for public notice and comment.

    IV. Negotiated Rulemaking Procedures

    In compliance with FACA and NRA, BIE will use the following procedures and guidelines for this negotiated rulemaking. The BIE may modify them in response to comments received on this notice of intent or during the negotiation process.

    A. Committee Formation

    The Committee will be formed and operated in full compliance with the requirements of FACA and NRA, and specifically under the guidelines of its charter.

    B. Membership Responsibility

    The Committee is expected to meet approximately 3-5 times. The meetings will be held at various locations across Indian Country, and will last 2-3 days each. The initial meeting will be in person; some later meetings may be held by teleconference and/or web-conference. The Committee's work is expected to occur over the course of 6-12 months. However, the Committee may continue its work for a duration of two years.

    Because of the scope and complexity of the tasks at hand, committee members must be able to invest considerable time and effort in the negotiated rulemaking process. Committee members must be able to attend all committee meetings, work on committee work groups, consult with their constituencies between committee meetings, and negotiate in good faith toward a consensus on issues before the Committee. Because of the complexity of the issues under consideration, as well as the need for continuity, the Secretary reserves the right to replace any member who is unable to participate in the Committee's meetings.

    Responsibility for expenses is stated under 5 U.S.C. 568(c) as follows:

    Members of a negotiated rulemaking committee shall be responsible for their own expenses of participation in such committee, except that an Agency may, in accordance with section 7(d) of the FACA, pay for a member's reasonable travel and per diem expenses, expenses to obtain technical assistance, and a reasonable rate of compensation, if—

    1. Such member certifies a lack of adequate financial resources to participate in the Committee; and

    2. The agency determines that such members participation in the Committee is necessary to assure an adequate representation of the members interest.

    The BIE commits to pay the reasonable travel and per diem expenses of Committee members, if appropriate under the NRA and Federal travel regulations.

    C. Composition of Committee

    The Secretary is seeking nominations submitted by Tribes for tribal representatives, consistent with the provisions of 25 U.S.C. 2018, to serve on the Committee, who have a demonstrated ability to communicate well with groups about the interests they will represent. The Committee cannot exceed 25 members, and BIE prefers 15.

    Tribal Committee membership must:

    • Include only representatives of Tribes served by BIE-funded schools;

    • Be selected from among individuals nominated by the Tribes that have students attending BIE-funded schools;

    • Reflect the proportionate share of students from Tribes served by the BIE-funded school system; and

    • Comply with the FACA

    Section 2018 of Title 25 also requires the Secretary to ensure that the various interests affected by the proposed report(s) or rules be represented on the Committee. In making membership decisions, the Secretary shall consider whether the interest represented by a nominee will be affected significantly by the final products of the Committee, which may include report(s) and/or proposed regulations; whether that interest is already adequately represented by tribal nominees; and whether the potential addition would adequately represent that interest. Federally registered lobbyists are ineligible to serve on all FACA and non-FACA boards, committees, or councils in an individual capacity. The term “individual capacity” refers to individuals who are appointed to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the government, such as when they are designated Special Government Employees, rather than being appointed to represent a particular interest.

    D. Administrative and Technical Support

    The BIE will provide sufficient administrative and technical resources for the Committee to complete its work in a timely fashion. The BIE, with the help of the facilitator, will prepare all agendas, provide meeting notes, and provide a final report of any issues on which the Committee reaches consensus.

    E. Training and Organization

    At the first meeting of the Committee, a neutral facilitator will provide training on negotiated rulemaking, interests-based negotiations, consensus-building, and team-building. In addition, at the first meeting, Committee members will make organizational decisions concerning protocols, scheduling, and facilitation of the Committee.

    F. Interests Identified Through Consultation

    Under Section 562 of the NRA, “ `interest' means, with respect to an issue or matter, multiple parties which have a similar point of view or which are likely to be affected in a similar manner.” The BIE has consulted with BIE personnel and educators at BIE-funded schools. Through these and previous consultations, such as those conducted in 2012 for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act Flexibility Waiver Request, BIE has identified interests to be significantly affected by this new rule that include students enrolled at 174 BIE-funded schools, parents of such students, school administrators, tribes, and the Indian communities served by these schools. The BIE is accepting comments identifying other interests that may be significantly affected by the final products of the Committee, which may include report(s) and/or proposed regulations, until the date listed in the DATES section of this notice of intent.

    V. Request for Nominations and Comments

    The BIE solicits nominations from tribes whose students attend BIE-funded schools operated either by BIE or by the tribe through a contract or grant, to nominate tribal representatives to serve on the Committee and tribal alternates to serve when the representative is unavailable. Based upon the proportionate share of students, some tribes similar in affiliation or geography are grouped together for one seat. It will be necessary for such nominating tribes either to co-nominate a single tribal representative to represent the multi-tribal jurisdiction or for each tribe in the multi-tribal jurisdiction to nominate a representative with the knowledge that BIE will be able to appoint only one of the nominees who will then be responsible for representing the entire multi-tribal jurisdiction on the Committee. (See chart below for jurisdictions.)

    Tribes Student count school year 2013-2014 Percent of total student count % Times 15 seats total Suggested seats Navajo Nation Tuba City Agency Western (AZ) 3,727 Navajo Nation Crown Point Agency Eastern (NM) 3,642 Navajo Nation Chinle Agency (AZ) 3,216 Navajo Nation Fort Defiance Agency (AZ) 2,437 Navajo Nation Shiprock Agency (AZ) 1,870 Total Navajo Nation 14,892 32.70 4.91 5 Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation(SD) 2,994 Cheyenne River Sioux (SD) 1,280 Rosebud Sioux Tribe (SD) 896 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (ND) 989 Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux of Lake Traverse Res. (SD) 797 Spirit Lake Tribe (Devils Lake Sioux Tribe) (ND) 615 Total Sioux Tribes 7,571 16.63 2.49 2 The Hopi Tribe (AZ) 1,465 Pueblo of Acoma 251 Pueblo of Chochiti 23 Pueblo of Isleta 175 Pueblo of Jemez 165 Pueblo of Laguna 386 Pueblo of Nambe 12 Pueblo of Picuris 5 Pueblo of Pojoaque 5 Pueblo of San Felipe 447 Pueblo of San Ildefonso 38 Pueblo of San Juan 171 Pueblo of Sandia 2 Pueblo of Santa Ana 7 Pueblo of Santa Clara 134 Pueblo of Santo Domingo 210 Pueblo of Taos 151 Pueblo of Tesuque 43 Pueblo of Zia 84 Total Hopi and Pueblo Tribes 3,774 8.29 1.24 1 Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe (WI) 10 Bay Mills (MI) 11 Chippewa-Cree (MT) 24 Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa (MI) 4 Keweenaw Bay of L'Anse and Ontonagon of Chippewa (MI) 1 Lac Courte Oreilles of Lake Superior Chippewa (WI) 227 Lac du Flambeau of Lake Superior Chippewa (WI) 13 Minnesota Chippewa Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake) 18 Minnesota Chippewa Fond du Lac Band 167 Minnesota Chippewa Leech Lake Band 143 Minnesota Chippewa Mille Lacs Band 207 Minnesota Chippewa Red Lake of Chippewa Indians 75 Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, MN—6 reservations 17 Minnesota Chippewa White Earth Band 146 Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (WI) 11 Saginaw Chippewa (MI) 4 Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (MI) 285 Sokaogon Chippewa of Mole Lake Band (Chippewa) (WI) 3 St. Croix Chippewa Indians (WI) 12 Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (ND) 2,089 Total Chippewa Tribes 3,467 7.61 1.14 1 Gila River 1,094 White Mountain Apache of Fort Apache 975 Tohono O'odham Nation 924 Mescalero Apache 549 Total 3,542 7.78 1.17 1 Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MS) 2,168 Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (NC) 1,040 Total 3,208 7.04 1.06 1 Total Other Tribes 12,492 27.43 4.11 4 Total 2013-2014 Student Count 45,537 Federal Government—Committee Membership Designated Federal Officer 1 Office of the Solicitor 1 Bureau of Indian Education 1 Department of Education 1 Total Tribal Committee Members 15 Total Federal Committee Members 4 TOTAL AYP Negotiated Rulemaking Committee 19

    Each nomination is expected to include a nomination for a representative and an alternate who can fulfill the obligations of membership should the representative be unable to attend. The Committee membership should also reflect the diversity of tribal interests, and tribes should nominate representatives and alternates who will:

    • Have knowledge of school assessments and accountability systems;

    • Have relevant experience as past or present superintendents, principals, teachers, or school board members, or possess direct experience with AYP;

    • Be able to coordinate, to the extent possible, with other tribes and schools who may not be represented on the Committee;

    • Be able to represent the tribe(s) with the authority to embody tribal views, communicate with tribal constituents, and have a clear means to reach agreement on behalf of the tribe(s);

    • Be able to negotiate effectively on behalf of the tribe(s) represented;

    • Be able to commit the time and effort required to attend and prepare for meetings; and

    • Be able to collaborate among diverse parties in a consensus-seeking process.

    VI. Submitting Nominations

    This notice was previously published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2013. The evaluation of nominations received as a result of the previous notice were conducted and validated for one year, expiring January 31, 2014. Representatives who were previously nominated would need to be re-nominated in response to this notice. The Secretary will only consider nominees nominated through the process identified in this Federal Register notice. Nominations received in any other manner will not be considered. Nominations must include the following information about each nominee:

    (1) A letter from the Tribe supporting the nomination of the individual to serve as a tribal representative for the Committee;

    (2) A resume reflecting the nominee's qualifications and experience in Indian education; resume to include the nominee's name, tribal affiliation, job title, major job duties, employer, business address, business telephone and fax numbers (and business email address, if applicable);

    (3) The tribal interest(s) to be represented by the nominee (see Section IV, Part F of this notice of intent) and whether the nominee will represent other interest(s) related to this rulemaking, as the tribe may designate; and

    (4) A brief description of how the nominee will represent tribal views, communicate with tribal constituents, and have a clear means to reach agreement on behalf of the tribe(s) they are representing.

    Additionally, a statement on whether the nominee is only representing one tribe's views or whether the expectation is that the nominee represents a specific group of tribes.

    To be considered, nominations must be received by the close of business on the date listed in the DATES section, at the location indicated in the ADDRESSES section.

    Certification

    For the above reasons, I hereby certify that the Adequate Yearly Progress Negotiated Rulemaking Committee is in the public interest.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28379 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4337-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary 32 CFR Part 208 [Docket ID: DOD-2013-OS-0021] RIN 0790-AJ01 National Security Education Program (NSEP) and NSEP Service Agreement AGENCY:

    Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule

    SUMMARY:

    This proposed rule implements the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense for administering NSEP and explains the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD (P&R)) for policy and funding oversight for NSEP. It discusses requirements for administering and executing the National Security Education Program (NSEP) service agreement and; and assigns oversight of NSEP to the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO).

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number and/or RIN number and title, by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail: Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Directorate of Oversight and Compliance, Regulatory and Audit Matters Office, 9010 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-9010.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alison Patz, 571-256-0771.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-183), as amended, codified at 50 U.S.C. 1901 et seq. (NSEA), mandated that the Secretary of Defense create and sustain a program to award scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students, fellowships to U.S. graduate students, and grants to U.S. institutions of higher education.

    The NSEP is authorized through 50 U.S.C. 1901-1912 to award scholarships, fellowships, and grants to institutions of higher education in order to increase the quantity, diversity, and quality of the teaching and learning of subjects in the fields of foreign languages, area studies, counterproliferation studies, and other international fields that are critical to the Nation's interest, as well as to produce an increased pool of applicants for working the departments and agencies of the United States Government with national security responsibilities.

    NSEP oversees nine national security language and culture initiatives designed to attract, recruit, and train a future federal workforce skilled in languages and cultures to work across all agencies involved in national security. These initiatives support professional proficiency language training at U.S. colleges and universities, as well as support students to study overseas in regions critical to U.S. national security through scholarships and fellowships.

    The proposed rule outlines requirements applicable to the NSEP office and NSEP award recipients. This includes information about the NSEP service agreement, which award recipients must adhere to as a condition of award. In exchange for support, NSEP awardees must work in qualifying national security positions in the U.S. federal government for at least one year.

    Benefits

    NSEP, as outlined in the David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 (NSEA), oversees multiple critical initiatives. All of NSEP's programs are designed to complement one another, ensuring that the lessons learned in one program inform the approaches of the others. Congress specifically—and uniquely—structured NSEP to focus on the combined issues of language proficiency, national security, and the needs of the federal workforce.

    NSEA outlines five major purposes for NSEP, namely:

    • To provide the necessary resources, accountability, and flexibility to meet the national security education needs of the United States, especially as such needs change over time;

    • To increase the quantity, diversity, and quality of the teaching and learning of subjects in the fields of foreign languages, area studies, counterproliferation studies, and other international fields that are critical to the nation's interest;

    • To produce an increased pool of applicants to work in the departments and agencies of the United States government with national security responsibilities;

    • To expand, in conjunction with other federal programs, the international experience, knowledge base, and perspectives on which the United States citizenry, government employees, and leaders rely; and

    • To permit the federal government to advocate on behalf of international education.

    As a result, NSEP is the only federally-funded effort focused on the combined issues of language proficiency, national security, and the needs of the federal workforce.

    • Boren Scholarships are awarded to U.S. undergraduates for up to one academic year of overseas study of languages and cultures critical to national security. Boren Scholars demonstrate their merit for an award in part by agreeing to fulfill a one year (minimum) service commitment to the U.S. government. NSEP awards approximately 150 Boren Scholarships annually.

    • Boren Fellowships are awarded for up to two years to U.S. graduate students who develop independent projects that combine study of language and culture in areas critical to national security. Boren Fellows demonstrate their merit for an award in part by agreeing to fulfill a one year (minimum) service commitment to the U.S. government. NSEP awards approximately 100 Boren Fellowships annually.

    • The Language Flagship supports students to achieve superior-level proficiency in critical languages including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi Urdu, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, and Turkish. Flagship students combine language study with a major discipline of their choice and complete a year-long overseas program that includes intensive language study, direct enrollment in a local university, and a professional internship experience. In addition, The Language Flagship awards grants to U.S. universities recognized as leaders in the field of language education and supports new concepts in language education. More than 2,000 U.S. undergraduate students participate annually in The Language Flagship's programs, which are based at more than 20 U.S. institutions of higher education and multiple universities overseas.

    • The Language Flagship also manages a Flagship/ROTC initiative, through which ROTC cadets and midshipmen are supported at Flagship institutions, thus building a cadre of students with professional-level proficiency and commitment to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

    • The English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS) program provides professional English language instruction for U.S. citizens who are native speakers of critical languages. Participants receive scholarships to the EHLS program at Georgetown University, which provides eight months of instruction. This training allows participants to achieve professional-level proficiency in the English language and prepares them for key federal job opportunities. NSEP awards approximately 20 EHLS Scholarships annually.

    • The African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI) is a Flagship language program, designed in cooperation with Boren Scholarships and Fellowships, to improve proficiency outcomes in a number of targeted African languages. The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, Section 314 (Pub. L. 111-254) initially directed the establishment of a pilot program to build language capabilities in areas critical to U.S. national security interests, but where insufficient instructional infrastructure currently exists domestically. Based on the successes of its many critical language initiatives, NSEP was designated to spearhead the effort. All AFLI award recipients are funded through either a Boren Scholarship or Boren Fellowship. Participants complete eight weeks of domestic language study at the University of Florida prior to departure overseas, followed by intensive, semester-long study internationally. AFLI's current language offerings include Akan/Twi, French (for Senegal), Hausa, Portuguese (for Mozambique), Swahili, Wolof, and Zulu.

    • The National Language Service Corps (NLSC) is a civilian corps of volunteers with certified proficiency in foreign languages. Its purpose is to support DoD or other U.S. departments or agencies in need of foreign language services, including surge or emergency requirements. NLSC capabilities include language support for interpretation, translation, analysis, training, logistics activities, and emergency relief activities. Members generally possess professional-level proficiency in a foreign language and in English, and may have clearances or may be clearable.

    • Project GO provides grants to U.S. institutions of higher education with large ROTC student enrollments, including the Senior Military Colleges. In turn, these institutions provide language and culture training to ROTC students from across the nation, funding domestic and overseas ROTC language programs and scholarships. To accomplish Project GO's mission, NSEP closely works with Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC Headquarters, as well as with U.S. institutions of higher education. To date, institutions participating in the program have supported critical language study for over 3,000 ROTC students nationwide. More than 20 domestic institutions host Project GO programs serving ROTC students from across the country.

    • Language Training Centers (LTC) are a collaborative initiative to develop expertise in critical languages, cultures and strategic regions for DoD personnel. Section 529(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 authorized the establishment of the program in 2011. The program's purpose is to leverage the expertise and infrastructure of higher education institutions to train DoD personnel in language, culture, and regional area studies. In 2010, NSEP funded the study “Leveraging Language and Cultural Education and U.S. Higher Education” to fulfill a Congressional request. Findings from the Leveraging report revealed that federal investments in language and culture at higher education institutions produced a group of universities with well-established programs and faculty expertise that are capable of supporting the military's needs for proficiency-based training in critical and less commonly taught languages at various levels of acquisition. Therefore, facilitating the establishment and continued growth of relationships among these institutions, military installations, and DoD entities is an integral part of the LTC program.

    Costs

    To manage and run its initiatives, NSEP employs 8.78 full-time equivalents (FTE), ranging in salary from Federal General Schedule (GS) grade 6 through GS grade 15 (three employees devote partial time to NSEP initiatives, which equates to 0.78 FTE). Using the 2014 GS pay scale for the Washington, DC metro area, NSEP's 8.78 FTEs equate to approximately $795,154 in DoD expenditure annually. To calculate this figure, NSEP used GS step one wage rates for all employees.

    NSEA legislates $14,000,000 for Boren Scholarships, Boren Fellowships, and The Language Flagship programs annually (sec. 1910-1911) and $2,000,000 for the EHLS program annually (sec. 1912). In addition, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, Section 314 (Pub. L. 111-259) directed the establishment of an African language program, a hybrid of Boren and Flagship, at $2,000,000. In addition to these amounts, NSEP receives $10,000,000 annually from DoD appropriations in support of Flagship program efforts.

    Retrospective Review

    This proposed rule is part of DoD's retrospective plan, completed in August 2011, under Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.® DoD's full plan and updates can be accessed at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=DOD-2011-OS-0036.

    Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review” and Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”

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

    Sec. 202, Pub. L. 104-4, “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act”

    Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies assess anticipated costs and benefits before issuing any rule whose mandates require spending in any 1 year of $100 million in 1995 dollars, updated annually for inflation. In 2014, that threshold is approximately $141 million. This document will not mandate any requirements for State, local, or tribal governments, nor will it affect private sector costs.

    Public Law 96-354, “Regulatory Flexibility Act” (5 U.S.C. 601)

    The Department of Defense certifies that this proposed rule is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601) because it would not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis.

    Public Law 96-511, “Paperwork Reduction Act” (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35)

    It has been certified that 32 CFR part 208 does impose reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. These requirements have been approved by OMB and assigned OMB Control Number 0704-0368, National Security Education Program (Service Agreement Report for Scholarship and Fellowship Awards).

    Executive Order 13132, “Federalism”

    Executive Order 13132 establishes certain requirements that an agency must meet when it promulgates a proposed rule (and subsequent final rule) that imposes substantial direct requirement costs on State and local governments, preempts State law, or otherwise has Federalism implications. This proposed rule will not have a substantial effect on State and local governments.

    List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 208

    Education, Languages, Service agreement.

    Accordingly 32 CFR part 208 is proposed to be added to read as follows:

    PART 208—NATIONAL SECURITY EDUCATION PROGRAM (NSEP) AND NSEP SERVICE AGREEMENT Sec. 208.1 Purpose. 208.2 Applicability. 208.3 Definitions. 208.4 Policy. 208.5 Responsibilities. 208.6 Procedures. Authority:

    50 U.S.C. 1901-1912, 50 U.S.C. 1903, 50 U.S.C. chapter 37.

    § 208.1 Purpose.

    This part:

    (a) Implements the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense for administering NSEP.

    (b) Updates DoD policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures and requirements for administering and executing the NSEP service agreement in accordance with 50 U.S.C. chapter 37.

    (c) Modifies requirements related to the NSEP service agreement.

    (d) Assigns oversight of NSEP to the Defense Language and National Security Education Office.

    § 208.2 Applicability.

    This part applies to:

    (a) The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities in the DoD (referred to collectively in this part as the “DoD Components”).

    (b) The Administrative Agent. If the Administrative Agent is an entity outside of DoD pursuant to a DoD contract, grant, or cooperative agreement, then DoD personnel shall ensure that the relevant contract, grant or cooperative agreement aligns with the policies and procedures set forth in this part.

    (c) All recipients of awards by NSEP.

    § 208.3 Definitions.

    These terms and their definitions are for the purpose of this part.

    Administrative agent. Organization that will administer and monitor resources for NSEP.

    Boren Fellowship. A competitive award granted for graduate study under NSEP.

    Boren Scholarship. A competitive award granted for undergraduate study abroad under NSEP.

    Critical area. Determined by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the members of the National Security Education Board, in accordance with 50 U.S.C. chapter 37 and 50 U.S.C. 1903.

    Critical foreign language. Determined by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the members of the National Security Education Board in accordance with 50 U.S.C. chapter 37.

    Deferral of the NSEP service agreement. Official NSEP documentation signed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management (ASD(R&FM)), through the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness (DASD(R)), by which an NSEP award recipient pursuing approved, qualified further education is allowed to postpone meeting the service deadline.

    (1) A deferral reschedules the date by which an NSEP award recipient must begin to fulfill service.

    (2) Qualified further education includes, but is not limited to, no less than half-time enrollment in any degree-granting, accredited institution of higher education worldwide or participation in an academic fellowship program (e.g., Fulbright Fellowship, Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship).

    (3) A deferral is calculated by first calculating the length of enrollment in the degree program from start date to anticipated graduation date, and then adding the length of enrollment in the degree program to the service deadline.

    (4) Approvals of deferrals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Extension of the NSEP service agreement. Official NSEP documentation signed by the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R), by which an NSEP award recipient who has completed award requirements, reached the service deadline, and is actively seeking to fulfill the NSEP service agreement in a well-documented manner is allowed to extend the service deadline. An extension reschedules the date by which an NSEP award recipient must complete the service required in the NSEP service agreement.

    Intelligence Community. Any element of the Intelligence Community as defined in Section 3 of the National Security Act of 1947, as revised, [50 U.S.C. 3003].

    Language proficiency. The U.S. Government relies on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale to determine language proficiency. According to the ILR scale:

    (1) 0 is No Proficiency.

    (2) 0+ is Memorized Proficiency.

    (3) 1 is Elementary Proficiency.

    (4) 1+ is Elementary Proficiency, Plus.

    (5) 2 is Limited Working Proficiency.

    (6) 2+ is Limited Working Proficiency, Plus.

    (7) 3 is General Professional Proficiency.

    (8) 3+ is General Professional Proficiency, Plus.

    (9) 4 is Advanced Professional Proficiency.

    (10) 4+ is Advanced Professional Proficiency, Plus.

    (11) 5 is Functional Native Proficiency.

    NSEP Service Approval Committee. Committee of key NSEP staff members who review the merits of all requests for service credit, deferrals, extensions, or waivers of the NSEP service agreement, including adjudication of all cases involving award recipients who decline job offers, in order to provide recommendations to the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R).

    Other federal agencies. Includes any federal government agency, department, bureau, office or any other federal government organization of any nature other than the Department of Defense or any component, agency, department, field activity or any other subcomponent of any kind within or subordinate to the Department of Defense.

    Program end date. Official end of an NSEP award recipient's program, as set forth within the individual's NSEP service agreement.

    Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). College program offered at colleges and universities across the United States that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the Military after graduation. Each Service branch administers its own ROTC program.

    Request of service credit in fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement. Written request made through submission of a DD Form 2753 to the NSEP office, documenting how employment an NSEP award recipient held or holds complies with fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement.

    Satisfactory academic progress. Maintenance of academic standards at both home and host institution(s) for every NSEP award recipient for the duration of the study program and as defined in each NSEP service agreement.

    Service deadline. Date by which NSEP award recipient must begin to fulfill the NSEP service agreement.

    Waiver of the NSEP service agreement. Official NSEP documentation, signed by the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R), by which an NSEP award recipient is relieved of responsibilities associated with the NSEP service agreement.

    Work in fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement. Upon completion of the NSEP award recipient's study program, such individual must seek employment in the DoD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), or the Intelligence Community, or if no suitable position is available, anywhere in the U.S. Government in a position with national security responsibilities. If such individual is unsuccessful in finding a federal position after making a good faith effort to do so, award recipient agrees to seek employment in the field of education in a position related to the study supported by such scholarship or fellowship. The award recipient further agrees to fulfill the service requirement.

    § 208.4 Policy.

    It is DoD policy that:

    (a) NSEP assist in making available to DoD and other federal entities, as applicable, personnel possessing proficiency in languages and foreign regional expertise critical to national security by providing scholarships and fellowships pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 1902(a). These scholarships and fellowships will be awarded to:

    (1) Students who are U.S. citizens, to pursue qualifying undergraduate and graduate study in domestic and foreign education systems to assist in meeting national security needs for professionals with in-depth knowledge of world languages and cultures, and who enter into an NSEP service agreement as required by 50 U.S.C. 1902(b); or

    (2) Students who are U.S. citizens who are native speakers of a foreign language identified as critical to the national security of the United States, but who are not proficient at a professional level in the English language with respect to reading, writing, and other skills, to enable such students to pursue English language studies at institutions of higher education. Recipients must agree to enter into an NSEP service agreement as required by 50 U.S.C. 1902(b).

    (b) Grants will be awarded to institutions of higher education for programs in critical areas pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 1902(a) and 1902(f) to implement a national system of programs to produce advanced language expertise critical to the national security of the United States.

    (c) An NSEP award recipient must enter into an NSEP service agreement before receipt of an award as required by 50 U.S.C. chapter 37. The award recipient must agree to maintain satisfactory academic progress and work in fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement until all service requirements are satisfied.

    (d) All NSEP award recipients who are government employees or members of the uniformed services at the time of award must confirm that they have resigned or been separated from such employment or service before receiving support for their NSEP-funded overseas study. These stipulations apply to all individuals, including employees of a department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government and members of the uniformed services, including members of a Reserve Component of the uniformed services. ROTC participants who are also members of a Reserve Component must be in an inactive, non-drilling status during the course of their NSEP-funded overseas study.

    (e) Neither DoD nor the U.S. Government is obligated to provide, or offer employment to, award recipients as a result of participation in the program. All federal agencies are encouraged to assist in placing NSEP award recipients upon successful completion of the program.

    § 208.5 Responsibilities.

    (a) Under the authority, direction, and control of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)), the ASD(R&FM):

    (1) Develops programs, processes, and policies to support NSEP award recipients in fulfilling their NSEP service agreement through internships or employment in federal security agencies pursuant to 50 U.S.C. chapter 37.

    (2) Determines, pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 1902(a), after consultation with the National Security Education Board, which countries, languages, and disciplines are critical and in which there are deficiencies of knowledgeable personnel within federal entities.

    (b) Under the authority, direction, and control of the ASD(R&FM), the DASD(R):

    (1) Makes available competitive scholarship, fellowship, and English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS) awards to U.S. citizens who wish to engage in study for the purposes of national security in accordance with 50 U.S.C. chapter 37.

    (2) Manages, oversees, and monitors compliance of NSEP service agreements.

    (3) Advises NSEP award recipients on how to fulfill their NSEP service agreement in national security positions.

    (4) Maintains documentation of successful completion of federal service or initiates debt collection procedures for those NSEP recipients who fail to comply with the NSEP service agreement.

    (5) Works with agencies or offices in the U.S. Government to identify potential employment opportunities for NSEP award recipients and make employment opportunities and information readily available to all award recipients.

    (6) Approves or disapproves, as appropriate, all DD Form 2573 written requests for service credit, deferrals, extensions, or waivers of the NSEP service agreement, including adjudication of all cases involving award recipients who decline job offers.

    (c) Under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), in consultation with the DASD(R), and in accordance with DoD Directive 5100.87, “DoD Human Resources Activity” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/510087p.pdf), the Director, provides:

    (1) Program and budget management and other administrative, facility, operational, and logistical support for NSEP.

    (2) Fiscal management and oversight to ensure all funds provided for NSEP are separately and visibly accounted for in the DoD budget.

    § 208.6 Procedures.

    (a) NSEP award recipients. The award recipient of any scholarship or fellowship award through NSEP will:

    (1) Maintain satisfactory academic progress in the course of study for which assistance is provided, according to the regularly prescribed standards and practices of the institution in which the award recipient is matriculating.

    (2) As a condition of receiving an award, sign an NSEP service agreement as required by 50 U.S.C. chapter 37, which, among other requirements, must acknowledge an understanding and agreement by the award recipient that failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress constitutes grounds upon which the award may be terminated and trigger the mandatory requirement to return to the U.S. Treasury the scholarship, fellowship, or EHLS funds provided to the award recipient.

    (3) Notify the Administrative Agent within ten business days if advised of failure to maintain academic progress by the institution of matriculation.

    (4) Notify the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R), in a timely manner and in advance of the service deadline should any request for deferral, extension, or waiver become necessary.

    (i) Deferrals. NSEP award recipients actively seeking to fulfill the NSEP service agreement in a well-documented manner may request approval of a one year extension of their service deadline. Approvals of deferrals for pursuit of education will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Renewal of a deferral may be granted if adequately justified.

    (ii) Extensions. A thorough outline describing all further plans to complete the NSEP service agreement must accompany all extension requests. No more than two extensions may be granted to an NSEP award recipient.

    (iii) Waivers. (A) In extraordinary circumstances, an NSEP award recipient may be relieved of responsibilities associated with the NSEP service agreement. As a result of receiving a waiver, the award recipient will no longer receive job search assistance from NSEP; is no longer a beneficiary of the special hiring advantages available to award recipients who have a service requirement; and will not be eligible to receive NSEP letters of certification, or endorsements or recommendations. Upon request, the NSEP office will continue to certify that the award recipient received an NSEP scholarship or fellowship.

    (B) The DASD(R), will consider requests for extensions and waivers of the NSEP service agreement only under special circumstances as defined in §208.6(b) of this part. The request must set forth the basis, situation, and causes which support the requested action, including evidence to support the request. The award recipient must submit requests electronically on www.nsepnet.org or to [email protected]. Final approval of work in fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement, deferrals, extensions, and waivers rest with, and is at the discretion of, the DASD(R).

    (5) Immediately upon successful completion of the award program and either completion of the degree for which the award recipient is matriculated or withdrawal from such degree program, begin the federal job search. Award recipients should concurrently seek positions within DoD, any element of the Intelligence Community, as defined in section 3 of the National Security Act of 1947, as revised, [50 U.S.C. 3003(4)(L)], the DHS, or DOS.

    (6) Work to satisfy all service requirements in accordance with applicable NSEP service agreements until all NSEP service requirements are satisfied. Work in fulfillment of the NSEP service agreement must be wholly completed within five years of the award recipient's first date of service unless an approved deferral or extension has been granted.

    (7) Work for the total period of time specified in the NSEP service agreement either consecutively in one organization, or through follow-on employment in two or more organizations.

    (8) Repay the U.S. Treasury the award funds provided to the award recipient if the requirements of the NSEP service agreement are not met.

    (9) Submit DD Form 2753 to NSEP no later than one month after termination of the period of study funded by NSEP and annual reports thereafter until the NSEP service requirement is satisfied. The DD Form 2753 will include:

    (i) Any requests for deferrals, extensions, or waivers with adequate evidence and support for such requests.

    (ii) The award recipient's current status (e.g., not yet graduated from, or terminated enrollment in, the degree program pursued while receiving NSEP support; engaged in work in fulfillment of the requirement.)

    (iii) Updated contact information.

    (10) Notify the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R), within ten business days of any changes to the award recipient's mailing address.

    (b) Procedures and Requirements Applicable to NSEP Award Recipients—(1) NSEP Service Agreement. Award recipients of any scholarship, fellowship, or EHLS award through this program must comply with the terms of the NSEP service agreement they signed. NSEP awards entered into before the date of this part will be governed by the laws, regulations, and policies in effect at the time that the award was made. The NSEP service agreement for recipients awarded as of the date of this part will:

    (i) In accordance with 50 U.S.C. 1902(b) outline requirements for NSEP award recipients to fulfill their federal service requirement through work in positions that contribute to the national security of the United States. An emphasis is placed on work within one of four entities: DoD, DHS, DOS, or any element of the Intelligence Community. On a case-by-case basis, NSEP may consider employment with a federal contractor of one of these four priority entities as meeting the service requirement should the award recipient provide adequate documentary evidence that the salary for the position is funded by the U.S. Government.

    (ii) Stipulate that absent the availability of a suitable position in the four priority entities or a contractor thereof, award recipients may satisfy the service requirement by serving in any federal agency or office in a position with national security responsibilities. It will also stipulate that absent the availability of a suitable position in DoD, any element of the Intelligence Community, DHS, DOS, a contractor thereof, or any federal agency with national security responsibilities, award recipients may satisfy the service requirement by working in the field of education in a discipline related to the study supported by the program if the recipient satisfactorily demonstrates to the Secretary of Defense through the DASD(R), that no position is available in the departments, agencies, and offices covered by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section.

    (2) Implementation. The NSEP service agreement will be implemented as follows:

    (i) Prior to receiving assistance, the award recipient must sign an NSEP service agreement. The award recipient will submit to the NSEP Administrative Agent, in advance of program of study start date, any proposed changes to the approved award program (i.e., course and schedule changes, withdrawals, course or program incompletions, unanticipated or increased costs).

    (ii) The minimum length of service requirement for undergraduate scholarship, graduate fellowship, and EHLS award recipients is one year. The duration of the service requirement for graduate fellowship award recipients is equal to the duration of assistance provided by NSEP.

    (iii) In accordance with 50 U.S.C. 1902(b), undergraduate scholarship students must begin fulfilling the NSEP service agreement within three years of completion or termination of their undergraduate degree program.

    (iv) In accordance with 50 U.S.C. 1902(b), graduate fellowship students must begin fulfilling the NSEP service agreement within two years of completion or termination of their graduate degree program.

    (v) In accordance with 50 U.S.C. 1902(b), EHLS award recipients must begin fulfilling the service requirement within three years of completion of their program.

    (vi) The award recipient must accept a reasonable offer of employment, as defined by the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R), in accordance with the NSEP service agreement, at a salary deemed by the hiring organization as commensurate with the award recipient's education level, and consistent with the terms and conditions of the NSEP service agreement.

    (vii) The receipt of a completed DD Form 2753 will be acknowledged through official correspondence from NSEP to the award recipient. Award recipients who do not submit the DD Form 2753 as required will be notified by NSEP of the intent to pursue collection action.

    (viii) If the award recipient fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress for any term in which assistance is provided, probationary measures of the host institution will apply to the award recipient. Failure to meet the institution's requirements to resume satisfactory academic progress within the prescribed guidelines of the institution will result in the termination of assistance to the award recipient.

    (ix) Extenuating circumstances, such as illness of the award recipient or a close relative, death of a close relative, or an interruption of study caused by the host institution, may be considered acceptable reasons for non-satisfactory academic progress. The award recipient must notify the NSEP Administrative Agent of any extenuating circumstances within ten business days of occurrence. The NSEP Administrative Agent will review these requests to determine what course of action is appropriate and make a recommendation to NSEP for final determination. The DASD(R), will upon receipt of the NSEP Administrative Agent recommendation, determine by what conditions to terminate or reinstate the award to the award recipient.

    (x) NSEP award recipients may apply to the DASD(R), for a deferral of the NSEP service agreement requirement if pursuing qualified further education.

    (xi) NSEP award recipients may apply to the DASD(R), to receive an extension of the NSEP service agreement requirement if actively seeking to fulfill the NSEP service agreement in a well-documented manner.

    (xii) In extraordinary circumstances an NSEP award recipient may request a waiver to be relieved of responsibilities associated with the NSEP service agreement. Conditions for requesting a waiver to the NSEP service agreement may include:

    (A) Situations in which compliance is either impossible or would involve extreme hardship to the award recipient.

    (B) Interruptions in service due to temporary physical or medical disability or other causes beyond the award recipient's control.

    (C) Unreasonable delays in the hiring process not caused by the award recipient, including delays in obtaining a security clearance if required for employment.

    (D) Hiring freezes that adversely affect award recipients who are seeking positions with the U.S. Government.

    (E) Permanent physical or medical disability that prevent the award recipient from fulfilling the obligation.

    (F) Inability to complete the NSEP service agreement due to terminations or interruptions of work beyond the award recipient's control.

    (G) Death of the award recipient.

    (xiii) In cases where assistance to the award recipient is terminated, the amount owed to the U.S. Government is equal to the support received from NSEP. Repayment to the U.S. Treasury must be made within a period not to exceed six months from expiration of the service deadline. Noncompliance with repayment requirements will result in the initiation of standard U.S. Government collection procedures to obtain payment for overdue indebtedness, unless a waiver is specifically granted by the ASD(R&FM), through the DASD(R). Further job search assistance to an award recipient will be denied if any outstanding debt remains unpaid as a result of an award termination.

    (A) Repayment to the U.S. Treasury for the amount of assistance provided becomes due, either in whole or in part, if the award recipient fails to fulfill the NSEP service agreement. Award recipients who do not submit the DD Form 2753 as required will be notified by NSEP of the intent to pursue collection action. Noncompliance with repayment requirements will result in the initiation of standard U.S. Government collection procedures to obtain payment for overdue indebtedness, unless a waiver is specifically granted by the DASD(R).

    (B) Repayment recovery procedures will include one or a combination of the following:

    (1) Voluntary repayment schedule arranged between the award recipient and the Administrative Agent.

    (2) Deduction from accrued pay, compensation, amount of retirement credit, or any other amount due the employee from the U.S. Government.

    (3) Such other methods as are provided by law for recovery of amounts owed to the U.S. Government.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28431 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0681; FRL-9936-01-Region 10] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; Idaho; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standards AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reclassify to Serious the Franklin County, Idaho portion of the multi-state Logan, Utah/Franklin county, Idaho nonattainment area (Logan UT/ID area) for the 2006 24-hour fine particulate matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Our proposal is based on the EPA's determination that the Logan, UT/ID area cannot practicably attain the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS by the applicable Moderate area attainment date of December 31, 2015. Should the EPA finalize reclassification of the area to Serious, Idaho will be required to submit an updated emissions inventory, Best Available Control Measures (BACM)/Best Available Control Technology (BACT), and revisions to its Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) program within 18 months. The attainment demonstration and the remaining Serious area nonattainment plan elements will be due no later than three years after the effective date of the final action or December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier. Upon reclassification as Serious, the Logan, UT/ID PM2.5 nonattainment area will be required to attain the standard as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than December 31, 2019.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0681, by any of the following methods:

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

    B. Mail: Jeff Hunt, EPA Region 10, Office of Air, Waste and Toxics (AWT-150), 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle WA, 98101

    C. Email: [email protected]

    D. Hand Delivery: EPA Region 10 Mailroom, 9th Floor, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle WA, 98101. Attention: Jeff Hunt, Office of Air, Waste and Toxics, AWT—150. Such deliveries are only accepted during normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0681. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, the EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If the EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy during normal business hours at the Office of Air, Waste and Toxics, EPA Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle WA, 98101.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Hunt at (206) 553-0256, [email protected], or by using the above EPA, Region 10 address.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document wherever “we”, “us” or “our” are used, it is intended to refer to the EPA.

    I. Background

    Under 40 CFR 51.1000, the EPA defines the PM2.5 design value, the metric used for determining compliance with the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS, as the highest three-year average of annual 98th percentile concentrations calculated for any ambient air quality monitor in a nonattainment area. In the case of the multi-state Logan UT/ID area, the air quality monitor with the highest design value is the Logan, Utah monitor (Air Quality System ID number 490050004) with a 2012-2014 design value of 45 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). In a companion proposal for the Utah portion of the Logan UT/ID nonattainment area (docket number EPA-R08-OAR-2015-0342), EPA Region 8 shows that it is impracticable for the Logan UT/ID area to attain the 2006 24-hour NAAQS by the end of 2015. Under CAA section 188, any reclassification of a Moderate PM2.5 nonattainment area to Serious applies to the entire nonattainment area, with no option for a partial reclassification based on political jurisdiction or state boundaries. Therefore, EPA Region 10 is proposing to reclassify the Franklin County, Idaho portion of the area to Serious at the same time that the EPA is proposing to reclassify the Logan, UT portion of the area to Serious.

    The EPA Region 8 proposal also explains the conditions under which the EPA may grant a series of two one-year extensions of the Moderate area attainment date in accordance with CAA section 188(d). If Utah and Idaho request an extension of the Moderate area attainment date for the Logan, UT/ID area before the EPA finalizes this discretionary reclassification, the EPA may decide not to finalize this proposed reclassification. If the EPA then acts on the States' extension request, the EPA will do so through a separate notice-and-comment rulemaking. In this proposed reclassification, we are neither proposing nor requesting comment on a potential extension.

    II. Proposed Action

    Pursuant to CAA section 188(b)(1), the EPA is proposing to reclassify the Franklin County portion of the Logan, UT/ID area as a Serious nonattainment area for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS based on the Agency's determination that the area cannot practicably attain by the Moderate area attainment date of December 31, 2015. Consistent with the EPA Region 8 companion proposal under docket number EPA-R08-OAR-2015-0342 for the Logan, Utah portion of the area, upon final reclassification as a Serious nonattainment area, Idaho will be required to submit, within 18 months after the effective date of reclassification, an updated emissions inventory, BACM/BACT for emissions sources in the area, and revisions to its NNSR program. The attainment demonstration and the remaining Serious area nonattainment plan elements will be due no later than three years after the effective date of the final action, or December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier. Upon reclassification as Serious, the Logan UT/ID area will be required to attain the standard as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than December 31, 2019.

    III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • is not subject to the requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because this action does not involve technical standards; and

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

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

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: October 7, 2015. Dennis J. McLerran, Regional Administrator, Region 10.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28358 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 81 [EPA-R08-OAR-2015-0342; FRL-9936-74-Region 8] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Designation of Areas for Air Quality Planning Purposes; Utah; Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment for the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter Standard AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reclassify to Serious the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas in Utah for the 2006 24-hour fine particulate matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Our proposal is based on EPA's determination that the areas cannot practicably attain this standard by the applicable Moderate area attainment date of December 31, 2015. Upon final reclassification as a Serious area, Utah will be required to submit a Serious area plan for each nonattainment area, including demonstrations that the individual plans for each area provides for attainment of the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS by the applicable Serious area attainment date.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by EPA-R08-OAR-2015-0342, by one of the following methods:

    http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    Email: [email protected]

    Fax: (303) 312-6064 (please alert the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT if you are faxing comments).

    Mail: Director, Air Program, EPA, Region 8, Mailcode 8P-AR, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129.

    Hand Delivery: Director, Air Program, EPA, Region 8, Mailcode 8P-AR, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129. Such deliveries are only accepted Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays. Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R08-OAR-2015-0342. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://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 http://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. For additional instructions on submitting comments, go to Section I. General Information of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly-available docket materials are available either electronically in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the EPA Region 8, Office of Partnerships and Regulatory Assistance, Air Program, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado, 80202-1129. EPA requests that you contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to view the hard copy of the docket. You may view the hard copy of the docket Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding federal holidays. An electronic copy of the State's SIP compilation is also available at http://www.epa.gov/region8/air/sip.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Crystal Ostigaard, Air Program, EPA, Region 8, Mailcode 8P-AR, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129, (303) 312-6602, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information

    a. Submitting CBI. Do not submit CBI to EPA through http://www.regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or CD ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.

    b. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, remember to:

    i. Identify the rulemaking by docket number and other identifying information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).

    ii. Follow directions—The agency may ask you to respond to specific questions or organize comments by referencing a Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part or section number.

    iii. Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and substitute language for your requested changes.

    iv. Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information and/or data that you used.

    v. If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be reproduced.

    vi. Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and suggest alternatives.

    vii. Explain your views as clearly as possible, avoiding the use of profanity or personal threats.

    viii. Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period deadline identified.

    II. Background

    On October 17, 2006, EPA revised the 24-hour NAAQS for PM2.5 to provide increased protection of public health by lowering its level from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to 35 µg/m3 (40 CFR 50.13).1 Epidemiological studies have shown statistically significant correlations between elevated PM2.5 levels and premature mortality. Other important health effects associated with PM2.5 exposure include aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease (as indicated by increased hospital admissions, emergency room visits, absences from school or work, and restricted activity days), changes in lung function and increased respiratory symptoms. Individuals particularly sensitive to PM2.5 exposure include older adults, people with heart and lung disease, and children (78 FR 3086 at 3088, January 15, 2013). PM2.5 can be emitted directly into the atmosphere as a solid or liquid particle (“primary PM2.5” or “direct PM2.5”) or can be formed in the atmosphere as a result of various chemical reactions among precursor pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia (“secondary PM2.5”).2

    1 See 71 FR 61224 (October 17, 2006). EPA set the first NAAQS for PM2.5 on July 18, 1997 (62 FR 36852), including annual standards of 15 µg/m3 based on a 3-year average of annual mean PM2.5 concentrations and 24-hour (daily) standards of 65 µg/m3 based on a 3-year average of 98th percentile 24-hour concentrations (40 CFR 50.7). In 2012, EPA revised the annual standard to lower its level to 12 µg/m3 (78 FR 3086, January 15, 2013, codified at 40 CFR 50.18). Unless otherwise noted, all references to the PM2.5 standard in this notice are to the 2006 24-hour standard of 35 µg/m3 codified at 40 CFR 50.13.

    2See EPA, Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Final Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (EPA-452/R-12-005, December 2012), p. 2-1.

    Following promulgation of the new or revised NAAQS, EPA is required by CAA section 107(d) to designate areas throughout the nation as attaining or not attaining the NAAQS. On November 13, 2009, EPA designated the Salt Lake City, Prove, and Logan, UT/ID areas as nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 standard of 35 µg/m3 (74 FR 58688, November 13, 2009). This designation became effective on December 14, 2009 (40 CFR 81.345). The Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan, UT/ID areas were designated unclassifiable/attainment for the 1997 and 2012 annual PM2.5 standards. For a precise description of the geographic boundaries of the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID PM2.5 nonattainment areas, see 40 CFR 81.345. EPA originally designated these areas under CAA title I, part D, subpart 1, which required the State of Utah to submit an attainment plan for each area no later than three years from the date of their nonattainment designations. These plans needed to provide for the attainment of the PM2.5 standard as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than five years from the date the areas were designated nonattainment.

    Subsequently, on January 4, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that EPA should have implemented the 2006 PM2.5 24-hour standard based on both CAA title I, part D, subpart 1 and subpart 4. Under subpart 4, nonattainment areas are initially classified as Moderate, and Moderate area attainment plans must address the requirements of subpart 4 as well as subpart 1. Additionally, CAA subpart 4 sets a different state implementation plan (SIP) submittal due date and attainment year. For a Moderate area, the attainment SIP is due 18 months after designation and the attainment year is the end of the sixth calendar year after designation. On June 2, 2014 (79 FR 31566), EPA finalized the Identification of Nonattainment Classification and Deadlines for Submission of State Implementation Plan (SIP) Provisions for the 1997 Fine Particulate (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS (“the Classification and Deadline Rule”). This rule classified as Moderate the areas that were designated in 2009 as nonattainment, and set the attainment SIP submittal due date for those areas at December 31, 2014. That rule did not affect the Moderate area attainment date of December 31, 2015.

    On March 23, 2015, EPA proposed the Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards: State Implementation Plan Requirements (“PM2.5 Implementation Rule”), 80 FR 15340, which partially addresses the January 4, 2013 court ruling. This proposed rule details how air agencies should meet the statutory SIP requirements that apply under subparts 1 and 4 to areas designated nonattainment for any PM2.5 NAAQS, such as: general requirements for attainment plan due dates and attainment demonstrations; provisions for demonstrating reasonable further progress (RFP); quantitative milestones; contingency measures; Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permitting programs; and reasonably available control measures (RACM) (including reasonably available control technology (RACT)), among other things. The statutory attainment planning requirements of subparts 1 and 4 were established to ensure that the following goals of the CAA are met: (i) That states implement measures that provide for attainment of the PM2.5 NAAQS as expeditiously as practicable; and, (ii) that states adopt emissions reduction strategies that will be the most effective, and the most cost-effective, at reducing PM2.5 levels in nonattainment areas.

    III. Potential One-Year Moderate Area Attainment Date Extensions

    Under section 188(d) of the Act, a state may apply to EPA for up to two one-year extensions of the Moderate area attainment date, which EPA may grant if the state satisfies certain conditions. Before EPA may extend the attainment date for a Moderate area under section 188(d), EPA must determine that: (1) The state has complied with all requirements and commitments pertaining to the area in the applicable implementation plan; and (2) no more than one exceedance of the 24-hour NAAQS level for PM10 has occurred in the area in the year proceeding the extension year, and the annual mean concentration for PM10 in the area for such year is less than or equal to the standard level. The PM2.5 Implementation Rule proposes interpretations of these provisions pertaining to PM2.5. Currently, the only Moderate nonattainment area in Utah for which the State has indicated they may request an extension of the Moderate area attainment date is the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment area. Until this action is finalized, the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment area may still qualify for this Moderate area attainment date extension, as the year prior to the Moderate area attainment date is 2015. EPA intends that, if the State requests an extension of the Moderate area attainment date for the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment area before EPA finalizes this discretionary reclassification, EPA may decide not to finalize this proposed reclassification with respect to the Logan area only. If EPA then acts on the State's extension request, EPA will do so through a separate notice-and-comment rulemaking. In this proposed reclassification, we are neither proposing nor requesting comment on a potential extension.

    IV. Reclassification as Serious Nonattainment Area and Serious Area SIP Requirements A. Reclassification as Serious and Applicable Attainment Date

    Section 188 of the Act outlines the process for classification of PM2.5 nonattainment areas and establishes the applicable attainment dates. EPA has historically taken the view that under the plain meaning of the terms of section 188(b)(1) of the Act, EPA has general authority to reclassify before the applicable attainment date any areas that EPA determines cannot practicably attain the standard by such date. Accordingly, section 188(b)(1) of the Act is a general expression of delegated rulemaking authority.

    The criteria for determining if an area is attaining the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS are set out in 40 CFR 50.13 and 40 CFR part 50, appendix N. The 2006 24-hour PM2.5 primary and secondary standards are met when the 98th percentile 24-hour concentration, as determined in accordance with 40 CFR part 50, Appendix N, is less than or equal to 35 μg/m3. To produce a valid 24-hour standard design value, the three year average of the annual 98th percentile 24-hour average values is required. A year meets data completeness requirements when at least 75 percent of the scheduled sampling days for each quarter have valid data; however, less than complete data may be used when the resulting 24-hour design value is greater than the level of the standard. See 4.2(b), 40 CFR part 50, appendix N. The use of less than complete data is subject to the approval of EPA, which may consider factors such as monitoring site closures/moves, monitoring diligence, and nearby concentrations in determining whether to use such data. We have reviewed recent PM2.5 monitoring data for the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas available in EPA's Air Quality System (AQS) database. These data show that the 24-hour PM2.5 levels in the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas continue to be well above 35 µg/m3, the level of the 2006 PM2.5 standard, and the recent trends in the nonattainment areas 24-hour PM2.5 levels are not consistent with a projection of attainment by the end of 2015 (see Table 1 below). Additionally, for these three nonattainment areas to show attainment for the three year period of 2013-2015, the 98th percentile for 2015 would need to be near (or below) 0 µg/m3. These data show that it is impracticable for these three areas to attain the 24-hour standard by the end of 2015.

    Table 1—24-Hour PM2.5 NAAQS Design Values in μg/m 3 NAA Site AQS ID 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Logan portion of Logan, UT/ID NAA Logan, UT 490050004 65 64 42 36 40 43 42 37 46 45 Provo NAA Lindon, UT 490494001 43 44 45 44 50 41 41 32 44 42 North Provo, UT 490490002 39 38 37 37 42 36 35 29 45 43 Spanish Fork, UT 490495010 36 36 36 1 34 42 39 42 35 46 44 Salt Lake City NAA Bountiful, UT 490110004 40 38 38 1 35 38 38 40 34 35 38 Brigham City, UT 490030003 35 35 29 35 37 42 40 37 37 37 Harrisville, UT 490571003 36 38 35 35 38 36 37 1 33 1 35 n/a Hawthorne, UT 490353006 47 48 48 46 48 44 45 38 41 43 Magna, UT 490351001 41 40 32 29 31 33 35 30 32 35 Ogden No. 2, UT 490570002 40 40 36 36 40 37 40 36 39 34 Rose Park, UT 490353010 n/a n/a n/a n/a 37 41 41 35 39 42 Tooele City, UT 490450003 n/a n/a 1 31 22 23 26 27 24 28 29 1 40 CFR part 50, appendix N, section 4.2(b) considers design values invalid when the design value is less than or equal to the level of the NAAQS, and one of more quarters have less than 75% data completeness.

    In accordance with section 188(b)(1) of the Act, EPA is proposing to reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas from Moderate to Serious nonattainment for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 35 µg/m3, based on EPA's determination that the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID areas cannot practicably attain this standard by the applicable attainment date of December 31, 2015.

    Under section 188(c)(2) of the Act, the attainment date for a Serious area “shall be as expeditiously as practicable but no later than the end of the tenth calendar year beginning after the areas designation as nonattainment . . .” The Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID areas were designated nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 standard effective December 14, 2009.3 Therefore, upon final reclassification of the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID areas as Serious nonattainment areas, the latest permissible attainment date under section 188(c)(2) of the Act, for purposes of the 2006 PM2.5 standard in these areas, will be December 31, 2019.

    3See 74 FR 58688 (November 13, 2009).

    B. Clean Air Act Requirements for Serious PM2.5 Nonattainment Area Plans

    Upon reclassification as Serious nonattainment areas for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, Utah will be required to submit additional SIP revisions to satisfy the statutory requirements of subpart 4 of part D, title I of the Act.

    The Serious area SIP elements that Utah will be required to submit are as follows:

    1. Provisions to assure that the best available control measures (BACM), including best available control technologies (BACT) for stationary sources, for the control of direct PM2.5 and PM2.5 precursors shall be implemented no later than four years after the area is reclassified (CAA section 189(b)(1)(B));

    2. A demonstration (including air quality modeling) that the plan provides for attainment as expeditiously as practicable but no later than December 31, 2019, or where the state is seeking an extension of the attainment date under section 188(e), a demonstration that attainment by December 31, 2019 is impracticable and that the plan provides for attainment by the most expeditious alternative date practicable and no later than December 31, 2024 (CAA sections 188(c)(2), 188(e), and 189(b)(1)(A));

    3. Plan provisions that require RFP (CAA 172(c)(2));

    4. Quantitative milestones which are to be achieved every three years until the area is redesignated attainment and which demonstrate RFP toward attainment by the applicable date (CAA section 189(c));

    5. Provisions to assure that control requirements applicable to major stationary sources of PM2.5 also apply to major stationary sources of PM2.5 precursors, except where the state demonstrates to EPA's satisfaction that such sources do not contribute significantly to PM2.5 levels that exceed the standard in the area (CAA section 189(e));

    6. A comprehensive, accurate, current inventory of actual emissions from all sources of PM2.5 and PM2.5 precursors in the area (CAA section 172(c)(3));

    7. Contingency measures to be implemented if the area fails to meet RFP or to attain by the applicable attainment date (CAA section 172(c)(9)); and

    8. Revisions to the NNSR program to lower the applicable “major stationary source” 4 thresholds from 100 tons per year (tpy) to 70 tpy (CAA section 189(b)(3)).

    4 For any Serious area, the terms “major source” and “major stationary source” include any stationary source that emits or has the potential to emit at least 70 tons per year of PM10 (CAA section 189(b)(3)).

    As described above, EPA proposed a rulemaking to provide guidance to states on the attainment planning requirements in subparts 1 and 4 of part D, title I of the Act that apply to areas designated nonattainment for PM2.5 (80 FR 15340; March 23, 2015).

    C. Deadline for Submittal of Serious Area Plan Elements

    For an area reclassified as a Serious nonattainment area before the applicable attainment date under CAA section 188(b)(1), section 189(b)(2) requires the State to submit the required BACM provisions “no later than 18 months after reclassification of the area as a Serious Area” and to submit the required attainment demonstration “no later than four years after reclassification of the area to Serious.” Section 189(b)(2) establishes outer bounds on the SIP submission deadlines and does not preclude EPA's establishment of earlier deadlines as necessary or appropriate to assure consistency among the required submissions and to implement the statutory requirements.

    If a final reclassification of the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID PM2.5 nonattainment areas to Serious becomes effective by early 2016, the Act provides the State with up to 18 months after this date (i.e., until mid-2017) to submit the required BACM provisions. Because an up-to-date emissions inventory serves as the foundation for a state's BACM and BACT determinations, EPA also proposes to require the State to submit the emissions inventory required under CAA section 172(c)(3) within 18 months after the effective date of final reclassification. Similarly, because an effective evaluation of BACM and BACT measures requires evaluation of the precursor pollutants that must be controlled to provide for expeditious attainment in the area, if the State chooses to submit an optional precursor insignificance demonstration to support a determination to exclude a PM2.5 precursor from the required control measure evaluations for the area, EPA proposes to require the State to submit any such demonstration by this same date. An 18-month timeframe for submission of these plan elements is consistent with both the timeframe for submission of BACM provisions under CAA section 189(b)(2) and the timeframe for submission of subpart 1 plan elements under section 172(b) of the Act.5

    5 Section 172(b) requires EPA to establish, concurrent with nonattainment area designations, a schedule extending no later than 3 years from the date of the nonattainment designation for states to submit plans or plan revisions meeting the applicable requirements of sections 110(a)(2) and 172(c) of the CAA.

    EPA proposes to require the State to submit the attainment demonstration required under section 189(b)(1)(A) and the remaining attainment-related plan elements no later than three years after the effective date of final reclassification or by December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier. The attainment-related plan elements that we propose to require within the same three-year timeframe as the attainment demonstration are: (1) The RFP demonstration required under section 172(c)(2); (2) the quantitative milestones required under section 189(c); (3) any additional control measures necessary to meet the requirements of section 172(c)(6); and (4) the contingency measures required under section 172(c)(9). Although section 189(b)(2) generally provides for up to four years after a discretionary reclassification for the State to submit the required attainment demonstration, it is appropriate in this case for EPA to establish an earlier SIP submission deadline to assure timely implementation of the statutory requirements.

    As discussed in the Background section, EPA designated the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan, UT/ID areas as nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 standard effective December 14, 2009.6 On January 4, 2013, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in NRDC remanding EPA's 2007 PM2.5 Implementation Rule and directing EPA to repromulgate it in accordance with the requirements of subpart 4.7 In response to the NRDC decision, EPA undertook a rulemaking to classify all PM2.5 nonattainment areas as Moderate nonattainment and begin implementing the PM2.5 NAAQS under subpart 4. Effective July 2, 2014, EPA classified all areas previously designated nonattainment for the 1997 and/or 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS as Moderate nonattainment under subpart 4 and established a December 31, 2014 deadline for states to submit Moderate area SIP elements required for these areas.8 These unusual circumstances have significantly shortened the timeframes ordinarily allowed under the Act for EPA and the states to address the statutory SIP requirements following reclassification of an area from Moderate to Serious nonattainment under subpart 4.9

    6 74 FR 58688 (November 13, 2009).

    7NRDC v. EPA, 706 F.3d 428 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

    8 79 FR 31566 (June 2, 2014). EPA notes that some states had already made SIP submissions intended to meet applicable nonattainment plan requirements as interpreted in the remanded 2007 PM2.5 Implementation Rule. Accordingly, the new SIP submission deadline provided the opportunity for states to revise or supplement their prior submissions, as necessary or appropriate to meet subpart 4 requirements.

    9 For areas designated nonattainment after November 15, 1990, section 188(b)(1)(B) of the Act requires that EPA “reclassify appropriate areas within 18 months after the required date for the State's submission of a SIP for the Moderate Area.” Read together with section 189(a)(2)(B), which requires states to submit Moderate Area plans within 18 months after nonattainment designations, section 188(b)(1)(B) generally contemplates that EPA would reclassify appropriate areas as Serious nonattainment no later than 36 months (3 years) after initial nonattainment designations. Under these circumstances, the required Serious area attainment demonstration would normally be submitted no later than 7 years after initial designation (4 years after reclassification), which is 3 years before the latest permissible attainment date under CAA section 188(c)(2).

    Our proposal to require the State to submit the attainment demonstration and other attainment-related plan elements no later than three years after reclassification or by December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier, is supported by the overall structure and purpose of the attainment planning requirements in part D, title I of the Act. Section 188(b)(1) provides EPA with discretionary authority to reclassify an area as Serious nonattainment at any time before the applicable attainment date, based on a determination that the area cannot practicably attain the NAAQS by the Moderate area attainment date. Under normal circumstances, where EPA reclassifies an area within three years after its designation as nonattainment, as contemplated in CAA section 188(b)(1)(B),10 the required BACM provisions would be due no later than 18 months after reclassification (i.e., no later than 4.5 years after designation) and the required attainment demonstration would be due no later than four years after reclassification (i.e., no later than seven years after designation).11 In these circumstances, the Serious area attainment demonstration would be due at least three years before the outermost Serious area attainment date for the area,12 thus providing EPA with sufficient time to evaluate the submitted plan well in advance of the statutory attainment date. However, in situations such as this, where EPA reclassifies an area pursuant to its discretionary reclassification authority later than three years after the area's designation as nonattainment, it is appropriate for EPA to consider the outermost Serious area attainment date applicable to the area in setting a deadline for the State to submit the required elements of the Serious area attainment plan.

    10Id.

    11 CAA section 189(b)(2). By contrast, for an area that is reclassified as Serious by operation of law after the applicable attainment date, which may be as late as the end of the 6th year after the area's designation as nonattainment (CAA section 188(b)(1)), the state must submit both the BACM provisions and the Serious area attainment demonstration no later than 18 months after reclassification. Id.

    12 Under CAA section 188(c)(2), the latest permissible attainment date for a Serious PM2.5 nonattainment area is no later than the end of the tenth calendar year beginning after the area's designation as nonattainment.

    Upon reclassification as Serious, the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID PM2.5 nonattainment areas will be subject to a Serious area attainment date no later than December 31, 2019.13 Sections 189(b)(1)(A) and 189(c) of the Act require the State to submit a demonstration that the plan provides for attainment of the PM2.5 standard by this date, including quantitative milestones which are to be achieved every three years until the area is redesignated attainment and which demonstrate reasonable further progress toward attainment by this date. If EPA reclassifies the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID area effective in early 2016 and allows the State four years following reclassification (i.e., potentially until early 2020) to submit the attainment demonstration and related plan elements, these Serious area plan provisions would not be due until after the latest permissible statutory attainment date for the area (December 31, 2019) has come and gone. Thus, under such circumstances, allowing the maximum four-year timeframe for submission of the required attainment demonstration and related plan elements would frustrate the statutory design and severely constrain EPA's ability to ensure that the State is implementing the applicable statutory requirements in a timely manner.

    13Id.

    Therefore, it is appropriate for EPA to require Utah to submit the required attainment demonstration and other attainment-related plan elements no later than three years after final reclassification or by December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier, so that EPA has adequate time to review and act on the State's submission prior to the latest permissible attainment date for the area under section 188(c)(2), which is December 31, 2019. This timeframe for the required Serious area plan submissions is appropriate to assure consistency among the required submissions and to implement the statutory requirements in a timely manner.

    Finally, EPA proposes to require that the State submit revised NNSR program requirements no later than 18 months after final reclassification. The Act does not specify a deadline for the State's submission of SIP revisions to meet NNSR program requirements to lower the “major stationary source” threshold from 100 tons per year (tpy) to 70 tpy (CAA section 189(b)(3)) and to address the control requirements for major stationary sources of PM2.5 precursors (CAA section 189(e)) 14 following reclassification of a Moderate PM2.5 nonattainment area as Serious nonattainment under subpart 4. Pursuant to EPA's gap-filling authority in CAA section 301(a) and to effectuate the statutory control requirements in section 189 of the Act, EPA proposes to require the State to submit these NNSR SIP revisions, as well as any necessary analysis of and additional control requirements for major stationary sources of PM2.5 precursors, no later than 18 months after the effective date of final reclassification of the Salt Lake City, Provo, and Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID area as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 standard. This due date will ensure that necessary control requirements for major sources are established well in advance of the required attainment demonstration. An 18-month timeframe for submission of the NSR SIP revisions also aligns with the statutory deadline for submission of BACM and BACT provisions and the broader analysis of PM2.5 precursors for potential controls on existing sources in the area.

    14 Section 189(e) requires that the control requirements applicable to major stationary sources of PM2.5 also apply to major stationary sources of PM2.5 precursors, except where the state demonstrates to EPA's satisfaction that such sources do not contribute significantly to PM2.5 levels that exceed the standard in the area.

    V. Proposed Action

    Pursuant to CAA section 188(b)(1), EPA is proposing to reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID PM2.5 nonattainment areas as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 standard based on the Agency's determination that the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID areas cannot practicably attain the 2006 PM2.5 standard by the Moderate area attainment date of December 31, 2015. Upon final reclassification as a Serious nonattainment area, Utah will be required to submit, within 18 months after the effective date of reclassification, an updated emissions inventory, an optional precursor insignificance demonstration, and provisions to assure that BACM shall be implemented no later than four years after the effective date of reclassification. The due date for the remaining Serious area plan elements will be three years after the effective date of the final action or December 31, 2018, whichever is earlier, to reclassify the areas. The NNSR SIP revisions will be due 18 months following reclassification.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Additional information about these statutes and Executive Orders can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/laws-and-executive-orders.

    A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review, and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

    This action is not a significant regulatory action and was therefore not submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This action does not impose an information collection burden under the PRA because it does not contain any information collection activities.

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    I certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA. This action will not impose any requirements on small entities. This proposed rule would reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and would not itself regulate small entities.

    D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This action does not contain an unfunded mandate of $100 million or more as described in UMRA, and does not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. This proposed action would reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and would not itself impose any federal intergovernmental mandate. The proposed action would not require any tribes to submit implementation plans.

    E. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    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.

    F. Executive Order 13175: Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian 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.” “Policies that have Tribal implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and the Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian Tribes.”

    There are no Indian tribes located within the boundaries of the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. EPA concludes that the proposed reclassification would not have tribal implications for the purposes of Executive Order 13175.

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

    EPA interprets Executive Order 13045 as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern environmental health or safety risks that EPA has reason to believe disproportionately affect children, per the definition of “covered regulatory action” in section 2-202 of the Executive Order. This proposed action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it would only reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, triggering Serious area planning requirements under the CAA. This proposed action does not establish an environmental standard intended to mitigate health or safety risks.

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

    This proposed action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

    I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    This rulemaking does not involve technical standards.

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

    EPA has determined that this action will not have potential disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority or low-income populations because it does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment. This proposed action would only reclassify the Salt Lake City, Provo, and the Logan portion of the Logan, UT/ID nonattainment areas as Serious nonattainment for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, triggering additional Serious area planning requirements under the CAA.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 81

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Intergovernmental relations, Incorporation by reference, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organization compounds.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: October 27, 2015. Shaun L. McGrath, Regional Administrator, Region 8.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28359 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Parts 401, 403, and 404 [USCG-2015-0497; 1625-AC22] Great Lakes Pilotage Rates—2016 Annual Review and Changes to Methodology AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking; extension of public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is extending, for 30 days, the period for submitting public comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The extension responds to a request made by several members of the public.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the NPRM published on September 10, 2015 (80 FR 54484) is extended. Comments and related material must be submitted to the docket by December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2015-0497 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. Todd Haviland, Director, Great Lakes Pilotage, Commandant (CG-WWM-2), Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-2037, email [email protected], or fax 202-372-1914.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A. Public Participation and 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

    We published the NPRM for this rulemaking on September 10, 2015 (80 FR 54484). It proposed changes to the methodology by which the Coast Guard reviews and adjusts rates for Great Lakes pilotage, and also proposed rates for the 2016 shipping season. The NPRM announced a 60 day public comment period ending November 9, 2015. We have received a request from several members of the public for an extension of the comment period, which we have decided to grant in light of the importance of our proposed changes to the ratemaking methodology. With this extension, the total length of the public comment period will now be 90 days.

    This notice is issued under authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a).

    November 5, 2015. Gary C. Rasicot, Director, Marine Transportation Systems, U.S. Coast Guard.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28590 Filed 11-5-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 150903814-5814-01] RIN 0648-XE171 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2016-2018 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed specifications; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes specifications for the 2016-2018 summer flounder and scup fisheries and for the 2016-2017 black sea bass fishery. The implementing regulations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public comment. This action is intended to propose for implementation specifications necessary to constrain harvest for these three species within scientifically sound recommendations to prevent overfishing.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared for the specifications and describes the proposed action and other considered alternatives, and provides an analysis of the impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of the Specifications Document, including the EA and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. These documents are also accessible via the Internet at http://www.mafmc.org.

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0117, by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0117,

    2. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields

    3. Enter or attach your comments.

    -OR-

    Mail: Submit written comments to John Bullard, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01950. Mark the outside of the envelope, “Comments on the Proposed Rule for FSB Specifications.”

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281-9218.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    General Specification Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. Fishery specifications in these fisheries include various catch and landing subdivisions, such as the commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and sector-specific landing limits (i.e., the commercial fishery quota and recreational harvest limit) for the upcoming fishing year. Rulemaking for measures used to manage the recreational fisheries (minimum fish sizes, open seasons, and bag limits) for these three species occurs separately and typically takes place in the spring of each year.

    The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its implementing regulations establish the Council's process for establishing specifications. The management units specified in the FMP include summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the southern border of North Carolina northward to the U.S./Canada border, and scup (Stenotomus chrysops) and black sea bass (Centropristis striata) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from 35° 13.3' N. lat. (the latitude of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, NC) northward to the U.S./Canada border. The FMP also contains formulas to divide the specification catch limits into commercial and recreational fishery allocations, state-by-state quotas, and quota periods, depending on the species in question.

    The Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met July 22-23, 2015, to recommend acceptable biological catches (ABC) for the 2016-2018 these fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committees met July 23-24, 2015, to discuss specification-related recommendations for the three fisheries, to recommend offsets from the ACL to account for management uncertainty, and to discuss commercial management measure recommendations, as appropriate. Note, because of a planned black sea bass benchmark stock assessment scheduled for late 2016, the SSC only recommended interim ABCs for 2016 and 2017. More details on the SSC's discussions are provided in the fishery-specific sections below.

    Following the SSC and Monitoring Committee meetings, the Council and the Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board met jointly on August 12, 2015, to consider the recommendations of the SSC, the three Monitoring Committees, and public comments, and to make their specification recommendations. The SSC and the Council met subsequently to reconsider the black sea bass recommendations. More complete details on the SSC, Monitoring Committee, and Council meeting deliberations can be found on the Council's Web site (www.mafmc.org).

    While the Board action was finalized at the August meeting, the Council's recommendations must be reviewed by NMFS to ensure that they comply with the FMP and applicable law. NMFS also must conduct notice-and-comment rulemaking to propose and implement the final specifications.

    Table 1—Summary of the Proposed 2016-2018 Summer Flounder and Scup Specifications and 2016-2017 Black Sea Bass Specifications Summer flounder 2016 2017 2018 Scup 2016 2017 2018 Black sea bass 2016-2017 Overfishing Limit (OFL) million lb 18.06 19.82 22.40 35.80 32.09 29.68 n/a mt 8,194 8,991 10,159 16,238 14,556 13,464 n/a ABC million lb 16.26 15.86 15.68 31.11 28.40 27.05 6.67 mt 7,375 7,193 7,111 14,110 12,881 12,270 3,024 Commercial ACL/ACT million lb 9.42 9.19 9.10 24.26 22.15 21.10 3.15 mt 4,275 4,168 4,127 11,006 10,047 9,571 1,428 Recreational ACL/ACT million lb 6.83 6.67 6.56 6.84 6.25 5.95 3.52 mt 3,100 3,025 2,984 3,104 2,834 2,699 1,597 Commercial Quota million lb 8.12 7.91 7.89 20.47 18.38 17.34 2.71 mt 3,685 3,590 3,581 9,284 8,337 7,866 1,230 Recreational Harvest Limit million lb 5.42 5.28 5.26 6.09 5.50 5.21 2.82 mt 2,457 2,393 2,387 2,763 2,495 2,361 1,280

    Consistent with the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass regulations, the sum of the recreational and commercial sector ACLs are equal to the ABCs. ACL is an expression of total catch (i.e., landings and dead discarded fish). To derive the ACLs, the sum of the sector-specific projected discards are removed from the ABCs to derive the landing allowances. The resulting landing allowance is apportioned to the commercial and recreational sectors by applying the FMP allocation criteria: (1) Summer flounder—60 percent to the commercial fishery and 40 percent to the recreational fishery; (2) scup—78 percent to the commercial fishery and 22 percent to the recreational fishery; and (3) black sea bass—49 percent to the commercial fishery and 51 percent to the recreational fishery. Using this method ensures that each sector is accountable for its respective discards, rather than simply apportioning the ABC by the allocation percentages to derive the sector ACLs. Although the derived ACLs are not split exactly according to the FMP-specified allocations, the landing portions of the ACLs preserve the appropriate allocation split, consistent with the FMP. This process results in the commercial and recreational ACLs, commercial quotas, and recreational harvest limits shown in Table 1. The specific discard values projected for each fishery and sector are described in more detail below.

    Proposed Specifications Summer Flounder

    This rulemaking proposes the Council's ABC recommendation and the commercial and recreational catch limits associated with that ABC for fishing years 2016-2018.

    The 2015 stock assessment update used to established these specifications was based on the approved model from the 2013 benchmark assessment, updated to include data through 2014 (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1513/crd1513.pdf). The assessment update indicates that summer flounder are not overfished, but that overfishing did occur in 2014. The stock status change was primarily due to four years of below average recruitment, leading to fewer summer flounder being available to the fishery than had previously been predicted.

    The OFL for 2016 was estimated to be 18.06 million lb (8,194 mt), a reduction of 33 percent from 2015. At the request of the Council, the SSC deviated from the standard Risk Policy and ABC Control Rule and recommended ABCs that “phase in” the required reduction in order to minimize the economic impact that such a reduction in a single year's catch limits would cause. Using the standard ABC Control Rule, the 2016 ABC would have been 30 percent below the OFL to account for scientific uncertainty. As proposed, this 30-percent buffer would be phased-in over the next three years by increasing the buffer by a third in each year. That is, a 10-buffer in 2016, a 20-percent buffer in 2017, and, finally, the full 30-percent buffer in 2018. Each of the ABCs derived from this approach have a less than 50-percent probability of resulting in overfishing. This results in relatively stable specifications because the current projections indicate a modest increase in the OFL over these three years. The SSC has requested a stock assessment update for next summer and intends to evaluate the available information to determine if the proposed ABCs remain appropriate.

    The Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee met to discuss the SSC's recommendations and to determine whether additional reductions in the catch limits were necessary to account for management uncertainty. Because the recreational fishery in recent years has not substantially exceeded the recreational harvest limit, discards in the commercial fishery have been relatively low, and the commercial landings monitoring and fishery closure system is timely, the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee determined that no additional reductions to account for management uncertainty were necessary. Therefore, it was recommended that the ACT (both commercial and recreational) should be set equal to ACL for all three years. Removing the estimated discards results in the commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits shown below in Table 2.

    Table 2—Proposed 2016-2018 Summer Flounder Specifications and Calculations 2015 (current) million lb mt 2016 million lb mt 2017 million lb mt 2018 million lb mt OFL 27.06 12,275 18.06 8,194 19.82 8,991 22.4 10,159 ABC 22.77 10,329 16.26 7,375 15.86 7,193 15.7 7,111 ABC Landings Portion 18.45 8,368 13.54 6,142 13.19 5,983 13.2 5,968 ABC Discards Portion 4.32 1,961 2.72 1,233 2.67 1,210 2.52 1,143 Commercial ACL 13.34 6,049 9.43 4,275 9.19 4,168 9.1 4,127 Commercial ACT 13.34 6,049 9.43 4,275 9.19 4,168 9.1 4,127 Projected Commercial Discards 2.27 1,028 1.30 590 1.28 579 1.21 547 Commercial Quota 11.07 5,021 8.12 3,685 7.91 3,590 7.89 3,581 Recreational ACL 9.44 4,280 6.84 3,100 6.67 3,025 6.58 2,984 Recreational ACT 9.44 4,280 6.84 3,100 6.67 3,025 6.58 2,984 Projected Recreational Discards 2.06 933 1.42 643 1.39 631 1.32 596 Recreational Harvest Limit 7.38 3,347 5.42 2,457 5.28 2,393 5.26 2,387

    The Council and Board considered the SSC and Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee recommendations before concurring with the catch recommendations specified in Table 2. Fishing under these catch limits for 2016 through 2018 is not expected to compromise the summer flounder stock, nor will fishing at this level present a unacceptably high likelihood of overfishing. The Council recommended all other commercial management measures remain status quo.

    Table 3 presents the proposed state allocations for 2016-2018 using the commercial state quota allocations described in the FMP. Any commercial quota adjustments to account for overages will be published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the respective fishing year. The final rule for this action will include any necessary quota overage reductions for fishing year 2016.

    Table 3—2016-2018 Proposed Initial Summer Flounder State Commercial Quotas State FMP percent share 2016 initial quota lb kg 2017 initial quota lb kg 2018 initial quota lb kg ME 0.04756 3,864 1,753 3,764 1,707 3,755 1,703 NH 0.00046 37 17 36 17 36 16 MA 6.82046 554,097 251,334 539,812 244,854 538,459 244,240 RI 15.68298 1,274,091 577,917 1,241,244 563,019 1,238,133 561,607 CT 2.25708 183,366 83,173 178,639 81,029 178,191 80,826 NY 7.64699 621,244 281,791 605,228 274,527 603,711 273,838 NJ 16.72499 1,358,744 616,315 1,323,715 600,427 1,320,397 598,921 DE 0.01779 1,445 656 1,408 639 1,404 637 MD 2.0391 165,657 75,141 161,387 73,204 160,982 73,020 VA 21.31676 1,731,781 785,522 1,687,135 765,271 1,682,906 763,353 NC 27.44584 2,229,709 1,011,378 2,172,227 985,305 2,166,781 982,835 Total 100 8,124,035 3,684,997 7,914,596 3,589,997 7,894,754 3,580,997 Note: Kilograms are as converted from pounds and do not sum to the converted total due to rounding. Rounding of quotas results in totals slightly exceeding 100 percent. Scup

    This rule proposes the Council's ABC recommendation and the commercial and recreational catch limits associated with that ABC for fishing years 2016-2018.

    The SSC reviewed the results of the 2015 scup benchmark stock assessment and determined that an update to the existing control rule was warranted. The SSC determined that a lower coefficient of variation, or CV, to estimate scientific uncertainty was acceptable for the scup stock assessment instead of the default 100-percent CV. The SSC's ABC recommendations are based on a 60-percent CV from the OFL and are, therefore, higher than they would have otherwise been. In addition, the 2016 ABC is based on an assumption that only 75 percent of the 2015 ABC would be harvested, consistent with recent fishery performance. The stock assessment upon which the specifications are based indicates that scup biomass is currently lower than in recent years, but still more than double the biomass target. Therefore, the proposed catch limits are lower than the specifications for fishing year 2015, but are still relatively high compared to recent landings.

    The Scup Monitoring Committee met to discuss the SSC's recommendations and to determine whether additional reductions in the catch limits were necessary to account for management uncertainty. Because both the recreational and commercial fisheries have not reached their respective landings limits because of the very high quotas, and the landings monitoring and fishery closure system is timely, the Monitoring Committee determined that no additional reductions to account for management uncertainty were necessary. Therefore, it was recommended that the ACTs (both commercial and recreational) should be set equal to the respective ACLs for fishing years 2016-2018. The Council and Board considered the SSC and Scup Monitoring Committee recommendations before concurring with the catch recommendations specified in Table 2. Fishing under these catch limits for 2016 through 2018 is not expected to compromise the scup stock, nor will fishing at this level present an unacceptably high likelihood of overfishing. The Council recommended all other commercial management measures remain status quo. After deducting the appropriate sector-specific discards, the 2016-2018 commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits would be as described below in Table 4.

    Table 4—Proposed Scup Specifications 2015 (current) mil lb mt 2016 mil lb mt 2017 mil lb mt 2018 mil lb mt OFL 47.8 21,680 35.8 16,238 32.09 14,556 29.7 13,464 ABC 33.77 15,320 31.11 14,110 28.4 12,881 27.1 12,270 ABC Landings Portion 28.03 12,716 26.56 12,047 23.88 10,832 22.6 10,227 ABC Discards Portion 5.74 2,604 4.55 2,063 4.52 2,049 4.5 2,043 Commercial ACL 26.34 11,950 24.26 11,006 22.15 10,047 21.1 9,571 Commercial ACT 26.34 11,950 24.26 11,006 22.15 10,047 21.1 9,571 Projected Commercial Discards 5.11 2,318 3.8 1,721 3.77 1,710 3.76 1,705 Commercial Quota 21.23 9,632 20.47 9,284 18.38 8,337 17.3 7,866 Recreational ACL 7.92 3,592 6.84 3,104 6.25 2,834 5.95 2,699 Recreational ACT 7.92 3,592 6.84 3,104 6.25 2,834 5.95 2,699 Projected Recreational Discards 0.67 304 0.75 342 0.75 339 0.75 338 Recreational Harvest Limit 6.8 3,288 6.09 2,763 5.5 2,495 5.21 2,361

    The scup commercial quota is divided into three commercial fishery quota periods: Winter I; Summer; and Winter II. This rule proposes commercial scup quotas for these three periods for 2016-2018, consistent with the allocation structure of the FMP. If there is a commercial overage applicable to the 2016 scup commercial quota, notice of that overage will be included in the final rule for this action. Commercial overages applicable to fishing years 2017 and 2018 will be provided in a Federal Register notice published prior to the start of the fishing year. The period quotas are detailed in Table 5. Unused Winter I quota may be carried over for use in the Winter II period.

    Table 5—Proposed Commercial Scup Quota Allocations for 2016-2018 by Quota Period Quota period Percent share 2016 Initial quota lb mt 2017 Initial quota lb mt 2018 Initial quota lb mt Winter I 45.11 9,232,987 4,188 8,291,190 3,761 7,822,778 3,548 Summer 38.95 7,972,176 3,616 7,158,986 3,247 6,754,538 3,064 Winter II 15.94 3,262,554 1,480 2,929,762 1,329 2,764,245 1,254 Total 100.0 20,467,716 9,284 18,379,939 8,337 17,341,562 7,866 Note: Metric tons are as converted from pounds and may not necessarily total due to rounding.

    The Winter I possession limit will be reduced to 1,000 lb (454 kg) when 80 percent of that period's allocation has been landed. The Winter II possession limit may be adjusted (in association with a transfer of unused Winter I quota to the Winter II period) via notification in the Federal Register.

    Table 6—Initial Commercial Scup Possession Limits by Quota Period Quota period Percent share Federal possession limits (per trip) lb kg Winter I 45.11 50,000 22,680 Summer 38.95 N/A N/A Winter II 15.94 12,000 5,443 Total 100.0 N/A N/A Black Sea Bass

    This rule proposes the Council's revised ABC recommendation and the commercial and recreational catch limits associated with that ABC for fishing years 2016 and 2017.

    Black sea bass remains a data-poor stock, with relatively high uncertainty for the purposes of calculating ABC. The SSC rejected the OFL estimate provided from the 2011 stock assessment, stating that it was highly uncertain and not sufficiently reliable to use as the basis of management advice. In 2012, the SSC recommended an ABC of 4.50 million lb (2,041 mt). The Council tasked the SSC to revisit this recommendation in January 2013. The SSC revised its recommendation for fishing years 2013 and 2014 and recommended an ABC of 5.50 million lb (2,494 mt). This ABC and the corresponding specifications were implemented in June 2013 and were carried forward into fishing year 2015. At the July 2015 meeting, the SSC made an interim recommendation that would continue this ABC into fishing years 2016-2017. No recommendation was made for 2018. A benchmark stock assessment for black sea bass is scheduled to occur in 2016 and the Council and the SSC will use this information to recommend a 2018 ABC.

    A very large year class from 2011 has been prevalent throughout the fishery for the past several years, making it difficult to avoid black sea bass and leading to increasingly restrictive management measures. The SSC reviewed additional information at its September 16, 2015, meeting on setting catch recommendations for data poor stocks with no reliable overfishing limit estimate available (i.e., ABC Control Rule Level IV). This is intended to replace the default constant catch approach the SSC has used for data-poor stocks. The SSC determined that the average of four of the Data-Limited Modeling Approaches that were evaluated was a more scientifically robust approach to setting catch advice. This approach resulted in the SSC revising its black sea bass ABC recommendation for 2016 and 2017 to 6.67 million lb (3,024 mt). The Council discussed the revised SSC recommendation at its October 7, 2015, meeting, notifying NMFS in a letter dated October 14, 2015. The Commission's Black Sea Bass Board will review this recommendation in November.

    The Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee met in July 2015 to discuss the SSC's interim recommendation and to determine if additional reductions in the catch limits were necessary to account for management uncertainty. The Monitoring Committee determined that no additional reductions to account for management uncertainty were necessary because the commercial management program is timely, and management uncertainty will be more explicitly accounted for in the recreational management measures process. Therefore, it was recommended that the ACTs (both commercial and recreational) should be set equal to their respective ACL for fishing years 2016 and 2017. The Monitoring Committee discussed the revised ABC recommendation via email prior to the Council's discussion. The Monitoring Committee determined that the rationale for the prior recommendation was also applicable to the revised specifications. As such, the Council is recommending, and this rule proposes, that the ACT be set equal to the ACL for both sectors in both years.

    The Council recommended that all other commercial management measures remain at the status quo. This rule proposes the revised specifications shown in Table 7, as recommended by the Council and consistent with the SSC's recommendations. Preliminary data indicate that a commercial quota overage occurred in 2014. There may also have been more discards than projected, resulting in an additional overage of the ACL, potentially triggering an additional accountability measure. Any overage of the ACL beyond the landings overage will be deducted from the 2016 ACT. The 2014 commercial quota overage amount, in pounds, will be deducted from the 2016 quota when the final accounting is completed. Commercial overages applicable to fishing year 2017 will be provided in a Federal Register notice prior to the start of the fishing year.

    Table 7—Proposed Black Sea Bass 2016-2017 Specifications 2015 (current) million lb mt 2016 and 2017 million lb mt ABC 5.50 2,494 6.67 3,024 ABC Landings Portion 4.56 2,070 5.53 2,510 ABC Discards Portion 0.93 424 1.13 514 Commercial ACL 2.60 1,180 3.15 1,428 Commercial ACT 2.58 1,170 3.15 1,428 Projected Commercial Discards 0.37 166 0.44 198 Commercial Quota 2.21 1,004 2.71 1,230 Recreational ACL 2.90 1,314 3.52 1,597 Recreational ACT 2.90 1,314 3.52 1,597 Projected Recreational Discards 0.57 258 0.70 317 Recreational Harvest Limit 2.33 1,056 2.82 1,280 Note: An accountability measure was implemented for fishing year 2015 because of a prior year's commercial fishery overage. Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    These proposed specifications are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    An IRFA was prepared by the Council, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), to examine the impacts of these proposed specifications on small business entities, if adopted. A description of the specifications, why they are being considered, and the legal basis for proposing and implementing specifications for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are contained in the preamble to this proposed rule. A copy of the detailed RFA analysis is available from NMFS or the Council (see ADDRESSES). The Council's analysis made use of quantitative approaches when possible. Where quantitative data on revenues or other business-related metrics that would provide insight to potential impacts were not available to inform the analyses, qualitative analyses were conducted. A summary of the 2016-2018 specifications RFA analysis follows.

    Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency is Being Considered, and a Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule

    This action proposes management measures, including annual catch limits, for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries in order to prevent overfishing and achieve optimum yield in the fishery. A complete description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the specifications document, and elsewhere in the preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here.

    Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rule Would Apply

    The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one that is independently owned and operated; not dominant in its field of operation; has annual receipts that do not exceed $20.5 million in the case of commercial finfish harvesting entities (NAIC 114111), $5.5 million in the case of commercial shellfish harvesting entities (NAIC 114112), $7.5 million in the case of for-hire fishing entities (NAIC 114119); or has fewer than 500 employees in the case of fish processors or 100 employees in the case of fish dealers. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.

    This proposed rule affects commercial and recreational fish harvesting entities engaged in the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. Individually-permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different FMPs, even beyond those impacted by the proposed action. Furthermore, multiple-permitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic dependency. For the purposes of the RFA analysis, the ownership entities, not the individual vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities.

    Ownership entities are defined as those entities with common ownership personnel as listed on the permit application. Only permits with identical ownership personnel are categorized as an ownership entity. For example, if five permits have the same seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit applications, those seven persons would form one ownership entity that holds those five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own additional vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a separate ownership entity for the purpose of this analysis.

    In preparation for this action, ownership entities are identified based on a list of all permits for the most recent complete calendar year. The current ownership data set used for this analysis is based on calendar year 2014 and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2012 through 2014. In addition to classifying a business (ownership entity) as small or large, a business can also be classified by its primary source of revenue. A business is defined as being primarily engaged in fishing for finfish if it obtains greater than 50 percent of its gross sales from sales of finfish. Similarly, a business is defined as being primarily engaged in fishing for shellfish if it obtains greater than 50 percent of its gross sales from sales of shellfish.

    A description of the specific permits that are likely to be impacted by this action is provided below, along with a discussion of the impacted businesses, which can include multiple vessels and/or permit types.

    The ownership database shows that for the 2012-2014 period, 485 affiliate firms held a summer flounder commercial permit and 547 affiliate firms held a summer flounder party/charter permit; 446 affiliate firms held a scup commercial permit and 491 affiliate firms held a scup party/charter permit; and 491 affiliate firms held a black sea bass commercial permit and 533 affiliate firms held a black sea bass party/charter permit. However, not all of those affiliate firms are active participants in the fishery. According to the ownership database, 960 affiliate firms landed summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass during the 2012-2014 period, with 952 of those business affiliates categorized as small business and 8 categorized as large business.

    Description of the Projected Reporting, Record-Keeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of This Proposed Rule

    There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained in any of the alternatives considered for this action.

    Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This Proposed Rule

    NMFS is not aware of any relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

    Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities

    The Council analyzed four sets of combined catch limit alternatives for each of the fishing years 2016-2018 for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The 2018 fishing year analysis is based on summer flounder and scup only because there was no recommendation for black sea bass. The alternatives were as follows:

    • Alternative 1 was the Council's originally preferred alternative, and was consistent with the SSC's interim advice;

    • Alternative 2 is the status quo and would maintain the current specifications in effect;

    • Alternative 3 is an alternative provided for analytical purposes as the “most restrictive” set of landings limits, based on the lowest landings limits in the time series for each stock; and

    • Alternative 4 is the counter-point to Alternative 3 as the “least restrictive” or highest landings limits in the time series.

    This analysis was completed using the Council's interim recommendation for the black sea bass specifications. The specifications proposed in this action are different than Alternative 1, as described in the Council's specifications document and IRFA. The proposed specifications represent an increase in the 2016 and 2017 commercial quotas to 2.71 million lb (1,230 mt) and recreational harvest limits of 2.82 million lb (1,280 mt). These are 21 percent higher than the previously preferred alternative (Alternative 1), and 33 percent lower than the “least restrictive” alternative (Alternative 4). The impacts from the proposed catch limits fall within the range that has been analyzed and are more fully described here. The discussion below is based on the conclusions of the RFA analyses in the draft specifications document provided by the Council, modified to account for the revised black sea bass recommendation.

    Table 8—Summary of Landings Limits by Alternative Year Alternative Species Commercial quota Recreational harvest limit 2016 Proposed Summer Flounder 8.12 5.42 Scup 20.47 6.09 Black Sea Bass 2.71 2.82 Alternative 1 (Preferred) Summer Flounder 8.12 5.42 Scup 20.47 6.09 Black Sea Bass 2.24 2.33 Alternative 2 (Status quo) Summer Flounder 11.07 7.38 Scup 21.23 6.80 Black Sea Bass 2.21 2.33 Alternative 3 (Most Restrictive) Summer Flounder 6.30 4.20 Scup 2.53 1.24 Black Sea Bass 1.13 1.17 Alternative 4 (Least Restrictive) Summer Flounder 18.18 12.12 Scup 28.35 8.57 Black Sea Bass 4.02 4.18 2017 Proposed Summer Flounder 7.91 5.28 Scup 18.38 5.50 Black Sea Bass 2.71 2.82 Alternative 1 (Preferred) Summer Flounder 7.91 5.28 Scup 18.38 5.50 Black Sea Bass 2.24 2.33 Alternative 2 (Status quo) Summer Flounder 11.07 7.38 Scup 21.23 6.80 Black Sea Bass 2.21 2.33 Alternative 3 (Most Restrictive) Summer Flounder 6.30 4.20 Scup 2.53 1.24 Black Sea Bass 1.13 1.17 Alternative 4 (Least Restrictive) Summer Flounder 18.18 12.12 Scup 28.35 8.57 Black Sea Bass 4.02 4.18 2018 Alternative 1 (Preferred; Proposed) Summer Flounder 7.89 5.26 Scup 17.34 5.21 Alternative 2 (Status quo) Summer Flounder 11.07 7.38 Scup 21.23 6.80 Alternative 3 (Most Restrictive) Summer Flounder 6.30 4.20 Scup 2.53 1.24 Alternative 4 (Least Restrictive) Summer Flounder 18.18 12.12 Scup 28.35 8.57 Commercial Fishery Impacts

    It is expected that varying levels of negative economic impacts on the three fisheries may occur from the proposed specifications. The summer flounder fishery is expected to experience the largest negative impact, because of the 20-percent decrease in available quota in 2016. This represents an approximately $8.1-million decrease in ex-vessel summer flounder revenue across the fleet. However, some of this impact may be offset for some firms if the price of summer flounder increases because of lower availability. This decrease is not distributed uniformly across each participating vessel because each business is not equally dependent on summer flounder. The Council's analysis shows that 228 out of the 952 small business entities are likely to be faced with revenue reductions of 5 percent or more because of Alternative 1. Of these, 40 percent had gross sales of $10,000 or less, suggesting dependence on fishing for some of these firms is very small. If the revenue impacts were distributed equally across the active firms (i.e., those business entities who vessel or vessels landed summer flounder between 2012 and 2014), the proposed specifications would result in a $11,877-decrease per firm in 2016 compared to 2015.

    The 2016-2018 proposed scup commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits under the proposed alternative are lower than the quotas implemented in 2015; however, they are higher than the 2014 commercial and recreational landings. Unless market conditions change substantially in coming years, it is expected that commercial and recreational landings will likely be close to the 2014 landings. There is no indication that the market environment for commercially and recreationally caught scup will change considerably in fishing years 2016-2018. Therefore, there are no expected negative impacts from the proposed scup quotas, even though they are lower than those of the previous year.

    The 2016-2017 proposed black sea bass commercial quotas are increases from 2015. Relative to the status quo catch levels, the proposed black sea bass quotas could result in slightly positive impacts for the commercial fishery. The status quo specifications would result in a $0.1-million increase, in revenue, fleet-wide, for the commercial black sea bass fishery, or $134 per business entity if distributed equally. The least restrictive alternative (Alternative 4) would result in a $5.9-million increase in revenues ($7,930 per business entity, if distributed equally). The proposed commercial quota is approximately 13 percent higher than 2014 landings. Assuming the 2014 ex-vessel price for black sea bass ($3.24/lb), the proposed commercial quota represents a potential increase of $1.5 million in fleet-wide revenues, or approximately $2,000 per business entity if distributed equally. The proposed alternative has slightly more positive economic impacts than the status quo catch limits and is consistent with the SSC's revised recommendation.

    Recreational Fishery Impacts

    While the proposed specifications would establish recreational harvest limits for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass, the management measure details for recreational fisheries will be developed by the Council separately for each fishing year, followed by NMFS rulemaking in the spring of that year. A comprehensive analysis of the impacts associated with the recommended recreational management measures will be provided to NMFS from the Council to support these activities. If recreational landings for these three species are the same in 2016-2018 as in recent years, the recreational harvest limits proposed would likely constrain recreational landings for summer flounder and black sea bass, but not likely for scup. As such, it is likely that more restrictive limits (i.e., lower possession limits, higher minimum size limits, and/or shorter open seasons) will be required for summer flounder and black sea bass. This will likely have some negative economic impacts, particularly for the summer flounder fishery. Increasing the recreational harvest limit for black sea bass would allow the measures to be restricted less than if the status quo recreational harvest limit is maintained, although only slightly. Specific recreational management measures (for all three species) will be determined when more complete data regarding recreational landings are available.

    Summary

    The Council selected Alternative 1 (preferred) over Alternative 2 (status quo), Alternative 3 (most restrictive), and Alternative 4 (least restrictive) stating that the Alternative 1 measures were consistent with the advice provided to the Council by its SSC and monitoring committees and would have less negative economic impacts than the most restrictive alternatives. The status quo and least restrictive alternatives (Alternatives 2 and 4, respectively) would have less economic impact than the preferred alternative, but not satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements to ensure fish stocks are not subject to overfishing. NMFS agrees with the Council's IRFA analysis and rationale for recommending these catch limits. As such, NMFS is proposing to implement the Council's preferred ABCs, ACLs, ACTs, commercial quotas, and recreational harvest limits, as revised, presented in Table 1 of this proposed rule's preamble.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28444 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 216 Monday, November 9, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Business-Cooperative Service Notice of Request for Extension of Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY:

    Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Proposed collection; comments requested.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Business-Cooperative Service's (RBS) intention to request an extension for a currently approved information collection in support of the program for 7 CFR part 4284, subpart K, Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Centers.

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by January 8, 2016 to be considered.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chad Parker, Deputy Administrator, Cooperative Programs, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 3250, Room 5813-South, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-3250. Telephone: (202) 720-7558, Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Agriculture Innovation Centers.

    OMB Number: 0570-0045.

    Expiration Date of Approval: March 31, 2016.

    Type of Request: Extension of currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: Agriculture Innovation Center applicants must provide required information to demonstrate eligibility for the program and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Grantees are required to provide progress reports for the duration of the grant agreement to ensure continued compliance and to measure the success of the program.

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection is estimated to average 4.38 hours per response.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 1.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 13.

    Estimated Number of Responses: 13.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 57 hours.

    Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, (202) 692-0040.

    Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of RBS, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden to collect the required information, including the validity of the strategy used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments on the paperwork burden may be sent to Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 0742, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0742. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for the Office of Management and Budget's approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: October 23, 2015. Samuel H. Rikkers, Acting Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28443 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XY-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: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

    Title: Baldrige Executive Fellows Program.

    OMB Control Number: None.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: New collection.

    Number of Respondents: 12.

    Average Hours per Response: 1 hour.

    Burden Hours: 12.

    Needs and Uses: Collection needed to obtain information to select applicants for the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program.

    Affected Public: Business, health care, education, or other for-profit organizations; health care, education, and other nonprofit organizations; and individuals.

    Frequency: Annual.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    This information collection request may be viewed at 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 [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28410 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-13-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: 2016 Census Test.

    OMB Control Number: 0607-XXXX.

    Form Number(s):

    Questionnaire DF-1(ES) DF-1(EC) DF-1(EK) Instruction Card DF-33(ES) DF-33(EC) DF-33(EK) Questionnaire Cover Letters DF-16(L2)(ES) DF-16(L2)(EC) DF-16(L2)(EK) DF-16(L4)(ES) DF-16(L4)(EC) DF-16(L4)(EK) DF-17(L2)(ES) DF-17(L2)(EC) DF-17(L2)(EK) Postcards/Reminder Letter DF-9L(ES) DF-9B(ES) DF-9B(EC) DF-9B(EK) DF-9(2B)(ES) DF-9(2B)(EC) DF-9(2B)(EK) DF-9C(ES) DF-9C(EC) DF-9C(EK) DF-9(2C)(ES) DF-9(2C)(EC) DF-9(2C)(EK) DF-9(AR)(1) Languages Brochures DF-12 DF-14 Information Insert DF-17(TQA) DF-17I(ES) DF-17I(EC) DF-17I(EK) Envelopes DF-6A(1)(IN)(ES) DF-6A(IN)(ES) DF-6U(IN) DF-6U(1)(IN) DF-8A(ES) DF-8A(EC) DF-8A(EK) DF-5(ES) Field Materials DF-26B DF-28(ES) DF-28(EC) DF-28(EK) Internet Instrument Spec COMPASS (NRFU/QA RI) Spec Reinterview Instrument Spec (Coverage)

    Type of Request: New Collection.

    Number of Respondents: 412,348.

    Average Hours per Response: 0.2.

    Burden Hours: 68,954.

    Estimated burden hours for 2016 Census Test:

    Type of respondent/operation Estimated
  • number of respondents
  • Estimated time per response
  • (minutes)
  • Estimated total annual burden hours
    Self Response 250,000 10 41,667 NRFU 120,000 10 20,000 NRFU Quality Control Reinterview 12,000 10 2,000 Non-ID Manual Processing—phone followup 400 5 33 Coverage Reinterview 24,500 10 4,084 Non-ID Response Validation 5,000 10 834 Focus Group Selection Contacts 288 3 15 Focus Group Participants 160 120 320 Totals 412,348 68,954

    Needs and Uses: During the years preceding the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is pursuing its commitment to reduce the cost of conducting the census while maintaining the quality of the results. A primary decennial census cost driver is the collection of data in person from addresses for which the Census Bureau received no reply via initially offered response options. We refer to these as nonresponse cases, and the efforts we make to collect data from these cases as the Nonresponse Followup, or NRFU, operation.

    The 2016 Census Test will allow the Census Bureau to build upon past tests, to refine our plans and methods associated with the reengineered field operations for the NRFU operation of the Census. Namely, this test will allow us to:

    • Test refinements to the ratios of field enumerators to field supervisors.

    • Test refinements to our enhanced operational control system, including the way we assign work to field staff, and how those assignments are routed.

    • Test alternatives to government furnished equipment for data collection, such as enumerator use of personally owned devices (sometimes known as Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD), or devices provided by a private company as part of a contract for wireless service (sometimes known as Device As A Service).

    • Test refinements to our use of administrative records to reduce the NRFU workload.

    • Test new methods of conducting NRFU quality control reinterviews.

    Increasing the number of people who take advantage of self response options (such as responding online, completing a paper questionnaire and mailing it back to the Census Bureau, or responding via telephone) can contribute to a less costly census. The Census Bureau has committed to using the Internet as a primary response option in the 2020 Census, and we are studying ways to offer and promote this option to respondents. In addition to increasing and optimizing self response through the Internet, the Census Bureau plans to test the impacts of providing additional materials to respondents as part of their first mailing along with a letter invitation. One example of additional material is an insert to be included for traditionally hard-to-count populations. We will also test a tailored envelope treatment to determine whether this represents an effective way to encourage and support self response for respondents who speak languages other than English. We also will continue to study the option of allowing people to respond on the Internet without having or using a unique identification code previously supplied by the Census Bureau. Each of these will be discussed in more detail in subsequent sections of this supporting statement.

    2016 Census Test—Los Angeles County (Part), California and Harris County (Part), Texas

    The areas within Los Angeles County (part), California and Harris County (part), Texas were chosen based on a variety of characteristics—including language diversity, demographic diversity, varying levels of Internet usage, large metropolitan areas and high vacancy rates. These characteristics can help the Census Bureau refine its operational plans for the 2020 Census by testing operational procedures on traditionally hard-to-count populations. The tests will allow for our continued development of providing additional ways for the population to respond to the once-a-decade census, as well as more cost-effective ways for census takers to follow up with households that fail to respond.

    Los Angeles County (part), California, places and census designated places (CDP) Alhambra city Los Angeles city Montebello city Monterey Park city Pasadena city Rosemead city San Gabriel city San Marino city South El Monte city South Pasadena city Temple City city East Los Angeles CDP East Pasadena CDP East San Gabriel CDP San Pasqual CDP South San Gabriel CDP Harris County (part), Texas, places Bunker Hill Village city Hedwig Village city Hilshire Village city Houston city Hunters Creek Village city Jersey Village city Piney Point Village city Spring Valley Village city

    To increase Internet self response rates, the Census Bureau will improve contact and notification strategies that were studied in prior testing. The core of our contact strategy is an Internet-push strategy, which was previously tested in the 2012 National Census Test, 2014 Census Test and the 2015 Optimizing Self Response and Census Tests and is now being further refined. We also introduced a supplemental contact strategy in the 2015 National Content Test, the Internet Choice panel, which we will continue to study in the 2016 Census Test. In the 2016 Census Test, improvements to this approach will be tested by modifying the content of our messages, including materials in the mailing packages.

    We also will continue our efforts to make it easier for respondents by allowing them to respond without providing a pre-assigned identification (ID) number associated with their address. This response option, referred to as “Non-ID,” was successfully implemented on the Internet in the 2014 and 2015 Census Tests. In this test, we will continue to develop the infrastructure to deploy real-time processing of Non-ID responses. Specifically, we will implement automated processing of Non-ID responses in a cloud-based environment instead of using Census Bureau hardware. This work will help us prepare for conducting Non-ID Processing at the scale we anticipate for 2020. In addition, we will be conducting a manual matching and geocoding operation for Non-ID responses that could not be matched to a record in the Census address list, or assigned to a census block during automated processing. Some of this processing will require Census staff to call respondents to obtain further information, such as missing address items that could help us obtain a match to a record in the Census address list. In some cases, we may also ask for the respondent's assistance in accurately locating their living quarters on a map so that we can associate the response to the correct census block, which is required for data tabulation.

    The 2016 Census Test will be comprised of four phases: Self Response, NRFU (with a reinterview component), Coverage Reinterview, and focus groups.

    Self Response

    We will implement an “Internet Push” contact strategy, which involves first sending a letter inviting people to respond via the Internet; then sending up to two postcard reminders to non-responding addresses; and ultimately sending a paper questionnaire to addresses that still have not responded. The Census Bureau will directly contact up to 250,000 addresses in each site to request self response via one of the available response modes (Internet, telephone, paper). Materials included in the mailing explain the test and provide information on how to respond. The impact of message content on self response will be tested by varying the content of the mailing packages in the “Internet Push” for different panels. Specifically, we will test language that addresses how participation in the Census benefits respondents' communities and cite the mandatory nature of the census. Mail panels targeting limited English proficiency (LEP) households will include a language insert as part of the contact strategy. LEP households represent a subsample of housing units in each test location. We also plan to include the Census Internet Uniform Resource Locator (URL) on envelopes with messaging in multiple languages for a panel of housing units. This is intended to serve as a prompt for LEP respondents to access the Census URL without needing to read a letter written in a language in which they are not fluent. An “Internet Choice” panel will also be tested; which involves first sending a questionnaire with a letter inviting people to respond via the Internet or by using the questionnaire; then sending up to two postcard reminders to non-responding addresses; and ultimately sending a second paper questionnaire to addresses that still have not responded. The design of the mail panels is fully described in Supporting Statement B.

    In addition to supporting Non-ID self response and conducting manual processing of Non-ID returns when required, we will take steps to identify duplicate or potentially fraudulent Non-ID responses. For all Non-ID responses, we will compare response data to information contained in commercial lists and Federal administrative records maintained within the Census Bureau. This will help validate respondent-provided data as well as examine the gaps in coverage we might have in currently available administrative records datasets. Last, in order to confirm the results from the records linkage, we will conduct a Response Validation operation to recollect the response data for an estimated sample of 5,000 of the Non-ID returns. This will likely be performed as a combination of telephone interviews and in-person visits, but the proportions of each of these are still to be determined.

    Telephone questionnaire assistance will be available to all respondents. In addition, on-line respondents will be provided with pre-defined “Help” screens or “Frequently Asked Questions” accessible through the Internet instrument. People who prefer not to respond via a paper form or on the Internet can also call the telephone questionnaire assistance number and speak to an agent to complete the questionnaire for their household.

    Content Tests Objectives in Self Response and Nonresponse Followup Data Collection

    The 2016 Census Test questionnaire will include questions on housing tenure, household roster, age, sex/gender, date of birth, race and Hispanic origin, and relationship. Based on results from the 2010 Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment (Compton, et al. 2012 1 ), the 2016 Census Test will include a combined race and Hispanic origin question intended to build on what is being tested in the 2015 National Content Test. This combined question provides examples and write-in areas for each major response category, including a response category for Middle Eastern and North African ethnicities. With this combined question format no separate “Hispanic origin” question is used. Rather, Hispanic ethnicity or origin is measured within the single item. Respondents are asked to self-identify by selecting one or more checkboxes, and to write-in a specific origin for each checkbox selected. The 2016 Census Test allows us to test responses to these questions in geographic areas with different race and Hispanic Origin concentrations from the prior test areas.

    1 Compton, E., Bentley. M., Ennis, S., Rastogi, S., (2012), “2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment,” DSSD 2010 CPEX Memorandum Series #B-05-R2, U.S. Census Bureau. 

    The inclusion of the combined question will also allow the Census Bureau to conduct imputation research using this combined format in a setting when there are self responses, administrative records and NRFU enumerator responses. This will allow the Census Bureau to understand imputation approaches needed for a combined question.

    We also plan to test variation in terminology by comparing “Am.” with “American” in the response category “Black or African Am.” on the Internet instrument. This research is being undertaken to assess the impact of different wording for the racial category that collects and tabulates data for the African American, African, and Afro-Caribbean populations. This test will provide insights to how respondents identify with the race category, depending on the wording used to describe the category itself (“Black or African Am.” vs. “Black or African American”).

    For the relationship question, we plan to include variations in question wording associated with “non-relatives.” We will compare responses to a relationship question with, and without, the response categories “roomer or boarder” and “housemate or roommate.” Cognitive testing has repeatedly shown that respondents do not know what the Census Bureau sees as the differences between these categories.

    The 2016 Census Test will continue to include the response categories recommended by the OMB Interagency Working Group (see section 11 of this document—Justification for Sensitive Questions) for opposite-sex and same-sex husband/wife/spouse households, and for the category for unmarried partner.

    The 2016 Census Test will include a question on the Internet instrument that will allow respondents to report that a housing unit they own is vacant as of Census Day, and to provide the reason for the vacancy status (e.g., a seasonal or rental unit). Collecting these data from respondents may allow the Census Bureau to identify some vacant housing units during self response so they can be removed from NRFU operations.

    The Census Bureau's research on how best to present and explain the residence rule (who to count) in specific situations will continue. The Internet data collection instrument will include various ways to ask about and confirm the number of persons residing at an address. Respondents will see one of three screens about the enumeration of people in their household: one that displays the Census Bureau's basic residence rule, and then asks for the number of people in the household based on that rule; One that asks for the number of people who live in the household but provides our residence rule definition in the help text; and one that asks if any other people live at the household, with the residence rule in the help text. After the names of the roster members are collected, the respondent will then see one of three series of undercount detection questions: One series asks for additional people on two separate screens, another series asks for additional people on only one screen, or no undercount questions at all. After the demographic items are collected, the respondent will then see overcount detection questions or, if the case had not received undercount questions, no overcount detection questions.

    The materials mailed to the respondents will inform them that the survey is mandatory in accordance with title 13, United States Code, sections 141 and 193. This information also will be available via a hyperlink from within the Internet instrument.

    Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) Operation Testing

    The 2016 Census Test will determine our 2020 Census methods for conducting NRFU operations that will increase efficiency and reduce costs. Based on previous tests, the Census Bureau will refine its contact strategies and methods for field data collection, case assignment management, and field staff administrative functions. This will include further testing of how administrative records can be used to reduce the NRFU workload.

    As part of the 2016 Census Test, we will collect housing unit status and enumerate the occupants of households that do not respond to the self response phase of the census using automated enumeration software on standard (iOS and Android operating system) smartphone devices. The test will enable our continued study of options for alternatives to using government furnished equipment. This includes options for an enumerator to use their own smartphone for enumeration, often known as “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)”, and options to use a `Device as a Service' contract, where the Census Bureau will not own the smartphone devices outright, but instead will pay a vendor for their use, including any initialization and setup processes required. This has the potential to mitigate risks to the operation. For example, unpredictable increases in costs associated with device initialization and hardware support. We will also continue to operationally test the field data collection application we use on these devices. The devices will use a modified version of the software used in the 2015 Census Test, with updated capabilities for handling special non-interview cases (such as demolished homes and non-existent addresses), better handling of addresses with multiple units (like apartment buildings), a clearer path for enumerators to take when attempting to collect data from a householder's neighbor or another knowledgeable source, new screens related to detecting potential “overcount” in a household (scenarios where current household residents also lived at another location, like student housing), and numerous other minor incremental user interface and performance updates.

    The Census Bureau also plans to test a newly redesigned portion of our quality assurance activities—the NRFU Reinterview program (NRFU-RI). We plan to test:

    • New methodologies for selecting cases to be reinterviewed, including the potential use of operational control system data (paradata) and administrative records to detect potential falsification by enumerators

    • Using our automated field data collection instrument for conducting these reinterviews

    • Using our recently re-designed operational control system to optimize the routing and assignment of reinterview cases, and

    • Using the same field staff to conduct both NRFU interviews and associated reinterviews, with an explicit rule within the instrument that an enumerator is not allowed to reinterview their own work.

    All of these changes have the potential to lead to a more cost-effective, streamlined, and higher quality NRFU operation for the 2020 Census. We will continue to test our newly re-engineered field infrastructure, allowing us to refine our requirements for staffing ratios and position duties for 2020 Census operations. We will also continue to test our enhanced operational control system, using lessons learned from the 2015 Census Test to make further improvements to how assignments are made and routed. We will continue to test improvements to our use of systematic alerts that will quickly notify field supervisors of potential problem enumerators, detect possible falsification, and improve both quality and efficiency for the NRFU operation.

    Additionally, we will continue to test our implementation of an `adaptive design' contact strategy: Using a varied number of personal visit attempts by geographic area based on criteria associated with people who are harder to count. We also will study when is the optimal point to discontinue attempts to collect information from each non-responding household, and instead move to attempting to collect information from a householder's neighbor or another knowledgeable source.

    Finally, we will build upon work from the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Census Tests in a continued attempt to refine and evaluate our use of administrative records (including government and third-party data sources) to reduce the NRFU workload. Cases will be removed from the NRFU operation based on our administrative records modeling as follows:

    • Any case that is given a status of vacant from our administrative records modeling will be immediately removed from the NRFU workload; and

    • Any case that is given a status of occupied from our administrative records modeling will be removed from the NRFU workload after one unsuccessful attempt at field enumeration is made (as long as good administrative records exist for that case).

    Unlike previous tests, for all cases removed from the NRFU workload in this way, we will test mailing these addresses a supplemental letter to prompt a self response. If these cases do not self-respond, we will enumerate the unit based on the results of our administrative records modeling.

    For a sample of the cases that would be removed via this criteria, we will continue to perform the field followup activities. This will allow us to compare the outcomes of those that get a completed interview with our modeled status of the household, and determine the quality of our administrative record modeling.

    Coverage Reinterview

    As described previously, the 2016 Census Test Internet instrument contains embedded coverage experiments, and a reinterview is needed to quantify the effects of each particular version on the roster provided by the Internet respondent. The quality of the final household roster created from the panels with experimentally applied questions will be evaluated by a coverage reinterview conducted by telephone. Note that these panels are used to evaluate the different residence rule approaches used in the different questionnaire panels. The reinterview will contain extensive questions about potentially missed roster members and other places that any household members sometimes stay. Specifically, the reinterview will re-contact responders to determine if any people may have been left off the roster or erroneously included on the roster during the initial response. If there are indications during the reinterview that some people may have been left off the roster, then we will ask for demographic information about the missed people. If there are indications during the reinterview that some people may have been erroneously included, then we will ask for information about stay durations in order to resolve residency situations. The reinterview will be a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) operation conducted in the Census Bureau's call centers.

    In addition to contacting Internet responders, a small portion of people who responded by paper or as a part of NRFU will be selected for the Coverage Reinterview. The inclusion of such cases will allow us to quantify the quality of household rosters collected in these two other modes.

    Focus Groups

    Following the end of data collection, the Census Bureau will conduct focus groups with 2016 Census Test participants to ask about their experience. Topics will include their opinions on the use of administrative records by the Census Bureau. Participants also will be asked about their general concerns with government data collection and the government's ability to protect confidential data. The specific information collection materials for those activities will be submitted separately as non-substantive changes.

    Testing in 2016 is necessary to build on the findings from prior testing and to establish recommendations for contact strategies, response options, and field operation efficiencies that can be further refined and deployed again in subsequent operational and system development activities. At this point in the decade, the Census Bureau needs to solidify evidence showing whether the strategies being tested can reduce the cost per housing unit during a decennial census, while still providing high quality and accuracy of the census data. The results of the 2016 Census Test from both sites will inform decisions that the Census Bureau will make about refining the detailed operational plan for the 2020 Census and will help guide the evaluation of additional 2020 Census test results later this decade.

    Along with other results related to content, the response rates to paper and Internet collection will be used to help inform 2020 Census program planning and cost estimates. Several versions of some of the demographic questions and versions of coverage questions are included in this test in order to determine further the best questions and procedures for collecting the data from hard-to-count populations and achieve optimal within-household person coverage within the decennial census.

    Testing enhancements to Non-ID processing will inform final planning for the 2020 Census design, as well as the infrastructure required to support large scale, real-time processing of electronic Non-ID response data submitted via the Internet. Building upon previous Census Tests, the NRFU portion of the 2016 Census Test will inform the following important decisions for conducting the 2020 Census:

    • We will continue to research the cost and quality impact of reducing the NRFU caseload through the use of administrative records information, to inform our final strategy for the use of administrative records. This test will also allow us to further define our core set of administrative records that will be used for the 2020 Census, and our strategies for acquiring and using those records. This research will help us achieve our goal of a more cost-effective 2020 Census, while maintaining quality of the results.

    • We will continue to research the cost and quality impacts of new NRFU contact strategies that make use of adaptive design and a re-engineered management structure employing automated payroll, automated training, and minimal face-to-face contact between enumerators and supervisors. Enumerators are asked to provide work-time availability in advance, and the system then will assign the optimal number of cases to attempt each day, as well as the optimal route to follow that day. Again, this operational research will help us towards our goal of a more cost-effective 2020 Census, while maintaining quality of the results.

    • We will be able to determine at what rate field staff are willing to use their own personally owned devices to conduct Census enumeration, and continue to develop our technical processes to enable this to be done in a secure and cost-effective manner. We will also be able to make quality and cost determinations about a `Device as a Service' option, and be able to develop more mature cost models to inform our decisions related to the device provision strategies for the 2020 Census NRFU operation.

    • We will be able to determine the cost and quality impacts of our newly re-engineered NRFU Reinterview quality assurance program. This data will inform our decision on an integrated and re-designed approach to quality assurance for the 2020 Census.

    Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Frequency: One time.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    Legal Authority: Title 13, United States Code, sections 141 and 193.

    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 [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28416 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-117-2015] Approval of Subzone Status; Springsteen Logistics, LLC; Rock Hill and Fort Lawn, South Carolina

    On August 11, 2015, the Executive Secretary of the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board docketed an application submitted by the South Carolina State Ports Authority, grantee of FTZ 38, requesting subzone status subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 38, on behalf of Springsteen Logistics, LLC in Rock Hill and Fort Lawn, South Carolina.

    The application was processed in accordance with the FTZ Act and Regulations, including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (80 FR 49201, August 17, 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 Executive Secretary (15 CFR 400.36(f)), the application to establish Subzone 38J is approved, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including § 400.13, and further subject to FTZ 38's 2,000-acre activation limit.

    Dated: October 30, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28459 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-147-2015] Foreign-Trade Zone 76—Bridgeport, Connecticut; Application for Subzone; MannKind Corporation; Danbury, Connecticut

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board by the Bridgeport Port Authority, grantee of FTZ 76, requesting subzone status for the facilities of MannKind Corporation, located in Danbury, Connecticut. The application was submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on November 3, 2015.

    The proposed subzone would consist of the following sites: Site 1 (12.5 acres) 40 Taylor Street, Danbury; and, Site 2 (5 acres) 1 Casper Street, Danbury. The proposed subzone would be subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 76. A notification of proposed production activity has been submitted and will be published separately for public comment.

    In accordance with the FTZ Board's regulations, Kathleen Boyce of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to review the application and make recommendations to the Executive Secretary.

    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 21, 2015. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to January 4, 2016.

    A copy of the application 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: November 3, 2015. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28458 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (“the Department”) has received requests to conduct administrative reviews of various antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings with September anniversary dates. In accordance with the Department's regulations, we are initiating those administrative reviews.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: November 9, 2015.

    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.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Department has received timely requests, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.213(b), for administrative reviews of various antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings with September anniversary dates.

    All deadlines for the submission of various types of information, certifications, or comments or actions by the Department discussed below refer to the number of calendar days from the applicable starting time.

    Notice of No Sales

    If a producer or exporter named in this notice of initiation had no exports, sales, or entries during the period of review (“POR”), it must notify the Department within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. All submissions must be filed electronically at http://access.trade.gov in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303.1 Such submissions are subject to verification in accordance with section 782(i) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”). Further, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303(f)(1)(i), a copy must be served on every party on the Department's service list.

    1See Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Electronic Filing Procedures; Administrative Protective Order Procedures, 76 FR 39263 (July 6, 2011).

    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 place the CBP data on the record within five days of publication of the initiation notice and to make our decision regarding respondent selection within 30 days of publication of the initiation Federal Register notice. Comments regarding the CBP data and respondent selection should be submitted seven days after the placement of the CBP data on the record of this review. Parties wishing to submit rebuttal comments should submit those comments five days after the deadline for the initial comments.

    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 has found 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 (“Q&V”) 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 Q&V 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 has requested 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 the Department does not intend to extend the 90-day deadline unless the requestor demonstrates that an extraordinary circumstance has 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.

    Separate Rates

    In proceedings involving non-market economy (“NME”) countries, the Department begins with a rebuttable presumption that all companies within the country are subject to government control and, thus, should be assigned a single antidumping duty deposit rate. It is the Department's policy to assign all exporters of merchandise subject to an administrative review in an NME country this single rate unless an exporter can demonstrate that it is sufficiently independent so as to be entitled to a separate rate.

    To establish whether a firm is sufficiently independent from government control of its export activities to be entitled to a separate rate, the Department analyzes each entity exporting the subject merchandise under a test arising from the Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sparklers from the People's Republic of China, 56 FR 20588 (May 6, 1991), as amplified by Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Silicon Carbide from the People's Republic of China, 59 FR 22585 (May 2, 1994). In accordance with the separate rates criteria, the Department assigns separate rates to companies in NME cases only if respondents can demonstrate the absence of both de jure and de facto government control over export activities.

    All firms listed below that wish to qualify for separate rate status in the administrative reviews involving NME countries must complete, as appropriate, either a separate rate application or certification, as described below. For these administrative reviews, in order to demonstrate separate rate eligibility, the Department requires entities for whom a review was requested, that were assigned a separate rate in the most recent segment of this proceeding in which they participated, to certify that they continue to meet the criteria for obtaining a separate rate. The Separate Rate Certification form will be available on the Department's Web site at http://enforcement.trade.gov/nme/nme-sep-rate.html on the date of publication of this Federal Register notice. In responding to the certification, please follow the “Instructions for Filing the Certification” in the Separate Rate Certification. Separate Rate Certifications are due to the Department no later than 30 calendar days after publication of this Federal Register notice. The deadline and requirement for submitting a Certification applies equally to NME-owned firms, wholly foreign-owned firms, and foreign sellers who purchase and export subject merchandise to the United States.

    Entities that currently do not have a separate rate from a completed segment of the proceeding 2 should timely file a Separate Rate Application to demonstrate eligibility for a separate rate in this proceeding. In addition, companies that received a separate rate in a completed segment of the proceeding that have subsequently made changes, including, but not limited to, changes to corporate structure, acquisitions of new companies or facilities, or changes to their official company name,3 should timely file a Separate Rate Application to demonstrate eligibility for a separate rate in this proceeding. The Separate Rate Status Application will be available on the Department's Web site at http://enforcement.trade.gov/nme/nme-sep-rate.html on the date of publication of this Federal Register notice. In responding to the Separate Rate Status Application, refer to the instructions contained in the application. Separate Rate Status Applications are due to the Department no later than 30 calendar days of publication of this Federal Register notice. The deadline and requirement for submitting a Separate Rate Status Application applies equally to NME-owned firms, wholly foreign-owned firms, and foreign sellers that purchase and export subject merchandise to the United States.

    2 Such entities include entities that have not participated in the proceeding, entities that were preliminarily granted a separate rate in any currently incomplete segment of the proceeding (e.g., an ongoing administrative review, new shipper review, etc.) and entities that lost their separate rate in the most recently completed segment of the proceeding in which they participated.

    3 Only changes to the official company name, rather than trade names, need to be addressed via a Separate Rate Application. Information regarding new trade names may be submitted via a Separate Rate Certification.

    For exporters and producers who submit a separate-rate status application or certification and subsequently are selected as mandatory respondents, these exporters and producers will no longer be eligible for separate rate status unless they respond to all parts of the questionnaire as mandatory respondents.

    Initiation of Reviews

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.221(c)(1)(i), we are initiating administrative reviews of the following antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings. We intend to issue the final results of these reviews not later than September 30, 2016.

    Period to be
  • reviewed
  • Antidumping Duty Proceedings India: Certain Lined Paper Products A-533-843 9/1/14-8/31/15 Goldenpalm Manufacturers PVT Limited. Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Private Limited. Lodha Offset Limited. Magic International Pvt. Ltd. Marisa International. Navneet Education Ltd. Pioneer Stationery Pvt. Ltd. SAB International. SGM Paper Products. Super Impex. Oil Country Tubular Goods A-533-857 2/25/14-8/31/15 GVN Fuels Limited. Oil Country Tubular Limited. United Seamless Tubulaar Pvt. Ltd. Mexico: Certain Magnesia Carbon Bricks A-201-837 9/1/14-8/31/15 Ferro Alliages & Mineraux Inc. RHI-Refmex SA. de C.V. Trafinsa S.A. de C.V. Vesuvius Mexico S.A. de C.V. Republic of Korea: Oil Country Tubular Goods A-580-870 7/18/14-8/31/15 A.R. Williams Materials. AJU Besteel Co., Ltd. AK Steel. BDP International. Cantak Corporation. Daewoo International Corporation. Dong-A Steel Co., Ltd. Dong Yang Steel Pipe. Dongbu Incheon Steel. Dongbu Steel Co., Ltd. Dongkuk S and C. DSEC. EEW Korea. Erndtebruecker Eisenwerk and Company. GS Global. H K Steel. Hansol Metal. HG Tubulars Canada Ltd. Husteel Co., Ltd. Hyundai Glovis. Hyundai HYSCO. Hyundai HYSCO Co., Ltd. Hyundai Mobis. Hyundai RB. Hyundai Steel Company. Hyundai Steel Co., Ltd. ILJIN Steel Corporation. Kolon Global. Kukbo Logix. Kukje Steel. Kumkang Industrial Co., Ltd. McJunkin Red Man Tubular. NEXTEEL Q&T. NEXTEEL Co., Ltd. Nippon Arwwl and Aumikin Vuaan Korea Co., Ltd. Phocennee. POSCO Plantec. POSCO Processing and Acy Service. Samson. Samsung C and T Corporation. SeAH Steel Corporation. Sedae Entertech. Steel Canada. Steel Flower. Steelpia. Sung Jin. TGS Pipe. Toyota Tsusho Corporation. UNI Global Logistics. Yonghyun Base Materials. Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Oil Country Tubular Goods A-552-817 2/25/14-8/31/15 SeAH Steel VINA Corporation. Taiwan: Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge A-583-844 9/1/14-8/31/15 A-Madeus Textile Ltd. Fujian Rongshu Industry Co., Ltd. Roung Shu Industry Corporation. Xiamen Yi-He Textile Co. Ltd. Oil Country Tubular Goods A-583-850 7/18/14-8/31/15 Tension Steel Industries Co., Ltd. Shin Yang Steel Co., Ltd. The People's Republic of China: Certain Magnesia Carbon Bricks A-570-954 9/1/14-8/31/15 Dashiqiao City Guancheng Refractor Co., Ltd. (aka Dashiqiao City Guancheng. Refractory Co., Ltd.). Fedmet Resources Corporation. Fengchi Imp. And Exp. Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City. Fengchi Minging Co., Ltd of Haicheng City. Fengchi Refractories Co. of Haicheng City. Jiangsu Sujia Group New Materials Co., Ltd. Liaoning Fucheng Refractories Group Co., Ltd. Liaoning Fucheng Special Refractory Co., Ltd. Liaoning Jiayi Metals & Minerals Co., Ltd. Puyang Refractories Group Co., Ltd. RHI Refractories Liaoning Co., Ltd. Yingkou Bayuquan Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou Dalmond Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou Guangyang Co., Ltd. Yingkou Jiahe Refractories Co. Ltd. Yingkou Kyushu Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou New Century Refractories Ltd. Yingkou Wonjin Refractory Material Co., Ltd. Certain New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires A-570-912 9/1/14-8/31/15 Aeolus Tyre Co., Ltd. Shiyan Desizheng Industry & Trade Co., Ltd. Qingdao Jinhaoyang International Co., Ltd. Weifang Jintongda Tyre Co., Ltd. Sailun Jinyu Group Co., Ltd. Guizhou Tyre Co., Ltd. Guizhou Tyre Import and Export Co., Ltd. Qingdao Free Trade Zone Full-World International Trading Co., Ltd. Qingdao Qihang Tyre Co. Tianjin Leviathan International Trade Co., Ltd. Trelleborg Wheel Systems (Xingtai) China, Co. Ltd. Trelleborg Wheel Systems Hebei Co. Weihai Zhongwei Rubber Co., Ltd. Xuzhou Xugong Tyres Co. Ltd. Zhongce Rubber Group Company Limited. Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat A-570-848 9/1/14-8/31/15 China Kingdom (Beijing) Import & Export Co., Ltd. Deyan Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd. Hubei Nature Agriculture Industry Co., Ltd. Hubei Yuesheng Aquatic Products Co., Ltd. Nanjing Gemsen International Co., Ltd. Weishan Hongda Aquatic Food Co., Ltd. Xiping Opeck Food Co., Ltd. Xuzhou Jinjiang Foodstuffs Co., Ltd. Yancheng Hi-King Agriculture Developing Co., Ltd. Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge A-570-952 9/1/14-8/31/15 Yama Ribbons and Bows Co., Ltd. Turkey: Oil Country Tubular Goods A-489-816 2/25/14-8/31/15 Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. and Borusan İstikbal Ticaret (collectively Borusan).4 Çayirova Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. and Yücel Boru. İthalat-İhracat ve Pazarlama A.Ş.(collectively Yücel).5 Çayirova Boru San A.Ş. HG Tubulars Canada Ltd. Tosçelik Profil ve Sac Endustrisi A.Ş. Tosyali Diş Ticaret A.Ş. Yücelboru İhracat, İthalat. Countervailing Duty Proceedings India: Certain Lined Paper Products C-533-844 1/1/14-12/31/14 Goldenpalm Manufacturers PVT Limited. Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Private Limited. Navneet Education Ltd. Oil Country Tubular Goods C-533-858 12/23/13—12/31/14 GVN Fuels Limited. Oil Country Tubular Ltd. United Seamless Tubulaar Pvt. Ltd. Jindal SAW Ltd. The People's Republic of China: Certain Magnesia Carbon Bricks C-570-955 1/1/14-12/31/14 Dashiquiao City Guancheng Refractor Co., Ltd. (aka Dashiqiao City Guancheng. Refractory Co., Ltd.). Fedmet Resources Corporation. Fengchi Imp. and Exp. Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City. Fengchi Mining Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City. Fengchi Refractories Co., of Haicheng City. Jiangsu Sujia Group New Materials Co., Ltd. Liaoning Fucheng Refractories Group Co., Ltd. Liaoning Fucheng Special Refractory Co., Ltd. Liaoning Jiayi Metals & Minerals Co., Ltd. Puyang Refractories Group Co., Ltd. RHI Refractories Liaoning Co., Ltd. Yingkou Bayuquan Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou Dalmond Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou Guangyang Co., Ltd. Yingkou Jiahe Refractories Co. Ltd. Yingkou Kyushu Refractories Co., Ltd. Yingkou New Century Refractories Ltd. Yingkou Wonjin Refractory Material Co., Ltd. Certain New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires C-570-913 1/1/14-12/31/14 Air Sea Transport Inc. Beijing Kang Jie Kong Intl Cargo Agent Co Ltd. C&D Intl Freight Forward Inc. Caesar Intl Logistics Co Ltd. CD Intl Freight Forwarding. Cheng Shin Rubber (Xiamen) Ind Ltd. China Intl Freight Co Ltd. Chonche Auto Double Happiness Tyre Corp Ltd. City Ocean Logistics Co Ltd. Consolidator Intl Co Ltd. CTS Intl Logistics Corp. De Well Container Shipping Inc. England Logistics (Qingdao) Co Ltd. Extra Type Co Ltd. Fedex International Freight Forwarding Services Shanghai Co Ltd. FG Intl Logistic Ltd. Guizhou Tyre Co., Ltd. Guizhou Tyre Import and Export Co., Ltd. JHJ Intl Transportation Co. Kendra Rubber (China) Co Ltd. Landmax Intl Co Ltd. Orient Express Container Co Ltd. Pudong Prime Intl Logistics Inc. Qingdao Aotai Rubber Co Ltd. Qingdao Chengtai Handtruck Co Ltd. Qingdao Chuangtong Founding Co Ltd. Qingdao Ftz Full-World Intl Trading Co Ltd. Qingdao Haomai Hongyi Mold Co Ltd. Qingdao Kaoyoung Intl Logistics Co Ltd. Qingdao Milestone Tyres Co Ltd. Qingdao Nexten Co Ltd. Qingdao Wonderland. Schenker China Ltd. SGL Logistics South China Ltd. Shanghai Grand South Intl Transportation Co Ltd. Shanghai Hua Shen Imp & Exp Co Ltd. Shanghai Part-Rich Auto Parts Co Ltd. Thi Group (Shanghai) Ltd. Tianjin United Tire & Rubber International Co., Ltd. Toll Global Forwarding China Ltd. Translink Shipping Inc. Trelleborg Wheel Systems Hebei Co. Universal Shipping Inc. UTI China Ltd. Weiss-Rohlig China Co Ltd. World Bridge Logistics Co Ltd. Xuzhou Xugong Tyres Co Ltd. Suspension Agreements None.
    Duty Absorption Reviews

    4 Entries of merchandise produced and exported by Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. and Borusan İstikbal Ticaret (collectively Borusan) are not subject to antidumping duties because the Department's final determination with respect to this producer/exporter combination was negative. See Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods From the Republic of Turkey: Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Final Determination of Critical Circumstances in Part, 79 FR 41971 at 41973 (OCTG Turkey Final Determination) (July 18, 2014). However, any entries of merchandise produced by any other entity and exported by Borusan or produced by Borusan and exported by another entity are subject to the order.

    5 We treated these companies as a single entity in the Department's final determination. See OCTG Turkey Final Determination.

    During any administrative review covering all or part of a period falling between the first and second or third and fourth anniversary of the publication of an antidumping duty order under 19 CFR 351.211 or a determination under 19 CFR 351.218(f)(4) to continue an order or suspended investigation (after sunset review), the Secretary, if requested by a domestic interested party within 30 days of the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the review, will determine, consistent with FAG Italia v. United States, 291 F.3d 806 (Fed Cir. 2002), as appropriate, whether antidumping duties have been absorbed by an exporter or producer subject to the review if the subject merchandise is sold in the United States through an importer that is affiliated with such exporter or producer. The request must include the name(s) of the exporter or producer for which the inquiry is requested.

    Gap Period Liquidation

    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 POR.

    Administrative Protective Orders and Letters of Appearance

    Interested parties must submit applications for disclosure under administrative protective orders in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305. On January 22, 2008, the Department published Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Documents Submission Procedures; APO Procedures, 73 FR 3634 (January 22, 2008). Those procedures apply to administrative reviews included in this notice of initiation. Parties wishing to participate in any of these administrative reviews should ensure that they meet the requirements of these procedures (e.g., the filing of separate letters of appearance as discussed at 19 CFR 351.103(d)).

    Revised Factual Information Requirements

    On April 10, 2013, the Department published Definition of Factual Information and Time Limits for Submission of Factual Information: Final Rule, 78 FR 21246 (April 10, 2013), which modified two regulations related to antidumping and countervailing duty 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). The final rule identifies five categories of factual information in 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21), which are summarized as follows: (i) Evidence submitted in response to questionnaires; (ii) evidence submitted in support of allegations; (iii) publicly available information to value factors under 19 CFR 351.408(c) or to measure the adequacy of remuneration under 19 CFR 351.511(a)(2); (iv) evidence placed on the record by the Department; and (v) evidence other than factual information described in (i) through (iv). The final rule requires any party, when submitting factual information, to specify under which subsection of 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) the information is being submitted and, if the information is submitted to rebut, clarify, or correct factual information already on the record, to provide an explanation identifying the information already on the record that the factual information seeks to rebut, clarify, or correct. The final rule also modified 19 CFR 351.301 so that, rather than providing general time limits, there are specific time limits based on the type of factual information being submitted. These modifications are effective for all segments initiated on or after May 10, 2013. Please review the final rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/2013/1304frn/2013-08227.txt, prior to submitting factual information in this segment.

    Any party submitting factual information in an antidumping duty or countervailing duty proceeding must certify to the accuracy and completeness of that information.6 Parties are hereby reminded that revised certification requirements are in effect for company/government officials as well as their representatives. All segments of any antidumping duty or countervailing duty proceedings initiated on or after August 16, 2013, should use the formats for the revised certifications provided at the end of the Final Rule. 7 The Department intends to reject factual submissions in any proceeding segments if the submitting party does not comply with applicable revised certification requirements.

    6See section 782(b) of the Act.

    7See Certification of Factual Information To Import Administration During Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 42678 (July 17, 2013) (“Final Rule”); see also the frequently asked questions regarding the Final Rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/tlei/notices/factual_info_final_rule_FAQ_07172013.pdf.

    Revised Extension of Time Limits Regulation

    On September 20, 2013, the Department modified its regulation concerning the extension of time limits for submissions in antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings: Final Rule, 78 FR 57790 (September 20, 2013). The modification clarifies that parties may request an extension of time limits before a time limit established under Part 351 expires, or as otherwise specified by the Secretary. In general, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after the time limit established under Part 351 expires. For submissions which are due from multiple parties simultaneously, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after 10:00 a.m. on the due date. Examples include, but are not limited to: (1) Case and rebuttal briefs, filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309; (2) factual information to value factors under 19 CFR 351.408(c), or to measure the adequacy of remuneration under 19 CFR 351.511(a)(2), filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.301(c)(3) and rebuttal, clarification and correction filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.301(c)(3)(iv); (3) comments concerning the selection of a surrogate country and surrogate values and rebuttal; (4) comments concerning U.S. Customs and Border Protection data; and (5) quantity and value questionnaires. Under certain circumstances, the Department may elect to specify a different time limit by which extension requests will be considered untimely for submissions which are due from multiple parties simultaneously. In such a case, the Department will inform parties in the letter or memorandum setting forth the deadline (including a specified time) by which extension requests must be filed to be considered timely. This modification also requires that an extension request must be made in a separate, stand-alone submission, and clarifies the circumstances under which the Department will grant untimely-filed requests for the extension of time limits. These modifications are effective for all segments initiated on or after October 21, 2013. Please review the final rule, available at http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-20/html/2013-22853.htm, prior to submitting factual information in these segments.

    These initiations and this notice are in accordance with section 751(a) of the Act (19 U.S.C. 1675(a)) and 19 CFR 351.221(c)(1)(i).

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28460 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE304 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will hold a meeting.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For agenda details, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held via webinar. Webinar connection details will be available at: http://www.mafmc.org.

    Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674-2331 or on their Web site at www.mafmc.org.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526-5255.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will meet Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 1 p.m. to review alternative methods for addressing missing 2014 survey data for spiny dogfish and to determine if any adjustment to its OFL/ABC recommendations for spiny dogfish are appropriate. Contact Jason Didden at (302) 526-5254 if you have questions about using a webinar to participate in a meeting. Briefing documents will be posted to http://www.mafmc.org/ssc when available.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, (302) 526-5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28430 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: Alaska Observer Program.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0318.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 423.

    Average Hours per Response: 8 hr to review and 1 hr to submit candidate college transcripts and statements, Observer provider; 1 hr for Observer training registration; 7 minutes for Observer briefing registration; 7 minutes each for Projected observer assignment and Observer deployment/logistics report; 5 minutes for Physical examination verification; 30 minutes each for Observer debriefing registration, Observer provider contracts and Industry Request for Assistance in Improving Observer Data Quality Issues; 12 minutes for Certificates of insurance; 1 hr for Other reports and Request for electronic monitoring as exemption for observer coverage; 60 hr for Observer provider permit application; 30 minutes for Observer provider invoice copies; 15 minutes each for Update to provider information, Observer declaration and deployment system (ODDs), Observer fee calculation and submittal and Notification of one-time election of observer coverage; 4 hours for Observer appeal.

    Burden Hours: 2,643.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    The North Pacific Groundfish and Halibut Observer Program (Observer Program) plays a critical role in the conservation and management of Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska groundfish and halibut fisheries. Five observer contracting companies provide observer services (see http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/FMA/observer_providers.htm) . Observers collect biological samples and fishery-dependent information on total catch and interactions with protected species. Managers use data collected by observers to monitor quotas, manage groundfish and prohibited species catch, and document and reduce fishery interactions with protected resources. Scientists use observer-collected data for stock assessments and marine ecosystem research.

    All sectors of the groundfish fishery, including vessels less than 60 feet length overall and the commercial halibut sector, are now included in the Observer Program. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has the flexibility to decide when and where to deploy observers based on a scientifically defensible deployment plan reviewed annually by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The Observer Program places all vessels and processors in the groundfish and halibut fisheries off Alaska into one of two observer coverage categories: a full coverage category and a partial coverage category.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households; business or other for-profit organizations.

    Frequency: Annually, weekly and on occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain benefits.

    This information collection request may be viewed at 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 [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28434 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: Southeast Region Permit Family of Forms.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0205.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (revision of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 13,909.

    Average Hours per Response: 30 minutes.

    Burden Hours: 6,086.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for revision of a currently approved information collection.

    This request is for a revision to the existing reporting requirements that are currently approved under OMB Control No. 0648-0205, Southeast Region Permit Family of Forms, in association with the upcoming final rule, Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 0648-BB02, Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 9), developed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801.

    The final rule, RIN 0648-BB02, would implement a number of Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark management measures and would establish an effective date for previously-adopted smoothhound shark management measures finalized in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP (Amendment 3) and the 2011 Final Rule to Modify the Retention of Incidentally-Caught Highly Migratory Species in Atlantic Trawl Fisheries. Among these previously-adopted smoothhound shark management measures is a commercial smoothhound shark permit requirement. The commercial smoothhound shark permitting requirement contained in this rule would become effective at a date specified after approval of this revision request.

    In April 2011, NMFS submitted a PRA change request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add the commercial smoothhound shark permit to the existing HMS permit PRA package (OMB Control No. 0648-0327). OMB subsequently approved the change request to add the Federal commercial smoothhound shark permit to the HMS permit PRA package in May 2011. In July 2015, the commercial smoothhound shark permit was removed from the HMS permit PRA package (OMB Control No. 0648-0327) with the intention of transferring it to the Southeast Region Permit Family of Forms. This revision seeks to add this permit to OMB Control No. 0648-0205, because the SERO Permits Office will administer the smoothhound shark permit. The revision also addresses a new permit fee of $25 ($10 if issued in conjunction with another SERO-administered permit) related to SERO's administration of the permit and a more accurate estimate of the number of respondents, reducing the estimated number of respondents from 4,000, to 500 based on recent landings data.

    Specifically for the smoothhound shark commercial permit, NMFS estimates 500 respondents to apply. If a respondent already holds a SERO-administered permit, applying for a smoothhound shark permit would only require checking an additional box on the permits application form, which would take approximately 10 seconds. If the respondent does not hold a SERO-administered permit, a new application must be filled out, which would take approximately 30 minutes. Thus, the total annual burden estimate is between 1.4 hours and 250 hours. It is likely that many respondents already hold a permit issued through the SERO Permits Office due to participation in other SERO fisheries (including other shark fisheries), thus, they would simply need to check a box on their existing form. However, at this time, NMFS does not have an estimate of the number of respondents who would apply for this permit and that already hold a permit administered through the SERO Permits Office, and therefore, for the purpose of this revision request, NMFS assumes the high estimate of 250 burden hours annually for the commercial smoothhound shark permit.

    There is a $25 fee for a stand-alone commercial smoothhound shark permit or a $10 fee if issued in conjunction with another SERO-administered permit. Thus, the total annual cost to the public for the permit is between $12,500 if none of the 500 respondents hold another SERO-administered permit and $5,000 if all the respondents hold another SERO-administered permit. For the purpose of this revision request, NMFS assumes the high estimate of $12,500 in total annual costs for the commercial smoothhound shark permit.

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations; individuals or households.

    Frequency: Annually and on occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    This information collection request may be viewed at 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 [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: November 4, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28435 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Notice of Intent To Prepare an Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Santa Cruz River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study, Pinal County, Arizona AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District (Corps) in partnership with the Pinal County Flood Control District intends to prepare an Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Santa Cruz River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study.

    DATES:

    A public scoping meeting will be held on November 9, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Submit written comments concerning this notice on or before December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The scoping meeting location is: City of Casa Grande Council Chambers, 510 East Florence Blvd., Casa Grande, AZ 85122.

    Mail written comments to: Mr. Kenneth Wong, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, CESPL-PD-RQ, 915 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Kenneth Wong, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, CESPL-PD-RQ, 915 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90017, (213) 452-3847, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Lower Santa Cruz River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study is authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 (Pub. L. 761, 75th Congress) for flood control studies on the Gila River and its tributaries in Arizona and New Mexico. The Santa Cruz River is a major tributary of the Gila River.

    The study will evaluate strategies for minimizing flood risks along the Lower Santa Cruz River and its major tributaries within an approximately 1,400 square mile study area in Pinal County. The northern boundary of the study is the Santa Cruz River's confluence with the Gila River near the Maricopa County line. The southern boundary is the Pinal County-Pima County line.

    The study will primarily focus on minimizing flood risks associated with large storm events originating from Mexico and Southern/Central Arizona. The study area has long been subject to damaging floods. Since 1887, 34 major floods have occurred on the river, an average of one event every three to four years. Six of the seven most damaging floods have occurred in the last 50 years. Damage has been widespread and devastating, including forced aerial evacuations; the loss of entire buildings; road and bridge closures; destruction of dams, levees, dikes, high-pressure gas lines, and crops; and severe erosion, channel migration, and sedimentation.

    The potential for flood related damages has increased with continued population growth within the study area. Pinal County was the second fastest growing county in the United States during the past decade, nearly doubling its population to 375,000, with a projected population of one million by 2030.

    Potential alternatives to be evaluated during the course of the study include:

    Diversion/Bypass Channels. Capture floodwaters at an upstream location, and divert them away from high damage areas to Tat Momolikot Reservoir.

    Channelization. Capture flood flows at an upstream location near Red Rock, and contain these flows in a channel to a point where they could be discharged into the Gila River.

    Detention. Detain floodwaters upstream and release at a non-damaging flow rate.

    Levees. Construct levees near populated areas and critical infrastructure.

    Nonstructural. Prepare floodplain management plans; install flood warning systems and prepare emergency evacuation plans; elevate structures; flood proof structures; and relocate and/or buyout structures.

    Additional alternatives that combine elements of those listed above may also be evaluated. In addition, the study would also evaluate the No Action alternative pursuant to NEPA.

    The Corps and Pinal County Flood Control District will jointly conduct a public scoping meeting at the date and address indicated above. The purpose of the meeting is to present information regarding the study and receive public comment regarding the appropriate scope, potential alternatives, and environmental resources of concern. Participation of affected Federal, state and local resource agencies, Native American groups and concerned interest groups/individuals is encouraged.

    The Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be available for public review and comment in May 2017.

    Dated: October 30, 2015. Kirk E. Gibbs, Colonel, U.S. Army, Commander and District Engineer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28495 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [FE Docket No. 15-149-LNG] ConocoPhillips Alaska Natural Gas Corporation; Application for Blanket Authorization To Export Liquefied Natural Gas to Non-Free Trade Agreement Nations on a Short-Term Basis AGENCY:

    Office of Fossil Energy, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of application.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) of the Department of Energy (DOE) gives notice of receipt of an application (Application), filed on September 28, 2015, by ConocoPhillips Alaska Natural Gas Corporation (CPANGC), requesting blanket authorization to export a quantity of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in an amount up to the equivalent of 40 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas on a cumulative basis over a two-year period. In the portion of the Application subject to this Notice, CPANGC seeks blanket authorization to export this volume of LNG from facilities located near Kenai, Alaska (Kenai LNG Facility), to any country with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement (FTA) requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas, and with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy (non-FTA countries).1 CPANGC seeks to export this LNG on its own behalf and as agent for other entities who hold title to the LNG at the time of export. CPANGC requests the authorization for a two-year term to commence on February 19, 2016.2 The Application was filed under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA). Additional details can be found in CPANGC's Application, posted on the DOE/FE Web site at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/10/f27/ConocoPhillips15_149_LNG.pdf.

    1 In the Application, CPANGC also requests blanket authorization to export the same volume of LNG to any country that currently has, or in the future may enter into, a FTA requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas, and with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy (FTA countries). DOE/FE will review that request separately pursuant to section 3(c) of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. 717b(c).

    2 According to CPANGC, February 19, 2016, is the day after its existing blanket authorization to export LNG from the Kenai LNG Facility to FTA countries will expire. CPANGC further states that its existing blanket authorization to export LNG from Alaska to non-FTA countries, issued in DOE/FE Order No. 3418, began on April 14, 2014, and extends through April 13, 2016. CPANGC states, however, that if the requested non-FTA authorization is granted to commence on February 19, 2016, CPANGC will relinquish the remainder of its non-FTA authorization in DOE/FE Order No. 3418 in light of DOE's policy against allowing a single entity to hold duplicate permits running concurrently. App. at 3.

    Protests, motions to intervene, notices of intervention, and written comments are invited.

    DATES:

    Protests, motions to intervene or notices of intervention, as applicable, requests for additional procedures, and written comments are to be filed using procedures detailed in the Public Comment Procedures section no later than 4:30 p.m., Eastern time, December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES: Electronic Filing by Email [email protected] Regular Mail U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, P.O. Box 44375, Washington, DC 20026-4375. Hand Delivery or Private Delivery Services (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.) U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larine Moore or Marc Talbert, U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-9478; (202) 586-7991. Cassandra Bernstein, U.S. Department of Energy (GC-76), Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Electricity and Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-9793.
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DOE/FE Evaluation

    The Application will be reviewed pursuant to section 3(a) of the NGA, 15 U.S.C. 717b(a). In reviewing this LNG export Application, DOE will consider issues required by law or policy. The Application is considered a renewal of previously issued authority (see supra n.2). To the extent determined to be relevant or appropriate, DOE/FE's review will include the impact of LNG exports associated with this Application on Alaskan regional domestic need for the natural gas proposed for export, adequacy of domestic natural gas supply in Alaska, and other issues, including whether the arrangement is consistent with DOE's policy of promoting competition in the marketplace by allowing commercial parties to freely negotiate their own trade arrangements. Parties that may oppose the Application should address these issues in their comments and/or protests, as well as other issues deemed relevant to the Application.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., requires DOE to give appropriate consideration to the environmental effects of its proposed decisions. No final decision will be issued in this proceeding until DOE has met its environmental responsibilities.

    Interested persons will be provided 30 days from the date of publication of this Notice in which to submit comments, protests, motions to intervene, notices of intervention, or motions for additional procedures.

    Public Comment Procedures

    In response to this Notice, any person may file a protest, comments, or a motion to intervene or notice of intervention, as applicable. Interested parties will be provided 30 days from the date of publication of this Notice in which to submit comments, protests, motions to intervene, or notices of intervention.

    Any person wishing to become a party to the proceeding must file a motion to intervene or notice of intervention. The filing of comments or a protest with respect to the Application will not serve to make the commenter or protestant a party to the proceeding, although protests and comments received from persons who are not parties will be considered in determining the appropriate action to be taken on the Application. All protests, comments, motions to intervene, or notices of intervention must meet the requirements specified by the regulations in 10 CFR part 590.

    Filings may be submitted using one of the following methods: (1) Emailing the filing to [email protected], with FE Docket No. 15-149-LNG in the title line; (2) mailing an original and three paper copies of the filing to the Office of Regulation and International Engagement at the address listed in ADDRESSES; or (3) hand delivering an original and three paper copies of the filing to the Office of Regulation and International Engagement at the address listed in ADDRESSES. All filings must include a reference to FE Docket No. 15-149-LNG. PLEASE NOTE: If submitting a filing via email, please include all related documents and attachments (e.g., exhibits) in the original email correspondence. Please do not include any active hyperlinks or password protection in any of the documents or attachments related to the filing. All electronic filings submitted to DOE must follow these guidelines to ensure that all documents are filed in a timely manner. Any hardcopy filing submitted greater in length than 50 pages must also include, at the time of the filing, a digital copy on disk of the entire submission.

    A decisional record on the Application will be developed through responses to this notice by parties, including the parties' written comments and replies thereto. Additional procedures will be used as necessary to achieve a complete understanding of the facts and issues. If an additional procedure is scheduled, notice will be provided to all parties. If no party requests additional procedures, a final Opinion and Order may be issued based on the official record, including the Application and responses filed by parties pursuant to this notice, in accordance with 10 CFR 590.316.

    The Application is available for inspection and copying in the Office of Regulation and International Engagement docket room, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. The docket room is open between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Application and any filed protests, motions to intervene or notice of interventions, and comments will also be available electronically by going to the following DOE/FE Web address: http://www.fe.doe.gov/programs/gasregulation/index.html.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 3, 2015. John A. Anderson, Director, Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Oil and Natural Gas.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28438 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [OE Docket No. EA-373-A] Application To Export Electric Energy; EDF Trading North America, LLC AGENCY:

    Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of application.

    SUMMARY:

    EDF Trading North America, LLC (Applicant) has applied to renew its authority to transmit electric energy from the United States to Mexico pursuant to section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act.

    DATES:

    Comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be submitted on or before December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments, protests, motions to intervene, or requests for more information should be addressed to: Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Mail Code: OE-20, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0350. Because of delays in handling conventional mail, it is recommended that documents be transmitted by overnight mail, by electronic mail to [email protected], or by facsimile to 202-586-8008.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Exports of electricity from the United States to a foreign country are regulated by the Department of Energy (DOE) pursuant to sections 301(b) and 402(f) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7151(b), 7172(f)) and require authorization under section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824a(e)).

    On November 30, 2010, DOE issued Order No. EA-373 to the Applicant, which authorized the Applicant to transmit electric energy from the United States to Mexico as a power marketer for a five-year term using existing international transmission facilities. That authority expires on November 30, 2015. On November 3, 2015, the Applicant filed an application with DOE for renewal of the export authority contained in Order No. EA-373 for an additional five-year term.

    In its application, the Applicant states that it does not own or operate any electric generation or transmission facilities, and it does not have a franchised service area. The electric energy that the Applicant proposes to export to Mexico would be surplus energy purchased from third parties such as electric utilities and Federal power marketing agencies pursuant to voluntary agreements. The existing international transmission facilities to be utilized by the Applicant have previously been authorized by Presidential permits issued pursuant to Executive Order 10485, as amended, and are appropriate for open access transmission by third parties. The Applicant is also requesting expedited treatment of this renewal application as current export authority expires on November 30, 2015.

    Procedural Matters: Any person desiring to be heard in this proceeding should file a comment or protest to the application at the address provided above. Protests should be filed in accordance with Rule 211 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Rules of Practice and Procedures (18 CFR 385.211). Any person desiring to become a party to these proceedings should file a motion to intervene at the above address in accordance with FERC Rule 214 (18 CFR 385.214). Five copies of such comments, protests, or motions to intervene should be sent to the address provided above on or before the date listed above.

    Comments and other filings concerning the Applicant's application to export electric energy to Mexico should be clearly marked with OE Docket No. EA-373-A. An additional copy is to be provided directly to Gerald Nemec, EDF Trading North America, LLC, 4700 West Sam Houston Parkway North, Suite 250, Houston, TX 77041 and to both Kenneth Irvin and Terence Healey, Sidley Austin LLP, 1501 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20005.

    A final decision will be made on this application after the environmental impacts have been evaluated pursuant to DOE's National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures (10 CFR part 1021) and after a determination is made by DOE that the proposed action will not have an adverse impact on the sufficiency of supply or reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system.

    Copies of this application will be made available, upon request, for public inspection and copying at the address provided above, by accessing the program Web site at http://energy.gov/node/11845, or by emailing Angela Troy at [email protected]

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 3, 2015. Brian Mills, Director, Permitting and Siting, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28439 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP16-11-000] Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC; Notice of Prior Notice Request Under Blanket Authorization

    Take notice that on October 23, 2015, Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC (Transwestern) filed in Docket No. CP16-11-000, a prior notice request pursuant to sections 157.205, 157.206, 157.208 and 157.210 subpart F blanket certificate of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) regulations under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) and Transwestern's blanket authorizations issued in Docket Nos. CP82-534-000, CP88-133-000. Southwest seeks authorization to construct, own, operate, and maintain 14.67 miles of 16-inch pipeline, one meter station, and other ancillary facilities in Eddy and Lea Counties, New Mexico, to receive up to 200,000 Mcf per day of natural gas from a new cryogenic natural gas processing plant, as part of the Malaga Lateral Project (Project) in Eddy County, New Mexico, all as more fully set forth in the application which is on file with the Commission and open for public inspection. The cost of the Project is estimated to be $23 million. The filing may also be viewed on the web at http://www.ferc.gov using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC at [email protected] or call toll-free, (866) 208-3676 or TTY, (202) 502-8659.

    Any questions concerning this application may be directed to: Mr. Kelly Allen, Manager, Certificates and Reporting, Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC, 1300 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002, by phone at (713) 989-2606, or fax (713) 989-1205 or email at [email protected]

    Any person may, within 60 days after the issuance of the instant notice by the Commission, file pursuant to Rule 214 of the Commission's Procedural Rules (18 CFR 385.214) a motion to intervene or notice of intervention. Any person filing to intervene or the Commission's staff may, pursuant to section 157.205 of the Commission's Regulations under the NGA (18 CFR 157.205) file a protest to the request. If no protest is filed within the time allowed therefore, the proposed activity shall be deemed to be authorized effective the day after the time allowed for protest. If a protest is filed and not withdrawn within 30 days after the time allowed for filing a protest, the instant request shall be treated as an application for authorization pursuant to section 7 of the NGA.

    Pursuant to section 157.9 of the Commission's rules, 18 CFR 157.9, within 90 days of this Notice the Commission staff will either: Complete its environmental assessment (EA) and place it into the Commission's public record (eLibrary) for this proceeding; or issue a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review. If a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review is issued, it will indicate, among other milestones, the anticipated date for the Commission staff's issuance of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) or EA for this proposal. The filing of the EA in the Commission's public record for this proceeding or the issuance of a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review will serve to notify federal and state agencies of the timing for the completion of all necessary reviews, and the subsequent need to complete all federal authorizations within 90 days of the date of issuance of the Commission staff's FEIS or EA.

    Persons who wish to comment only on the environmental review of this project should submit an original and two copies of their comments to the Secretary of the Commission. Environmental commenters will be placed on the Commission's environmental mailing list, will receive copies of the environmental documents, and will be notified of meetings associated with the Commission's environmental review process. Environmental commenters will not be required to serve copies of filed documents on all other parties. However, the non-party commenters will not receive copies of all documents filed by other parties or issued by the Commission (except for the mailing of environmental documents issued by the Commission) and will not have the right to seek court review of the Commission's final order.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests, and interventions via the internet in lieu of paper. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the “e-Filing” link. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28420 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL16-9-000] Big Sandy Peaker Plant, LLC, Wolf Hills Energy, LLC, Crete Energy Venture, LLC, Lincoln Generating Facility, LLC, Rolling Hills Generating, L.L.C. v. PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.; Notice of Complaint

    Take notice that on November 3, 2015, pursuant to sections 206 and 306 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824e and 825e (2012) and Rule 206 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.206 (2015), Big Sandy Peaker Plant, LLC, Wolf Hills Energy, LLC, Crete Energy Venture, LLC, Lincoln Generating Facility, LLC, and Rolling Hills Generating, L.L.C., (collectively Complainants) filed a complaint against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM or Respondent) alleging that PJM violated its Open Access Transmission Tariff and acted in contravention of the filed rate doctrine by finding that the generation units owned and operated by the Complainants were not eligible to provide Tier 1 Synchronized Reserve effective retroactively to October 1, 2013, and by invoicing the Complainants for adjustments to payments previously made by PJM to the Complainants for providing Tier 1 Synchronized Reserve during the period from October 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014, all as more fully explained in the complaint.

    The Complainant certifies that copies of the complaint were served on the contacts for the Respondent as listed on the Commission's list of corporate officials.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. The Respondent's answer and all interventions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. The Respondent's answer, motions to intervene, and protests must be served on the Complainants.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on December 3, 2015.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28424 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-25-000.

    Applicants: Florida Power & Light Company.

    Description: Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act and Request for Expedited Action of Florida Power & Light Company.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5263.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-1484-012.

    Applicants: Shell Energy North America (US), L.P.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change in Status of Shell Energy North America (US), L.P.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5298.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER10-2806-002; ER10-2818-002; ER10-2847-002; ER14-963-002; ER13-2386-005.

    Applicants: TransAlta Energy Marketing (U.S.) Inc., TransAlta Energy Marketing Corporation, TransAlta Centralia Generation LLC, TransAlta Wyoming Wind LLC, Lakeswind Power Partners, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Change in Status of the TransAlta MBR Entities.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5267.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1453-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Arkansas, Inc., Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C., Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Mississippi, Inc., Entergy New Orleans, Inc., Entergy Texas, Inc.

    Description: Supplement to April 1, 2015 Application of Entergy Services, Inc., on behalf of the Entergy Operating Companies with actual 2014 PBOP amounts to be included in the 2015 formula rate update.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5253.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-243-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Notice of Cancellation of Service Agreement No. 3105 (PJM-DP&L NITSA) to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5245.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-244-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3095 Missouri River Energy Services NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5248.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-245-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3126 WAPA NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5254.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-246-000.

    Applicants: Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: WPC 2016 Amendment Filing to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5255.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-247-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3127 Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5260.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-248-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Request for Waiver of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5302.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    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: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28418 Filed 11-6-15; 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 has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP16-91-000.

    Applicants: Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Auction Procedures MBR Storage Filing to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5166.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-92-000.

    Applicants: Questar Overthrust Pipeline Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 26 Standards of Conduct to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5194.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-93-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: Compliance filing Operational Purchases and Sales Report for 2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5200.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-94-000.

    Applicants: Questar Pipeline Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 23 Standards of Conduct to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5204.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-95-000.

    Applicants: Questar Southern Trails Pipeline Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 29 Standards of Conduct to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5205.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-96-000.

    Applicants: Midwestern Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Compliance filing 2014-2015 Gas Sales and Purchases Report.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5206.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-97-000.

    Applicants: Destin Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Fuel Retention Adjustment Oct 2015 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5219.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-98-000.

    Applicants: Midwestern Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Compliance filing 2014-2015 Cashout Report.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5238.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-99-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/29/15 Negotiated Rates—Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC (HUB) 7465-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5253.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-100-000.

    Applicants: Viking Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Compliance filing 2014-2015 Gas Sales and Purchases Report.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5256.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-101-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: November 1-30 2015 Auction to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5287.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-102-000.

    Applicants: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company, L.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company LLC—Filing of New Baseline Tariff to be effective 10/29/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5312.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-103-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/29/15 Negotiated Rates—Trafigura Trading LLC (HUB) 7445-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5355.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-104-000.

    Applicants: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company, L.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company LLC—Cancellation of Tariff to be effective 10/29/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5375.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-105-000.

    Applicants: National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Non-Conforming (TGP) to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5461.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-106-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Leidy Southeast Rate Filing to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5478.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-107-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/29/15 Negotiated Rates—Cargill Incorporated (HUB) 3085-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5502.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-108-000.

    Applicants: Wyoming Interstate Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: FL&U Effective 12-1-15 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5503.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-109-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/29/15 Negotiated Rates—Mietco (HUB) 7080-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5505.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-110-000.

    Applicants: TransColorado Gas Transmission Company L.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Firm Transportation Service Options Filing to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5539.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-111-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: RP16-Fuel Tracking Filing to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5547.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-112-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Maiden Lateral Surcharge Dec 2015 Update to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5064.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-113-000.

    Applicants: Texas Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: NC & Neg Rate Agmts (Atmos 21789, Anadarko 21939, Atmos 32658, Clarksdale 20393 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5124.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-114-000.

    Applicants: Trunkline Gas Company, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing Annual Interruptible Storage Revenue Credit filed on 10-30-15.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5139.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-115-000.

    Applicants: ETC Tiger Pipeline, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Fuel Filing on 10-30-15 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5140.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-116-000.

    Applicants: Fayetteville Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Fuel Filing on 10-30-15 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5141.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-117-000.

    Applicants: Enable Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate Filing- November 2015 Devon 1009900 Removal to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5163.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-118-000.

    Applicants: Golden Triangle Storage, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing Compliance Filing per Order on Petition for Declaratory Order Dkt. No. RP15-132 to be effective 12/15/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5169.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-119-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Non-Conforming Agreements—Leidy Southeast to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5183.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-120-000.

    Applicants: Southern LNG Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: SLNG Electric Power Cost Adjustment—2015 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5189.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-121-000.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: OTRA—Winter 2015 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5194.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-122-000.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Tariff Clean-Up Filing to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5204.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-123-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: DPEs—Piedmont to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5215.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-124-000.

    Applicants: Rockies Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Neg Rate 2015-10-30 Encana to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5216.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-125-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/30/15 Negotiated Rates—DTE Energy Trading, Inc. (HUB) 1830-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5217.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-126-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/30/15 Negotiated Rates—Freepoint Commodities LLC (HUB) 7250-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5225.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-127-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: ConEd NJNY Releases for 11-1-2015 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5245.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-128-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: BUG Ramapo Releases for 11-1-2015 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5246.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-129-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: ConEd Ramapo Releases for 11-1-2015 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5247.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-130-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: KeySpan Ramapo Releases for 11-1-2015 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5248.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-131-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Establish Fuel Tracker to be effective 4/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5251.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-132-000.

    Applicants: Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Misc Tariff Filing October 2015 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5287.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-133-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate—SoJersey 11-1-2015 NJNY 8939244 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5297.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-134-000.

    Applicants: ANR Pipeline Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate Agmts to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5299.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-135-000.

    Applicants: Northern Border Pipeline Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: PAL Flexibility Revisions to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5308.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-136-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Petition of Northern Natural Gas Company for a Limited Waiver of Tariff Provisions and Request for Shortened Comment Period under RP16-136.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5321.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-137-000.

    Applicants: Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, L.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Section 4 Rate Case Filing (1 of 2) to be effective 5/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5356.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-138-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rates—SoJersey Ramapo 790822 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5389.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-139-000.

    Applicants: Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, L.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Neg Rate 2015/10/30 Nebraska Corn to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5421.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-140-000.

    Applicants: Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Non-Conforming Contract No. 010153 to be effective 10/30/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5422.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-141-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Removal of Expired Agreement to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5423.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-142-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate—ConEdison Energy Ramapo 790737 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5427.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-143-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rates—BP Energy 11-1-2015 Ramapo Releases to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5430.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-144-000.

    Applicants: TransColorado Gas Transmission Company L.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Non-Conforming Service Agreement (NMG) to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5433.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-145-000.

    Applicants: Portland Natural Gas Transmission System.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Freepoint Commodities Neg Rate Agmt to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5434.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-146-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate Filing NSO December 1, 2015 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5436.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-147-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 20151030 Negotiated Rate to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5437.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-148-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: TETLP ASA DEC 2015 FILING to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5438.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-149-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Tariff Waiver Adjustment Hess to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5442.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-150-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/30/15 Negotiated Rates—Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5443.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-151-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: New Services Offering Update to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5450.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-152-000.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC submits Off System Capacity Request.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5488.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-153-000.

    Applicants: Apache Corporation, Navitas Midstream Midland Basin, LLC.

    Description: Joint Petition for Temporary Waiver of Apache Corporation and Navitas Midstream Midland Basin, LLC under RP16-153.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5493.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    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.

    Filings in Existing Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-65-003.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: Compliance filing Motion to Place Interim Settlement Rates into Effect to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/29/15.

    Accession Number: 20151029-5024.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/10/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-1022-002.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Compliance filing Compliance Filing New Services Offering to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5431.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/12/15.

    Any person desiring to protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rule 211 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    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: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28397 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. NJ16-1-000] City of Vernon, California; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on October 28, 2015, City of Vernon, California submitted its tariff filing: Filing 2016 Transmission Revenue Requirement and Transmission Revenue Balancing Account Adjustment, to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. On or before the comment date, it is not necessary to serve motions to intervene or protests on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on November 18, 2015.

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28392 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 13877-003] Mahoning Hydropower, LLC; Notice of Surrender of Preliminary Permit

    Take notice that Mahoning Hydropower, LLC, permittee for the proposed Stonewall Jackson Hydroelectric Project, has requested that its preliminary permit be terminated. The permit was issued on April 1, 2011,1 extended on March 20, 2014 for an additional two years,2 and would have expired on March 31, 2016. The project would have been located at the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Stonewall Jackson Dam on the West Fork River in Lewis County, West Virginia.

    1 135 FERC ¶ 62,001 (2011).

    2 146 FERC ¶ 62,194 (2014).

    The preliminary permit for Project No. 13877 will remain in effect until the close of business, December 2, 2015. But, if the Commission is closed on this day, then the permit remains in effect until the close of business on the next day in which the Commission is open.3 New applications for this site may not be submitted until after the permit surrender is effective.

    3 18 CFR 385.2007(a)(2) (2015).

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28393 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2662-027] FirstLight Hydro Generation Company; Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment

    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) regulations, 18 CFR part 380 (Order No. 486, 52 FR 47897), the Office of Energy Projects has reviewed an application submitted by FirstLight Hydro Generation Company (licensee) to amend the license for the Scotland Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2662). The project is located on the Shetucket River in Windham County, Connecticut.

    An Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared as part of Commission staff's review of the proposal. In the application, the licensee proposes to install a variable pitch Kaplan runner in order to comply with run-of-river operations. The project license currently authorizes the installation of a 1.026 megawatt (MW) low flow turbine, to comply with run-of-river operational requirements that would have increased the project's capacity from 2.0 MW to 3.026 MW. This EA contains Commission staff's analysis of the probable environmental impacts of the proposed amendment and concludes that approval of the proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

    The EA is available for electronic review and reproduction at the Commission's Public Reference Room, located at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426. The EA may also be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number (P-2662) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support at [email protected] or toll-free at (866) 208-3372 or for TTY, (202) 502-8659.

    Any comments on the EA should be filed by December 3, 2015 and should be addressed to the Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Room 1-A, Washington, DC 20426. Please reference the project name and project number (P-2662-027) on all comments. Comments may be filed electronically via the Internet in lieu of paper. The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site under the “eFiling” link.

    For further information, contact Alicia Burtner at (202) 502-8038 or by email at [email protected]

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28428 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL16-4-000] CPV Shore, LLC; Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective Date

    On November 3, 2015, the Commission issued an order in Docket No. EL16-4-000, pursuant to section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824e (2012), instituting an investigation into the justness and reasonableness of CPV Shore, LLC's Reactive Power Tariff. CPV Shore, LLC, 153 FERC ¶ 61,139 (2015).

    The refund effective date in Docket No. EL16-4-000, established pursuant to section 206(b) of the FPA, will be January 1, 2016.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28422 Filed 11-6-15; 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 corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-19-000.

    Applicants: Calpine Granite Holdings, LLC, Granite Ridge Energy, LLC.

    Description: Calpine Granite Holdings, LLC et al submits the workpapers of Julie Solomon re the application for approval under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act etc.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-0056.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: EC16-22-000.

    Applicants: Roosevelt Wind Project, LLC, Milo Wind Project, LLC.

    Description: Application for Authorization for Disposition of Jurisdictional Facilities and Requests for Confidential Treatment and Expedited Action of Roosevelt Wind Project, LLC, and Milo Wind Project, LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5502.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: EC16-23-000.

    Applicants: Prairie Rose Wind, LLC, Prairie Rose Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Application of Prairie Rose Wind, LLC, et al. for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act, Request for Expedited Consideration and Confidential Treatment.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5519.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: EC16-24-000.

    Applicants: Chisholm View Wind Project, LLC.

    Description: Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act, Request for Expedited Consideration and Confidential Treatment of Chisholm View Wind Project, LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5520.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER13-193-006.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing: Amendments to ISO-NE Tariff and TOA in Compliance with October 2, 2015 Order to be effective 5/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5124.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER13-196-005.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc., Eversource Energy Service Company (as agent).

    Description: Compliance filing: Amendments to the TOA in Compliance with October 2, 2015 Order to be effective 5/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5126.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER13-1908-001.

    Applicants: Virginia Electric and Power Company.

    Description: Notice of material change in circumstances of Virginia Electric and Power Company and its marketing affiliates.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5507.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1825-002.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2015-11-02_RSI_Phase1A_Compliance Filing to be effective 1/10/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5139.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-229-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2646R1 Kansas Municipal Energy Agency NITSA NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5108.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-230-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 1067R5 ETEC NITSA; Cancellation of 1065R4 Tex-La NITA and 1066R7 NTEC NITSA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5109.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-231-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 3082 Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc. NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5123.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-232-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 3124 Basin Electric Power Cooperative NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5166.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-233-000.

    Applicants: Illinois Power Resources Generating, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Notice of Succession for Reactive Service Rate Schedule to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5167.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following land acquisition reports:

    Docket Numbers: LA15-3-000.

    Applicants: Adelanto Solar, LLC, Adelanto Solar II, LLC, Ashtabula Wind, LLC, Ashtabula Wind II, LLC, Ashtabula Wind III, LLC, Backbone Mountain Windpower, LLC, Baldwin Wind, LLC, Bayswater Peaking Facility, LLC, Blackwell Wind, LLC, Breckinridge Wind Project, LLC, Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center, LLC, Cimarron Wind Energy, LLC, Crystal Lake Wind, LLC, Crystal Lake Wind II, LLC, Crystal Lake Wind III, LLC, Day County Wind, LLC, Desert Sunlight 250, LLC, Desert Sunlight 300, LLC, Diablo Winds, LLC, Elk City Wind, LLC, Elk City II Wind, LLC, Energy Storage Holdings, LLC, Ensign Wind, LLC, ESI Vansycle Partners, L.P., Florida Power & Light Company, FPL Energy Burleigh County Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Cabazon Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Cape, LLC, FPL Energy Cowboy Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Green Power Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Hancock County Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Illinois Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Marcus Hook, L.P., FPL Energy MH50, L.P., FPL Energy Montezuma Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Mower County, LLC, FPL Energy New Mexico Wind, LLC, FPL Energy North Dakota Wind, LLC, FPL Energy North Dakota Wind II, LLC, FPL Energy Oklahoma Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Oliver Wind I, LLC, FPL Energy Oliver Wind II, LLC, FPL Energy Sooner Wind, LLC, FPL Energy South Dakota Wind, LLC, FPL Energy Stateline II, Inc., FPL Energy Vansycle, LLC, FPL Energy Wyman, LLC, FPL Energy Wyman IV, LLC, Garden Wind, LLC, Genesis Solar, LLC, Golden West Power Partners, LLC, Gray County Wind Energy, LLC, Green Mountain Storage, LLC, Hatch Solar Energy Center I, LLC, Hawkeye Power Partners, LLC, High Majestic Wind Energy Center, LLC, High Majestic Wind II, LLC, High Winds, LLC, Jamaica Bay Peaking Facility, LLC, Lake Benton Power Partners II, LLC, Langdon Wind, LLC, Limon Wind, LLC, Limon Wind II, LLC, Limon Wind III, LLC, Logan Wind Energy LLC, Mammoth Plains Wind Project, LLC, Mantua Creek Solar, LLC, McCoy Solar, LLC, Meyersdale Storage, LLC, Meyersdale Windpower LLC, Mill Run Windpower, LLC, Minco Wind, LLC, Minco Wind II, LLC, Minco Wind III, LLC, Minco Wind Interconnection Services, LLC, Mountain View Solar, LLC, NEPM II, LLC, NextEra Energy Duane Arnold, LLC, NextEra Energy Montezuma II Wind, LLC, NextEra Energy Point Beach, LLC, NextEra Energy Power Marketing, LLC, NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC, NextEra Energy Services Massachusetts, LLC, Northeast Energy Associates, LP, North Jersey Energy Associates, A Limited Partnership, North Sky River Energy, LLC, Northern Colorado Wind Energy, LLC, Osceola Windpower, LLC, Osceola Windpower II, LLC, Palo Duro Wind Energy, LLC, Palo Duro Wind Interconnection Services, LLC, Paradise Solar Urban Renewal, L.L.C., Peetz Table Wind Energy, LLC, Pennsylvania Windfarms, LLC, Perrin Ranch Wind, LLC, Pheasant Run Wind, LLC, Red Mesa Wind, LLC, Seiling Wind, LLC, Seiling Wind II, LLC, Seiling Wind Interconnection Services, LLC, Silver State Solar Power South, LLC, Shafter Solar, LLC, Sky River LLC, Sky River Asset Holdings, LLC, Somerset Windpower, LLC, Steele Flats Wind Project, LLC, Story Wind, LLC, Tuscola Bay Wind, LLC, Tuscola Wind II, LLC, Vasco Winds, LLC, Waymart Wind Farm, L.P., Wessington Wind Energy Center, LLC, White Oak Energy LLC, Wilton Wind II, LLC, Windpower Partners 1993, LLC.

    Description: Quarterly Land Acquisition Report of the NextEra Energy Companies.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5508.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    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: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28396 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER16-237-000] South Jersey Energy IS09, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding South Jersey Energy IS09, LLC.'s application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 23, 2015.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected] or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28425 Filed 11-6-15; 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: ER13-398-000.

    Applicants: The Detroit Edison Company.

    Description: DTE Electric Company submits tariff filing per 35.19a(b): Refund Report to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151103-5130.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-72-001.

    Applicants: San Gorgonio Westwinds II—Windustries.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: Amendment to 1 to be effective 11/24/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151103-5141.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-206-001.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., ITC Midwest LLC.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2015-11-03_SA 2862 ITC Midwest-WPL FSA Amendment (G870) to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151103-5051.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-249-000.

    Applicants: Eel River Power LLC.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Cancellation of Market-Based Rate Tariff to be effective 11/4/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151103-5049.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-250-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc., New England Power Pool Participants Committee.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Revisions to the NCPC Credit Rules to be effective 2/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151103-5164.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/15.

    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: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28419 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #3

    Take notice that the Commission received the following exempt wholesale generator filings:

    Docket Numbers: EG16-15-000.

    Applicants: Campbell County Wind Farm, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Self-Certification of EWG of Campbell County Wind Farm, LLC.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5195.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-3097-004.

    Applicants: Bruce Power Inc.

    Description: Supplement to June 30, 2015 Updated Market Power Analysis for the Central Region of Bruce Power Inc.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5501.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-234-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3112 WAPA—UGP Marketing Meter Agent Agreement to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5180.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-235-000.

    Applicants: Illinois Power Marketing Company.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Notice of Termination for System Support Resource Agreement to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5206.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-236-000.

    Applicants: Public Service Company of Colorado.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-11-2_PSC-SPS ADIT Formula Rate Chng-Filing to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5207.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-237-000.

    Applicants: South Jersey Energy ISO9, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Market-Based Rate Application to be effective 11/3/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5208.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-238-000.

    Applicants: South Jersey Energy ISO10, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Market-Based Rate Application to be effective 11/3/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5223.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-239-000.

    Applicants: Public Service Company of Colorado.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-11-02_ADIT Prorate to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5229.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-240-000.

    Applicants: Alabama Power Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: SWE (PowerSouth Territorial) NITSA Amendment (Add CAEC Clanton-Cobblestone DP) to be effective 10/30/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5231.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-241-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3125 Basin Electric Power Cooperative NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5243.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-242-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3101 Heartland Consumers Power District NITSA and NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5244.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    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: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28391 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL11-66-001] Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission; Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel; Maine Office of the Public Advocate; George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General; New Hampshire Office of Consumer Advocate; Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; Vermont Department of Public Service; Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company; Associated Industries of Massachusetts; The Energy Consortium; Power Options, Inc.; and the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Company; Central Maine Power Company; New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid; New Hampshire Transmission LLC d/b/a NextEra; NSTAR Electric and Gas Corporation; Northeast Utilities Service Company; The United Illuminating Company; Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company; Vermont Transco, LLC; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on November 2, 2015, the New England Transmission Owners (NETOs) 1 submitted tariff filing per: Refund Report to be effective N/A, pursuant to the Commission's Opinion No. 531-A, issued on October 16, 2014.2

    1 For purposes of this filing, the NETOs consist of Emera Maine (f/k/a Bangor Hydro Electric Company); Central Maine Power Company; New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid; New Hampshire Transmission LLC; Eversource Energy Service Company (on behalf of The Connecticut Light and Power Company, NSTAR Electric Company, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, and Public Service Company of New Hampshire, each doing business as Eversource Energy); The United Illuminating Company; Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company; and Vermont Transco LLC.

    2Martha Coakley, Mass. Attorney Gen., et al. v. Bangor Hydro-Elec. Co., et al., Opinion No. 531, 147 FERC ¶ 61,234 (2014) (Opinion No. 531), order on paper hearing, Opinion No. 531-A, 149 FERC ¶ 61,032 (2014) (Opinion No. 531-A).

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant and all the parties in this proceeding.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on November 23, 2015.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28421 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2539-069] Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Protests

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection:

    a. Type of Proceeding: Application for Amendment of License.

    b. Project No.: 2539-069.

    c. Date Filed: August 31, 2015.

    d. Licensee: Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP.

    e. Name of Project: School Street Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: The 38.8-Megawatt (MW) School Street Hydroelectric Project is located on the Mohawk River in Albany and Saratoga Counties, New York, and does not occupy any federal lands.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791a-825r.

    h. Licensee Contact: Ian Borlang. Compliance Manager, Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P., 399 Big Bay Road, Queensbury, NY 12804, Telephone: (518) 743-2093.

    i. FERC Contact: Jennifer Polardino, (202) 502-6437, [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments, interventions and protests is 30 days from the issuance date of this notice by the Commission. The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file motions to intervene, protests and comments using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-2539-069.

    k. Description of Request: The licensee proposes to amend the School Street Project license to remove approximately 3.38 acres of land from the project boundary. The land that would be removed from the boundary lies in a narrow strip along the Mohawk River extending upstream and downstream of the project's dam, opposite from the shore on which the project's powerhouse and related features are located. The licensee states that these lands are not necessary for the safe and effective operation of the project and that the removal of these lands from the project boundary would not affect operations, public infrastructure, recreational use, or environmental resources.

    l. This filing may be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, call 1-866-208-3676 or email [email protected], for TTY, call (202) 502-8659. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction in the Commission's Public Reference Room located at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426, or by calling (202) 502-8371.

    m. Individuals desiring to be included on the Commission's mailing list should so indicate by writing to the Secretary of the Commission.

    n. Comments, Protests, or Motions to Intervene: Anyone may submit comments, a protest, or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210, 385.211, 385.212 and 385.214. In determining the appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene in accordance with the Commission's Rules may become a party to the proceeding. Any comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified comment date for the particular application. Any comments filed with the Commission prior to the date of this notice will also be considered.

    o. Filing and Service of Responsive Documents: Any filing must (1) bear in all capital letters the title “COMMENTS”, “PROTEST”, or “MOTION TO INTERVENE” as applicable; (2) set forth in the heading the name of the applicant and the project number of the application to which the filing responds; (3) furnish the name, address, and telephone number of the person protesting or intervening; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, motions to intervene, or protests must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). All comments, motions to intervene, or protests should relate to project works which are the subject of the license amendment. Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. A copy of any protest or motion to intervene must be served upon each representative of the applicant specified in the particular application. If an intervener files comments or documents with the Commission relating to the merits of an issue that may affect the responsibilities of a particular resource agency, they must also serve a copy of the document on that resource agency. A copy of all other filings in reference to this application must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed in the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28427 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER16-238-000] South Jersey Energy IS010, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding South Jersey Energy IS010, LLC.'s application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 23, 2015.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected] or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28426 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings—1

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: PR16-2-000.

    Applicants: Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(b)(1) & (g),: eTariff System Migration: Refile Existing Records from Tariff ID 9000 to 9100 to be effective 10/26/2015; Filing Type: 1330.

    Filed Date: 10/26/15.

    Accession Number: 20151026-5412.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/16/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: PR16-3-000.

    Applicants: Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(g)/.224: eTariff System Migration: Cancellation of Tariff ID 9000 to be effective 10/26/2015; Filing Type: 1290.

    Filed Date: 10/26/15.

    Accession Number: 20151026-5418.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/16/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-72-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rates—BP Energy contracts 911301 and 911302 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/26/15.

    Accession Number: 20151026-5341.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-73-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Shell Energy Negotiated Rate to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5144.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-74-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Tenaska Marketing Negotiated Rate to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5150.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-75-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Occidental Energy Negotiated Rate to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5157.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-76-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/27/15 Negotiated Rates—MMGS Inc. (HUB) 7625-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5232.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-77-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/27/15 Negotiated Rates—Emera Energy Services, Inc. (HUB) 2715-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5244.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-78-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Munich Re Trading Negotiated Rate to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5247.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-79-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Compliance filing 2015 Penalty Sharing Report.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5116.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-80-000.

    Applicants: MIGC LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Quality Spec Change (CO2) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5118.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-81-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/28/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Gas Trading LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5168.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-82-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/28/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Gas Trading LLC (RTS) 7540-02 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5174.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-83-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rate—Chevron TEAM2014 Release to Sequent 8938943 to be effective 11/1/2015

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5181.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-84-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: AGT FRQ 2015 FILING to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5256.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-85-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Negotiated Rates—Cherokee AGL—Replacement Shippers—Nov 2015 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5279.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-86-000.

    Applicants: Northwest Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: NWP Non-Conforming Service Agreement Filing—Northwest Natural to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5298.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-87-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/28/15 Negotiated Rates—Freepoint Commodites LLC (RTS) 7250-14 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5320.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-88-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/28/15 Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5324.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-89-000.

    Applicants: Guardian Pipeline, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: Revisions to Exhibit A of FT-1 and FT-2 Form of Service Agreements to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5334.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-90-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) Rate Filing: 10/28/15 Negotiated Rates—Sequent Energy Management (HUB) 3075-89 to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5337.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/9/15.

    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 date(s). 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: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28398 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-3297-007.

    Applicants: Powerex Corp.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change in Status of Powerex Corp.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5475.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER14-2553-003.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing: Long-Term Congestion Rights Compliance Filing in ER14-2553 to be effective 2/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5441.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-211-000.

    Applicants: Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Quarterly Filing of City and County of San Francisco's WDT SA 275 for Q3 2015 to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5432.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-212-000.

    Applicants: Black Hills/Colorado Electric Utility Company, LP.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Joint Dispatch Transmission Service to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5439.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-213-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-10-30 RSG/RNU Netting Filing to be effective 1/15/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5440.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-214-000.

    Applicants: New England Power Pool Participants Committee.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 128th Agreement to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5444.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-215-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Notice of Succession—System Agreement to be effective 10/30/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5445.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-216-000.

    Applicants: New York State Electric & Gas Corporation.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: NYSEG-DCEC Attachment C Annual update to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5446.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-217-000.

    Applicants: Black Hills/Colorado Electric Utility Company, LP.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Joint Dispatch Agreement Concurrence Filing to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5448.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-218-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Notice of Succession—Other to be effective 10/30/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5449.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-219-000.

    Applicants: California Power Exchange Corporation.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Rate Filing for Rate Period 28 to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5000.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-220-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: SRMPA 4th Extension of Interim Agreement to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5003.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-221-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing: ELL MBR Tariff to be effective 10/30/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-222-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. Resource Termination—Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5473.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-223-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. Resource Termination—Twin Eagle Resource Management.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5474.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-224-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. Resource Termination—Direct Energy Business Management.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5477.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-225-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. Resource Termination of Enerwise Global Technologies, Inc.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5478.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-226-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. Resource Termination—Green Mountain Power Corporation.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5479.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-227-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Arkansas, Inc., Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Mississippi, Inc., Entergy New Orleans, Inc., Entergy Texas, Inc.

    Description: Application of Entergy Services, Inc. on behalf of Entergy Arkansas, Inc., et al. to use current Intangible Plant amortization rates and updated depreciation rates for Transmission Plant and General Plant in transmission formula rates.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5497.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-228-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 3113 Basin Electric and Montana-Dakota Utilities At AO to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151102-5105.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/23/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric securities filings:

    Docket Numbers: ES16-4-000.

    Applicants: AEP Generating Company.

    Description: Application Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for Authorization of AEP Generating Company to Issue Securities.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5484.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ES16-5-000.

    Applicants: Baltimore Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Application of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for Authorization of the Issuance Securities.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5485.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ES16-6-000.

    Applicants: Commonwealth Edison Company.

    Description: Application of Commonwealth Edison Company Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for Authorization of the Issuance Securities.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5486.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: ES16-7-000.

    Applicants: PECO Energy Company.

    Description: Application of PECO Energy Company Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for Authorization of the Issuance Securities.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5487.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following land acquisition reports:

    Docket Numbers: LA15-3-000.

    Applicants: AV Solar Ranch 1, LLC, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Beebe 1B Renewable Energy, LLC, Beebe Renewable Energy, LLC, Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, LLC, Cassia Gulch Wind Park LLC, CER Generation, LLC, Commonwealth Edison Company, Constellation Energy Commodities Group Maine, LLC, Constellation Energy Services of New York, Inc, Constellation Energy Services, Inc., Constellation Mystic Power, LLC, Constellation NewEnergy, Inc., Constellation Power Source Generation, LLC, Cow Branch Wind Power, L.L.C., CR Clearing, LLC, Criterion Power Partners, LLC, Exelon Framingham, LLC, Exelon Generation Company, LLC, Exelon New Boston, LLC, Exelon West Medway, LLC, Exelon Wind 4, LLC, Exelon Wyman, LLC, Fair Wind Power Partners, LLC, Fourmile Wind Energy, LLC, Handsome Lake Energy, LLC, Harvest WindFarm, LLC, Harvest Windfarm II, LLC, High Mesa Energy, LLC, Michigan Wind 1, LLC, Michigan Wind 2, LLC, Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, LLC, PECO Energy Company, R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, LLC, Shooting Star Wind Project, LLC, Tuana Springs Energy, LLC, Wind Capital Holdings, LLC, Wildcat Wind, LLC, 2014 ESA Project Company, LLC, 2015 ESA Project Company, LLC.

    Description: Quarterly Land Acquisition Report of the Exelon MBR Entities, 2014 ESA Project Company, LLC and 2015 ESA Project Company, LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5481.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    Docket Numbers: LA15-3-000.

    Applicants: Solar Star California XIII, LLC, Solar Star Colorado III, LLC.

    Description: Quarterly Land Acquisition Report of the Solar Star Companies.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5482.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/20/15.

    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: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28390 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL16-8-000] East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. v. Louisville Gas and Electric Company/Kentucky Utilities Company; Notice of Complaint

    Take notice that on November 2, 2015, pursuant to sections 206, 211 and 306 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824e, 824j-1 and 825e (2006) and Rule 206 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.206 (2015), East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. (East Kentucky or Complainant) filed a complaint against Louisville Gas and Electric Company/Kentucky Utilities Company (LKE or Respondents) alleging that LKE's failure to accept East Kentucky's designation of new Network Load under the East Kentucky-LKE Network Service Agreement is contrary to the terms of the LKE Open Access Transmission Tariff and the Commission's policies concerning open access and transmission pricing, all as more fully explained in the complaint.

    The Complainant certifies that copies of the complaint were served on the contacts for the Respondent as listed on the Commission's list of corporate officials.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. The Respondent's answer and all interventions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. The Respondent's answer, motions to intervene, and protests must be served on the Complainants.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on November 23, 2015.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28423 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. RM98-1-000] Records Governing Off-the-Record Communications; Public Notice

    This constitutes notice, in accordance with 18 CFR 385.2201(b), of the receipt of prohibited and exempt off-the-record communications.

    Order No. 607 (64 FR 51222, September 22, 1999) requires Commission decisional employees, who make or receive a prohibited or exempt off-the-record communication relevant to the merits of a contested proceeding, to deliver to the Secretary of the Commission, a copy of the communication, if written, or a summary of the substance of any oral communication.

    Prohibited communications are included in a public, non-decisional file associated with, but not a part of, the decisional record of the proceeding. Unless the Commission determines that the prohibited communication and any responses thereto should become a part of the decisional record, the prohibited off-the-record communication will not be considered by the Commission in reaching its decision. Parties to a proceeding may seek the opportunity to respond to any facts or contentions made in a prohibited off-the-record communication, and may request that the Commission place the prohibited communication and responses thereto in the decisional record. The Commission will grant such a request only when it determines that fairness so requires. Any person identified below as having made a prohibited off-the-record communication shall serve the document on all parties listed on the official service list for the applicable proceeding in accordance with Rule 2010, 18 CFR 385.2010.

    Exempt off-the-record communications are included in the decisional record of the proceeding, unless the communication was with a cooperating agency as described by 40 CFR 1501.6, made under 18 CFR 385.2201(e)(1)(v).

    The following is a list of off-the-record communications recently received by the Secretary of the Commission. The communications listed are grouped by docket numbers in ascending order. These filings are available for electronic review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link. Enter the docket number, excluding the last three digits, in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected] or toll free at (866) 208-3676, or for TTY, contact (202) 502-8659.

    Docket No. File date Presenter or requester Prohibited: 1. CP14-554-000, CP15-16-000, CP15-17-000 10-26-15 Susan VanBrunt. Exempt: 1. CP14-96-000 10-21-15 Members of Congress.1 2. CP15-115-000 10-22-15 U.S. Senators.2 3. CP15-558-000 10-26-15 Delaware Township, NJ. 4. CP15-17-000 10-26-15 Members of Congress.3 5. CP15-17-000 10-27-15 WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. 1 Nita M. Lowey and Eliot L. Engel. 2 Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. 3 Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., John Lewis, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., David Scott. Dated: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28395 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14718-000] Grafton Hydro, LLC; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On October 9, 2015, Grafton Hydro, LLC filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the Lebanon-Mascoma Hydroelectric Project (Lebanon-Mascoma Project or project) to be located on Mascoma River in the city of Lebanon, Grafton County, New Hampshire. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The proposed project would include two developments. Development 1 would be located near the downtown section of the city of Lebanon and Development 2 would be located at the existing Mascoma Lake dam. Development 1 would consist of: (1) A new 110-foot-long, reinforced concrete dam with a 60-foot-long, bottom-hinged, operable crest spillway; (2) a new impoundment with a surface area of less than 2 acres and a normal volume of less than 10 acre-feet; (3) a 1,200-foot-long, 7-foot-diameter, steel penstock; (4) a new 40-foot-long, 30-foot-wide, reinforced concrete powerhouse containing a new 2,000-horsepower Kaplan-type turbine and a new 1,500-kilowatt (kW) synchronous generator; (5) an approximately 500-foot-long transmission line connecting the generator to a 2.0 kilovolt amps (kVA) transformer; and (6) appurtenant facilities.

    Development 2 would consist of: (1) The existing 18-foot-high, 575-foot-long concrete gravity Mascoma Lake dam with four 6-foot-wide outlet gates, seven 35-foot-wide stoplog bays, and a 125-foot-long overflow spillway; (2) the existing 1,158-acre Mascoma Lake impoundment; (3) a new 40-foot-long, 30-foot-wide, reinforced concrete powerhouse containing four 150-horsepower, horizontal axis, propeller-type turbines, each with a 150-kW asynchronous generator; (4) an approximately 500-foot-long transmission line connecting the generators to a 1.0-kVA transformer; and (5) appurtenant facilities. The estimated annual generation of the project would be 6,500 megawatt-hours. The existing Mascoma Lake dam and impoundment are owned and operated by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

    Applicant Contact: Mr. Thomas Tarpey, Grafton Hydro, LLC, 55 Union Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02108; phone: (617) 710-1114.

    FERC Contact: Bill Connelly; phone: (202) 502-8587 or email: [email protected]

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14718-000.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14718) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28394 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [9936-75-Region 1] Proposed CERCLA Administrative Cost Recovery Settlement; RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC, RBF Frozen Desserts Site, West Hartford, Connecticut AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed settlement; request for public comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with Section 122(i) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. Section 9622(i), notice is hereby given of a proposed administrative settlement for recovery of response costs under CERCLA Sections 122(h) and 104(e), concerning the RBF Frozen Desserts Superfund Site in West Hartford, Connecticut with the following settling party: RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC. The settlement requires the RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC to pay $122,518.89 to the Hazardous Substance Superfund, with interest.

    For 30 days following the date of publication of this notice, the Agency will receive written comments relating to the settlement. The United States will consider all comments received and may modify or withdraw its consent to the settlement if comments received disclose facts or considerations which indicate that the settlement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate. The Agency's response to any comments received will be available for public inspection at 5 Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109-3912.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted by December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be addressed to Michelle Lauterback, Senior Enforcement Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (OES04-1), Boston, MA 02109-3912 (Telephone No. 617-918-1774), [email protected], and should refer to: In re: RBF Frozen Desserts Superfund Site, U.S. EPA Docket No. 01-2015-0071.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    A copy of the proposed settlement may be obtained from Michelle Lauterback, Senior Enforcement Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (OES04-1), Boston, MA 02109-3912; (617) 918-1774; [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This proposed administrative settlement for recovery of response costs under CERCLA Sections 122(h)(1) and 104(e)(6), concerning the RBF Frozen Desserts Superfund Site in West Hartford, Connecticut, requires the settling party, RBF Frozen Desserts, LLC to pay $122,518.89, with interest, to the Hazardous Substance Superfund. The settlement includes a covenant not to sue pursuant to Sections 106 and 107(a) of CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. 9606 and 9607, relating to the Site, and protection from contribution actions or claims as provided by Sections 113(f)(2) and 122(h)(4) of CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. 9613(f)(2) and 9622(h)(4). The settlement has been approved by the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice.

    Dated: October 26, 2015. Nancy Barmakian, Acting Director, Office of Site Remediation and Restoration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28496 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL-9936-76-Region 6] Underground Injection Control Program; Hazardous Waste Injection Restrictions; Petition for Exemption Reissuance—Class I Hazardous Waste Injection; DuPont Pontchartrain, LaPlace, Louisiana AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of a final decision on a no migration petition reissuance.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that a reissuance of an exemption to the land disposal Restrictions, under the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, has been granted to DuPont for three Class I hazardous injection wells located at their Pontchartrain site located in LaPlace, Louisiana. The company has adequately demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Environmental Protection Agency by the petition reissuance application and supporting documentation that, to a reasonable degree of certainty, there will be no migration of hazardous constituents from the injection zone for as long as the waste remains hazardous. This final decision allows the continued underground injection by DuPont, of the specific restricted hazardous wastes identified in this exemption reissuance, into Class I hazardous waste injection Wells 4, 7 and 8 until December 31, 2050, unless EPA moves to terminate this exemption. Additional conditions included in this final decision may be reviewed by contacting the Region 6 Ground Water/UIC Section. A public notice was issued August 19, 2015, and the public comment period closed on October 5, 2015. No comments were received. This decision constitutes final Agency action and there is no Administrative appeal. This decision may be reviewed/appealed in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act.

    DATES:

    This action is effective as of October 22, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Copies of the petition reissuance and all pertinent information relating thereto are on file at the following location:

    Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Water Quality Protection Division, Source Water Protection Branch (6WQ-S), 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733.
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Philip Dellinger, Chief Ground Water/UIC Section, EPA—Region 6, telephone (214) 665-8324.

    Dated: October 22, 2015. William K. Honker, P.E., Director, Water Quality Protection Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28484 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0128; FRL-9936-85-OAR] Release of Draft Integrated Review Plan for the Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulfur AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability and public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability, for public review, the draft document titled Draft Integrated Review Plan for the Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulfur (draft IRP). This document contains the plans for the review of the air quality criteria for oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur and the secondary national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur (NOX/SOX). The secondary NOX/SOX NAAQS provide for the protection of public welfare from exposure to NOX and SOX in ambient air.

    DATES:

    The draft IRP was made available on October 30, 2015. Comments must be received on or before December 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    This document will be available primarily via the Internet at the following Web site: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/no2so2sec/2013_fr.html. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0128, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or withdrawn. The EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ginger Tennant, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (mail code C504-06), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711; telephone number: 919-541-4072; fax number: 919-541-0237; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information A. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for the EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit this information to the EPA through www.regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or CD ROM that you mail to the EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.

    2. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, remember to:

    • Identify the rulemaking by docket number and other identifying information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).

    • Follow directions—The agency may ask you to respond to specific questions or organize comments by referencing a Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part or section number.

    • Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and substitute language for your requested changes.

    • Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information and/or data that you used.

    • If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be reproduced.

    • Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and suggest alternatives.

    • Explain your views as clearly as possible, avoiding the use of profanity or personal threats.

    • Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period deadline identified.

    II. Information Specific to This Document

    Two sections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) govern the establishment and revision of the NAAQS. Section 108 (42 U.S.C. 7408) directs the Administrator to identify and list certain air pollutants and then to issue air quality criteria for those pollutants. The Administrator is to list those air pollutants that in her “judgment, cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare;” “the presence of which in the ambient air results from numerous or diverse mobile or stationary sources;” and “for which . . . [the Administrator] plans to issue air quality criteria . . . .” Air quality criteria are intended to “accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge useful in indicating the kind and extent of all identifiable effects on public health or welfare which may be expected from the presence of [a] pollutant in the ambient air . . .” 42 U.S.C. 7408(b). Under section 109 (42 U.S.C. 7409), the EPA establishes primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) NAAQS for pollutants for which air quality criteria are issued. Section 109(d) requires periodic review and, if appropriate, revision of existing air quality criteria. The revised air quality criteria reflect advances in scientific knowledge on the effects of the pollutant on public health or welfare. The EPA is also required to periodically review and, if appropriate, revise the NAAQS based on the revised criteria. Section 109(d)(2) requires that an independent scientific review committee “shall complete a review of the criteria . . . and the national primary and secondary ambient air quality standards . . . and shall recommend to the Administrator any new . . . standards and revisions of existing criteria and standards as may be appropriate . . . .” Since the early 1980's, this independent review function has been performed by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).

    Presently, the EPA is reviewing the secondary NAAQS for NOX/SOX.1 The draft document, announced today, has been developed as part of the planning phase for the review. This phase began with a science policy workshop to identify issues and questions to frame the review.2 Drawing from the workshop discussions, this draft IRP was prepared jointly by EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment, within the Office of Research and Development, and EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, within the Office of Air and Radiation. The draft IRP will be reviewed by CASAC at a teleconference on December 1, 2015. The final IRP will include consideration of CASAC and public comments received on this draft IRP. This document also presents the current plan and specifies the schedule for the entire review, the process for conducting the review, and the key policy-relevant science issues that will guide the review.

    1 The EPA's call for information for this review was issued on August 29, 2013 (78 FR 53452).

    2 The EPA held a workshop titled “Workshop to Discuss Policy-Relevant Science to Inform EPA's Review of the Secondary NOX and SOX NAAQS” on March 4-6, 2014.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Mary Henigin, Acting Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28487 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0714; FRL 9936-79-OW] Notice of a Public Meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of a public meeting and location.

    SUMMARY:

    On November 2, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) in the Federal Register, as authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This notice announces the location of the meeting (see the ADDRESSES section of this notice). The meeting is scheduled for November 17, 18 and 19, 2015. During this meeting, the NDWAC will focus discussions on developing recommendations for the EPA Administrator on the Lead and Copper National Primary Drinking Water Regulation—Long Term Revisions.

    DATES:

    The meeting on November 17, 2015, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.; November 18, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and November 19, 2015, from 8 a.m. to noon, eastern standard time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public meeting will be held at the Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport, 1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia 22202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For more information about this meeting or to request written materials, contact Michelle Schutz of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, by phone at 202-564-7374 or by email at [email protected] For additional information about the NDWAC meeting, please visit http://water.epa.gov/drink/ndwac/ or www.regulations.gov (search for Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0714).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On November 2, 2015, the EPA announced a meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) in the Federal Register at 80 FR 67397.

    Details about Participating in the Meeting: Teleconferencing will be available during the meeting. The number of teleconference connections available for the meeting is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The teleconference number is (1) 866-299-3188; when prompted, enter conference code 202 564 7347.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Rebecca M. Clark, Acting Director, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28494 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL_9926-07-OEI] Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of Alabama AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces EPA's approval of the State of Alabama's request to revise/modify certain of its EPA-authorized programs to allow electronic reporting.

    DATES:

    EPA's approval is effective [Insert date of publication in the Federal Register].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen Seeh, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Information, Mail Stop 2823T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, (202) 566-1175, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On October 13, 2005, the final Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule (CROMERR) was published in the Federal Register (70 FR 59848) and codified as part 3 of title 40 of the CFR. CROMERR establishes electronic reporting as an acceptable regulatory alternative to paper reporting and establishes requirements to assure that electronic documents are as legally dependable as their paper counterparts. Subpart D of CROMERR requires that state, tribal or local government agencies that receive, or wish to begin receiving, electronic reports under their EPA-authorized programs must apply to EPA for a revision or modification of those programs and obtain EPA approval. Subpart D provides standards for such approvals based on consideration of the electronic document receiving systems that the state, tribe, or local government will use to implement the electronic reporting. Additionally, § 3.1000(b) through (e) of 40 CFR part 3, subpart D provides special procedures for program revisions and modifications to allow electronic reporting, to be used at the option of the state, tribe or local government in place of procedures available under existing program-specific authorization regulations. An application submitted under the subpart D procedures must show that the state, tribe or local government has sufficient legal authority to implement the electronic reporting components of the programs covered by the application and will use electronic document receiving systems that meet the applicable subpart D requirements.

    On January 20, 2010, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) submitted an application titled “Electronic Environmental Data Exchange Reporting System” for revisions/modifications to its EPA-approved programs under title 40 CFR to allow new electronic reporting. EPA reviewed ADEM's request to revise/modify its EPA-authorized programs and, based on this review, EPA determined that the application met the standards for approval of authorized program revisions/modifications set out in 40 CFR part 3, subpart D. In accordance with 40 CFR 3.1000(d), this notice of EPA's decision to approve Alabama's request to revise/modify its following EPA-authorized programs to allow electronic reporting under 40 CFR parts 122 and 264, is being published in the Federal Register:

    Part 123—EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; and

    Part 272—Approved State Hazardous Waste Management Programs.

    ADEM was notified of EPA's determination to approve its application with respect to the authorized programs listed above.

    Matthew Leopard, Director, Office of Information Collection.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28365 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL_9931-89-OEI] Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of Maine AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces EPA's approval of the State of Maine's request to revise/modify certain of its EPA-authorized programs to allow electronic reporting.

    DATES:

    EPA's approval is effective November 9, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen Seeh, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Information, Mail Stop 2823T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, (202) 566-1175, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On October 13, 2005, the final Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule (CROMERR) was published in the Federal Register (70 FR 59848) and codified as part 3 of title 40 of the CFR. CROMERR establishes electronic reporting as an acceptable regulatory alternative to paper reporting and establishes requirements to assure that electronic documents are as legally dependable as their paper counterparts. Subpart D of CROMERR requires that state, tribal or local government agencies that receive, or wish to begin receiving, electronic reports under their EPA-authorized programs must apply to EPA for a revision or modification of those programs and obtain EPA approval. Subpart D provides standards for such approvals based on consideration of the electronic document receiving systems that the state, tribe, or local government will use to implement the electronic reporting. Additionally, § 3.1000(b) through (e) of 40 CFR part 3, subpart D provides special procedures for program revisions and modifications to allow electronic reporting, to be used at the option of the state, tribe or local government in place of procedures available under existing program-specific authorization regulations. An application submitted under the subpart D procedures must show that the state, tribe or local government has sufficient legal authority to implement the electronic reporting components of the programs covered by the application and will use electronic document receiving systems that meet the applicable subpart D requirements.

    On September 11, 2015, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP) submitted an application titled “National Network Discharge Monitoring Report System” for revisions/modifications to its EPA-approved stormwater and pretreatment programs under title 40 CFR to allow new electronic reporting. EPA reviewed ME DEP's request to revise/modify its EPA-authorized programs and, based on this review, EPA determined that the application met the standards for approval of authorized program revisions/modifications set out in 40 CFR part 3, subpart D. In accordance with 40 CFR 3.1000(d), this notice of EPA's decision to approve Maine's request to revise/modify its following EPA-authorized programs to allow electronic reporting under 40 CFR parts 122 and 403, is being published in the Federal Register:

    Part 123—EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; and

    Part 403—General Pretreatment Regulations For Existing And New Sources Of Pollution.

    ME DEP was notified of EPA's determination to approve its application with respect to the authorized programs listed above.

    Matthew Leopard, Director, Office of Information Collection.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28366 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [3060-xxxx] 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 9, 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-xxxx.

    Title: Direct Access to Numbers Order FCC 15-70 Conditions.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: New Collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 13 respondents; 13 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 120 hours.

    Frequency of Response: One-time application, on-going and bi-annual reporting requirements.

    Obligation To Respond: Voluntary. Statutory Authority for this information collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 251(e)(1).

    Total Annual Burden: 1,560 hours.

    Total Annual Costs: No Cost.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: If respondents submit information which respondents believe is confidential, respondents may request confidential treatment of such information pursuant to section 0.459 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 0.459.

    Needs and Uses: On June 18, 2015, the Commission adopted a Report and Order establishing the Numbering Authorization Application process, which allows interconnected VoIP providers to apply for a blanket authorization from the FCC that, once granted, will allow them to demonstrate that they have the authority to provide service in specific areas, thus enabling them to request numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators. This collection covers the information and certifications that applicants must submit in order to comply with the Numbering Authorization Application process. The data, information, and documents acquired through this collection will allow interconnected VoIP providers to obtain numbers with minimal burden or delay while also preventing providers from obtaining numbers without first demonstrating that they can deploy and properly utilize such resources. This information will also help the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) protect against number exhaust while promoting competitive neutrality among traditional telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers by allowing both entities to obtain numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators. It will further help the FCC to maintain efficient utilization of numbering resources and ensure that telephone numbers are not being stranded.

    Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28389 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-16-16CA; Docket No. CDC-2015-0096] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing efforts to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on a proposed information collection entitled “Update the Height Recommendation for Proper Seat Belt Fit among Children.” CDC will use the information collected to inform CDC's child passenger safety recommendation regarding when children can safely transition from using a booster seat to using only a seat belt.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2015-0096 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulation.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. All relevant comments received will be posted without change to Regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to Regulations.gov.

    Please note: All public comment should be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal (Regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact the Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; to develop, acquire, install and utilize technology and systems for the purpose of collecting, validating and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; to train personnel and to be able to respond to a collection of information, to search data sources, to complete and review the collection of information; and to transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    Proposed Project

    Update the Height Recommendation for Proper Seat Belt Fit among Children—New—National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. Proper restraint use is critical for children in order to prevent injuries and death in a motor vehicle crash. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half (NHTSA, 2013). Based on this evidence, CDC recommends using age- and size-appropriate child restraints (including child safety seats and booster seats) in the back seat until adult seat belts fit properly (i.e. when the lap belt lies across the upper thighs, not the stomach; and the shoulder belt lies across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face).

    For maximum protection, it is especially important for children to not transition to using only a seat belt before they are large enough for the seat belt to properly fit. The current recommendation for when children can safely transition to a seat belt is 57 inches tall. This height recommendation of 57 inches was derived from a study of 155 children aged 6 to 12 years who were assessed for seat belt fit in 3 different types of vehicles in 1993. Since 1993, both children and the vehicle fleet have changed.

    The goal of this new collection is to determine whether the previous height recommendation for proper seat belt fit among children is valid in the current vehicle fleet and among today's children. Findings from this data collection will inform CDC's child passenger safety recommendation regarding when children can safely transition from using a booster seat with the vehicle seat belt to using only the vehicle seat belt. This study will also provide information on ways to further reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths among children. Prospective study participants will answer a series of screening questions. Individuals who meet the screening criteria and are willing to participate will complete an in-person measurement session lasting approximately 2 hours. In-person measurement sessions will collect data on 224 children aged 6-12 years. Data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, mean, standard deviation, and logistic regression.

    OMB approval is requested for three years. Participation in the information collection is voluntary. There are no costs to respondents other than their time.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Response burden (hours) Total burden hours
    Parent/guardian of children aged 6-12 years Screener Script Guide 200 1 5/60 17 Child participants aged 6-12 years Seat Belt Fit Measurements 75 1 2 150 Total 167
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28409 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-16-16BZ; Docket No. CDC-2015-0095] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing efforts to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on a proposed information collection entitled “Monitoring and Reporting for the Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program Cooperative Agreement.” CDC will use the information collected to monitor cooperative agreement awardees and to identify challenges to program implementation and achievement of outcomes.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2015-0095 by any of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulation.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. All relevant comments received will be posted without change to Regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to Regulations.gov.

    Please note:

    All public comment should be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal (Regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact the Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; to develop, acquire, install and utilize technology and systems for the purpose of collecting, validating and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; to train personnel and to be able to respond to a collection of information, to search data sources, to complete and review the collection of information; and to transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    Proposed Project

    Monitoring and Reporting for the Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program Cooperative Agreement—New —National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Unintentional and violence-related injuries and their consequences are the leading causes of death for the first four decades of life, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status. More than 192,000 individuals in the United States die each year as a result of unintentional injuries and violence, and more than 31 million others suffer non-fatal injuries requiring emergency department visits each year. Given these factors, the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) provides an important opportunity for states to advance public health across the lifespan and to reduce health disparities. Support and guidance for these programs have been provided through cooperative agreement funding and technical assistance administered by CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The goal of this ICR is to collect information needed to monitor cooperative agreement programs funded under the Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program (Core SVIPP) (CDC-RFA-CE16-1602).

    Information to be collected will provide crucial data for program performance monitoring and provide CDC with the capacity to respond in a timely manner to requests for information about the program from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the White House, Congress, and other sources. Awardees will report progress and activity information to CDC on an annual schedule using an Excel-based fillable electronic templates. Each awardee will submit three information collection tools: Annual Progress Report, Evaluation and Performance Management Plan, and Injury Indicator Spreadsheets. In Year 1, each awardee will have additional burden related to initial collection of the reporting tools. Initial population of the tools is a one-time activity, after completing the initial population of the tools, pertinent information only needs to be updated annually for each report.

    CDC will use the information collected to monitor each awardee's progress and to identify facilitators and challenges to program implementation and achievement of outcomes. Monitoring allows CDC to determine whether an awardee is meeting performance and goals and to make adjustments in the type and level of technical assistance provided to them, as needed, to support attainment of their performance measures. With the tools, the use of a standard set of data elements, definitions and specifications at all levels will help to improve the quality and comparability of performance information that is received by CDC for multiple awardees and multiple award types by ensuring that the same information is collected on all strategies and performance measures with slightly different areas of emphasis, depending on the awardee type (BASE, Enhanced with 1 Component, or Enhanced 2 Components).

    OMB approval is requested for three years. Participation in the information collection is required as a condition of funding. There are no costs to respondents other than their time.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Average
  • burden per response
  • (in hours)
  • Total burden
  • (in hours)
  • Core SVIPP BASE Awardees Initial Population-Annual Progress Report 20 1 22 440 Annual Progress Report 20 1 11 220 Evaluation and Performance Management Plan 20 1 2 40 Injury Indicator Spreadsheet 20 1 14 280 Core SVIPP 1—Enhanced Component Awardees Initial Population-Annual Progress Report 5 1 73 365 Annual Progress Report 5 1 58 290 Evaluation and Performance Management Plan 5 1 3 15 Injury Indicator Spreadsheet 5 1 14 70 Core SVIPP 2—Enhanced Component Awardees Initial Population-Annual Progress Report 5 1 146 730 Annual Progress Report 5 1 116 580 Evaluation and Performance Management Plan 5 1 4 20 Injury Indicator Spreadsheet 5 1 14 70 Total 3,120
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28408 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Docket Number CDC-2015-0075; NIOSH-288] A Vapor Containment Performance Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice and extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    On September 8, 2015, the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published a notice in the Federal Register [80 FR 53802] announcing the availability of the following draft document for public comment entitled A Vapor Containment Performance Protocol for Closed System Transfer Devices Used During Pharmacy Compounding and Administration of Hazardous Drugs. Written comments were to be received by November 9, 2015. NIOSH is extending the public comment period for an additional 120 days.

    DATES:

    NIOSH is extending the comment period on the document published September 8, 2015 (80 FR 53802). Electronic or written comments must be received by March 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by CDC-2015-0075 and docket number NIOSH-288, by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Docket Office, 1090 Tusculum Avenue, MS C-34, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226-1998.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Deborah V. Hirst, NIOSH, Division of Applied Research and Technology, Alice Hamilton Laboratories, 1090 Tusculum Avenue, MS R-5, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, telephone (513) 841-4141 (not a toll free number), Email: [email protected]

    Dated: November 2, 2015. John Howard, Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28456 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-19-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [Document Identifiers: CMS-10434 and CMS-R-131] Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' intention to collect information from the public. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA), federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information (including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information) and to allow 60 days for public comment on the proposed action. Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding our burden estimates or any other aspect of this collection of information, including any of the following subjects: (1) The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    When commenting, please reference the document identifier or OMB control number. To be assured consideration, comments and recommendations must be submitted in any one of the following ways:

    1. Electronically. You may send your comments electronically to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for “Comment or Submission” or “More Search Options” to find the information collection document(s) that are accepting comments.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address: CMS, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs, Division of Regulations Development, Attention: Document Identifier/OMB Control Number, Room C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

    To obtain copies of a supporting statement and any related forms for the proposed collection(s) summarized in this notice, you may make your request using one of following:

    1. Access CMS' Web site address at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PaperworkReductionActof1995.

    2. Email your request, including your address, phone number, OMB number, and CMS document identifier, to [email protected]

    3. Call the Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Contents

    This notice sets out a summary of the use and burden associated with the following information collections. More detailed information can be found in each collection's supporting statement and associated materials (see ADDRESSES).

    CMS-10434 Medicaid and CHIP Program (MACPro) CMS-R-131 Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN)

    Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. The term “collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA requires federal agencies to publish a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, CMS is publishing this notice.

    Information Collection

    1. Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a currently approved collection; Title of Information Collection: Medicaid and CHIP Program (MACPro); Use: While currently approved by OMB under the regular PRA process, CMS is proposing to have all current and upcoming MACPro collections approved under OMB's generic process. We are also transitioning MACPro to a fully functioning electronic system such that MACPro becomes the sole system of record. MACPro will be the required means for states to amend Medicaid and CHIP state plans, waivers, and demonstrations. Templates that will be submitted for approval under MACPro include certain collections approved under our generic umbrella (CMS-10398, OMB 0938-1148), relevant collections approved as a regular stand-alone information collection requests, and upcoming collections. Form Number: CMS-10434 (OMB Control Number: 0938-1188); Frequency: Monthly, yearly, quarterly, semi-annually, once, or occasionally; Affected Public: State, Local, or Tribal Governments; Number of Respondents: 56; Total Annual Responses: 3,360; Total Annual Hours: 89,012. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Annette Pearson at 410-786-6858).

    2. Type of Information Collection Request: Extension of a currently approved collection; Title of Information Collection: Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN); Use: The Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) is delivered by Part B paid physicians, providers (including institutional providers like outpatient hospitals), practitioners (such as chiropractors), and suppliers, as well as hospice providers and Religious Non-medical Health Care Institutions paid under Part A. Home health agencies providing items and services under Part A or Part B also use the ABN. Other Medicare institutional providers paid under Part A use other approved notices for this purpose. With this PRA submission, minimal formatting changes have been made to the ABN form, including the addition of language informing beneficiaries of their rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (section 504) by alerting the beneficiary to CMS's nondiscrimination practices and the availability of alternate forms of this notice, if needed. Additionally, minor language and grammatical changes have been made to the form's instructions to improve provider/supplier comprehension and decrease the probability of errors in completing the ABN. There are no substantive changes to the form or to the instructions. Form Number: CMS-R-131 (OMB control number: 0938-0566; Frequency: Occasionally; Affected Public: Private sector (Business or other for-profits and Not-for-profit institutions); Number of Respondents: 1,499,910; Total Annual Responses: 62,910,000; Total Annual Hours: 7,339,710. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Evelyn Blaemire at 410-786-1803).

    Dated: November 4, 2015. William N. Parham, III, Director, Paperwork Reduction Staff, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28449 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [Document Identifier: CMS-906 and CMS-1771] Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' intention to collect information from the public. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, and to allow a second opportunity for public comment on the notice. Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including any of the following subjects: (1) The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    DATES:

    Comments on the collection(s) of information must be received by the OMB desk officer by December 9, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    When commenting on the proposed information collections, please reference the document identifier or OMB control number. To be assured consideration, comments and recommendations must be received by the OMB desk officer via one of the following transmissions: OMB, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: CMS Desk Officer, Fax Number: (202) 395-5806 OR, Email: [email protected].

    To obtain copies of a supporting statement and any related forms for the proposed collection(s) summarized in this notice, you may make your request using one of following:

    1. Access CMS' Web site address at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PaperworkReductionActof1995.

    2. Email your request, including your address, phone number, OMB number, and CMS document identifier, to [email protected]

    3. Call the Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. The term “collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)) requires federal agencies to publish a 30-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, CMS is publishing this notice that summarizes the following proposed collection(s) of information for public comment:

    1. Type of Information Collection Request: Extension of a currently approved collection; Title of Information Collection: The Fiscal Soundness Reporting Requirements; Use: The CMS is assigned responsibility for overseeing all Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs), Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) sponsors and PACE organizations on-going financial performance. Specifically, CMS needs the requested collection of information to establish that contracting entities within those programs maintain fiscally sound organizations and thereby remain a going concern. All contracting organizations must submit annual independently audited financial statements one time per year. The MAOs with a negative net worth and/or a net loss and the amount of that loss is greater than one-half of the organization's total net worth must file three quarterly financial statements. Currently, there are approximately 71 MAOs filing quarterly financial statements. Part D organizations must also file 3 quarterly financial statements. The PACE organizations are required to file 4 quarterly financial statements for the first three years in the program as well as PACE organizations with a negative net worth and/or a net loss and the amount of that loss is greater than one-half of the organization's total net worth. Form Number: CMS-906 (OMB control number: 0938-0469); Frequency: Annually; Affected Public: Business or other for-profits; Number of Respondents: 815; Total Annual Responses: 1,518; Total Annual Hours: 506. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Geralyn Glenn at 410-786-0973.)

    2. Type of Information Collection Request: Reinstatement without change of a previously approved collection; Title of Information Collection: Emergency and Foreign Hospital Services; Use: Section 1866 of the Social Security Act states that any provider of services shall be qualified to participate in the Medicare program and shall be eligible for payments under Medicare if it files an agreement with the Secretary to meet the conditions outlined in this section of the Act. Section 1814 (d)(1) of the Social Security Act and 42 CFR 424.100, allows payment of Medicare benefits for a Medicare beneficiary to a nonparticipating hospital that does not have an agreement in effect with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These payments can be made if such services were emergency services and if CMS would be required to make the payment if the hospital had an agreement in effect and met the conditions of payment. This form is used in connection with claims for emergency hospital services provided by hospitals that do not have an agreement in effect under section 1866 of the Social Security Act. As specified in 42 CFR 424.103(b), before a non-participating hospital may be paid for emergency services rendered to a Medicare beneficiary, a statement must be submitted that is sufficiently comprehensive to support that an emergency existed. Form CMS-1771 contains a series of questions relating to the medical necessity of the emergency. The attending physician must attest that the hospitalization was required under the regulatory emergency definition and give clinical documentation to support the claim. A photocopy of the beneficiary's hospital records may be used in lieu of the CMS-1771 if the records contain all the information required by the form. Form Number: CMS-1771 (OMB control number: 0938-0023); Frequency: Annually; Affected Public: Private sector (Business or other for-profits and Not-for-profit institutions); Number of Respondents: 100; Total Annual Responses: 200; Total Annual Hours: 50. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Shauntari Cheely at 410-786-1818.)

    Dated: November 4, 2015. William N. Parham, III Director, Paperwork Reduction Staff, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28448 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0001] Food Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    This notice announces a forthcoming meeting of a public advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The meeting will be open to the public.

    Name of Committee: Food Advisory Committee.

    General Function of the Committee: To provide advice and recommendations to the Agency on FDA's regulatory issues.

    Date and Time: The meeting will be held on December 7 and 8, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Location: FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31 Conference Center, the Great Room (rm. 1503A), Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Answers to commonly asked questions including information regarding special accommodations due to a disability, visitor parking, and transportation may be accessed at: http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm408555.htm.

    Contact Person: Karen Strambler, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, HFS-024, Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-2589, or FDA Advisory Committee Information Line, 1-800-741-8138 (301-443-0572 in the Washington, DC area). A notice in the Federal Register about last minute modifications that impact a previously announced advisory committee meeting cannot always be published quickly enough to provide timely notice. Therefore, you should always check the Agency's Web site at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/default.htm and scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link, or call the advisory committee information line to learn about possible modifications before coming to the meeting.

    Agenda: The Food Advisory Committee will meet to discuss FDA's policies related to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in foods.

    FDA intends to make background material available to the public no later than 2 business days before the meeting. If FDA is unable to post the background material on its Web site prior to the meeting, the background material will be made publicly available at the location of the advisory committee meeting, and the background material will be posted on FDA's Web site after the meeting. Background material is available at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/default.htm. Scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link.

    Procedure: Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee. Written submissions may be made to the contact person on or before November 20, 2015. Oral presentations from the public will be scheduled between approximately 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on December 8, 2015. Those individuals interested in making formal oral presentations should notify the contact person and submit a brief statement of the general nature of the evidence or arguments they wish to present, the names and addresses of proposed participants, and an indication of the approximate time requested to make their presentation on or before November 30, 2015. Time allotted for each presentation may be limited. If the number of registrants requesting to speak is greater than can be reasonably accommodated during the scheduled open public hearing session, FDA may conduct a lottery to determine the speakers for the scheduled open public hearing session. The contact person will notify interested persons regarding their request to speak by November 23, 2015.

    Persons attending FDA's advisory committee meetings are advised that the Agency is not responsible for providing access to electrical outlets.

    FDA welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with disabilities. If you require accommodations due to a disability, please contact Karen Strambler at least 7 days in advance of the meeting.

    FDA is committed to the orderly conduct of its advisory committee meetings. Please visit our Web site at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm111462.htm for procedures on public conduct during advisory committee meetings.

    Notice of this meeting is given under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. app. 2).

    Dated: November 3, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28387 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Health Resources and Services Administration National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Revised Amount of the Average Cost of a Health Insurance Policy

    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is publishing an updated monetary amount of the average cost of a health insurance policy as it relates to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

    Section 100.2 of the VICP's implementing regulation (42 CFR part 100) states that the revised amount of the average cost of a health insurance policy, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, is effective upon its delivery to the United States Court of Federal Claims (the Court), and will be published periodically in a notice in the Federal Register. This figure is calculated using the most recent Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component (MEPS-IC) data available as the baseline for the average monthly cost of a health insurance policy. This baseline is adjusted by the annual percentage increase/decrease obtained from the most recent annual Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust (KFF/HRET) Employer Health Benefits survey or other authoritative source that may be more accurate or appropriate.

    In 2015, MEPS-IC, available at www.meps.ahrq.gov, published the annual 2014 average total single premium amount per enrolled employee at private-sector establishments that provide health insurance. The figure published was $5,832. This figure is divided by 12-months to determine the cost per month of $486.00. The $486.00 shall be increased or decreased by the percentage change reported by the most recent KFF/HRET, available at www.kff.org. The percentage increase from 2014 to 2015 was published at 4 percent. By adding this percentage increase, the calculated average monthly cost of a health insurance policy in 2015 is $505.44.

    Therefore, the Secretary of Health and Human Services announces that the revised average cost of a health insurance policy under the VICP is $505.44 per month. In accordance with § 100.2, the revised amount was effective upon its delivery by the Secretary to the Court. Such notice was delivered to the Court on October 23, 2015.

    Dated: November 3, 2015. James Macrae, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28436 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4165-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary Findings of Research Misconduct AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has taken final action in the following case:

    Anil Potti, M.D., Duke University School of Medicine: Based on the reports of investigations conducted by Duke University School of Medicine (Duke) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Dr. Anil Potti, former Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant R01 HL072208 and National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, grants R01 CA136530, R01 CA131049, K12 CA100639, R01 CA106520, and U54 CA112952.

    ORI found that Respondent engaged in research misconduct by including false research data in the following published papers, submitted manuscript, grant application, and the research record as specified in 1-3 below. Specifically, ORI found that:

    1. Respondent stated in grant application 1 R01 CA136530-01A1 that 6 out of 33 patients responded positively to dasatinib when only 4 patients were enrolled and none responded and that the 4 CT scans presented in Figure 14 were from the lung cancer study when they were not.

    2. Respondent altered data sets to improve the accuracy of predictors for response to treatments in a submitted paper and in the research record by:

    • Reversing the responder status of 24 out of 133 subjects for the adriamycin predictor in a manuscript submitted to Clinical Cancer Research

    • switching the cancer recurrence phenotype for 46 out of 89 samples to validate the LMS predictor in a file provided to a colleague in 2008

    • changing IC-50 and R-code values for the cisplatin predictor in a data set provided to NCI in 2010

    3. Respondent reported predictors and/or their validation by disregarding accepted scientific methodology so that false data were reported in the following:

    Blood 107:1391-1396, 2006: Describing a predictor for thrombotic phenotypes

    New England Journal of Medicine 355:570-580, 2006: Describing a predictor of lung cancer relapse

    Nature Medicine 12:1294-1300, 2006: Describing a predictor for the response to the chemotherapeutic drugs topectan and docetaxol

    Journal of Clinical Oncology 25:4350-4357, 2007: Describing a predictor for the response to the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin

    Lancet Oncology 8:1071-1078, 2007: Describing a predictor for the response to the combination of the chemotherapeutic drugs flurouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide or docetaxol, epirubicin, and docetaxol

    Journal of the American Medical Association 299:1574-1587, 2008: Describing a predictor for breast cancer relapse

    Public Library Science One 3:e1908, 2008: Describing a predictor for the response to the chemotherapeutic drugs paclitaxel, 5-fluouracil, adriamycin, and cyclophosphamide

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:19432-19437, 2008: Describing a predictor of colon cancer recurrence

    Clinical Cancer Research 15:7553-7561, 2009: Describing a predictor for the response to the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin

    As a result of Duke's investigation, the published papers listed above were retracted.

    Respondent has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement with ORI. Respondent neither admits nor denies ORI's findings of research misconduct; the settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent. The parties entered into the Agreement to conclude this matter without further expenditure of time, finances, or other resources. Respondent has not applied for or engaged in U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research since 2010. Respondent stated that he has no intention of applying for or engaging in PHS-supported research or otherwise working with PHS. However, the Respondent voluntarily agreed:

    (1) That if the respondent obtains employment in a research position in which he receives or applies for PHS support within five years of the effective date of the Agreement (September 23, 2015), he shall have his research supervised for a period of five years;

    (2) that prior to the submission of an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent's participation is proposed and prior to Respondent's participation in any capacity on PHS-supported research, Respondent shall ensure that a plan for supervision of Respondent's duties is submitted to ORI for approval; the supervision plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of Respondent's research contribution; Respondent agreed that he shall not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI; Respondent agreed to maintain responsibility for compliance with the agreed upon supervision plan;

    (3) that any institution employing him shall submit, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds, or report, manuscript, or abstract involving PHS-supported research in which Respondent is involved, a certification to ORI that the data provided by Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived and that the data, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract; and

    (4) to exclude himself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant for period of five years beginning on September 23, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Acting Director, Division of Investigative Oversight, Office of Research Integrity, 1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750, Rockville, MD 20852, (240) 453-8200.

    Donald Wright, Acting Director, Office of Research Integrity.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28437 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4150-31-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary Findings of Research Misconduct; Correction AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Correction of notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This document corrects an error that appeared in the notice published in the October 29, 2015, Federal Register entitled “Findings of Research Misconduct.”

    DATES:

    Effective Date: November 9, 2015.

    Applicability Date: The correction notice is applicable for the Findings of Research Misconduct notice published on October 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Karen Gorirossi at 240-453-8800.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    In FR Doc. 2015-27587 of October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66546), there was a sentence inadvertently omitted from the text of the notice. The error is identified and corrected in the Correction of Errors section below.

    II. Correction of Errors

    In FR Doc. 2015-27587 of October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66546), make the following correction:

    1. On page 66546, second column, in FR Doc. 2015-27587, last paragraph, line 13, after “otherwise working with PHS,” add “Respondent neither admits nor denies ORI's findings of research misconduct; the settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent” so that the corrected section of the last paragraph in the second column reads:

    “Respondent stated that she is not currently involved in U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research and has no intention of applying for or engaging in PHS-supported research or otherwise working with PHS. Respondent neither admits nor denies ORI's findings of research misconduct; the settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent.”

    Dated: October 30, 2015. Donald Wright, Acting Director, Office of Research Integrity.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28440 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4150-31-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Mental Health Special Emphasis Panel; Global Mental Health (U19).

    Date: November 16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hotel Monaco, 700 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20001.

    Contact Person: Karen Gavin-Evans, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6153, MSC 9606, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-451-2356, [email protected]

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Mental Health Special Emphasis Panel; Research Education Programs (R25) for HIV/AIDS Research.

    Date: November 20, 2015.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Aileen Schulte, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 6140, MSC 9608, Bethesda, MD 20892-9608, 301-443-1225, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Mental Health Special Emphasis Panel; Mental Health Services Conflicts.

    Date: November 23, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Karen Gavin-Evans, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6153, MSC 9606, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-451-2356, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program No. 93.242, Mental Health Research Grants, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: November 3, 2015. Carolyn A. Baum, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28385 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable materials, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Multi-site Clinical Trials.

    Date: November 23, 2015.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Susan O. McGuire, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Affairs, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 4245, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-435-1426, [email protected]

    Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos.: 93.279, Drug Abuse and Addiction Research Programs, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: November 2, 2015. Natasha Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28386 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health And Human Development; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in section 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel, Neurodevelopmental Assessment of Infants and Children in Resource-Limited Settings.

    Date: November 19, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Sathasiva B. Kandasamy, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304, (301) 435-6680, [email protected]

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.864, Population Research; 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children; 93.929, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 93.209, Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: November 3, 2015. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28383 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Infectious, Reproductive, Asthma and Pulmonary Epidemiology.

    Date: November 13, 2015.

    Time: 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Denise Wiesch, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3138, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 437-3478, [email protected]

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Project: Multi-Use Knowledge Base and Computational Modeling of Human Metabolism.

    Date: December 3, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Amy L Rubinstein, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5152, MSC 7844, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-408-9754, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Project: National Resource for Challenges in RNA Research.

    Date: December 6-8, 2015.

    Time: 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications,

    Place: Courtyard Albany Thruway, 1455 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12206.

    Contact Person: Barbara J. Thomas, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 2218, MSC 7890, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0603, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: November 3, 2015. Natasha Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28384 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request

    In compliance with section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 concerning opportunity for public comment on proposed collections of information, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects. To request more information on the proposed projects or to obtain a copy of the information collection plans, call the SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer at (240) 276-1243.

    Comments are invited on (a) whether the proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology (IT).

    Proposed Project: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Cross-Site Evaluation—New

    SAMHSA is conducting a cross-site external evaluation of the impact of programs of screening, brief intervention (BI), brief treatment (BT), and referral to treatment (RT) on patients presenting at various health care delivery units with a continuum of severity of substance use. SAMHSA's SBIRT program is a cooperative agreement grant program designed to help states and Tribal Councils expand the continuum of care available for substance misuse and use disorders. The program includes screening, BI, BT, and RT for persons at risk for dependence on alcohol or drugs. This evaluation will provide a comprehensive assessment of SBIRT implementation; the effects of SBIRT on patient outcomes, performance site practices, and treatment systems; and the sustainability of the program. This information will allow SAMHSA to determine the extent to which SBIRT has met its objectives of implementing a comprehensive system of identification and care to meet the needs of individuals at all points along the substance use continuum.

    To evaluate the success of SBIRT implementation at the site level, a web-based survey will be administered to staff in sites where SBIRT services are being delivered—referred to as performance sites. The Performance Site Survey will be distributed to individuals who directly provide SBIRT services and staff who interact regularly with SBIRT providers and patients receiving SBIRT services. The types of staff surveyed will include intake staff, medical providers, behavioral health providers, social workers, and managerial and administrative staff who oversee these staff. Since cross-site evaluation team members will be traveling to selected SBIRT providers and coordinating with state and site administrators on a yearly basis, there is an opportunity to complete a near-census of all SBIRT-related staff at performance sites with a minimal level of burden.

    The 78 question web survey includes the collection of basic demographic information, questions about the organization's readiness to implement SBIRT, and questions about the use of health information technology (HIT) to deliver SBIRT services. The demographic questions were tailored from a previous cross-site evaluation survey to fit the current set of cross-site grantees. The organizational readiness questions were developed through a review of the extant implementation science research literature (e.g., Chaudoir, Dugan, & Barr, 2013; Damschroder et al., 2009; Garner, 2009; Greenhalgh, MacFarlane, & Kyriakidou, 2004; Weiner, 2009; Weiner, Belden, Bergmire, & Johnston, 2011). Based on this review, the Organizational Readiness for Implementation Change (ORIC) (Shea, Jacobs, Esserman, Bruce, & Weiner, 2014) and the Implementation Climate Scale (ICS) (Jacobs, Weiner, & Bunger, 2014) were identified as the two most appropriate instruments. In addition to questions from these two instruments, the survey includes questions to assess satisfaction, capacity, and infrastructure to implement SBIRT screening, BI, and BT.

    To identify relevant HIT measures, the cross-site evaluation team modified measures from socio-technical frameworks (Kling, 1980), including the DeLone and McClean framework (DeLone & McLean, 2004), the Public Health Informatics Institute Framework (PHII, 2005), and the Human Organization and Technology (Hot)-FIT Framework (Yusof, 2008). Across these three frameworks, the survey captures measures of system availability, information availability, organizational structure and environment, utilization, and user satisfaction.

    Total Burden Hours for the Performance Site Survey Respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • (a)
  • Number of
  • responses/respondent
  • Total number of responses Hours per
  • response
  • (b)
  • Annual burden hours
    Intake/front desk staff 215 1 215 0.22 47.30 Performance site administrators 191 1 191 0.22 42.02 Clinical supervisors 101 1 101 0.22 22.22 Medical providers 571 1 571 0.22 125.62 Behavioral health providers 211 1 211 0.22 46.42 Social workers 118 1 118 0.22 25.96 Total 1,407 1,407 309.54 (a) The maximum number of annual respondents has been based on an estimates from cross-site evaluation site visits. (b) The average burden per response was estimated based on independent review of the instrument by contractor staff.

    Send comments to Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer, Room 2-1057, One Choke Cherry Road, Rockville, MD 20857 OR email a copy to [email protected] Written comments should be received by January 8, 2016.

    Summer King, Statistician.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28415 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4162-20-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request

    In compliance with Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 concerning opportunity for public comment on proposed collections of information, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects. To request more information on the proposed projects or to obtain a copy of the information collection plans, call the SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer on (240) 276-1243.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Proposed Project: Quarterly Progress Reporting and Annual Indirect Services Outcome Data Collection for the Minority Substance Abuse/HIV Prevention Program (MAI)—NEW

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) is requesting approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the collection of quarterly progress information and annual community-level outcome data from CSAP's Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) programs.

    This data collection effort supports two of SAMHSA's 6 Strategic Initiatives: Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness and Health Care and Health Systems Integration. The grantees funded by the MAI and included in this clearance request are:

    • Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) in Partnerships with Community-Based Organizations (CBO): 84 grantees funded up to three years;

    • Capacity Building Initiative (CBI): 74 grantees funded up to five years.

    MSI CBO grantees are Historically Black Colleges/Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, or Tribal Colleges/Universities in partnership with community based organizations in their surrounding communities. MSI CBO grantees are required to provide integrated substance abuse (SA), Hepatitis C (HCV), and HIV prevention services to young adults. The CBI grantees are community-level domestic, public and private nonprofit entities, federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native Tribes and tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations. CBI grantees will use grant funds for building a solid infrastructure for integrated SA, HIV, and HCV prevention service provision and implementing evidence-based prevention interventions using SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) process. The target population for the CBI grantees will be at-risk minority adolescents and young adults. All MAI grantees are expected to provide leadership and coordination on the planning and implementation of the SPF and to target minority populations, as well as other high risk groups residing in communities of color with high prevalence of SA and HIV/AIDS.

    The MAI grantees are expected to provide an effective prevention process, direction, and a common set of goals, expectations, and accountabilities to be adapted and integrated at the community level. Grantees have substantial flexibility in choosing their individual evidence-based programs, but must base this selection on and build it into the five steps of the SPF. These SPF steps consist of assessing local needs, building service capacity specific to SA and HIV prevention services, developing a strategic prevention plan, implementing evidence-based interventions, and evaluating their outcomes. Grantees are also required to provide HIV and HCV testing and counseling services and referrals to appropriate treatment options. Grantees must also conduct ongoing monitoring and evaluation of their projects to assess program effectiveness including Federal reporting of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, SAMHSA/CSAP National Outcome Measures (NOMs), and the Department of Health and Human Services Core HIV Indicators.

    The primary objectives of this data collection effort are to:

    • Ensure the correct implementation of the five steps of the SPF process by maintaining a continuous feedback loop between grantees and their POs;

    • Promptly respond to grantees' needs for training and technical assistance;

    • Assess the fidelity with which the SPF is implemented;

    • Collect aggregate data on HIV testing to fulfill SAMHSA's reporting and accountability obligations as defined by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (GPRA Modernization Act) and HHS's HIV Core Measures;

    • Assess the success of the MAI in reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors associated with the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STD);

    • Measure the effectiveness of evidence-based programs and infrastructure development activities such as: outreach and training, mobilization of key stakeholders, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS counseling and education, testing, referrals to appropriate medical treatment, and other intervention strategies (e.g., cultural enrichment activities, educational and vocational resources, motivational interviewing & brief interventions, social marketing, and computer-based curricula);

    • Investigate intervention types and features that produce the best outcomes for specific population groups;

    • Assess the extent to which access to health care was enhanced for population groups and individuals vulnerable to behavioral health disparities residing in communities targeted by funded interventions;

    These objectives support the four primary goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy which are: (1) Reducing new HIV infections, (2) increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS, (3) reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities, and (4) achieving a coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.

    The Quarterly Progress Reporting (QPR) Tool is a modular instrument structured around the SPF. Each section or module corresponds to a SPF step with an additional section dedicated to cultural competence and efforts to address behavioral health disparities, which is an overarching principle of the framework guiding every step. Grantees provide quarterly reports of their progress through the SPF. Each quarter's report consists of updates to the module(s) corresponding to the SPF steps that the grantee worked on during that quarter. Grantees are required to report on their activities, accomplishments, and barriers associated with cultural competence and reduction of health disparities twice a year, as part of the second- and fourth-quarter progress reports. Data on HIV/HCV testing and hepatitis vaccination are reported only in the aggregate (e.g. numbers tested and percent of tests that were positive). No individual-level information is collected through this instrument.

    The Indirect Services Outcomes Data Tool collects annual data on community-level outcome measures. These data typically come from existing sources such as ongoing community surveys and administrative data collected by local agencies and institutions such as law enforcement, school districts, college campuses, hospitals, and health departments. The data are submitted to SAMHSA in the form of community-level averages, percentages, or rates, and are used to assess the grantees' success in changing community norms, policies, practices, and systems through environmental strategies and information dissemination activities. As with the QPR, no individual-level information is collected through this instrument.

    The third data collection instrument for which approval is being sought is intended to collect FY 2015 data on the HIV testing activities of the grantees. It will be used once only, immediately after the system goes online, in order to collect data for two of the seven HHS Core Indicators that SAMHSA/CSAP has agreed to report. Although this statement refers to it as a separate instrument for purposes of clarity in burden estimation, it has the same data fields as the HIV Testing Implementation section of the main Quarterly Progress Report tool and differs only in its reporting timeframe.

    Although the main purpose of this data collection effort is to provide a standard and efficient system for SAMHSA's project officers to maintain a feedback loop with the grantees that they manage and to respond to training and technical assistance needs in a timely fashion, the data will also be incorporated into the national cross-site evaluation. By combining this grantee-level implementation information and community-level outcome data with participant-level pre-post data, SAMHSA will be able to identify interventions and intervention combinations that produce the most favorable outcomes at the individual and community levels, and to investigate the interaction between participant- and grantee-level factors in predicting positive outcomes.

    Respondent burden has been limited to the extent possible while allowing SAMHSA project officers to effectively manage, monitor, and provide sufficient guidance to their grantees, and for the cross-site evaluation to reliably assess program outcomes and successful strategies. The following table displays estimates of the annualized burden for data collected through the Quarterly Progress Reporting and Indirect Services outcomes data collection tools.

    Estimates of Annualized Hour Burden Exhibit 1—Total Estimated Annualized Burden by Instrument Type of respondent activity Number of
  • respondents
  • Responses per
  • respondent
  • Total
  • responses
  • Hours per
  • response
  • Total burden hours Wage rate Total hour cost
    Quarterly Progress Report 158 4 632 4 2,528 $21.79 $55,085 Indirect Services Outcomes 158 1 158 2 316 21.79 6,886 HIV Testing Retrospective Reporting Tool 50 1/3 16.67 0.25 4.17 21.79 91 Total 158 806.67 2,848 62,062

    Send comments to Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer, Room 2-1057, One Choke Cherry Road, Rockville, MD 20857 or email her a copy at [email protected] Written comments should be received by January 8, 2016.

    Summer King, Statistician.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28368 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4162-20-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2013-0864] Certificate of Alternative Compliance for the M/V LEIGH ANN MORAN, 1261986 AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard announces that a Certificate of Alternative Compliance was issued for the Uninspected Towing Vessel LEIGH ANN MORAN as required by statute.

    DATES:

    The Certificate of Alternative Compliance was issued on September 28, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this notice is available for inspection or copying at the Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also find this docket on the Internet by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-2011-0508 in the “Keyword” box, and then clicking “Search.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this notice, call LT Steven Melvin, District Nine, Prevention Branch, U.S. Coast Guard, telephone 216-902-6343. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background and Purpose

    A Certificate of Alternative Compliance, as allowed for under 33 U.S.C. 1605 (c) and 33 CFR 81.18, has been issued for the M/V LEIGH ANN MORAN. The vessel's primary purpose is a to push a barge that will operate on mainly in the Gulf of Mexico. The unique design of the vessel did not lend itself to full compliance with Annex I of the Inland Rules Act.

    The Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, certifies that full compliance with the Inland Rules Act would interfere with the special functions/intent of the vessel and would not significantly enhance the safety of the vessel's operation. Placing the sidelights in the required position would interfere with the standard tug operations of the vessel.

    The Certificate of Alternative Compliance authorizes the M/V LEIGH ANN MORAN to deviate from the requirements set forth in Annex I of the Inland Rules Act, and install the sidelights as shown on the JENSEN Naval Architects and Marine Engineers “NAV MAST STRUCT & LIGHT ARGMT” Drawing No. 170-01, Rev A, dated October 30, 2014.

    This notice is issued under authority of 33 U.S.C. 1605(c), and 33 CFR 81.18.

    Dated: October 20, 2015. P.D.J. Arnett, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Chief, Prevention Division, By Direction.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28480 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA-4241-DR; Docket ID FEMA-2015-0002] South Carolina; Amendment No. 10 to Notice of a Major Disaster Declaration AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice amends the notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of South Carolina (FEMA-4241-DR), dated October 5, 2015, and related determinations.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 26, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2833.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of South Carolina is hereby amended to include the following areas among those areas determined to have been adversely affected by the event declared a major disaster by the President in his declaration of October 5, 2015.

    Allendale, Beaufort, Lancaster, and Marlboro Counties for Public Assistance.

    The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance—Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050 Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant.

    W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28373 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA-4241-DR; Docket ID FEMA-2015-0002] South Carolina; Amendment No. 11 to Notice of a Major Disaster Declaration AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice amends the notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of South Carolina (FEMA-4241-DR), dated October 5, 2015, and related determinations.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 27, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2833.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of South Carolina is hereby amended to include the following areas among those areas determined to have been adversely affected by the event declared a major disaster by the President in his declaration of October 5, 2015.

    Greenville and Spartanburg Counties for Individual Assistance.

    The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance—Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050 Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant.

    W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28374 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA-3373-EM; Docket ID FEMA-2015-0002] South Carolina; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of an Emergency Declaration AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice amends the notice of an emergency declaration for the State of South Carolina (FEMA-3373-EM), dated October 3, 2015, and related determinations.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 23, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2833.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notice is hereby given that the incident period for this emergency is closed effective October 23, 2015.

    The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance—Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant.

    W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28375 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA-4241-DR; Docket ID FEMA-2015-0002] South Carolina; Amendment No. 9 to Notice of a Major Disaster Declaration AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice amends the notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of South Carolina (FEMA-4241-DR), dated October 5, 2015, and related determinations.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 23, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2833.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notice is hereby given that the incident period for this disaster is closed effective October 23, 2015.

    The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance—Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant.

    W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28372 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY [Docket No. ICEB-XXXX] RIN 1653-ZA09 Employment Authorization for Nepali F-1 Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of the April 25, 2015 Earthquake in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal AGENCY:

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Department of Homeland Security.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) has suspended certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (hereinafter “Nepal”) and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the earthquake in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on April 25, 2015.

    The Secretary is taking action to provide relief to these Nepali citizens who are F-1 students so they may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 student status. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will deem an F-1 student who receives employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the duration of the employment authorization, if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice.

    DATES:

    This notice is effective November 9, 2015 and will remain in effect until December 24, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Louis Farrell, Director, Student and Exchange Visitor Program; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th Street SW., Stop 5600, Washington, DC 20536-5600; email: [email protected], telephone: (703) 603-3400. This is not a toll-free number. Program information is available at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: What action is DHS taking under this notice?

    The Secretary is exercising his authority under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) to temporarily suspend the applicability of certain requirements governing on-campus and off-campus employment for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (Nepal) and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015. DHS will deem an F-1 student granted employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the duration of the employment authorization, if the student satisfies the minimum course load set forth in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F).

    Who is covered by this notice?

    This notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet all of the following conditions:

    (1) Are a citizen of Nepal;

    (2) Was lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 25, 2015, under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i);

    (3) Are enrolled in a school that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment for F-1 students;

    (4) Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and

    (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the damage caused by the earthquake of April 25, 2015.

    This notice applies to undergraduate and graduate students, private kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) students, and public and private high school students. An F-1 student covered by this notice who transfers to another school that is SEVP-certified for enrollment of F-1 students remains eligible for the relief provided by means of this notice.

    Why is DHS taking this action?

    DHS is taking action to provide relief to the Nepali F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. These students may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 status.

    The April 25th 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks caused enormous damage in Nepal's vulnerable urban areas, as well as to its rural areas that are difficult to access because of the mountainous terrain and limited numbers of undamaged roads. The earthquake has negatively affected the whole economy of Nepal. Approximately 25 to 33 percent of Nepal's population of over 8 million people in 39 of Nepal's 75 districts have been affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks, which caused over 8,000 fatalities and more than 17,000 injuries, displacing over 2.8 million people from their homes. The country's critical infrastructure was severely damaged, and many government offices, schools, businesses, and hospitals were completely destroyed. Food security is jeopardized with over 3.5 million people estimated to be in need of food assistance. Displaced persons have varying access to basic services, such as shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as medical care. At least 950,000 children in Nepal are at risk of being unable to return to school because their schools have been destroyed, damaged, or are being used as temporary shelters. The institutional capacity of the Nepali government to respond to the immediate effects of the earthquake is inadequate, and the Government of Nepal has issued a $2 billion appeal for the Nepal Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Fund.

    Approximately 9326F-1 students from Nepal are enrolled in courses at U. S. schools as of September 19, 2015. Given the extent of the destruction and humanitarian challenges in Nepal, affected students whose primary means of financial support comes from Nepal now may need to be exempt from the normal student employment requirements to continue their studies in the United States. The widespread disaster has made it unfeasible for many students to safely return to Nepal for the foreseeable future. Without employment authorization, these students may lack the means to meet basic living expenses.

    What is the minimum course load requirement set forth in this notice?

    Undergraduate students who receive on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of six credit hours of instruction per academic semester.1 A graduate-level F-1 student who receives on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of three credit hours of instruction per academic semester. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v).

    1 Undergradudate students enrolled in a term of different duration must register for at least one half of the credit hours normally required under a “full course of study.”

    In addition, an F-1 student (either undergraduate or graduate) granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice may count up to the equivalent of one course or three credits per semester of online or distance education toward satisfying this minimum course load requirement, unless the student's course of study is in an English language study program. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G). At an elementary, middle, or high school, an F-1 student must maintain “class attendance for not less than the minimum number of hours a week prescribed by the school for normal progress toward graduation,” as required under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E).

    May an eligible F-1 student who already has on-campus or off-campus employment authorization benefit from the suspension of regulatory requirements under this notice?

    Yes. A Nepali F-1 student who already has on-campus or off-campus employment authorization may benefit under this notice, which suspends regulatory requirements relating to the minimum course load requirement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) and (B) and the employment eligibility requirements under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) as specified in this notice. Such an eligible F-1 student may benefit without having to apply for a new Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To benefit from this notice, the student must request that his or her designated school official (DSO) enter the following statement in the remarks field of the student's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record, which the student's Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status, will reflect:

    Approved for more than 20 hours per week of [DSO must insert “on-campus” or “off-campus,” depending upon the type of employment authorization the student already has] employment authorization and reduced course load under the Special Student Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of employment] until [DSO must insert the student's program end date, December 24, 2016, or the current EAD expiration date (if the student is currently authorized off-campus employment), whichever date comes first].

    Must the F-1 student apply for reinstatement after expiration of this special employment authorization if the student reduces his or her “full course of study”?

    No. DHS will deem an F-1 student who receives employment authorization under this notice to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the duration of the employment authorization, provided that a qualifying undergraduate level F-1 student remains registered for a minimum of six credit hours of instruction per academic semester and a qualifying graduate level F-1 student remains registered for a minimum of three credit hours of instruction per academic semester. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v) and (f)(6)(i)(F). DHS will not require such students to apply for reinstatement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16) if otherwise maintaining F-1 status.

    Will an F-2 dependent (spouse or minor child) of an F-1 student covered by this notice be eligible to apply for employment authorization?

    No. An F-2 spouse or minor child of an F-1 student does not have authorization to work in the United States and, therefore, may not accept employment under the F-2 status. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(i).

    Will the suspension of the applicability of the standard student employment requirements apply to an alien who receives an F-1 visa after publication of this notice in the Federal Register?

    No. The suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory requirements only applies to those F-1 students who meet the following conditions:

    (1) Are a citizen of Nepal;

    (2) Was lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 25, 2015, under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i);

    (3) Are enrolled in a school that is SEVP-certified for enrollment for F-1 students;

    (4) Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and

    (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the damage caused by the earthquake of April 25, 2015.

    Even if experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the damage caused by the earthquake, an F-1 student who does not meet all of these requirements is ineligible for the suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory requirements.

    Does this notice apply to an F-1 student who departs the United States after publication of this notice in the Federal Register and who needs to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the United States to continue an educational program?

    Yes. This notice applies to such a student, but only if the DSO has properly notated the student's SEVIS record, which will then appear on the student's Form I-20. Subject to the specific terms of this notice, the normal rules for visa issuance (including those related to public charge and nonimmigrant intent) remain applicable to a nonimmigrant that needs to apply for a new F-1 visa to continue an educational program in the United States.

    Does this notice apply to elementary school, middle school, and high school students in F-1 status?

    Yes. However, this notice does not reduce the required course load for elementary school, middle school, or high school F-1 students. Such Nepali students must maintain the minimum number of hours of class attendance per week prescribed by the school for normal progress toward graduation. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). The suspension of certain regulatory requirements related to employment through this notice is applicable to all eligible F-1 students-regardless of educational level-as required by the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) and (f)(9)(ii). Eligible F-1 students from Nepal enrolled in an elementary school, middle school, or high school do benefit from the suspension of the requirement in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of federal and state labor laws limiting the employment of minors.

    Does this notice apply to a student in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program in F-1 status?

    Yes. However special conditions apply to credit hour programs and clock hour programs, given the varied nature and structure of ESL programs.

    (1) Credit Hour Programs. For an ESL program with a course load measured in credit hours, an eligible F-1 student may take a reduced course load. This amount must always be, at minimum, six credit hours of instruction per academic semester at the undergraduate level not less than three credit hours of instruction per academic semester at the graduate level. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii). Additionally, an eligible F-1 student must continue to make progress toward completing the course of study. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v).

    (2) Clock Hour Programs. An eligible F-1 student may take a reduced course load for an ESL program with a course load measured in clock hours. This amount always must be at least half of what constitutes a normal “full course of study” for the student. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii). For programs where the dominant part of the course of study consists of classroom instruction, the reduced course load must consist of a minimum of nine hours of instruction per week. For programs where the dominant part of the course of study consists of laboratory instruction, the reduced course load must consist of a minimum of eleven hours of instruction per week. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii) The student also must continue to make progress toward completing the course of study. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v).

    In general, an eligible student who takes a reduced course load must accomplish the reduced course load by taking at least half of what would constitute a normal “full course of study” for the student. For example, an eligible student taking two or more classes per semester for 20 hours a week may take a reduced course load, but only if the student continues to attend class and the resultant total clock hour amount is at least half of what would constitute a normal “full course of study” for the student. In this case, if a normal full course load for the student is 20 hours a week, an eligible student may reduce his or her course load to no less than 10 hours a week.

    If this program offers two courses per semester, one for 15 hours and one for five hours, the student may only drop the five-hour class. The student may not seek to artificially remove hours from the 15-hour course to get as close as possible to the 10-hour lower limit. An eligible student may reduce courses in their entirety but may not seek to reduce hours from a course.

    In all instances, an eligible student receives full-time employment authorization.

    On-Campus Employment Authorization Will an F-1 student who receives on-campus employment authorization under this notice have authorization to work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session?

    Yes. For an F-1 student covered in this notice, the Secretary is suspending the applicability of the requirement in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits an F-1 student's on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. An eligible student has authorization to work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, if the DSO has entered the following statement in the remarks field of the SEVIS student record, which will appear on the student's Form I-20:

    Approved for more than 20 hours per week of on-campus employment and reduced course load, under the Special Student Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of employment] until [DSO must insert the student's program end date or December 24, 2016, whichever date comes first].

    To obtain on-campus employment authorization, the student must demonstrate to the DSO that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship directly resulting from the damage caused by the earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015. A student authorized by the DSO to engage in on-campus employment by means of this notice does not need to make any filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The standard rules permitting full-time work on-campus when school is not in session or during school vacations apply. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i).

    Will an F-1 student who receives on-campus employment authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal course load and still maintain his or her F−1 student status?

    Yes. DHS will deem an F-1 student who receives on-campus employment authorization under this notice to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the purpose of maintaining their F-1 status for the duration of the on-campus employment, if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). However, the authorization to reduce the normal course load is solely for DHS purposes of determining valid F-1 status. Nothing in this notice mandates that school officials allow a student to take a reduced course load if the reduction would not meet the school's minimum course load requirement for continued enrollment.2

    2 Minimum course load requirement for enrollment in a school must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, Web site, or operating procedure), and it must be a standard applicable to all students (U.S. citizens and foreign students) enrolled at the school.

    Off-Campus Employment Authorization What regulatory requirements does this notice temporarily suspend relating to off-campus employment?

    For an F-1 student covered by this notice, as provided under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A), the Secretary is suspending the following regulatory requirements relating to off-campus employment:

    (a) The requirement that a student must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year to be eligible for off-campus employment;

    (b) The requirement that an F-1 student must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student's carrying a “full course of study”; and

    (c) The requirement that limits a student's work authorization to no more than 20 hours per week of off-campus employment while school is in session.

    Will an F-1 student who receives off-campus employment authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal course load and still maintain F-1 nonimmigrant status?

    Yes. DHS will deem an F-1 student who receives off-campus employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status for the duration of employment authorization if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). However, the authorization to reduce the normal course load is solely for DHS purposes of determining valid F-1 status. Nothing in this notice mandates that school officials allow a student to take a reduced course load if such a reduced course load would not meet the school's minimum course load requirement.

    How may an eligible F-1 student obtain employment authorization for off-campus employment with a reduced course load under this notice?

    An F-1 student must file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS to apply for off-campus employment authorization based on severe economic hardship resulting from the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Filing instructions are at http://www.uscis.gov/i-765.

    Fee considerations. Submission of a Form I-765 currently requires payment of a $380 fee. An applicant who is unable to pay the fee may submit a completed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, along with the Form I-765. See www.uscis.gov/feewaiver. The submission must include an explanation of why USCIS should grant the fee waiver and the reasons for the student's inability to pay. See 8 CFR 103.7(c).

    Supporting documentation. An F-1 student seeking off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must demonstrate the following to the student's DSO:

    (1) This employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship; and

    (2) The hardship is resulting from the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

    If the DSO agrees that the student should receive such employment authorization, the DSO must recommend application approval to USCIS by entering the following statement in the remarks field of the student's SEVIS record, which will then appear on the student's Form I-20:

    Recommended for off-campus employment authorization in excess of 20 hours per week and reduced course load under the Special Student Relief authorization from the date of the USCIS authorization noted on Form I-766 until [DSO must insert the student's program end date or December 24, 2016, whichever date comes first].

    The student must then file the properly endorsed Form I-20 and Form I-765 according to the instructions for the Form I-765. The student may begin working off campus only upon receipt of the EAD from USCIS.

    DSO recommendation. In making a recommendation that a student be approved for Special Student Relief, the DSO certifies the following:

    (a) The student is in good academic standing as determined by the DSO;

    (b) The student is a citizen of Nepal and is experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the damage caused by the earthquake on April 25, 2015, as documented on the Form I-20;

    (c) The student is carrying a “full course of study” at the time of the request for employment authorization;

    (d) The student has confirmed that he or she will comply with the reduced course load requirements of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii) and register for the duration of the authorized employment for a minimum of six credit hours of instruction per academic semester if the student is at the undergraduate level or for a minimum of three credit hours of instruction per academic semester if the student is at the graduate level; and

    (e) The off-campus employment is necessary to alleviate severe economic hardship to the individual caused by the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

    Processing. To facilitate prompt adjudication of the student's application for off-campus employment authorization under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C), the student should do both of the following:

    (a) Ensure that the application package includes all of the following documents:

    (1) A completed Form I-765;

    (2) The required fee or properly documented fee waiver request as defined in 8 CFR 103.7(c); and

    (3) A signed and dated copy of the student's Form I-20 with the appropriate DSO recommendation, as previously described in this notice; and

    (b) Send the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase “SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF.” Failure to include this notation may result in significant processing delays.

    If USCIS approves the student's Form I-765, a USCIS official will send the student an EAD as evidence of the student's employment authorization. The EAD will contain an expiration date that does not exceed the end of the granted temporary relief.

    Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Considerations Can an F-1 student apply for TPS and for benefits under this notice at the same time?

    Yes. An F-1 student who has not yet applied for TPS or for student relief under this notice has two options. Under the first option, the student may file the TPS application according to the instructions in the Federal Register notice designating Nepal for TPS. See 80 FR 36346, June 24, 2015. All TPS applicants must file a Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-765, regardless of whether they are seeking employment authorization under TPS. The fee (or a properly documented fee waiver request) for the Form I-765 is necessary only if the applicant is seeking employment authorization under TPS. See 8 CFR 244.6. After receiving the TPS-related EAD, a student who files a TPS application and requests employment authorization under TPS may ask the DSO to take the following steps:

    (1) Make the required entry in SEVIS;

    (2) Issue an updated Form I-20 as described in this notice; and

    (3) Note that the student has authorization to carry a reduced course load and is working pursuant to a TPS-related EAD.

    A student concurrently maintains F-1 status and TPS if he or she maintains the minimum course load described in this notice, does not otherwise violate his or her F-1 status as provided under 8 CFR 214.1(g), and maintains his or her TPS.

    Under the second option, the student may apply for an EAD under student relief. In this instance, the student must file the Form I-765 with the location specified in the filing instructions. At the same time, the student may file a separate TPS application but must submit the TPS filing according to the instructions provided in the Federal Register notice designating Nepal for TPS. Because the student already has applied for employment authorization under student relief, the Form I-765 submitted as part of the TPS application is without fee. The student should not check any of the boxes requesting a TPS-related EAD when filling-out Form I-821. Again, the student will be able to maintain F-1 status and TPS.

    When a student applies simultaneously for TPS status and benefits under this notice, what is the minimum course load requirement while an application for employment authorization is pending?

    The student must maintain normal course load requirements for a “full course of study” unless or until the student receives employment authorization under this notice. TPS-related employment authorization, by itself, does not authorize a student to drop below 12 credit hours. Once approved for “severe economic hardship” employment authorization, the student may drop below 12 credit hours (with a minimum of six credit hours of instruction per academic semester if the student is at the undergraduate level, or for a minimum of three credit hours of instruction per academic semester if the student is at the graduate level). See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6), 214.2(f)(5)(v), 214.2(f)(9)(i) and (ii).

    How does a student who has received approval for employment authorization under TPS then apply for authorization to take a reduced course load under this notice?

    There is no further application process. The student only needs to demonstrate to the DSO the economic hardship caused by the damage caused by the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal and receive the DSO recommendation in SEVIS. The DSO's recommendation in SEVIS will enable the student with TPS to reduce his or her course load without violating his or her F status. USCIS will not issue any other EAD.

    Can a student who has been granted TPS apply for reinstatement to F-1 student status after his or her F-1 status has lapsed?

    A student whose F-1 status lapses after he or she is granted TPS may apply for reinstatement to F-1 student status if the student meets the requirements of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16). For example, to qualify for reinstatement, the student will be required to establish that his or her violation of F-1 status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control such as serious injury or illness or, rather than a pattern of repeated violations.

    How long will this notice remain in effect?

    This notice grants temporary relief until December 24, 2016, to eligible F-1 students. DHS will continue to monitor the situation in Nepal. Should the special provisions authorized by this notice need modification or extension, DHS will announce such changes in the Federal Register.

    Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    An F-1 student seeking off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must demonstrate to the student's DSO that this employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. A DSO who agrees that the student should receive such employment authorization must recommend application approval to USCIS by entering information in the remarks field of the student's SEVIS record. The authority to collect this information is in the SEVIS collection of information currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 1653-0038.

    This notice also allows an eligible F-1 student to request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce his or her course load while continuing to maintain F-1 student status.

    To apply for work authorization, an F-1 student must complete and submit a currently approved Form I-765 according to the instructions on the form. OMB has previously approved the collection of information contained on the current Form I-765, consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). (OMB Control No. 1615-0040). Although there will be a slight increase in the number of Form I-765 filings because of this notice, the number of filings currently contained in the OMB annual inventory for Form I-765 is sufficient to cover the additional filings. Accordingly, there is no further action required under the PRA.

    Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28360 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-28-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY [Docket No. DHS-2015-0074] Agency Information Collection Activities: CISOMB Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey (Ombudsman Form DHS—NEW) AGENCY:

    Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CISOMB), DHS.

    ACTION:

    60-Day notice and request for comments; New Collection, 1601—NEW.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, will submit the following Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    DATES:

    Comments are encouraged and will be accepted until January 8, 2016. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.1.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number DHS-2015-0074 by one of the following methods:

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

    Email: [email protected] Please include docket number DHS-2015-0074 in the subject line of the message.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman was created under section 452 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-296) to: (1) Assist individuals and employers in resolving problems with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); (2) identify areas in which individuals and employers have problems in dealing with USCIS; and (3) propose changes, to the extent possible, in the administrative practices of USCIS to mitigate problems.

    The information collected on this form will allow the CIS Ombudsman to obtain feedback from the general public to assess the needs of customers and to identify improvement opportunities for Ombudsman services. The data collection instrument does not solicit or collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

    The use of this survey provides the most efficient means for collecting and processing the required data. In the future, the Ombudsman will employ the use of information technology in collecting and processing this information by offering the option to complete the survey online. Per PRA requirements, a fillable PDF version of the survey will continue to be provided on the Ombudsman's Web site. The survey can be completed in PDF format, and faxed or sent as an attachment by email or in paper format by regular mail to the Ombudsman's office at the address indicated on the survey. After approval of the survey detailed in this supporting statement, the online survey will be posted on the Ombudsman's Web site at http://www.dhs.gov/topic/cis-ombudsman.

    The assurance of confidentiality provided to the respondents for this information collection is provided by: (a) The Ombudsman statute and mandate as established by Homeland Security Act Section 452;(b)Privacy Act of 1974; and (c) The DHS Privacy Office has reviewed the entire package of documents for this information collection. This collection is covered by a Privacy Threshold Assessment adjudicated by the DHS Privacy office on March 26, 2015. The Ombudsman Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey will be in compliance with all applicable DHS Privacy Office, DHS CIO, DHS Records Management, and OMB regulations regarding data collection, use, storage, and retrieval. The proposed public use data collection system is therefore intended to be distributed for public use primarily by electronic means with limited paper distribution and processing of paper forms.

    The Ombudsman Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey has been constructed in compliance with regulations and authorities under the purview of the DHS Privacy Office, DHS CIO, DHS Records Management, and OMB regulations regarding data collection, use, sharing, storage, information security and retrieval of information. In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of Homeland Security is giving notice that it proposes to establish the Department of Homeland Security system of records notice titled, “The Ombudsman Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey System of Records.” This system of records will continue to ensure the efficient and secure processing of information to aid the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman in assessing the needs of customers to improve Ombudsman services and offer more efficient and effective alternatives. This system will be included in the Department of Homeland Security's inventory of record systems. This is a new collection.

    The Office of Management and Budget is particularly interested in comments which:

    1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    2. Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    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, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

    Analysis

    Agency: Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, DHS.

    Title: Agency Information Collection Activities: CISOMB Customer Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Survey.

    OMB Number: 1601—NEW.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Affected Public: Individuals and Households.

    Number of Respondents: 8,800.

    Estimated Time per Respondent: .5 hours.

    Total Burden Hours: 4,400 hours.

    Dated: November 2, 2015. Carlene C. Ileto, Executive Director, Enterprise Business Management Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28382 Filed 11-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-9B-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. C