Federal Register Vol. 80, No.226,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 226 (November 24, 2015)

Page Range73087-73629
FR Document

80_FR_226
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 73232 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
80 FR 73201 - Statutorily Mandated Designation of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for 2016PDF
80 FR 73265 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: B4UFLY Smartphone AppPDF
80 FR 73268 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Pilot Schools-FAR 141PDF
80 FR 73267 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Operating Requirements: Commuter and On-Demand OperationPDF
80 FR 73187 - Notice of the 2016 Presidential Transition DirectoryPDF
80 FR 73265 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Titanosaur” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 73266 - Approval of Noise Compatibility Program, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Lake Hood Seaplane Base, Anchorage, AKPDF
80 FR 73266 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate ApplicationPDF
80 FR 73208 - Indian Gaming; Extension of Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota)PDF
80 FR 73200 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9; Revision of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
80 FR 73161 - Wireline Competition Bureau Extends Comment and Reply Comment Deadlines in Business Data Services (Also Referred to as Special Access Services) Rulemaking ProceedingPDF
80 FR 73229 - Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH)PDF
80 FR 73193 - Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 73194 - Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Plants; Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 73104 - New Animal Drugs in Genetically Engineered Animals; opAFP-GHc2 Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid ConstructPDF
80 FR 73264 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Keir Collection of Art of the Islamic World” ExhibitionsPDF
80 FR 73264 - Additional Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 73264 - Culturally Significant Object Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Jan Van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgment: New Discoveries” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 73187 - Information Collection; Simplifying Federal Award ReportingPDF
80 FR 73212 - United States et al. v. Springleaf Holdings, Inc., et al.; Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact StatementPDF
80 FR 73268 - Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 73168 - Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 73168 - Grant of Interim Extension of the Term of U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146; fluciclovine (18PDF
80 FR 73182 - Application To Export Electric Energy; MAG Energy Solutions, Inc.PDF
80 FR 73191 - Request for Nominations of Candidates To Serve as Members of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF); Reopening of Nomination PeriodPDF
80 FR 73230 - ZionSolutions, LLC, Zion Nuclear Power Station, Units 1 and 2; Partial Site ReleasePDF
80 FR 73229 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 73269 - Proposed Information Collections; Comment Request (No. 56)PDF
80 FR 73162 - Shasta-Trinity National Forest; California; Trinity Post Fire Hazard Reduction and SalvagePDF
80 FR 73162 - Francis Marion-Sumter Resource Advisory CommitteePDF
80 FR 73171 - Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem RatesPDF
80 FR 73246 - Notice of Public Meeting of Presidio Institute Advisory CouncilPDF
80 FR 73208 - Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB Review; Renewal of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
80 FR 73187 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
80 FR 73262 - ETF Series Solutions and U.S. Global Investors, Inc.; Notice of Application November 18, 2015PDF
80 FR 73188 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 73190 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 73207 - Endangered Species; Receipt of Applications for PermitPDF
80 FR 73118 - Cost of Living Adjustment to Satellite Carrier Compulsory License Royalty RatesPDF
80 FR 73117 - Cost of Living Adjustment for Performance of Musical Compositions by Colleges and UniversitiesPDF
80 FR 73090 - Stress Testing of Regulated EntitiesPDF
80 FR 73263 - California Disaster #CA-00241PDF
80 FR 73164 - Call for Applications for the International Buyer Program Calendar Year 2017PDF
80 FR 73166 - Call for Applications for the International Buyer Program Select Service for Calendar Year 2017PDF
80 FR 73211 - Certain Marine Sonar Imaging Systems, Products Containing the Same, and Components Thereof; Commission's Final Determination Finding a Violation of Section 337; Issuance of Limited Exclusion Order and Cease and Desist Orders; Termination of the InvestigationPDF
80 FR 73186 - Igor Ovchinnikov, Irina Rzaeva, and Denis Nekipelov v. Michael Hitrinov a/k/a Michael Khitrinov, Empire United Lines Co., Inc., and Carcont, Ltd.; Notice of Filing of Complaint and AssignmentPDF
80 FR 73198 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 73198 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 73185 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
80 FR 73184 - FCC To Hold Open Commission Meeting Thursday, November 19, 2015PDF
80 FR 73105 - Ballast Water Management Reporting and RecordkeepingPDF
80 FR 73182 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Natural Experiments and Model Career-Focused Schools: An Environmental ScanPDF
80 FR 73209 - Certain Laser Abraded Denim Garments; Commission Decision Terminating the Remaining Respondents From the Investigation; Setting the Date for the Commission To Determine Whether To Grant the Petition for Review of Order Nos. 43 and 83PDF
80 FR 73258 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Order Instituting Proceedings to Determine Whether To Approve or Disapprove Proposed Rule Change Relating To Implementation of a Fee on Securities Lending and Repurchase Transactions With Respect to Shares of the CurrencyShares® Euro Trust and the CurrencyShares® Japanese Yen TrustPDF
80 FR 73256 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to Administration of Livevol X License AgreementsPDF
80 FR 73247 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1 Thereto, To Adopt Rule 8.17 To Provide a Process for an Expedited Suspension Proceeding and Rule 12.15 To Prohibit Disruptive Quoting and Trading ActivityPDF
80 FR 73252 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Order Granting Approval of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Margin RequirementsPDF
80 FR 73254 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ISE Gemini, LLC; Notice of Withdrawal of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to a Corporate Transaction Involving Its Indirect ParentPDF
80 FR 73252 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; International Securities Exchange, LLC; Notice of Withdrawal of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to a Corporate Transaction Involving Its Indirect ParentPDF
80 FR 73254 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; C2 Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to Delivery of the Regulatory Element of C2's Continuing Education ProgramPDF
80 FR 73199 - Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's Response to Task Statement 1, Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08 RevisionPDF
80 FR 73198 - Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee; VacanciesPDF
80 FR 73115 - Safety Zone, Delaware River; New Castle, DEPDF
80 FR 73245 - Market Dominant Price AdjustmentPDF
80 FR 73153 - BASF Corp.; Filing of Food Additive Petition (Animal Use)PDF
80 FR 73119 - Air Plan Approval; ME; Repeal of the Maine's General Conformity ProvisionPDF
80 FR 73160 - Air Plan Approval; ME; Repeal of the Maine's General Conformity ProvisionPDF
80 FR 73087 - Treatment of Financial Assets Transferred in Connection With a Securitization or ParticipationPDF
80 FR 73169 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 73170 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 73210 - Certain Footwear Products; Notice of Request for Statements on the Public InterestPDF
80 FR 73156 - Disapproval of California Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management DistrictPDF
80 FR 73183 - Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides-Health CriteriaPDF
80 FR 73153 - Infectious Disease Management: Voluntary and Involuntary TestingPDF
80 FR 73150 - Proposed Establishment of Class E Airspace, South Naknek, AKPDF
80 FR 73152 - Proposed Establishment of Class E Airspace, South Bend, WAPDF
80 FR 73147 - Airworthiness Directives; Turbomeca S.A. Turboshaft EnginesPDF
80 FR 73148 - Airworthiness Directives; Turbomeca S.A. Turboshaft EnginesPDF
80 FR 73156 - Regulated Navigation Area; Reporting Requirements for Barges Loaded With Certain Dangerous Cargoes, Inland Rivers, Eighth Coast Guard District; Stay (Suspension) ExpiringPDF
80 FR 73103 - Establishment of Class E Airspace; Newberry, MIPDF
80 FR 73099 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
80 FR 73232 - Biweekly Notice; Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards ConsiderationsPDF
80 FR 73096 - Airworthiness Directives; ATR-GIE Avions de Transport Régional AirplanesPDF
80 FR 73122 - Best Practices for Designing Vision Field Tests for Locomotive Engineers or ConductorsPDF
80 FR 73128 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic Shark Management MeasuresPDF
80 FR 73273 - Medicare Program; Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Payment Model for Acute Care Hospitals Furnishing Lower Extremity Joint Replacement ServicesPDF
80 FR 73555 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study AreaPDF
80 FR 73092 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF

Issue

80 226 Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Forest Service

Alcohol Tobacco Tax Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73269-73271 2015-29879 Antitrust Division Antitrust Division NOTICES Proposed Final Judgments and Competitive Impact Statements: United States, et al. v. Springleaf Holdings, Inc., et al., 73212-73229 2015-29895 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73169-73170 2015-29815 2015-29816 2015-29818 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73188-73191 2015-29866 2015-29867 Requests for Nominations: Community Preventive Services Task Force, 73191-73193 2015-29882 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services RULES Medicare Program: Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Payment Model for Acute Care Hospitals Furnishing Lower Extremity Joint Replacement Services, 73274-73554 2015-29438 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Ballast Water Management Reporting and Recordkeeping, 73105-73115 2015-29848 Safety Zones: Delaware River; New Castle, DE, 73115-73117 2015-29835 PROPOSED RULES Regulated Navigation Areas: Reporting Requirements for Barges Loaded with Certain Dangerous Cargoes, Inland Rivers, Eighth Coast Guard District; Stay Expiring, 73156 2015-29714 NOTICES Meetings: Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's Response to Task Statement 1, Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08 Revision, 73199-73200 2015-29837 Requests for Nominations: Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee, 73198-73199 2015-29836 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

Copyright Royalty Board Copyright Royalty Board RULES Cost of Living Adjustment for Performance of Musical Compositions by Colleges and Universities, 73117-73118 2015-29862 Cost of Living Adjustment to Satellite Carrier Compulsory License Royalty Rates, 73118-73119 2015-29863 Defense Department Defense Department NOTICES Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem Rates, 73171-73181 2015-29875 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Natural Experiments and Model Career-Focused Schools: An Environmental Scan, 73182 2015-29847 Energy Department Energy Department NOTICES Applications to Export Electric Energy: MAG Energy Solutions, Inc., 73182-73183 2015-29885 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Maine; Repeal of the General Conformity Provision, 73119-73122 2015-29825 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: California; Disapproval of California Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management District, 73156-73160 2015-29802 Maine; Repeal of the Maine's General Conformity Provision, 73160-73161 2015-29824 NOTICES Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria, 73183-73184 2015-29800 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 73092-73096, 73099-73103 2015-28886 2015-29702 ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Regional Airplanes, 73096-73099 2015-29682 Establishment of Class E Airspace: Newberry, MI, 73103-73104 2015-29704 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Turbomeca S.A. Turboshaft Engines, 73147-73150 2015-29747 2015-29748 Proposed Establishment of Class E Airspace: South Bend, WA, 73152-73153 2015-29788 South Naknek, AK, 73150-73151 2015-29789 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: B4UFLY Smartphone App, 73265 2015-29924 Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate Application, 73266 2015-29913 Operating Requirements: Commuter and On-Demand Operation, 73267 2015-29922 Pilot Schools—FAR 141, 73268 2015-29923 Noise Compatibility Program; Approvals: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Lake Hood Seaplane Base Anchorage, AK, 73266-73267 2015-29916 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission PROPOSED RULES Business Data Services (Also Referred to as Special Access Services): Wireline Competition Bureau; Comment and Reply Comment Deadline Extensions, 73161 2015-29906 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73185-73186 2015-29850 Meetings: Federal Communications Commission, 73184-73185 2015-29849 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation RULES Treatment of Financial Assets Transferred in Connection with a Securitization or Participation, 73087-73090 2015-29822 Federal Housing Finance Agency Federal Housing Finance Agency RULES Stress Testing of Regulated Entities, 73090-73092 2015-29861 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Complaints: Igor Ovchinnikov, Irina Rzaeva, and Denis Nekipelov v. Michael Hitrinov, Empire United Lines Co., Inc., and CarCont Ltd., 73186-73187 2015-29856 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration RULES Best Practices for Designing Vision Field Tests for Locomotive Engineers or Conductors, 73122-73128 2015-29640 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73268-73269 2015-29892 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 73187 2015-29869 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Permits: Endangered Species, 73207-73208 2015-29864 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES New Animal Drugs in Genetically Engineered Animals; opAFP-GHc2 Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid Construct, 73104-73105 2015-29902 PROPOSED RULES Food Additive Petitions, Animal Use: BASF Corp., 73153 2015-29832 NOTICES Guidance: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon, 73193-73194 2015-29904 Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants, 73194-73198 2015-29903 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Trinity Post Fire Hazard Reduction and Salvage, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA, 73162-73164 2015-29878 Meetings: Francis Marion-Sumter Resource Advisory Committee, 73162 2015-29877 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES 2016 Presidential Transition Directory, 73187 2015-29920 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Simplifying Federal Award Reporting, 73187-73188 2015-29896 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Statutorily Mandated Designation of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for 2016, 73201-73207 2015-29953 Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau NOTICES Indian Gaming: Extension of Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota), 73208 2015-29911 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Reclamation Bureau

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Requests for Applications: International Buyer Program Calendar Year 2017, 73164-73166 2015-29859 International Buyer Program Select Service for Calendar Year 2017, 73166-73168 2015-29858 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Footwear Products, 73210-73211 2015-29805 Certain Laser Abraded Denim Garments, 73209-73210 2015-29846 Certain Marine Sonar Imaging Systems, Products Containing the Same, and Components Thereof, 73211-73212 2015-29857 Justice Department Justice Department See

Antitrust Division

See

Prisons Bureau

Labor Department Labor Department See

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Library Library of Congress See

Copyright Royalty Board

National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 73198 2015-29853 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 73198 2015-29854 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic Shark Management Measures, 73128-73146 2015-29516 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area, 73556-73629 2015-28894 NOTICES Meetings: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 73168 2015-29891 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Facility Operating Licenses: Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc., 73232-73245 2015-29696 Meetings: Advisory Committee On Reactor Safeguards, 73229-73230 2015-29880 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 73232 2015-30004 Site Release: ZionSolutions, LLC, Zion Nuclear Power Station, Units 1 and 2, 73230-73232 2015-29881 Occupational Safety Health Adm Occupational Safety and Health Administration NOTICES Charter Renewals: Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, 73229 2015-29905 Patent Patent and Trademark Office NOTICES Patent Term Extensions: U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146; fluciclovine (18F), 73168-73169 2015-29887 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Market Dominant Price Adjustments, 73245-73246 2015-29833 Presidio Presidio Trust NOTICES Meetings: Presidio Institute Advisory Council, 73246-73247 2015-29873 Prisons Prisons Bureau PROPOSED RULES Infectious Disease Management: Voluntary and Involuntary Testing, 73153-73156 2015-29790 Reclamation Reclamation Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 73208-73209 2015-29872 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: ETF Series Solutions and U.S. Global Investors, Inc., 73262-73263 2015-29868 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: BATS Exchange, Inc., 73247-73252 2015-29843 C2 Options Exchange, Inc., 73254-73256 2015-29839 Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 73252-73254, 73256-73258 2015-29842 2015-29844 International Securities Exchange, LLC, 73252 2015-29840 ISE Gemini, LLC, 73254 2015-29841 NYSE Arca, Inc., 73258-73262 2015-29845 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: California, 73263-73264 2015-29860 State Department State Department NOTICES Culturally Significant Object Imported for Exhibition: Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World; Correction, 73264 2015-29899 Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Jan Van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgment—New Discoveries, 73264-73265 2015-29898 Keir Collection of Art of the Islamic World, 73264 2015-29900 Titanosaur Exhibition, 73265 2015-29919 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Employment Eligibility Verification, 73200-73201 2015-29909 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Health and Human Services Department, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 73274-73554 2015-29438 Part III Commerce Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 73556-73629 2015-28894 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.

80 226 Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Rules and Regulations FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION 12 CFR Part 360 RIN 3064-AE32 Treatment of Financial Assets Transferred in Connection With a Securitization or Participation AGENCY:

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “FDIC”) is issuing a final rule (the “Final Rule”) that revises certain provisions of its securitization safe harbor rule, which relates to the treatment of financial assets transferred in connection with a securitization or participation, in order to clarify the requirements of the securitization safe harbor as to the retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of securitized financial assets in connection with the effectiveness of the credit risk retention regulations adopted under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act.

DATES:

Effective January 25, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Phillip E. Sloan, Counsel, Legal Division (703) 562-6137; or George H. Williamson, Manager, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships (571) 858-8199.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in regulations codified at 12 CFR 360.6 (the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule), set forth criteria under which in its capacity as receiver or conservator of an insured depository institution the FDIC will not, in the exercise of its authority to repudiate contracts, recover or reclaim financial assets transferred in connection with securitization transactions. Asset transfers that, under the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule, are not subject to recovery or reclamation through the exercise of the FDIC's repudiation authority include those that pertain to certain grandfathered transactions, such as, for example, asset transfers made prior to December 31, 2010 that satisfied the conditions (except for the legal isolation condition addressed by the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule) for sale accounting treatment under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in effect for reporting periods prior to November 15, 2009 and that pertain to a securitization transaction that satisfied certain other requirements. In addition, the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule provides that asset transfers that are not grandfathered, but that satisfy the conditions (except for the legal isolation condition addressed by the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule) for sale accounting treatment under GAAP in effect for reporting periods after November 15, 2009 and that pertain to a securitization transaction that satisfies all other conditions of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule (such asset transfers, together with grandfathered asset transfers, are referred to collectively as Safe Harbor Transfers) will not be subject to FDIC recovery or reclamation actions through the exercise of the FDIC's repudiation authority. For any securitization transaction in respect of which transfers of financial assets do not qualify as Safe Harbor Transfers but which transaction satisfies all of its other requirements, the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule provides that, in the event the FDIC as receiver or conservator remains in monetary default for a specified period under a securitization due to its failure to pay or apply collections or repudiates the securitization asset transfer agreement and does not pay damages within a specified period, certain remedies can be exercised on an expedited basis.

Paragraph (b)(5)(i) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule sets forth the conditions relating to credit risk retention that apply to transfers of financial assets in connection with securitizations that are not grandfathered by the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule. Under paragraph (b)(5)(i)(A) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule as currently in effect, prior to the effective date of regulations required under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq. (“Section 15G”), the documents governing such securitization must require that the sponsor retain an economic interest in not less than five (5) percent of the credit risk of the financial assets relating to the securitization. The requirement in paragraph (b)(5)(i)(A) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule, that the documents require retention of an economic interest, is consistent with many other provisions of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule, which are similarly expressed as requirements for the securitization documentation, rather than as conditions requiring actual compliance with the provision that is required to be included in the documentation. As currently in effect, paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule does not explicitly refer to the securitization documentation, but provides that, upon the effective date of the regulations required under Section 15G (the Section 15G Regulations), such regulations shall exclusively govern the requirement to retain an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets.

Section 15G provides that regulations issued thereunder become effective with respect to residential mortgage securitizations one year after the date on which the regulations are published in the Federal Register and, with respect to all other securitizations, two years after such publication date. The Section 15G Regulations were published in the Federal Register at 79 FR 77602 on December 24, 2014. The Federal Register publication of the Section 15G Regulations specifies “compliance dates” that correspond to these effective dates. However, the Federal Register publication also specifies February 23, 2015 as the “effective date” of the Section 15G Regulations in accordance with Federal Register editorial conventions, which require that a Federal Register publication specify as the effective date the date on which a rule affects the current Code of Federal Regulations.1

1 See 79 FR 77602 (December 24, 2014).

In connection with the notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the Section 15G Regulations, FDIC staff received a comment that suggested that certain other points relating to paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule should be clarified.

On January 30, 2015, the FDIC published a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule (the “NPR”). The NPR was designed, in part, to eliminate any confusion that might be created by the use of “effective date” in the Section 15G Regulations Federal Register publication and to clarify when compliance with paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule is required. In addition, the NPR included a proposed rule (the Proposed Rule) that addressed two of the points raised by the commenter.2 The first is a clarification that paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) was intended to require that, upon and following the applicable effective date under the Section 15G Regulations (such applicable effective dates (December 24, 2015 for residential mortgage securitizations and December 24, 2016 for all other securitizations) are referred to as the applicable compliance dates), the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule requirements as to risk retention are satisfied if the governing documents of a securitization transaction require retention of an economic interest in the financial assets in accordance with the Section 15G Regulations, and that if the documentation satisfies this condition (and assuming all other conditions of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule are satisfied), the transaction will not lose the benefits of the safe harbor solely on the basis of any non-compliance with the Section 15G Regulations risk retention requirements.

2 80 FR 5076 (January 30, 2015).

The second is a clarification that paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule does not require that any action be taken with respect to issuances of asset-backed securities that close prior to the applicable compliance date of the Section 15G Regulations.

These two clarifications, which were included in the Proposed Rule, together with an additional change suggested by a comment letter relating to the Proposed Rule, are included in the Final Rule.

II. Comment Received on the Proposed Rule

The FDIC received one comment letter, from an industry trade association, in response to the Proposed Rule. This letter supported the changes included in the Proposed Rule and requested that the Final Rule include one additional change relating to the credit risk retention condition of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule. The commenter referred to the applicable compliance dates for the Section 15G Regulations and proposed that the Final Rule provide securitization sponsors the option, with respect to a securitization transaction, to comply with the credit risk retention condition of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule by adopting the Section 15G risk retention requirements during the period preceding the applicable compliance date for such transaction, even though the Section 15G Regulations do not require such compliance before such applicable compliance date. The commenter stated that providing such optionality “would effectuate the principle underlying the credit risk retention condition of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule.” 3

3 Letter dated March 30, 2015, p. 3.

III. Policy Objective

The policy objective underlying the Final Rule is to create certainty and eliminate unnecessary burdens in connection with the transition to the Section 15G Regulations requirements as to credit risk retention.

IV. The Final Rule Overview

The Final Rule clarifies that the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule condition relating to credit risk retention requires that the documents governing a securitization transaction that closes on or after the applicable compliance date under the Section 15G Regulations must require that an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets is retained in accordance with the Section 15G Regulations. The Final Rule provision effecting this clarification also makes clear that the migration of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule to the Section 15G Regulations governing credit risk retention will not require changes to documents governing securitizations that closed prior to the applicable compliance date. The provision also makes clear that the transition to the Section 15G standard is a documentation requirement and, thus, does not put investors at risk if a securitization sponsor, in violation of transaction documents, does not retain credit risk in accordance with the Section 15G Regulations.

Because securitization investors have relied on the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule to obtain an understanding of how the FDIC might exercise its powers if it is appointed receiver or conservator for an insured depository institution which transferred assets in connection with a securitization transaction, the FDIC believes that it is important to make clear to securitization market participants the date upon and after which the Securitization Safe Harbor will require reference to the Section 15G Regulations. In addition, the FDIC wants to eliminate possible confusion among market participants as to whether an asset-backed security issuance that complies with all requirements of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule could forfeit the benefits afforded by the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule based on the action or inaction of a securitization sponsor or other party with respect to retention of credit risk following the date of such issuance. This is different from the Section 15G Regulations, under which non-compliance with the credit risk retention requirements will constitute a violation of the Regulations.

Consistent with the clarifications to the process for migration to the Section 15G Regulations included in the Proposed Rule, the Final Rule follows the commenter's suggestion and permits securitization sponsors to comply with the credit risk retention requirements of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule by opting in the securitization's governing documents to require compliance with the Section 15G Regulations earlier than required by the Section 15G Regulations. It is the FDIC's view that since the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule has always required the transition to the Section 15G risk retention requirements, there is no compelling reason to require that securitization sponsors await the applicable compliance date in order to use one of the risk retention methods available under the Section 15G Regulations. In following the commenter's proposal, the FDIC wished to avoid imposing unnecessary burdens on sponsors that otherwise might need to establish a securitization structure for the issuance of multiple series before the applicable compliance date and then need to amend the structure after the applicable compliance date. The FDIC sees no reason to require such extra expense. The FDIC recognizes that permitting securitization sponsors to cause a securitization transaction to comply with the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule by exercising an option to require compliance with the Section 15G Regulations before the applicable compliance date also has the effect of allowing greater flexibility with respect to risk retention for purposes of complying with the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule, and in some cases may permit sponsors to benefit from exemptions available under the Section 15G Regulations earlier than otherwise would be the case for purposes of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule. In promulgating the Section 15G Regulations, the FDIC determined that the approach to risk retention adopted by those rules is effective and appropriate and, thus, the option of early adoption also is appropriate.

Section-by-Section Analysis Definitions

The Final Rule adds a new definition, “applicable compliance date” to paragraph (a) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule. This definition reflects that the Section 15G Regulations impose two dates for compliance: December 24, 2015 for securitization of residential mortgages, and December 24, 2016 for all other securitizations.

Paragraph (b)(5)(i)

The Final Rule revises paragraph (b)(5)(i) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule to make the following three points clear:

(i) In order to qualify for the benefits of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule, the documents governing the issuance of asset-backed securities in a securitization transaction must require retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets relating to the securitization transaction in compliance with the Section 15G Regulations if such issuance occurs upon or following the date on which compliance with Section 15G is required for such type of securitization transaction;

(ii) The Securitization Safe Harbor Rule does not require inquiry as to whether the sponsor or other applicable party in fact complies with the risk retention requirements of the documentation; and

(iii) The Securitization Safe Harbor Rule requirements as to the Section 15G Regulations do not require changes to securitization documents governing asset-backed security issuances that are closed prior to the applicable compliance date under the Section 15G Regulations.

In addition, the Final Rule revises paragraph (b)(5)(i) of the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule to permit a securitization transaction, that closes between the date of the publication of the Final Rule in the Federal Register and the applicable compliance date related to such securitization transaction, to comply with the paragraph if the documents creating the securitization require retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets in accordance with the requirements of the Section 15G Regulations as though such Regulations were then in effect. In the case of a securitization transaction of an entity established to issue obligations in more than one securitization transaction, the election to require in the documents creating the securitization transaction that risk be retained in accordance with the Section 15G Regulations can be set forth either in the specific securitization transaction documents or, provided that it governs the securitization transaction, in one of the documents establishing or otherwise governing the issuing entity.

V. Regulatory Analysis and Procedure A. Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule would entail an information collection for sponsors that exercise the option to become subject to the Section 15G Regulations earlier than otherwise required. Because the information to be collected is the same, however, as that encompassed by the collection of information that was approved under OMB No. 3064-0183, no new submission is being made to OMB with respect to the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.).4

4 The specific method of defining the respondent population differed in some respects for purposes of the FDIC's Section 15G PRA submission, OMB No. 3064-0183. The respondent population for that submission was based on an allocation to the bank regulatory agencies based on the number of sponsors regulated by them, with the remainder of sponsors allocated to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The allocation to the bank regulatory agencies was then divided among the FDIC and the other bank regulatory agencies. The respondents for purposes of this Rule are IDIs that are projected to sponsor securitizations and elect to comply early with the Section 15G Regulations, and the number of responses is based on the projected number of securitizations for which those sponsors would be expected to elect the early compliance option.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. (RFA) requires each federal agency to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis in connection with the promulgation of a final rule, or certify that the final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.5 Pursuant to section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the FDIC certifies that the Final Rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

5See 5 U.S.C. 603, 604 and 605.

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act

The Office of Management and Budget has determined that the Final Rule is Not a “major rule” within the meaning of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.). As required by the SBREFA, the FDIC will file the appropriate reports with Congress and the Government Accountability Office so that the Final Rule may be reviewed.

D. Plain Language

Section 722 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (Pub. L. 106-102, 113 Stat.1338, 1471), requires the Federal banking agencies to use plain language in all proposed and final rules published after January 1, 2000. The FDIC has sought to present the Final Rule in a simple and straightforward manner.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 360

Banks, Banking, Bank deposit insurance, Holding companies, National banks, Participations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Savings associations, Securitizations.

For the reasons stated above, the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation amends 12 CFR part 360 as follows:

PART 360—RESOLUTION AND RECEIVERSHIP RULES 1. The authority citation for part 360 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 1817(b), 1818(a)(2), 1818(t), 1819(a) Seventh, Ninth and Tenth, 1820(b)(3), (4), 1821(d)(1), 1821(d)(10)(c), 1821(d)(11), 1821(d)(15)(D), 1821(e)(1), 1821(e)(8)(D)(i), 1823(c)(4), 1823(e)(2); Sec. 401(h), Pub. L. 101-73, 103 Stat. 357.

2. Amend § 360.6 as follows: a. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(1) through (11) as (a)(2) through (12) and add a new paragraph (a)(1). b. Revise paragraph (b)(5)(i).

The addition and revision read as follows:

§ 360.6 Treatment of financial assets transferred in connection with a securitization or participation.

(a) * * *

(1) Applicable compliance date means, with respect to a securitization, the date on which compliance with Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq., added by Section 941(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is required with respect to that securitization.

(b) * * *

(5) * * *

(i) Requirements applicable to all securitizations. (A) Prior to the applicable compliance date for regulations required under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq., added by Section 941(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the documents creating the securitization shall require that the sponsor retain an economic interest in a material portion, defined as not less than five (5) percent, of the credit risk of the financial assets. This retained interest may be either in the form of an interest of not less than five (5) percent in each of the credit tranches sold or transferred to the investors or in a representative sample of the securitized financial assets equal to not less than five (5) percent of the principal amount of the financial assets at transfer. This retained interest may not be sold, pledged or hedged, except for the hedging of interest rate or currency risk, during the term of the securitization.

(B) For any securitization that closes upon or following the applicable compliance date for regulations required under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq., added by Section 941(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the documents creating the securitization shall instead require retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets in accordance with such regulations, including the restrictions on sale, pledging and hedging set forth therein.

(C) Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(5)(i)(A) of this section, for any securitization that closes following ________ November 24, 2015 and prior to the applicable compliance date for regulations required under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq., added by Section 941(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, at the option of the sponsor, the requirements of paragraph (b)(5)(i)(B) of this section may be satisfied if (in lieu of the requirement set forth in paragraph (b)(5)(i)(A) of this section) the documents creating the securitization require retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of the financial assets in accordance with the requirements of the Section 15G regulations as though such regulations were then in effect.

Dated at Washington, DC, this 22nd day of October, 2015.

By order of the Board of Directors.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2015-29822 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY 12 CFR Part 1238 RIN 2590-AA74 Stress Testing of Regulated Entities AGENCY:

Federal Housing Finance Agency.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is adopting a final rule amending its stress testing rule adopted in 2013 to implement section 165(i) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. FHFA received no comments to its proposed amendments, published for comment in an August 21, 2015 Notice of Proposed Rule. These amendments adopt the proposed amendments without change to modify: The start date of the stress test cycles from October 1 of a calendar year to January 1 of the following calendar year; the dates for FHFA to issue scenarios for the upcoming cycle; the dates for the regulated entities to report the results of their stress tests to FHFA; and the dates for the regulated entities to publicly disclose a summary of their stress test results for the severely adverse scenario. These amendments align FHFA's rule with rules adopted by other financial institution regulators that implement the Dodd-Frank stress testing requirements.

DATES:

Effective January 1, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Naa Awaa Tagoe, Senior Associate Director, Office of Financial Analysis, Modeling and Simulations, (202) 649-3140, [email protected]; Stefan Szilagyi, Examination Manager, FHLBank Modeling, FHLBank Risk Modeling Branch (202) 649-3515, [email protected]; Karen Heidel, Senior Counsel, Office of General Counsel, (202) 649-3073, [email protected]; or Mark D. Laponsky, Deputy General Counsel, Office of General Counsel, (202) 649-3054, [email protected] The telephone number for the Telecommunications Device for the Hearing Impaired is (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

FHFA is an independent agency of the federal government established to regulate and oversee the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (collectively, the Enterprises), and the Federal Home Loan Banks (Bank(s)) (collectively, the regulated entities).1 FHFA is the primary federal financial regulator of each regulated entity. FHFA's regulatory mission is to ensure, among other things, that each of the regulated entities “operates in a safe and sound manner” and that their “operations and activities . . . foster liquid, efficient, competitive, and resilient national housing finance markets.” 2

1 Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, 12 U.S.C. 4501, et seq.

2 12 U.S.C. 4513(a)(1)(B).

On September 26, 2013, FHFA published a final rule implementing section 165(i)(2) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act),3 which requires certain financial companies with total consolidated assets of more than $10 billion to conduct annual stress tests to determine whether the companies have the capital necessary to absorb losses as a result of adverse economic conditions. Each regulated entity is covered by this Dodd-Frank Act requirement. FHFA's regulation, located at 12 CFR part 1238, requires each regulated entity to conduct an annual stress test based on scenarios provided by FHFA and consistent with FHFA prescribed methodologies and practices. The rule requires the annual stress test period to begin October 1 of one year and end September 30 of the next year, which coincided with the testing period established by Federal Reserve Board (FRB) regulations for its Dodd-Frank Act stress testing.

3 78 FR 59219 (September 26, 2013).

FHFA's regulation also requires that the Agency issue to the regulated entities stress test scenarios that are generally consistent with and comparable to those developed by the FRB not later than 15 days after the FRB publishes its scenarios.4 Each regulated entity is required to report the stress test results to FHFA and the FRB and publicly disclose a summary of the stress test results for the severely adverse scenario. The reporting date for the Enterprises is on or before February 5, and for the Banks it is on or before April 30.5 The date for each Enterprise to publicly disclose its results from the severely adverse scenario of the stress test is the period between April 15 and April 30.6 The Banks are required to disclose their summaries between July 15 and July 30.7 Maintaining consistency with the FRB testing rules, these dates were established by measuring forward from the corresponding dates in the FRB regulation, after accounting for differences in the business models of the regulated entities from those of the institutions regulated by the FRB.

4 12 CFR 1238.3(b).

5 12 CFR 1238.5(a).

6 12 CFR 1238.7(a).

7 12 CFR 1238.7(a).

On October 27, 2014, the FRB published a final rule amending several dates relevant to its rule and from which FHFA measured to determine appropriate dates for stress testing cycles, scenario issuance, test reporting, and summary test disclosures.8 The effect of the rule change shifts the date for scenario issuance by approximately three months. The FRB's new rule establishes January 1 of each year as the beginning of the stress testing cycle (changed from October 1) and the following December 31 as the date as of which the regulated entity is to identify and use data for testing.9 The new FRB rule requires large bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets to report their test results not later than April 5 10 and publicly disclose their summary results by mid-July.11 The new FRB rule also requires U.S. banking institutions with total consolidated assets over $10 billion and less than $50 billion to report their test results by July 31 and publicly disclose their results during the period beginning October 15 and ending October 31.12 Since FHFA measured several of its regulatory dates from corresponding dates in the FRB regulation, FHFA is amending its regulation to maintain consistency and comparability in stress testing regimes.

8 79 FR 64025 (October 27, 2014), codified at12 CFR part 252.

9 12 CFR 252.12(t)(2), See 79 FR at 64046.

10 12 CFR 252.57(a)(1), See 79 FR at 64054.

11 12 CFR 252.58(a)(1)(i), requires companies to publicly disclose a summary of the stress test results within 15 calendar days after the FRB discloses the results of its supervisory stress test. The FRB will publicly disclose a summary of the supervisory stress test results by June 30 pursuant to 12 CFR 252.46(b)(1). See 79 FR at 64054.

12 12 CFR 252.17(a)(3)(iii), See 79 FR at 64049.

The final rule realigns FHFA's stress testing rule with those of the FRB, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) by modifying: (1) The start date of the stress test cycles from October 1 of a calendar year to January 1 of the following calendar year; (2) the dates regulated entities are required to report stress test results to FHFA and the FRB; (3) the dates by which the regulated entities are required to publicly disclose summaries of the results for the severely adverse scenario; and (4) the date by which FHFA is required to issue stress testing scenarios to its regulated entities.

As a result of FHFA's experience through two stress test cycles, these amendments also lengthen the time between FRB's issuance of its scenarios and FHFA's issuance. The original rule's 15 day period after FRB's issuance has proven to be too short to allow appropriate analysis, stakeholder input, and adjustment of the scenarios to account for the differences in business models between the Enterprises and Banks as compared with other regulated institutions conducting Dodd-Frank stress tests under their regulators' rules. Consequently, FHFA is extending the time by which it is required to issue its scenarios to 30 calendar days following FRB's issuance of its final element of the supervisory scenarios.

II. Discussion of Public Comments

On August 21, 2015, FHFA published in the Federal Register proposed amendments to the Dodd-Frank stress testing requirements for the regulated entities. The comment period closed on September 21, 2015. FHFA did not receive any comments. Therefore, FHFA is adopting as its final rule the same rule proposed on August 21, 2015, without any change.

III. Summary of the Final Rule Annual Stress Test—§ 1238.3

Section 1238.3 of the rule changes the “as of” date for the data used for stress testing from September 30 of that calendar year to December 31 of the previous calendar year. As a result of the shift, the stress test cycles would begin on January 1, based on data as of December 31 of the preceding calendar year. This cycle matches the cycle recently adopted by the other Dodd-Frank stress testing regulators.

Section 1238.3(b) lengthens the amount of time by which FHFA commits to providing a description of the baseline, adverse, and severely adverse scenarios to all regulated entities from within 15 calendar days to within 30 calendar days after the FRB publishes its scenarios. This will provide additional time for FHFA to analyze and adjust the scenarios it issues to the Enterprises and Banks.

Required Report to FHFA and the FRB of Stress Test Results and Related Information—§ 1238.5

Section 1238.5 changes the date by which stress test results are required to be reported to the FRB and FHFA. Instead of February 5 of each year, reports are required on or before May 20 for the Enterprises. Instead of April 30 of each year, reports are required on or before August 31 for the Banks. These changes reflect the shift in the stress test cycle and corresponding reporting dates adopted by the FRB and other regulators.

Publication of Results by Regulated Entities—§ 1238.7

Section 1238.7 specifies a two week period within which the mandatory publication of a summary of the stress test results for the severely adverse scenario must occur. Instead of requiring publication between April 15 and April 30, the Enterprises must publish between August 1 and August 15 of each year. Instead of requiring publication between July 15 and July 30, the Banks must publish between November 15 and November 30 of each year. These changes reflect the shift in the stress test cycle and corresponding publication dates adopted by the FRB and other regulators.

IV. Coordination With the FRB and the Federal Insurance Office

In accordance with section 165(i)(2)(C) of the Dodd-Frank Act, (12 U.S.C. 5365(i)(2)(C)), FHFA has coordinated with both the FRB and the Federal Insurance Office (FIO). On October 27, 2014, the FRB published a final rule covering “bank holding compan[ies] with total consolidated assets of greater than $10 billion but less than $50 billion and savings and loan holding companies and state member banks with total consolidated assets of greater than $10 billion,” 13 and large bank holding companies and non-bank financial companies, also known as “covered companies” 14 ; the FDIC issued its final rule on November 21, 2014,15 and the OCC issued its final rule on December 3, 2014.16 Although FHFA's final rule would not be identical to those of the FRB, the FDIC, and the OCC, it is consistent and comparable with them.

13 12 CFR part 252, subpart B, See 79 FR at 64045.

14 12 CFR part 252, subpart F, See 79 FR at 64051.

15 79 FR 69365 (November 21, 2014), codified at 12 CFR part 325.

16 79 FR 71630 (December 3, 2014), codified at 12 CFR part 46.

V. Differences Between the Banks and the Enterprises

Section 1313(f) of the Safety and Soundness Act requires the Director to consider the differences between the Banks and the Enterprises whenever promulgating regulations that affect the Banks. In developing the amendments to this rule, FHFA considered the differences between the Banks and the Enterprises, but also adhered to the statutory mandate that the regulation be “consistent and comparable” with the regulations of the other agencies. In implementing the regulation, FHFA will define scenarios for the regulated entities, bearing in mind the key risk exposures at each regulated entity.

In the final rule, FHFA requires different timeframes for reporting stress test results for the Enterprises versus the Banks. For the Enterprises, FHFA sets the dates for reporting stress test results to the regulator, the FRB, and the public in proximity to similar dates in the other agencies' rules for institutions with over $50 billion in assets. Reporting dates for all the Banks, regardless of size, are set in proximity to similar dates for institutions with less than $50 billion in assets. As a result, the Banks have over three additional months to report results to FHFA, the FRB, and the public.

VI. Paperwork Reduction Act

The final rule does not contain any collections of information pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.). Therefore, FHFA has not submitted any information to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

VII. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The final rule applies only to the regulated entities, which do not come within the meaning of small entities as defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (see 5 U.S.C. 601(6)). Therefore, in accordance with section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), the General Counsel of FHFA certifies that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 1238

Administrative practice and procedure, Capital, Federal Home Loan Banks, Government-sponsored enterprises, Regulated entities, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Stress test.

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons stated in the preamble, and under the authority of 12 U.S.C. 4513, 4526, and 5365(i), FHFA amends part 1238 of title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 1238—STRESS TESTING OF REGULATED ENTITIES 1. The authority citation for part 1238 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 5365(i); 12 U.S.C. 4513, 4526, 4612; and 12 U.S.C. 1426.

2. Amend § 1238.3 by revising paragraphs (a)(1) and (b) to read as follows:
§ 1238.3 Annual stress test.

(a) * * *

(1) Shall complete an annual stress test of itself based on its data as of December 31 of the preceding calendar year;

(b) Scenarios provided by FHFA. In conducting its annual stress tests under this section, each regulated entity must use scenarios provided by FHFA, which shall be generally consistent with and comparable to those established by the FRB, that reflect a minimum of three sets of economic and financial conditions, including a baseline, adverse, and severely adverse scenario. Not later than 30 days after the FRB publishes its scenarios, FHFA will issue to all regulated entities a description of the baseline, adverse, and severely adverse scenarios that each regulated entity shall use to conduct its annual stress tests under this part.

3. Amend § 1238.5 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
§ 1238.5 Required report to FHFA and the FRB of stress test results and related information.

(a) Report required for stress tests. On or before May 20 of each year, the Enterprises must report the results of the stress tests required under § 1238.3 to FHFA, and to the FRB, in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section; and on or before August 31 of each year, the Banks must report the results of the stress tests required under § 1238.3 to FHFA, and to the FRB, in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section;

4. Amend § 1238.7 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
§ 1238.7 Publication of results by regulated entities.

(a) Public disclosure of results required for stress tests of regulated entities. The Enterprises must disclose publicly a summary of the stress test results for the severely adverse scenario not earlier than August 1 and not later than August 15 of each year. Each Bank must disclose publicly a summary of the stress test results for the severely adverse scenario not earlier than November 15 and not later than November 30 of each year. The summary may be published on the regulated entity's Web site or in any other form that is reasonably accessible to the public;

Dated: November 11, 2015. Melvin L. Watt, Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency.
[FR Doc. 2015-29861 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8070-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0490; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-018-AD; Amendment 39-18322; AD 2015-23-06] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2008-22-20 for certain Airbus Model A330-200, A330-300, and A340-300 series airplanes. AD 2008-22-20 required repetitive high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections for cracking, repair if necessary, and modification of the upper shell structure of the fuselage. This new AD shortens certain compliance times. This AD was prompted by a determination from a fatigue and damage tolerance evaluation that the compliance times must be reduced. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of December 29, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain other publications listed in this AD as of December 17, 2008 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008).

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;

D=FAA-2015-0490; or in person at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAL, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 45 80; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0490.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Vladimir Ulyanov, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1138; fax 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2008-22-20, Amendment 39-15717 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008). AD 2008-22-20 applied to certain Airbus Model A330-200, A330-300, and A340-300 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on March 17, 2015 (80 FR 13799). The NPRM was prompted by a determination from a fatigue and damage tolerance evaluation that the compliance times must be reduced. The NPRM also proposed to shorten certain compliance times. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0012R1, dated January 24, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Airbus Model A330-200, A330-300, and A340-300 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

During fatigue tests (EF3) on the A340-600, damage was found in the longitudinal doubler at the Vertical Tail Plane (VTP) attachment cut out between Frame (FR) 80 and FR86. This damage occurred between 58,341 and 72,891 simulated flight cycles (FC).

Due to the higher Design Service Goal and different design of the affected structural area (e.g. doubler thickness) for A330-200/-300 and A340-300 airplane series, the damage assessment concluded that these airplanes may be also potentially affected.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, could affect the structural integrity of the upper shell structure between FR80 and FR86.

Prompted by these findings, EASA issued AD 2007-0284 [(http://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/easa_ad_2007_0284_superseded.pdf/AD_2007-0284_1)] to require implementation of an inspection programme of this structural area using a high frequency eddy current (HFEC) method and a modification to improve the upper shell structure.

Since that [EASA] AD was issued, in the frame of a new fatigue and damage tolerance evaluation, taking into account the airplane utilisation, the inspection threshold and intervals have been reassessed and the conclusion was that the thresholds and intervals for inspection, as well as the threshold for modifying the airplane, must be reduced.

For the reason described above, this [EASA] AD retains the requirements of EASA AD 2007-0284, which is superseded and introduces redefined thresholds and intervals.

This [EASA] AD is revised to clarify that, under some conditions, accomplishment of a repair constitutes terminating action for the repetitive inspections. One of the outcome of this clarification is the deletion of paragraph (5) of this [EASA] AD.

You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0490-0002.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015) and the FAA's response to each comment.

Support for the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015)

An anonymous commenter agreed with the safety benefit provided by the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015).

Request for Revise Cost

Delta requested that we revise the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015) to relay the heavy impact of accomplishing Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012. Delta explained that the modification specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012, requires removal of the vertical stabilizer and the aft galley, which can heavily impact the operation. Delta reasoned that it has consulted with its maintenance organization and it is estimated to take 400 work-hours instead of 208 work-hours.

We disagree with the request to revise this AD. We made the cost estimate based on the information provided in Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012. The required work-hours defined in Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012, are based on the direct labor cost to do the work. The need to remove and reinstall the aft galley depends on the airplane interior configuration and may differ from operator to operator. We are unable to determine all possible interior configurations and thus determine the maximum work-hours which may be required for any specific configuration. This estimate assumes that the work will be done by experienced personnel, and may need to be revised upwards to suit an operator's circumstances. The estimate does not include the time to prepare, plan, or inspect the work. We have made no changes to this AD in this regard.

Conclusion

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

• Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 13799, March 17, 2015).

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Airbus has issued the following service information.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010, describes procedures for a modification of the fuselage, which includes inspections (e.g., eddy current rotating probe test of fastener holes for cracking, high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections for cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, and checks of the fastener position for clearance) and applicable corrective actions (e.g., repair and rework).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012, describes procedures for applicable actions, including an eddy current rotating probe test for cracking of the fastener holes and an HFEC inspection for cracks in the upper shell of the fuselage (and including checks of the fastener position for clearance and applicable corrective actions (e.g., repair and rework)), and a modification of the airplane upper shell structure of the fuselage between FR80 and FR86.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011, describes procedures for a HFEC inspection for cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage between FR80 and FR86.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010, describes procedures for a modification of the fuselage, which includes inspections (e.g., eddy current rotating probe test of fastener holes for cracking, HFEC inspections for cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, and checks of the fastener position for clearance) and applicable corrective actions (e.g., repair and rework).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4172, Revision 01, dated July 8, 2009, describes procedures for inspections (e.g., rototest inspections of fastener holes for cracking, HFEC inspections for cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, and checks of the fastener position for clearance) and modification of the airplane upper shell structure between FR80 and FR86 (including applicable corrective actions (e.g., repair and rework).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011, describes procedures for a HFEC inspection for cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage between FR80 and FR86.

This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 26 airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it will take about 208 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements (inspection and modification) of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts will cost about $28,360 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $1,197,040, or $46,040 per product.

We have received no definitive data that will enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this AD.

According to the manufacturer, some of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage for affected individuals. As a result, we have included all costs in our cost estimate.

Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0490; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2008-22-20, Amendment 39-15717 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008), and adding the following new AD: 2015-23-06 Airbus: Amendment 39-18322. Docket No. FAA-2015-0490; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-018-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD replaces AD 2008-22-20, Amendment 39-15717 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus Model A330-201, -202, -203, -223, -243, -301, -302, -303, -321, -322, -323, -341, -342, and -343 airplanes; and Model A340-311, -312, and -313 airplanes; certificated in any category; all manufacturer serial numbers on which Airbus Modification 44205 has been embodied in production, except those on which Airbus Modification 52974 or 53223 has been embodied in production.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by the results of a fatigue and damage tolerance evaluation that concluded existing compliance times must be reduced. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking of the upper shell structure of the fuselage, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Inspection for Airbus Model A330-300 and A340-300 Airplanes, Except Model A340-300 Weight Variant (WV) 027 Airplanes

For Model A330-300 and A340-300 airplanes, except Model A340-300 WV 027 airplanes: At the applicable time specified in paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of this AD, do a high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection for cracking of the upper shell structure between frame (FR) 80 and FR86, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; as applicable. Repeat the inspection thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; as applicable.

(1) For airplanes that, as of the effective date of this AD, have not been inspected in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174; as applicable: Inspect at the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(1)(i) and (g)(1)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Before reaching the applicable threshold specified in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; as applicable for airplane model, configuration, and utilization, since the airplane's first flight.

(ii) Within the threshold defined in paragraph 1.E, “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008; as applicable for airplane model, configuration, and utilization since the airplane's first flight; or within 12 months after the effective date of this AD; whichever occurs first.

(2) For airplanes that, as of the effective date of this AD, have been inspected in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174; as applicable: Inspect at the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(2)(i) and (g)(2)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Within the applicable interval specified in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011; as applicable; to be counted from the last inspection.

(ii) Within 12 months after the effective date of this AD without exceeding the intervals defined in paragraph 1.E, “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008; as applicable for airplane model, configuration, and utilization to be counted from the last inspection.

(h) Corrective Action for Airbus Model A330-300 and A340-300 Airplanes, Except Model A340-300 WV 027 Airplanes

If any crack is detected during any HFEC inspection required by the introductory text to paragraph (g) of this AD: Before further flight, repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). Accomplishment of a repair for a specific area, as required by this paragraph, is terminating action for the repetitive HFEC inspections required by the introductory text to paragraph (g) of this AD, as applicable, for that specific repaired area only. The need and definition of subsequent repetitive inspections (if any) for that specific repaired area will be defined in the applicable repair method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

(i) Optional Terminating Action

For Airbus Model A330-300 and A340-300 airplanes, except Model A340-300 WV 027 airplanes: Modification, which includes inspections and applicable corrective actions, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010; as applicable; terminates the repetitive HFEC inspections required by the introductory text to paragraph (g) of this AD, except where Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010; or Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010; as applicable; specifies to contact the manufacturer, repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA.

(j) Inspection and Modification for Airbus Model A330-200 Airplanes

Within the compliance times specified in paragraph (j)(1) or (j)(2) of this AD, whichever occurs later: Do all applicable actions, including an eddy current rotating probe test and an HFEC inspection for cracks, and modify the airplane upper shell structure between FR80 and FR86; in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012.

(1) Within the compliance times identified in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012, as applicable for airplane configuration and utilization since the airplane's first flight.

(2) Within 12 months after the effective date of this AD without exceeding the threshold defined in paragraph 1.E, “COMPLIANCE,” of Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010, since the airplane's first flight.

(k) Inspection and Modification for Airbus Model A340-300 Airplanes, Only WV 027

For Model A340-300 airplanes, WV 027 only: Before the accumulation of 14,200 total flight cycles from the airplane's first flight, do all applicable inspections and modify the airplane upper shell structure between FR80 and FR86; in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4172, Revision 01, dated July 8, 2009.

(l) Corrective Action for Airbus Model A330-200 Airplanes; and Model A340-300 Airplanes, only WV 027

If any crack is detected during the inspection required by the introductory text to paragraph (j) of this AD, or paragraph (k) of this AD, before further flight, repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA; concurrently with modification required by paragraph the introductory text to paragraph (j) of this AD, or paragraph (k) of this AD.

(m) Definition of “Threshold” and “Interval”

(1) For the purposes of this AD, the term “Threshold,” as used in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of the service information specified in paragraphs (m)(2)(i) through (m)(2)(vi) of this AD means the total flight cycles or flight hours accumulated since the airplane's first flight.

(2) For the purposes of this AD, the term “Interval” as used in paragraph 1.E., “COMPLIANCE,” of the service information specified in paragraphs (m)(2)(i) through (m)(2)(vi) of this AD means the total flight cycles or flight hours accumulated since the last inspection, as applicable.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, dated September 19, 2007.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011.

(iv) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, dated September 19, 2007.

(v) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008.

(vi) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011.

(n) Credit for Previous Actions

(1) For Model A330-300 and A340-300 airplanes, except Model A340-300 WV 027 airplanes: This paragraph provides credit for the modification specified in paragraph (i) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the service information identified in paragraph (n)(1)(i), (n)(1)(ii), (n)(1)(iii), or (n)(1)(iv) of this AD, as applicable. This service information is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, dated September 19, 2007.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, Revision 01, dated June 15, 2009.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, dated September 19, 2007.

(iv) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, Revision 01, dated June 17, 2009.

(2) For Model A330-200 airplanes: This paragraph provides credit for the inspection and modification required by the introductory text to paragraph (j) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the service information identified in paragraph (n)(2)(i), (n)(2)(ii), or (n)(2)(iii) of this AD, as applicable.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, dated July 9, 2007, which was incorporated by reference in AD 2008-22-20, Amendment 39-15717 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008).

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 01, dated April 28, 2009, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(3) For Model A340-300 airplanes, WV 027 only: This paragraph provides credit for the inspection and modification required by paragraph (k) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4172, dated July 10, 2007, which is was incorporated by reference in AD 2008-22-20, Amendment 39-15717 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008).

(o) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Vladimir Ulyanov, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1138; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

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

(p) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0012R1, dated January 24, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0490.

(2) Service information identified in this AD that is not incorporated by reference is available at the addresses specified in paragraphs (q)(3) and (q)(4) of this AD.

(q) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(3) The following service information was approved for IBR on December 29, 2015.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3159, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3160, Revision 03, dated January 6, 2012.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011.

(iv) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4165, Revision 02, dated March 29, 2010.

(v) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4172, Revision 01, dated July 8, 2009.

(vi) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 02, dated December 21, 2011.

(4) The following service information was approved for IBR on December 17, 2008 (73 FR 66747, November 12, 2008).

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330-53-3168, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A340-53-4174, Revision 01, dated February 15, 2008.

(5) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAL, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 45 80; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com.

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

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

Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 30, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-28886 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0682; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-074-AD; Amendment 39-18329; AD 2015-23-12] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional Model ATR42 and ATR72 airplanes. This AD was prompted by new occurrences of certain cracked main landing gear (MLG) rear hinge pins. This AD requires identifying the serial number and part number of the MLG rear hinge pins, and replacing pins or the MLG if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracked rear hinge pins, which could lead to MLG structural failure, possibly resulting in collapse of the MLG and consequent injury to the occupants of the airplane.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of December 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0682; or in person at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

For service information identified in this AD, contact ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional, 1, Allée Pierre Nadot, 31712 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 (0) 5 62 21 62 21; fax +33 (0) 5 62 21 67 18; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.aerochain.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0682.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Tom Rodriguez, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1137; fax 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional Model ATR42 and ATR72 airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on April 10, 2015 (80 FR 19246).

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0074, dated March 21, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional Model ATR42 and ATR72 airplanes. The MCAI states:

Prompted by cases of rupture of Main Landing Gear (MLG) rear hinge pin part number (P/N) D61000 encountered in service in 1994 and 1996, DGAC France issued [an] AD * * * for ATR 42 aeroplanes and [another]AD * * * for ATR 72 aeroplanes to require inspection and, depending on findings, corrective action.

Since those [French] ADs were issued, new occurrences of cracked rear hinge pin P/N D61000 were reported on ATR72 MLG.

The result of subsequent investigation revealed that the affected pins were subjected to a non-detected thermal abuse done in production during grinding process. Analysis also showed that other MLG pin P/N's could be affected by the same nonconformity.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to MLG structural failure, possibly resulting in collapse of the MLG and consequently injury to the occupants of the aeroplane.

For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires inspection and, depending on findings, replacement of affected pins.

You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0682-0002.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. We received no comments on the NPRM (80 FR 19246, April 10, 2015) or on the determination of the cost to the public.

Conclusion

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

• Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 19246, April 10, 2015) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 19246, April 10, 2015).

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Messier-Bugatti-Dowty has issued the following service information, which describes procedures for inspecting the MLG hinge pin.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-214, dated January 13, 2014.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-219, dated March 3, 2014.

• Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014.

This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 81 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We also estimate that it will take about 8 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts will cost about $16,000 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $1,351,080, or $16,680 per product.

According to the manufacturer, some of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage for affected individuals. As a result, we have included all costs in our cost estimate.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator.

“Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs,” describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

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

Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0682; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-23-12 ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional: Amendment 39-18329. Docket No. FAA-2015-0682; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-074-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional Model ATR42-200, -300, -320, and -500 airplanes; and Model ATR72-101, -201, -102, -202, -211, -212, and -212A airplanes; certificated in any category; all certified models; all manufacturer serial numbers.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 32, Landing Gear.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by new occurrences of certain cracked main landing gear (MLG) rear hinge pins. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracked rear hinge pins, which could lead to MLG structural failure, possibly resulting in collapse of the MLG and consequent injury to the occupants of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Hinge Pin Identification and Replacement for Model ATR72 Airplanes

For Model ATR72 airplanes: Within 12 months after the effective date of this AD, inspect for the serial number of the left-hand (LH) and right-hand (RH) MLG rear hinge pins having part number (P/N) D61000. A review of airplane maintenance records is acceptable in lieu of this identification if the part number and serial number of the LH and RH MLG rear hinge pins can be conclusively determined from that review. If a rear hinge pin having P/N D61000 has a serial number listed in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013; as applicable: Within 12 months after the effective date of this AD, replace the pin with a serviceable part as identified in paragraph (h) of this AD, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013; as applicable.

(h) Definition of Serviceable Hinge Pin for Model ATR72 Airplanes

For Model ATR72 airplanes: For purposes of paragraph (g) of this AD, a serviceable MLG rear hinge pin is a pin that is specified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD.

(1) A hinge pin that is not identified in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013; as applicable.

(2) A hinge pin that has been inspected and reconditioned, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013; as applicable.

(i) MLG Pin Identification and Replacement for Model ATR72 Airplanes

For Model ATR72 airplanes: At the earlier of the times specified in paragraphs (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD, inspect all LH and RH MLG pins for a part number and serial number listed in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-214, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-219, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable. A review of airplane maintenance records is acceptable in lieu of this inspection if the part number and serial number of the LH and RH MLG pin can be conclusively determined from that review. If any affected MLG pin is found: At the earlier of the compliance times specified in paragraphs (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD, replace the MLG with a serviceable MLG as identified in paragraph (j) of this AD, using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

(1) No later than the next MLG overhaul scheduled after the effective date of this AD.

(2) Within 20,000 flight cycles or 9 years, whichever occurs first, accumulated since installation of the MLG on an airplane since new or since last overhaul, as applicable.

(j) Definition of Serviceable MLG for Model ATR72 Airplanes

For Model ATR72 airplanes: For purposes of paragraph (i) of this AD, a serviceable MLG is one that incorporates pins specified in paragraph (j)(1) or (j)(2) of this AD.

(1) Pins that are not identified in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-214, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-219, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable.

(2) Pins that have been inspected and reconditioned in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-214, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-219, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable.

(k) MLG Pin Identification and Replacement for Model ATR42 Airplanes

(1) For Model ATR42 airplanes: Within the compliance time identified in paragraph (k)(1)(i) or (k)(1)(ii) of this AD, whichever occurs first, inspect for any LH and RH MLG pins having a part number and serial number listed in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable. A review of airplane maintenance records is acceptable in lieu of this identification if the part number and serial number of the LH and RH MLG pin can be conclusively determined from that review.

(i) No later than the next MLG overhaul scheduled after the effective date of this AD.

(ii) Within 20,000 flight cycles or 9 years, whichever occurs first, accumulated since installation of the MLG on an airplane since new or since last overhaul, as applicable.

(2) If the MLG pin having a part number and serial number listed in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable; is found to be installed during the identification required by paragraph (k)(1) of this AD, within the compliance time identified in paragraph (k)(1) of this AD, replace the MLG with a serviceable MLG, using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the EASA; or ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional's EASA DOA. A serviceable MLG is a part that has pins as identified in paragraph (k)(2)(i) or (k)(2)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Pins that are not listed in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable.

(ii) Pins that have been inspected and reconditioned, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014; or Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014; as applicable.

(l) Credit for Previous Actions

This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, dated October 30, 2013, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(m) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Tom Rodriguez, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1137; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

(2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the EASA; or ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(n) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0074, dated March 21, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0682-0002.

(2) Service information identified in this AD that is not incorporated by reference is available at the addresses specified in paragraphs (o)(3) and (o)(4) of this AD.

(o) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(i) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-213, dated December 16, 2013.

(ii) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-214, dated January 13, 2014.

(iii) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-215, dated January 13, 2014.

(iv) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-216, Revision 1, dated December 17, 2013. Pages 4, 5, and 8 of this service bulletin are the original issue and are dated October 30, 2013.

(v) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-219, dated March 3, 2014.

(vi) Messier-Bugatti-Dowty Service Bulletin 631-32-220, dated March 3, 2014.

(3) For service information identified in this AD, contact ATR—GIE Avions de Transport Régional, 1, Allée Pierre Nadot, 31712 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 (0) 5 62 21 62 21; fax +33 (0) 5 62 21 67 18; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.aerochain.com.

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

(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 Renton, Washington, on November 12, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-29682 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0251; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-200-AD; Amendment 39-18330; AD 2015-23-13] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a determination that, in specific flight conditions, the allowable load limits on the vertical tail plane could be reached and possibly exceeded. Exceeding allowable load could result in detachment of the vertical tail plane. This AD requires modification of the pin programming flight warning computer (FWC) to activate the stop rudder input warning (SRIW) logic; and an inspection to determine the part numbers of the FWC and the flight augmentation computer (FAC), and replacement of the FWC and FAC if necessary. We are issuing this AD to prevent detachment of the vertical tail plane and consequent loss of control of the airplane.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of December 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0251; or in person at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0251.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2015 (80 FR 11960). The NPRM was prompted by a determination that, in specific flight conditions, the allowable load limits on the vertical tail plane could be reached and possibly exceeded. Exceeding allowable load could result in detachment of the vertical tail plane. The NPRM proposed to require modification of the pin programming of the FWC to activate the SRIW logic; and an inspection to determine the part numbers of the FWC and the FAC, and replacement of the FWC and FAC if necessary. We are issuing this AD to prevent detachment of the vertical tail plane and consequent loss of control of the airplane.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0217R1, dated February 26, 2015 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition. The MCAI states:

During design reviews that were conducted following safety recommendations related to in-service incidents and one accident on another aircraft type, it has been determined that, in specific flight conditions, the allowable load limits on the vertical tail plane could be reached and possibly exceeded.

This condition, if not corrected, could lead, in the worst case, to detachment of the vertical tail plane in flight and consequent loss of the aeroplane.

To prevent such a possibility, Airbus has developed modifications within the flight augmentation computer (FAC) to reduce the vertical tail plane stress and to activate a conditional aural warning within the flight warning computer (FWC) to further protect against pilot induced rudder doublets.

Consequently, EASA issued AD 2014-0217 (ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/easa_ad_2014_0217.pdf/AD_2014-0217_1) to require installation and activation of the stop rudder input warning (SRIW) logic. In addition, that [EASA] AD required, prior to or concurrent with modification of an aeroplane with the activation of the SRIW, upgrades of the FAC and FWC, to introduce the SRIW logic and SRIW aural capability, respectively. After modification, the [EASA] AD prohibited installation of certain Part Number (P/N) FWC and FAC.

Since that [EASA] AD was issued, an additional previously-published Airbus Service Bulletin (SB) was identified, and a new SB was published, for the concurrent requirement to replace the FAC with a unit having a P/N as listed in Table 3 of Appendix 1 of the AD.

For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD is revised to amend paragraph (2), adding references to additional Airbus SBs.

In addition, this AD requires, prior to or concurrent with modification of an airplane with the activation of the SRIW, upgrades of the FAC and FWC to introduce the SRIW logic and SRIW aural capability, respectively. After modification, this AD prohibits installation of FWCs and FACs having certain part numbers. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0251-0003.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015) and the FAA's response to each comment.

Request To Refer to Revised Service Information

Airbus requested that we refer to revised service information.

We agree with the Airbus request to refer to revised service information. No additional work is required by the revised service information. We have revised paragraph (g) of this AD to refer to Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 02, dated March 30, 2015. We have added new paragraph (m)(1) of this AD to provide credit for the actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, dated July 9, 2014; or Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 01, dated February 6, 2015.

We have revised paragraph (i) of this AD to refer in part to the following service information.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 05, including Appendix 01, dated November 24, 2014 (FAC 622 hard B).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 03, dated April 21, 2015 (FAC CAA02 hard C).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1454, dated February 12, 2014 (FAC CAA02).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 07, including Appendix 01, dated March 23, 2015 (FAC B623 hard B).

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1502, dated November 14, 2014 (FAC CAA02).

We have redesignated paragraph (m) of the proposed AD (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015) as new paragraph (m)(2) of this AD to provide credit for the actions required by paragraph (i) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the following additional service information.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 04, dated February 11, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 01, dated September 18, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 02, dated December 2, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 04, dated September 15, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 05, dated November 13, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 06, dated January 21, 2015.

Request To Clarify Approved Parts

United Airlines (UAL) requested that we split paragraph (h)(3)(iv) of the proposed AD (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015) into two paragraphs to clarify the approved parts. UAL stated that paragraphs (h)(3)(i), (h)(3)(ii), and (h)(3)(iii) of the proposed AD clearly denote three of the four possible standards of FAC, but paragraph (h)(3)(iv) of the proposed AD leads one to believe that a FAC CAA02 hard C is required regardless of the airplane configuration.

We agree with UAL's request to clarify the FWCs and FACs having the part numbers that are compatible with SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD. We have revised paragraph (h)(3)(iv) of the AD to state that for all airplanes configured with an FAC standard CAA01, an FAC having soft P/N G2856AAA02 installed on hard P/N C13206AA00 (CAA02 hard C) are compatible with SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD. We have added new paragraph (h)(3)(v) of this AD to state that for all airplane configurations, an FWC having P/N 350E053021212 (H2-F7) are compatible with SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

Request for Additional Details and Clarification Regarding SRIW Changes

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated that there are differences between the Airbus Model A300/A310 series airplane SRIW system and the Airbus Model A320 series airplane SRIW system. The NTSB explained that the Model A300/A310 series airplane SRIW contains a red warning light on the glareshield, which lights when the SRIW is activated; however, the NPRM (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015) did not mention the warning light as part of the Model A320 series airplane SRIW. The NTSB also stated that details associated with the modifications of the FAC and FWC are not stated in the NPRM (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015). The NTSB stated that without details regarding the changes associated with the Model A320 series airplane SRIW it cannot fully assess the FAA response for the Model A320 series airplanes to NTSB safety recommendations A-04-56 (http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/A04_56_62.pdf) and A-04-57 (http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/A04_56_62.pdf). The NTSB also wanted the FAA to clarify whether the Model A320 series airplane SRIW has more comprehensive protections compared with the Model A300 series airplane SRIW.

We agree with the NTSB that there are differences between the Airbus Model A300/A310 series airplane and Model A318/A319/A320/A321 series airplane SRIW systems, such as, the latter does not include a light on the glareshield in front of each pilot; instead it includes a red master caution warning in addition to the aural synthetic voice warning to prevent pilots from making any further reversals. In addition, the Model Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 series airplane SRIW modification includes a rudder travel limiter unit (RTLU) modification in the FAC that minimizes the available deflections for all the possible combinations of altitude and speed. This will ensure that after one full rudder pedal reversal, the vertical tail plane (VTP) loads remain within the safe limits. After reviewing the design, analyses, and simulator demonstrations, the FAA has concluded that these warnings will prevent the flightcrew from continuing the inappropriate rudder inputs prior to exceeding the ultimate design loads that could result in failure of the vertical tail plane. We have determined that details associated with our disposition to NTSB safety recommendations A-04-56 and A-04-57 are outside the context of this AD. We will provide those details directly to the NTSB in our response to the safety recommendations. We have not changed this final rule in this regard.

Conclusion

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

• Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 11960, March 5, 2015).

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

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 02, dated March 30, 2015. This service information describes procedures for modifying the pin programming to activate the SRIW logic.

Airbus has also issued the following service information. The service information describes procedures for replacing FWCs and FACs.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1375, dated January 15, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 05, dated November 24, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 03, dated April 21, 2015.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1454, dated February 12, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 07, dated March 23, 2015.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1502, dated November 14, 2014.

• Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, Revision 03, dated September 15, 2014.

This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 953 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We also estimate that it will take about 3 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $243,015, or $255 per product.

In addition, we estimate that any necessary follow-on actions will take about 6 work-hours (3 work-hours for an FWC and 3 work-hours for an FAC), for a cost of up to $510 per product. We have received no definitive data that will enable us to provide part cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this AD. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these actions.

Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0251; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-23-13 Airbus: Amendment 39-18330. Docket No. FAA-2015-0251; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-200-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective December 29, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to the airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(4) of this AD, certificated in any category, all manufacturer serial numbers.

(1) Airbus Model A318-111, -112, -121, and -122 airplanes.

(2) Airbus Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes.

(3) Airbus Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes.

(4) Airbus Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, -212, -213, -231, and -232 airplanes.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 22, Auto Flight; 31, Instruments.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a determination that, in specific flight conditions, the allowable load limits on the vertical tail plane could be reached and possibly exceeded. Exceeding allowable load could result in detachment of the vertical tail plane. We are issuing this AD to prevent detachment of the vertical tail plane and consequent loss of control of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Pin Programming Modification

Within 48 months after the effective date of this AD, modify the pin programming to activate the stop rudder input warning (SRIW) logic, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 02, dated March 30, 2015.

(h) Inspection To Determine Part Numbers (P/Ns), Flight Warning Computer (FWC) and Flight Augmentation Computer (FAC) Replacement

Prior to or concurrently with the actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD: Inspect the part numbers of the FWC and the FAC installed on the airplane. If any FWC or FAC having a part number identified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, as applicable, is installed on an airplane, prior to or concurrently with the actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, replace all affected FWCs and FACs with a unit having a part number identified in paragraph (h)(3) of this AD, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service information specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

(1) Paragraphs (h)(1)(i) through (h)(1)(xvii) of this AD identify FWCs having part numbers that are non-compatible with the SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(i) 350E017238484 (H1D1).

(ii) 350E053020303 (H2E3).

(iii) 350E016187171 (C5).

(iv) 350E053020404 (H2E4).

(v) 350E017248685 (H1D2).

(vi) 350E053020606 (H2F2).

(vii) 350E017251414 (H1E1).

(viii) 350E053020707 (H2F3).

(ix) 350E017271616 (H1E2).

(x) 350E053021010 (H2F3P).

(xi) 350E018291818 (H1E3CJ).

(xii) 350E053020808 (H2F4).

(xiii) 350E018301919 (H1E3P).

(xiv) 350E053020909 (H2-F5).

(xv) 350E018312020 (H1E3Q).

(xvi) 350E053021111 (H2-F6).

(xvii) 350E053020202 (H2E2).

(2) Paragraphs (h)(2)(i) through (h)(2)(xxxiv) of this AD identify FACs having part numbers that are non-compatible with the SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(i) B397AAM0202.

(ii) B397BAM0101.

(iii) B397BAM0512.

(iv) B397AAM0301.

(v) B397BAM0202.

(vi) B397BAM0513.

(vii) B397AAM0302.

(viii) B397BAM0203.

(ix) B397BAM0514.

(x) B397AAM0303.

(xi) B397BAM0305.

(xii) B397BAM0515.

(xiii) B397AAM0404.

(xiv) B397BAM0406.

(xv) B397BAM0616.

(xvi) B397AAM0405.

(xvii) B397BAM0407.

(xviii) B397BAM0617.

(xix) B397AAM0506.

(xx) B397BAM0507.

(xxi) B397BAM0618.

(xxii) B397AAM0507.

(xxiii) B397BAM0508.

(xxiv) B397BAM0619.

(xxv) B397AAM0508.

(xxvi) B397BAM0509.

(xxvii) B397BAM0620.

(xxviii) B397AAM0509.

(xxix) B397BAM0510.

(xxx) B397CAM0101.

(xxxi) B397AAM0510.

(xxxii) B397BAM0511.

(xxxiii) B397CAM0102.

(xxxiv) Soft P/N G2856AAA01 installed on hard P/N C13206AA00.

(3) Paragraphs (h)(3)(i) through (h)(3)(v) of this AD identify the FWCs and FACs having the part numbers that are compatible with SRIW activation required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(i) For airplane configurations with no sharklet, an FAC having P/N B397BAM0621 (621 hard B).

(ii) For airplanes configured with sharklet A320 and A319, an FAC having P/N B397BAM0622 (622 hard B).

(iii) For airplanes configured with sharklet A321, an FAC having P/N B397BAM0623 (623 hard B).

(iv) For all airplanes configured with an FAC standard CAA01, an FAC having soft P/N G2856AAA02 installed on hard P/N C13206AA00 (CAA02 hard C).

(v) For all airplane configurations, an FWC having P/N 350E053021212 (H2-F7).

(i) Service Information for Actions Required by Paragraph (h) of This AD

Do the actions required by paragraph (h) of this AD in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service information specified in paragraphs (i)(1) through (i)(7) of this AD.

(1) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1375, dated January 15, 2014 (FAC 621 hard B).

(2) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 05, including Appendix 01, dated November 24, 2014 (FAC 622 hard B).

(3) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 03, dated April 21, 2015 (FAC CAA02 hard C).

(4) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1454, dated February 12, 2014 (FAC CAA02).

(5) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 07, including Appendix 01, dated March 23, 2015 (FAC 623 hard B).

(6) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1502, dated November 14, 2014 (FAC CAA02).

(7) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, Revision 03, dated September 15, 2014 (FWC H-F7).

(j) Exclusion From Actions Required by Paragraphs (g) and (h) of This AD

An airplane on which Airbus Modification 154473 has been embodied in production is excluded from the requirements of paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, provided that within 30 days after the effective date of this AD, an inspection of the part numbers of the FWC and the FAC installed on the airplane is done to determine that no FWC having a part number listed in paragraph (h)(1) of this AD, and no FAC having a part number listed in paragraph (h)(2) of this AD, has been installed on that airplane since date of manufacture. A review of airplane maintenance records is acceptable in lieu of this inspection if the part numbers of the FWC and FAC can be conclusively determined from that review. If any FWC or FAC having a part number identified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, as applicable, is installed on a post-Airbus Modification 154473 airplane: Within 30 days after the effective date of this AD, do the replacement required by paragraph (h) of this AD.

(k) Parts Installation Prohibitions

After modification of an airplane as required by paragraphs (g), (h), and (j) of this AD: Do not install on that airplane any FWC having a part number listed in paragraph (h)(1) of this AD or any FAC having a part number listed in paragraph (h)(2) of this AD.

(l) Later Approved Parts

Installation of a version (part number) of the FWC or FAC approved after the effective date of this AD is an approved method of compliance with the requirements of paragraph (h) or (j) of this AD, provided the requirements specified in paragraphs (l)(1) and (l)(2) of this AD are met.

(1) The version (part number) must be approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

(2) The installation must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA.

(m) Credit for Previous Actions

(1) This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, dated July 9, 2014; or Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 01, dated February 6, 2015. This service information is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(2) This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (i) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the applicable Airbus service information identified in paragraphs (m)(2)(i) through (m)(2)(xviii) of this AD. This service information is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, dated January 25, 2013.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 01, dated July 30, 2013.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 02, dated October 14, 2013.

(iv) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 03, dated November 8, 2013.

(v) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 04, dated February 11, 2014.

(vi) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, dated October 18, 2013.

(vii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 01, dated September 18, 2014.

(viii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 02, dated December 2, 2014.

(ix) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, dated October 31, 2013.

(x) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 01, dated February 25, 2014.

(xi) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 02, dated April 30, 2014.

(xii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 03, dated July 17, 2014.

(xiii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 04, dated September 15, 2014.

(xiv) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 05, dated November 13, 2014.

(xv) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 06, dated January 21, 2015.

(xvi) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, dated December 19, 2012.

(xvii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, Revision 01, dated March 21, 2013.

(xviii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, Revision 02, dated July 30, 2013.

(n) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

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

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

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

(o) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0217R1, dated February 26, 2015, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0251-0003.

(2) Service information identified in this AD that is not incorporated by reference is available at the addresses specified in paragraphs (p)(3) and (p(4) of this AD.

(p) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1375, dated January 15, 2014.

(ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1427, Revision 05, including Appendix 01, dated November 24, 2014.

(iii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1447, Revision 03, dated April 21, 2015.

(iv) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1454, dated February 12, 2014.

(v) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1461, Revision 07, including Appendix 01, dated March 23, 2015.

(vi) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1480, Revision 02, dated March 30, 2015.

(vii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-22-1502, dated November 14, 2014.

(viii) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-31-1414, Revision 03, dated September 15, 2014.

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

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

(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 Renton, Washington, on November 9, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-29702 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-1869; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-9] Establishment of Class E Airspace; Newberry, MI AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule; correction.

SUMMARY:

This action corrects an error in the legal description of a final rule published in the Federal Register of September 24, 2015, that establishes Class E airspace at the Newberry VHF Omni-Directional Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME), Newberry, MI. The legal description noted exclusionary language for Federal airways and Canadian airspace not required for this airspace.

DATES:

Effective date: 0901 UTC, December 10, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under 1 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Raul Garza, Jr., Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Parkway., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817-222-5874.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History

On September 24, 2015, a final rule was published in the Federal Register establishing Class E airspace at the Newberry VOR/DME, Newberry, MI (80 FR 57522) Docket No. FAA-2015-1869. Subsequent to publication, the FAA found that the exclusionary language for Federal airways and Canadian airspace noted in the airspace description is not required and, therefore, is removed.

Final Rule Correction

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, in the Federal Register of September 24, 2015, (80 FR 57522) FR Doc. 2015-23987, on page 57523, column 2, beginning on line 26, remove “, excluding that airspace within Federal airways and within Canadian airspace”.

Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on November 10, 2015. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
[FR Doc. 2015-29704 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Parts 510 and 528 [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0002] New Animal Drugs in Genetically Engineered Animals; opAFP-GHc2 Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid Construct AGENCY:

Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency) is amending the animal drug regulations to reflect the approval of a new animal drug application (NADA) filed by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. The NADA provides for use of a recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) gene construct in a lineage of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon.

DATES:

This rule is effective November 24, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Larisa Rudenko, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-2), Food and Drug Administration, 7500 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-276-8247, email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., Two Clock Tower Pl., suite 395, Maynard, MA 01754 filed NADA 141-454 for an opAFP-GHc2 rDNA construct at the α-locus in the EO-1α lineage triploid, hemizygous, all-female Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) known as AQUADVANTAGE Salmon. Significantly more of these Atlantic salmon grow to at least 100 grams within 2,700 Celsius degree-days than their comparators. The NADA is approved as of November 19, 2015, and the regulations are amended in 21 CFR part 528 to reflect the approval.

In addition, AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., is not currently listed in the animal drug regulations as a sponsor of an approved application. Accordingly, 21 CFR 510.600(c) is being amended to add entries for this firm.

In accordance with the freedom of information provisions of 21 CFR part 20 and 21 CFR 514.11(e)(2)(ii), a summary of safety and effectiveness data and information submitted to support approval of this application (FOI Summary) may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Agency has carefully considered the potential environmental impact of this action and has concluded that the action will not have a significant impact on the human environment and that an environmental impact statement is not required. FDA's finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and the evidence supporting that finding, contained in an environmental assessment (EA), may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management (address in the previous paragraph) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the FOI Summary, EA, and FONSI at the Center for Veterinary Medicine FOIA Electronic Reading Room: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CVM/CVMFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/default.htm. Patent information may be accessed in FDA's publication, Approved Animal Drug Products Online (Green Book) at: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/Products/ApprovedAnimalDrugProducts/default.htm.

This rule does not meet the definition of “rule” in 5 U.S.C. 804(3)(A) because it is a rule of “particular applicability.” Therefore, it is not subject to the congressional review requirements in 5 U.S.C. 801-808.

List of Subjects 21 CFR Part 510

Administrative practice and procedure, Animal drugs, Labeling, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

21 CFR Part 528

Animal drugs.

Therefore, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and under authority delegated to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs and redelegated to the Center for Veterinary Medicine, 21 CFR parts 510 and 528 are amended as follows:

PART 510—NEW ANIMAL DRUGS 1. The authority citation for 21 CFR part 510 continues to read as follows: Authority:

21 U.S.C. 321, 331, 351, 352, 353, 360b, 371, 379e.

2. In § 510.600, in the table in paragraph (c)(1), alphabetically add an entry for “AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.” and in the table in paragraph (c)(2), numerically add an entry for “086053” to read as follows:
§ 510.600 Names, addresses, and drug labeler codes of sponsors of approved applications.

(c) * * *

(1) * * *

Firm name and address Drug labeler code *    *    *    *    * AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., Two Clock Tower Pl., suite 395, Maynard, MA 01754 086053 *    *    *    *    *

(2) * * *

Drug
  • labeler code
  • Firm name
  • and address
  • *    *    *    *    * 086053 AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., Two Clock Tower Pl., suite 395, Maynard, MA 01754 * * * *    *    *    *    *
    PART 528—NEW ANIMAL DRUGS IN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ANIMALS 3. The authority citation for 21 CFR part 528 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 360b.

    4. Add § 528.1092 to read as follows:
    § 528.1092 opAFP-GHc2 recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid construct.

    (a) Specifications. A single copy of the α-form of the opAFP-GHc2 recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) construct at the α-locus in the EO-1 α lineage of triploid, hemizygous, all-female Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

    (b) Sponsor. See No. 086053 in § 510.600 of this chapter.

    (c) Indications for use. Significantly more of these Atlantic salmon grow to at least 100 grams within 2,700 Celsius degree-days than their comparators.

    (d) Limitations. These Atlantic salmon are produced as eyed-eggs and grown-out only in physically-contained, freshwater culture facilities specified in an FDA-approved application.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Bernadette Dunham, Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29902 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 151 [Docket No. USCG-2012-0924] RIN 1625-AB68 Ballast Water Management Reporting and Recordkeeping AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule amends the Coast Guard's ballast water management reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Upon the effective date of this rule, the Coast Guard will require vessels with ballast tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single Captain of the Port Zone to submit an annual report of their ballast water management practices. This rule also simplifies and streamlines the ballast water report form. Finally, this rule will allow most vessels to submit ballast water reports after arrival at a port or place of destination, instead of requiring submission of such reports prior to arrival. This rule will reduce the administrative burden on the regulated population, while still providing the Coast Guard with the information necessary to analyze and understand ballast water management practices.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective February 22, 2016, except for the amendments to 33 CFR 151.2060(b) through (f) and 151.2070, which contain collection of information requirements that have not yet been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Coast Guard will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of those sections.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket USCG-2012-0924 and are available on the Internet by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-2010-0924 in the “Keyword” box, and then clicking “Search.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Ms. Regina Bergner, Environmental Standards Division (CG-OES-3), Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-1431, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents for Preamble I. Abbreviations II. Background III. Basis and Purpose A. Legal Authority B. Purposes of This Regulatory Action IV. Regulatory History V. Discussion of NPRM Comments and Changes A. Three Year Annual Reporting Requirement for Vessels Operating Exclusively Within a Single COTP Zone B. Revisions to the Ballast Water Reporting Form C. Timing of Report Submission D. Other Comments and Changes VI. Regulatory Analyses A. Regulatory Planning and Review 1. Require Vessels Operating in One COTP Zone To Report BWM Practices 2. Update Current Ballast Water Report Requirements (33 CFR 151.2070) 3. Allow Vessels To Submit Ballast Water Reports After Arrival to the Port or Place of Destination 4. Change the Format of Electronic Reports 5. Summary of Economic Impacts of Final Rule B. Small Entities C. Assistance for Small Entities D. Collection of Information E. Federalism F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act G. Taking of Private Property H. Civil Justice Reform I. Protection of Children J. Indian Tribal Governments K. Energy Effects L. Technical Standards M. Environment I. Abbreviations BWM Ballast Water Management CFR Code of Federal Regulations COTP Captain of the Port EPA Environmental Protection Agency EEZ Exclusive Economic Zone FR Federal Register IMO International Maritime Organization MISLE Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement NANPCA Non-Indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 NBIC National Ballast Information Clearinghouse NISA National Invasive Species Act of 1996 OMB Office of Management and Budget Pub. L. Public Law RFA Regulatory Flexibility Act SANS Ship Arrival Notification System U.S.C. United States Code II. Background

    A vessel brings water into its ballast tanks to control or maintain trim, draft, stability or stress of the vessel when it is fully or partially empty of cargo. Generally, the vessel will discharge ballast water when it loads cargo, often at another port of call. Vessels discharge more than 80 million tons of ballast water annually into U.S. waters.1

    1 See the American Association of Port Authorities Web site at http://www.aapa-ports.org/Issues/USGovRelDetail.cfm?itemnumber=880.

    Many invasive species have been introduced into U.S. waters through ballast water discharge because ballast water often contains organisms indigenous to the area where it was loaded. These organisms can become invasive species when they are discharged in a new location, often with damaging results.2

    2 For a list of examples of aquatic bio-invasions causing major impact internationally, see the International Maritime Organization's Web site at: http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Environment/BallastWaterManagement/Pages/AquaticInvasiveSpecies(AIS).aspx.

    The Great Lakes provide many examples of the damage invasive species can inflict on an environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),3 no fewer than 25 invasive species of fish have entered the Great Lakes. Invasive filter-feeders such as zebra mussels have caused severe problems at power plants and municipal water supplies, clogging intake screens, pipes, and cooling systems. Fast-growing invasive plants have displaced native plant populations that support wildlife habitat and prevent erosion. The prevalence of these invasive plant species has also hindered commercial and recreational activities. Similar problems with invasive species have occurred in U.S. waters throughout the country.4

    3 See the EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/invasive.

    4 The U.S. Geological Survey maintains an online database of non-indigenous aquatic species at http://nas.er.usgs.gov. The database is searchable by several variables, including by state and species.

    III. Basis and Purpose A. Legal Authority

    The Non-Indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 (NANPCA, Pub. L. 101-646), as amended by the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA), (Pub. L. 104-332), requires the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that aquatic nuisance species are not discharged into U.S. waters from vessels (16 U.S.C. 4701 et seq.). These statutes also direct the Secretary to issue regulations and collect records regarding vessel ballasting practices as a means for determining vessel compliance with the ballast water management (BWM) program (16 U.S.C. 4711(c) and (f)).

    The Secretary has delegated the regulatory functions and authorities in 16 U.S.C. 4711 to the Commandant of the Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1 (II.) 57). Coast Guard regulations regarding BWM are located in 33 CFR part 151, subparts C and D. With limited exceptions, these regulations apply to all vessels, U.S. and foreign, equipped with ballast tanks, that operate in U.S. waters. (see 33 CFR 151.2005, 151.2010, 151.2015, and 151.2025).

    This final rule revises the regulatory provisions that deal with BWM reporting and recordkeeping requirements. A full discussion of the statutory and regulatory history of the Coast Guard's broader actions to implement both NANPCA and NISA may be found in the preamble to the final rule entitled “Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters,” published on March 23, 2012 (77 FR 17254).

    B. Purposes of This Regulatory Action

    This regulatory action implements provisions of NANPCA and NISA by requiring the collection of records on vessel BWM practices. The Coast Guard will now require vessels with ballast tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone to submit an annual report of their BWM practices. This rule also allows most vessels to submit ballast water reports after arrival at a port or place of destination, instead of requiring submission of such reports prior to arrival. Additionally, this rule simplifies and streamlines the ballast water report form. This rule will reduce reporting redundancies affecting the regulated population, while still providing the Coast Guard with the information necessary to analyze and understand BWM practices. By doing so, this rule is intended to improve the Coast Guard's knowledge about such practices, which will enable us to reduce the discharge of aquatic nuisance species into U.S. waters from vessels and to reduce future damage caused by such discharges.

    Efficient and effective BWM data collection is essential to the Coast Guard's ability to evaluate the availability of BWM technologies for the range of vessels operating in waters of the U.S. These important data directly inform the Coast Guard's decision making efforts to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that aquatic nuisance species are not discharged into waters of the U.S.

    IV. Regulatory History

    On June 5, 2013, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Ballast Water Management Reporting and Recordkeeping” in the Federal Register (78 FR 33774). No public meeting was requested for this rulemaking and none was held. A summary of the proposals in the NPRM is provided below.

    The Coast Guard proposed a three-year requirement applicable to vessels equipped with ballast tanks and operating exclusively on voyages between ports and places within a single COTP Zone to submit an annual summary report of their BWM practices. Historically, the Coast Guard has not collected extensive information about the BWM practices of this segment of the vessel population because it seemed unlikely that vessels operating within a single COTP Zone would introduce invasive species from place to place within the COTP Zone. Public comments received in response to the most recent Coast Guard rulemaking on ballast water 5 correctly indicated that COTP Zones are administrative in nature, and are not established based on any ecological or biological bases. Therefore, COTP Zones may not necessarily be appropriate boundaries for assessing invasive species. The Coast Guard proposed this new three-year annual reporting requirement to improve the breadth and quality of BWM data so it can make the most informed programmatic and regulatory decisions. Additionally, collecting this information advances the Coast Guard's efforts to meet the statutory requirement to maintain a clearinghouse of national ballast water data (16 U.S.C. 4712(f)).

    5 Notice of proposed rulemaking entitled “Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters” (74 FR 44632; August 28, 2009). The docket for that rulemaking is available for viewing online at www.regulations.gov, Docket Number USCG-2001-10486.

    The Coast Guard also proposed to simplify ballast water reporting for all vessels by revising the report form and encouraging electronic report submission. We proposed to streamline the reporting process and to revise the report to include only data that are essential to understanding and analyzing BWM practices.

    Finally, the Coast Guard proposed to allow vessels bound for a port or destination outside of the Great Lakes or the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge to submit ballast water reports either no later than six hours after arrival, or prior to departure, whichever is earlier. Prior to this rulemaking, the regulations required certain vessels to submit ballast water reports before arriving at the port or destination. As a practical matter, vessels often discovered information after arrival that necessitated amending the reports. Accordingly, the Coast Guard proposed the change in submission requirements to reduce the need for amended reports.

    V. Discussion of NPRM Comments and Changes

    In response to the NPRM, the Coast Guard received 6 public comment letters containing a total of 13 separate comments. The comments are available for viewing in the public docket for this rulemaking, where indicated above under ADDRESSES.

    This section contains a description of each comment, followed by the Coast Guard's response. Since several of the letters raised similar issues, this section is organized by comment topic. Except for the changes identified in this section, the Coast Guard adopts the regulations as proposed in the NPRM without change.

    A. Three-Year Annual Reporting Requirement for Vessels Operating Exclusively Within a Single COTP Zone

    One commenter supported the proposal to require vessels operating within a single COTP zone to submit annual reports for three years. The commenter stated that annual reporting would provide data that is useful to the Coast Guard for making regulatory decisions affecting these vessels. The Coast Guard agrees.

    One commenter opposed the proposal to require vessels operating within a single COTP zone to submit annual reports, arguing that the burden of the reporting requirement is not justified due to the low risk of introduction of aquatic invasive species within a single COTP zone. The Coast Guard disagrees. An annual report, limited to three years, presents a minimal burden, but will provide the essential data for the Coast Guard to determine whether vessels that operate solely in a single COTP zone should be subject to the same or similar BWM regulations as those applicable to vessels operating in multiple COTP zones.

    The commenter also suggested the Coast Guard could obtain all necessary ballast water operation information from advisory committees and trade associations instead of introducing new reporting requirements. The Coast Guard disagrees. Data from such sources would be limited because not all vessel owners and operators are members of trade associations or represented in advisory committee studies. Furthermore, reports to such trade associations and advisory committees would be voluntary instead of legally required, which would limit the amount of data. For these reasons, a streamlined, annual report is the more effective approach for collecting accurate data.

    B. Revisions to the Ballast Water Reporting Form

    Two commenters supported the Coast Guard's proposal to streamline and simplify the ballast water reporting form. In this final rule, the Coast Guard is taking an additional step to simplify the regulations in §§ 151.2060 (Reporting requirements) and 151.2070 (Recordkeeping requirements). The Coast Guard intends to align the information required for reporting and recordkeeping purposes as much as possible because the information required to satisfy both requirements is almost identical. The NPRM, however, listed the information required for reporting purposes under § 151.2060, and separately listed similar information required for recordkeeping purposes in § 151.2070. Upon further review of the NPRM, the Coast Guard wishes to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding regarding the lists of information required for reporting and recordkeeping. Specifically, the Coast Guard wishes to avoid a misunderstanding that there is one set of information required under § 151.2060 for reporting purposes, and a separate set of information required under § 151.2070 for recordkeeping purposes. Accordingly, for regulatory clarity, this final rule now lists the information required for reporting purposes in § 151.2060. Instead of repeating that list of information for recordkeeping, § 151.2070(a) simply states that there is a requirement to maintain records of all the information required to be reported under § 151.2060. Also in § 151.2070, there is an additional recordkeeping requirement regarding sediment discharge. Sediment discharge is the one data point which is subject to the recordkeeping requirement, but is not subject to the reporting requirement.

    Another commenter requested an additional change to the form that would enable a reporting officer to sign the form electronically. The Coast Guard is granting this request. Ballast water reporting forms are submitted to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) using any of the methods on the NBIC Web site.6 Reporters may complete the form by filling out the fields on NBIC's online click-thru web-based version of the form. At the end of the web-based form, reporters will be asked to electronically certify the accuracy of the information provided. This certification satisfies the Coast Guard's signature requirement in § 151.2070 for recordkeeping purposes.

    6 Forms are submitted through NBIC's Web site at http://invasions.si.edu/nbic/submit.html.

    One commenter requested an additional change to the form that would enable reporters to highlight an entire column and fill it out with one entry that stays constant (or near-constant) throughout the body of the report. The Coast Guard wishes to clarify that while we manage the content of the form, NBIC manages the functionality of the form. The Coast Guard communicated the commenter's request to NBIC for its consideration. NBIC advised against the commenter's request, noting that it implemented this option into an earlier test version of the form and found that it resulted in too many errors. Specifically, the ease of use of auto-fill columns was outweighed by the tendency of reporters to not enter data in these columns accurately. As form technology evolves, NBIC will consider adding an auto-fill function pending availability of a system that is better at identifying and eliminating errors.

    One commenter requested that the Coast Guard continue to allow all vessel operators the choice of reporting ballast water capacities and discharge volumes in gallons or metric tons. The Coast Guard communicated the commenter's request to NBIC for its consideration. NBIC has agreed to change the form to include a drop-down menu that enables reporters to choose gallons or cubic meters as their preferred unit of measurement. Because the form will now allow reporters to choose which volumetric unit to use, we have removed the specific reference to cubic meters from the regulatory text in 33 CFR 151.2060.

    One commenter noted that the form requires reporters to provide the vessel's International Maritime Organization (IMO) number, though many U.S.-flagged vessels are not issued IMO numbers. The commenter recommended an amendment to the form to specify another acceptable identification number for such vessels. In response, the Ballast Water Reporting form will be updated to offer an option for inputting either the IMO number or other documentation number.

    C. Timing of Report Submission

    Three commenters supported the Coast Guard's proposal to allow vessels to submit ballast water reports after arrival at a port or place of destination. The Coast Guard adopts the proposal without change. For purposes of clarity, we note that Coast Guard regulations in 33 CFR 151.2005 define the phrase “[p]ort or place of destination” to mean “. . . any port or place to which a vessel is bound to anchor or moor.” The Coast Guard provides further guidance on the practical application of the phrase “port or place of destination” for ballast water reporting purposes in Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular NVIC 07-04, Change 1 (Oct. 29, 2004).7 For example, for barges equipped with ballast tanks, reports must be submitted only for stops where cargo operations are conducted. For towing vessels equipped with ballast tanks, reports must be submitted when the vessel conducts fueling operations. In both cases, reports are not required when the vessel stops for fleeting, waits for locks, or purposes other than cargo or fueling operations.

    7 NVIC 07-04 may be viewed online at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/2004/NVIC_07-04_CH-1.pdf.

    One commenter requested a change to the regulations to emphasize that vessels operating on the Great Lakes are covered under the new provision permitting report submission within six hours after arrival at a port or place of destination. While the Coast Guard agrees that the vessels in question are covered under this provision, we are not granting the commenter's request to change the regulatory text because the language in 33 CFR 151.2060 is sufficiently clear on this point, and it is unnecessary to add specific language solely for Great Lakes vessels.

    One commenter suggested 2 alternatives for when the 6-hour post-arrival submission window should start in order to further reduce the need for amended reports. The commenter suggested that the 6-hour window should start when the vessel's cargo operations commence, even if this is some time after the vessel arrives at berth. Alternatively, the commenter suggested that the 6-hour window should start when the vessel arrives at berth. The Coast Guard rejects the commenter's preferred approach because it would mean different timing for different vessels, causing inconsistency in applying and enforcing the 6-hour submission window. Regarding the commenter's alternative approach, the Coast Guard expects that the 6-hour submission window starting upon arrival at the “port or place of destination” as discussed above will give the vessel crew ample time to submit an accurate ballast water report, without the need for an amended report in most instances. The Coast Guard will, however, continue to enable vessels to submit an amended report when necessary.

    D. Other Comments and Changes

    One commenter requested that the Coast Guard provide a definition of the term “trip” for reporting purposes on operations exclusively within a single COTP Zone. We agree that the term “trip” is ambiguous. To clarify, the Coast Guard is not seeking reported information on each and every vessel movement. Instead, we are seeking reported information on the number of ballast water discharges, if any. The Coast Guard has modified the regulatory text by removing the term “trip” to more clearly reflect the Coast Guard's intention.

    Two commenters questioned the utility of BWM data to the Coast Guard, and requested that we consider eliminating BWM reporting and recordkeeping requirements altogether. For the reasons discussed below, the Coast Guard cannot grant this request.

    The Coast Guard requires vessels to report and to maintain records of BWM practices and activities pursuant to a statutory mandate (16 U.S.C. 4711(f)). More specifically, this information enables us to assess the rate of effective compliance with established BWM requirements and guidelines. The information provides important data on volumes of ballast water discharged by different types of vessels, patterns of ballast water transport (i.e., locations where ballast water is loaded and discharged), patterns of BWM by different types of vessels, and safety and practicability issues that affect the ability of different types of vessels to implement specific BWM practices.

    Additionally, the Coast Guard uses the reported information to track patterns of BWM and delivery in the U.S. over time. These data provide information on the relative amounts of ballast water that different types of vessels must manage, as well as the circumstances (e.g., voyage lengths and routes) that necessitate BWM. These data are also essential in evaluating the availability of BWM technologies for the range of vessels operating in waters of the U.S. These important data directly inform the Coast Guard's decision making efforts to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that aquatic nuisance species are not discharged into waters of the U.S.

    One commenter questioned whether this rulemaking applies to vessels that operate outside of U.S. waters (i.e., beyond 12 nautical miles of shore), but still within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline.8 The Coast Guard confirms that this rulemaking does not apply to vessels operating exclusively outside of U.S. waters. In accordance with the applicability provision in 33 CFR 151.2010, this rulemaking “applies to all non-recreational vessels, U.S. and foreign, that are equipped with ballast tanks and operate in the waters of the United States, except as expressly provided in § 151.2015 or § 151.2020 of [33 CFR part 151 subpart D].”

    8See 33 CFR 2.30.

    Two commenters requested exemptions from the ballast water reporting requirements for certain vessels, including those that do not discharge ballast water from their tanks and those that use potable water for ballast. The Coast Guard is not granting these requests for blanket exemptions. The controlling statutory provisions in 46 U.S.C. 4711(c) and (f) require the Coast Guard to apply these regulations to “. . . all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks that operate in the waters of the United States.” It is the presence of a ballast water tank that triggers the applicable reporting requirement, not the discharge of ballast water. When a vessel is equipped with a ballast water tank, the non-discharge of ballast water or the use of potable water for ballast is a BWM practice, and the reporting requirement provides useful information regarding the effectiveness of these measures in preventing the introduction or spread of invasive species. The purpose of the reported information is to assist the Coast Guard in evaluating BWM practices in general, regardless of whether a vessel discharges ballast water. However, we remind owners and operators that 33 CFR 151.2065 provides relief under certain circumstances (i.e., where compliance with 33 CFR 151.2060 is economically or physically impractical) to submit a request for the Coast Guard to approve an alternative equivalent reporting method.

    We are revising the text in 33 CFR 151.2015 in several places to refer to a “single” COTP zone instead of “one” COTP zone for clarity and consistency with the rest of that section. Additionally, we are revising the text in 33 CFR 151.2060(b)(1)(ii) to reflect the accurate name of the “St. Lawrence Seaway Ballast Water Reporting Form.” These are non-substantive technical changes.

    VI. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 (“Regulatory Planning and Review”) and 13563 (“Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”) direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility.

    This final rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review,” as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. Accordingly, the final rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    We received no public comments that affect the Regulatory Assessment (RA); nor have we identified any new information or data that would require us to reassess the RA in the NPRM. We, therefore, adopt the NPRM's Regulatory Assessment as the final assessment to this final rule. A final Regulatory Assessment is provided as follows:

    Table 1 presents a summary of the economic impact of this final rule. A detailed description of the estimates is presented in the next sections.

    Table 1—Summary of Regulatory Economic Impacts Changes Description Affected population Costs
  • (7% discount rate)
  • Annualized Total Benefits
    1. Require vessels operating exclusively on voyages between ports and places within a single COTP Zone to report BWM practices Owners or operators of vessels with ballast tanks and operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone would be required to submit an annual summary of their BWM practices. This information collection requirement would be for a 3 year period 400 owners or operators of 1,280 vessels operating in a single COTP Zone $22,110 $155,292 Improve the breadth and quality of BWM data, enabling the Coast Guard and others to make the most informed programmatic and regulatory actions to prevent non-indigenous species invasions in U.S. waters. 2. Update current ballast water report requirements Update current ballast water report. Vessels already complying with 33 CFR 151.2070 requirements would not incur additional burden due to the updates Vessels currently reporting BWM activities under 33 CFR 151.2070 $0 $0 Concise reporting and inclusion of only essential data on BWM practices. 3. Allow vessel owners or operators to submit ballast water reports after arrival to the port or place of destination Currently, vessels are required to submit reports 24 hours prior to arrival. Allowing vessels to report after arrival—when their ballasting activities are complete—should greatly reduce the need for post-arrival amendments Vessels currently reporting BWM activities under 33 CFR 151.2070 ($184,868) Cost savings ($1,298,437) Cost savings Reduce the administrative burden on the regulated population. We estimate that this final rule will eliminate an average of 10,717 post-arrival reports per year. 4. Change the format of electronic report. Standardize the data format and add pull down menus to reduce data entry errors. Vessels currently reporting BWM activities under 33 CFR 151.2070 $0 $0 Facilitate electronic report submission and improve efficiency in data handling and analysis.

    This final rule would modify and amend the following recordkeeping requirements and procedures:

    1. Require Vessels Operating in a Single COTP Zone To Report BWM Practices

    In this final rule, the Coast Guard requires owners or operators of vessels with ballast tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone to submit an annual summary report of their BWM practices for a period of 3 years.

    Based on data from the Coast Guard Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) and the Ship Arrival Notification System (SANS), we estimate that the final rule will have an annual affect on 1,280 U.S.-flagged vessels that operate exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone. Table 2 presents the vessel types affected by this requirement. These vessels are currently exempt from the ballast water reporting requirements under 33 CFR 151.2070. Owners or operators of these vessels will be required to submit an annual summary report of their BWM practices to the Coast Guard for a period of 3 years.

    9 Includes permanently moored vessels, school ships, and vessels with unspecified vessel type.

    Table 2—U.S. Flag Vessels Operating Exclusively Between Ports or Places Within a Single COTP Zone Vessel type Affected
  • population
  • Commercial Fishing Vessel 117 Fish Processing Vessel 4 Freight Ship 117 Industrial Vessel 28 Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit 5 Offshore Supply Vessel 175 Oil Recovery 6 Passenger (inspected) 154 Passenger (uninspected) 3 Research Vessel 11 Tank Ship 29 Towing Vessel 604 Other Vessels 9 27 Total 1,280 Source: MISLE and SANS data.

    For the purposes of the cost analysis, we assume that all vessels discharge ballast water. We estimate the total annual burden hours required to complete the report will be approximately 40 minutes per vessel per year. We anticipate vessel owners or operators will need 15 minutes to complete and submit their annual ballasting report. Most of the information required is well known by the vessel owner or operator and does not require additional document consultation. The information that does not require additional document consultation includes: Vessel name, identification number, type, operator, tonnage, call sign, COTP Zone of operation, number of ballast water tanks, total ballast water capacity, and primary port of ballast water loading and discharge.

    The remaining 25 minutes accounts for the total time allocated (over the entire year) for vessel operators to assemble and review information to determine the number of times ballast water is discharged and the volume of discharge released during such vessel operations. We also recognize that vessels that do not discharge ballast water will only be burdened with the 15 minutes to fill out and submit the annual form.

    We assume that the vessel owner or operator, with an estimated wage rate of $69/hr 10 , will be in charge of this reporting. The annual cost per vessel is $46.23 (.67 hrs × $69/hr) and the total cost per vessel for the 3-year period is $139. The estimated annual cost of the new reporting requirement for the 1,280 vessels, operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, is, $59,174 (1,280 vessels × .67 hrs × $69 hr) (undiscounted). The total cost for a 3-year reporting period is $177,522 (undiscounted) or $155,291 (at seven percent discount rate). Table 3 presents the reporting costs for vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone.

    10 Fully loaded wage rate for GS-12 (equivalent) out-of-govt., obtained from Enclosure (2) to COMDTINST 7310.1M and validated based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) subcategory Managers (Occupation Code 11-9199) using a base average form years 2010-2011 data and a load factor of 1.4.

    11 The Coast Guard anticipates the information collection requirement would lapse after the completion of 3 years.

    Table 3—Annual and Total Cost of Reporting (in US$) for Vessels Operating Exclusively Between Ports or Places Within a Single COTP Zone Year 11 Cost Undiscounted At 7 percent
  • discount rate
  • At 3 percent
  • discount rate
  • 1 $59,174 $55,303 $57,450 2 59,174 51,685 55,777 3 59,174 48,304 54,153 4-10 0 0 0 Total 177,523 155,292 167,380 Annualized 22,110 19,622

    This final rule will collect information on ballast water operations from vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, a segment of the industry for which the Coast Guard has limited information. Therefore, the Coast Guard seeks to improve the breadth and quality of its BWM data so it can make the most informed programmatic and regulatory decisions.

    The Coast Guard considered several alternatives for collecting the needed information on the ballast practices for vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone. One alternative would require these vessels to complete a full ballast water reporting form (33 CFR 151.2060) upon each entry into port, similar to existing requirements for other vessels operating outside a single COTP Zone. The Coast Guard instead chose the alternative that requires only an annual summary report of ballast activities with a limited number of required data elements. The Coast Guard will also collect this data for only 3 years. The Coast Guard believes that the annual summary report for 3 years provides enough information to characterize BWM practices for vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, while minimizing the reporting burden to these entities.

    2. Update Current Ballast Water Report Requirements (33 CFR 151.2060)

    The Coast Guard is updating the ballast water reporting form to make it more concise and include only essential data on BWM practices. Current recordkeeping requirements in 33 CFR 151.2070 are amended to include only data fields essential for understanding and analyzing BWM practices of vessels operating in waters of the U.S.

    Vessel owners or operators who currently submit ballast water reports to comply with 33 CFR 151.2060 requirements will not incur additional burden due to the reporting updates. Updates to the report form will make questions more clear and concise. The most time consuming section of the report (section 5, “Ballast Water History”) will be restructured, but the content will be maintained. We do not expect that changes to the reporting form will affect the amount of burden time necessary to fill-out the form. Currently, vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for ports or places within the U.S. or those entering U.S. waters are required to submit a ballast water report. According to the Coast Guard's estimate in OMB collection of information Control Number 1625-0069, it takes approximately 40 minutes to complete and submit the report. The CFR at 33 CFR 151.2060 and 151.2070 presents detailed information on reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In addition, updating the current reporting form will improve the utility of the data provided by the vessel population to the Coast Guard.

    3. Allow Vessels To Submit Ballast Water Reports After Arrival to the Port or Place of Destination

    Prior to this final rule, 33 CFR 151.2060 required vessels to predict their ballasting operations and submit reports on BWM 24 hours before arrival at port. Often, vessel owners and operators would revise their reports with the actual ballasting information and resubmit them to NBIC. NBIC estimates that approximately 40 percent of the amended reports it receives are due to the timing of the report submission. Allowing those vessels travelling from outside of the EEZ that are not bound for the Great Lakes or the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge to submit ballast water reports after arrival to the port or place of destination greatly reduces the need for amended reports. We estimate that an average of 10,717 reports 12 are amended and resubmitted every year due to the timing of submission. We estimate that it would take the vessel owner or operator approximately 15 minutes to amend and resend the reports. Therefore, we expect that this amendment will result in an annual reduction of burden by approximately 2,679 hours (10,717 reports × 0.25 hours 13 ), representing a cost savings of $184,868 (2,679 hours × $69/hr 14 ) per year to the industry. The total cost savings (Table 4) that results from allowing report submittal after arrival at a port for a 10-year period is $1,298,437 (at 7 percent discount rate).

    12 The estimate is based on data provided by NBIC on superseded reports for 2006 to 2012.

    13 Estimation based on time reported in the OMB 1625-0069 from vessel operators currently completing ballast water management reports to comply with 33 CFR 151.2070.

    14 Wage rate obtained from Enclosure (2) to COMDTINST 7310.1M and validated based on the BLS subcategory Managers (Occupation Code 11-9199).

    Table 4—Annual and Total Cost Savings of Changing the Time of the Report Year Cost savings Undiscounted At 7 percent
  • discount rate
  • At 3 percent
  • discount rate
  • 1 ($184,868) ($172,774) ($179,484) 2 (184,868) (161,471) (174,256) 3 (184,868) (150,908) (169,181) 4 (184,868) (141,035) (164,253) 5 (184,868) (131,809) (159,469) 6 (184,868) (123,186) (154,824) 7 (184,868) (115,127) (150,315) 8 (184,868) (107,595) (145,937) 9 (184,868) (100,556) (141,686) 10 (184,868) (93,978) (137,559) Total (1,848,683) (1,298,437) (1,576,964) Annualized (184,868) (184,868)
    4. Change the Format of Electronic Reports

    The Coast Guard expects reporting efficiency and data handling will improve by changing the format of the electronic report that can be found in Information Collection Request (ICR), OMB Control number 1625-0069. The Coast Guard will standardize the data formats and add pull down menus. Since the pull down menu will make the reporting form simpler and will reduce response variability, we do not anticipate any significant change in the reporting burden. These efficiencies will not result in cost savings. Therefore, we do not expect additional costs or cost savings to the industry. According to NBIC data from the past 6 years, approximately 99 percent of reports have been submitted electronically. Within the last 2 years, 100 percent of the reports have been submitted electronically. Standardized data entry will improve data quality and, as a result, data analyses will be easier and less time consuming.

    5. Summary of Economic Impacts of Final Rule

    This final rule will impact the industry for a limited time only (3 years). During this time, we estimate a total annual non-discounted cost savings of $125,694 and a total 10-year non-discounted cost savings of $1,671,160. We also estimate an annualized cost savings of $162,758, with a discounted ten-year saving of $1,443,145 both respectively discounted at 7 percent for a 10-year period of analysis. These estimates are developed and shown in Table 5.

    Table 5—Annual and Total Economic Impact of Final Rule [At 7 percent discount rate] Year 1. Report from
  • vessels operating
  • exclusively in a
  • single COTP Zone
  • (cost)
  • 2. Update current ballast water report 3. Allow vessels to submit reports
  • after arrival
  • (cost savings)
  • 4. Require reports be submitted
  • electronically
  • Economic impact of final rule
    1 $55,303 $0 ($172,774) $0 ($117,471) 2 51,685 0 (161,471) 0 (109,786) 3 48,304 0 (150,908) 0 (102,604) 4 0 (141,035) 0 (141,035) 5 0 (131,809) 0 (131,809) 6 0 (123,186) 0 (123,186) 7 0 (115,127) 0 (115,127) 8 0 (107,595) 0 (107,595) 9 0 (100,556) 0 (100,556) 10 0 (93,978) 0 (93,978) Total 155,292 0 (1,298,437) 0 (1,143,145) Annualized 22,110 0 (184,868) 0 (162,758) Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.
    B. Small Entities

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this final rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

    As described in the “Regulatory Analyses” section, we expect costs per vessel (an annual cost of $46.23 for a 3-year period) to owners or operators of vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone. Based on available data, we estimate that about 74 percent of entities affected by this final rule are small under the RFA and the Small Business Administration's size standards. The economic impact of the 3-year reporting requirement is less than 1 percent of revenue for 100 percent of the small entities. We determine that each entity, on average, manages a total of 3 vessels with an estimated annual cost of $139 (3 * $46.23) (non-discounted). We have estimated that for this rule to have a revenue impact of greater than 1 percent, total annual revenue for small entities must be less than $13,900. Therefore, we anticipate that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on small entities. Through this final rule, the Coast Guard will obtain information on ballast water operations from a segment of the industry for which there is limited information, and improve the utility of the data provided to Coast Guard.

    Owners and operators of applicable vessels already reporting BWM practices under 33 CFR 151.2060 would incur a cost savings as a result of the elimination of post-arrival amendments due to time of the reporting.

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

    C. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this final rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If the final rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please consult Ms. Regina Bergner, Environmental Standards Division, U.S. Coast Guard (CG-OES-3); telephone 202-372-1431, email, [email protected]. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247).

    D. Collection of Information

    This final rule modifies an existing collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). As defined in 5 CFR 1320.3(c), “collection of information” comprises reporting, recordkeeping, monitoring, posting, labeling, and other, similar actions. The title and description of the information collection, a description of those who must collect the information, and an estimate of the total annual burden follow. The burden-hour estimates cover the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing sources of data, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection.

    Title: Ballast Water Management Reporting and Recordkeeping.

    OMB Control Number: 1625-0069.

    Summary of the Collection of Information: This final rule modifies the existing BWM recordkeeping requirements in 33 CFR 151.2070 and amends the ballast water report. In this final rule, the Coast Guard requires vessels with ballast tanks that operate exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone to submit an annual summary report of their BWM practices for 3 years. The Coast Guard is also updating the ballast water report to include only data that are essential to understanding and analyzing BWM practices. These updates will not result in changes to current industry burden. The final rule also allows most vessels to submit ballast water reports after arrival at the port or place of destination.

    Need for Information: It is essential for the Coast Guard to improve the breadth and quality of its BWM data so it can make the most informed programmatic and regulatory decisions on how to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous aquatic species in U.S. waters. Limited information is available for vessels operating exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, since most of these vessels are exempt from the reporting requirements of 33 CFR 151.2060.

    Use of Information: BWM data from a segment of the industry for which the Coast Guard has limited information will improve the utility of the data provided by the currently-regulated vessel population.

    Description of the Respondents: The respondents are:

    (a) Owners and operators of vessels with ballast water tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone.

    (b) Owners and operators of vessels currently reporting BWM activities under 33 CFR 151.2060.

    Number of Respondents: The current number of respondents is 8,383. The requirements of this final rule will add 1,280 respondents from vessels with ballast water tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone. Therefore, the total number of respondents would increase by 1,280 to 9,663 (8,383 current respondents + 1,280 new respondents).

    Frequency of Response: Current respondents under 33 CFR 151.2060 will continue to submit their reports upon arrival to U.S. ports. New respondents (owners and operators of vessels operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone) will report once a year for a period of 3 years. After the 3 year period, the Coast Guard will have a base understanding of ballast water practices for these vessels, and reporting requirements will no longer be necessary.

    Burden of Response: We estimate that the response would take approximately 40 minutes per report for vessels with ballast water tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone.

    Estimate of Total Annual Burden: The annual burden is estimated as follows:

    (a) Annual burden for new reporting requirement for vessels operating within a single COTP Zone: This rule would create a new burden of 858 hours (1,280 vessels × .67 hours) 15 for the private sector.

    15 The estimation based on time required for reporting. Most information is well known by the vessel manager and does not require additional document or consultation. The questions are: Vessel name, number, identification number, type, operator, tonnage, call sign, COTP Zone of operation, number of ballast water tanks, total ballast water capacity, primary port of ballast water loading and discharge, estimated number of times ballast water is discharged and volume.

    (b) Annual burden for current reporting requirements:

    This final rule will result in a total annual burden increase of 858 hours due to the new requirement for vessels operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone. We estimate the total annual cost burden to be $59,174 (non-discounted).

    As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)), we will submit a copy of this final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review of the collection of information.

    E. Federalism

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

    This rule revises the Coast Guard's BWM reporting and recordkeeping requirements promulgated under the authority of NANPCA, as amended by NISA. NANPCA, as amended by NISA, contains a “savings provision” that saves to States their authority to “adopt or enforce control measures for aquatic nuisance species, [and nothing in the Act would] diminish or affect the jurisdiction of any State over species of fish and wildlife” (16 U.S.C. 4725). This type of BWM reporting and recordkeeping is a “control measure” saved to States under the savings provision and would not be preempted unless State law makes compliance with this rule's requirements impossible or frustrates the purpose of Congress. No such State law has been identified. Additionally, the Coast Guard has long interpreted this savings provision to be a congressional mandate for a Federal-State cooperative regime in which federal preemption under NANPCA, as amended by NISA, would be unlikely.

    F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    G. Taking of Private Property

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

    H. Civil Justice Reform

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

    I. Protection of Children

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

    J. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    K. Energy Effects

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use.” We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

    L. Technical Standards

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.

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

    M. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have concluded that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. A final environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under the “Addresses” section of this preamble. This rule involves regulations that are editorial and procedural, and falls under section 2.B.2, figure 2-1, paragraph (34)(a) of the Instruction.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 151

    Administrative practice and procedure, Ballast water management, Oil pollution, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Water pollution control.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 151 as follows:

    PART 151—VESSELS CARRYING OIL, NOXIOUS LIQUID SUBSTANCES, GARBAGE, MUNICIPAL OR COMMERCIAL WASTE, AND BALLAST WATER Subpart C—Ballast Water Management for Control of Non-Indigenous Species in the Great Lakes and Hudson River 1. The authority citation for subpart C continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 4711; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    2. In § 151.1516, revise paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 151.1516 Compliance monitoring.

    (a) The master of each vessel equipped with ballast tanks must provide the following information, in written form, to the Captain of the Port (COTP):

    Subpart D—Ballast Water Management for Control of Non-Indigenous Species in Waters of the United States 3. The authority citation for subpart D continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 4711; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    4. Amend § 151.2015 as follows: a. Revise paragraph (b); b. Redesignate paragraph (c) as paragraph (d); c. Add new paragraph (c); d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (d)(1) and (3); and e. Add Table 1 to § 151.2015.

    The revisions and addition read as follows:

    § 151.2015 Exemptions.

    (b) Crude oil tankers engaged in coastwise trade are exempt from the requirements of §§ 151.2025 (ballast water management (BWM) requirements), 151.2060 (reporting), and 151.2070 (recordkeeping) of this subpart.

    (c) Vessels that operate exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone are exempt from the requirements of §§ 151.2025 (ballast water management (BWM) requirements), and 151.2070 (recordkeeping) of this subpart.

    (d) * * *

    (1) Seagoing vessels that operate in more than a single COTP Zone, do not operate outside of the EEZ, and are less than or equal to 1,600 gross register tons or less than or equal to 3,000 gross tons (International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969).

    (3) Vessels that operate in more than a single COTP Zone and take on and discharge ballast water exclusively in a single COTP Zone.

    Table 1 to § 151.2015—Table of 33 CFR 151.2015 Specific Exemptions for Types of Vessels 151.2025
  • (Management)
  • 151.2060
  • (Reporting)
  • 151.2070
  • (Recordkeeping)
  • Department of Defense or Coast Guard vessel subject to 46 U.S.C. 4713 Exempt Exempt Exempt. Vessel of the Armed Forces subject to the “Uniform National Discharge Standards for Vessels of the Armed Forces” (33 U.S.C. 1322(n)) Exempt Exempt Exempt. Crude oil tankers engaged in coastwise trade Exempt Exempt Exempt. Vessel operates exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone Exempt Applicable Exempt. Seagoing vessel operates on voyages between ports or places in more than a single COTP Zone, does not operate outside of EEZ, and ≤1600 gross register tons or ≤3000 gross tons (ITC) Exempt Applicable Applicable. Non-seagoing vessel Exempt Applicable Applicable (unless operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone). Vessel operates between ports or places in more than a single COTP Zone and takes on and discharges ballast water exclusively in a single COTP Zone Exempt Applicable Applicable.
    5. Amend § 151.2060 by revising paragraphs (b) and (c) and adding paragraphs (d) through (f) to read as follows:
    § 151.2060 Reporting requirements.

    (b) Unless operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel subject to this subpart and this section must submit a ballast water report to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) by electronic ballast water report format using methods specified at NBIC's Web site at http://invasions.si.edu/nbic/submit.html. The ballast water report will include the information listed in paragraph (c) of this section and must be submitted as follows:

    (1) For any vessel bound for the Great Lakes from outside the EEZ. (i) Submit a ballast water report at least 24 hours before the vessel arrives in Montreal, Quebec.

    (ii) Non-U.S. and non-Canadian flag vessels may complete the St. Lawrence Seaway Ballast Water Reporting Form and submit it in accordance with the applicable Seaway notice as an alternative to this requirement.

    (2) For any vessel bound for the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge entering from outside the EEZ: Submit the ballast water report at least 24 hours before the vessel enters New York, NY.

    (3) For any vessel that is equipped with ballast water tanks and bound for ports or places in the United States and not addressed in paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section: Submit the ballast water report no later than 6 hours after arrival at the port or place of destination, or prior to departure from that port or place of destination, whichever is earlier.

    (c) The ballast water report required by paragraph (b) of this section must include the following information:

    (1) Vessel information. This includes the vessel's name, International Maritime Organization (IMO) number or other vessel identification number if an IMO number is not issued, country of registry, owner or operator, type and tonnage.

    (2) Voyage information. This includes the port and date of arrival, name and contact information of the person submitting the form, last port and country of call, and next port and country of call.

    (3) Ballast water information. This includes the vessel's total ballast water capacity, total number of ballast water tanks, total volume of ballast water onboard, total number of ballast water tanks in ballast, and the identification of ballast water management method used.

    (4) Information on ballast water tanks that are to be discharged into the waters of the United States or to a reception facility. Include the following for each tank discharged:

    (i) The numerical designation, type and capacity of the ballast tank.

    (ii) The source of the ballast water. This includes date(s), location(s), and volume(s). If a tank has undergone ballast water exchange, provide the loading port of the ballast water that was discharged during the exchange.

    (iii) The date(s), starting location(s), ending location(s), volume(s), and method(s) of ballast water management.

    (iv) The date(s), location(s), and volume(s) of any ballast water discharged into the waters of the United States or to a reception facility.

    (5) Certificate of accurate information. Include the name and title of the individual (i.e., master, owner, operator, agent, person in charge) attesting to the accuracy of the information provided and that the activities were in accordance with the ballast water management plan required by § 151.2050(g). If exceptional circumstances required deviation from the plan, the details surrounding the need for deviation and associated actions must be explained.

    (d) If the information submitted in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section changes, the master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of the vessel must submit an amended report before the vessel departs the waters of the United States or not later than 24 hours after departure from the port or place, whichever is earlier.

    (e) The master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel operating on voyages exclusively between ports or places within a single COTP Zone, and subject to this subpart and this section, must submit the information required by paragraph (f) of this section to NBIC by electronic Annual Ballast Water Summary Report format using methods specified at NBIC's Web site at http://invasions.si.edu/nbic/submit.html. The Annual Ballast Water Summary Report is required for a period of three years on the following schedule:

    (1) Report on the vessel's ballasting practices for calendar year 2016 due no later than March 31, 2017.

    (2) Report on the vessel's ballasting practices for calendar year 2017 due no later than March 31, 2018.

    (3) Report on the vessel's ballasting practices for calendar year 2018 due no later than March 31, 2019.

    (f) The Annual Ballast Water Summary Report will include the following information:

    (1) Vessel information. This includes name, identification number, vessel type, operator, tonnage, call sign and COTP Zone of operation.

    (2) Ballast information. This includes the number of ballast tanks and total ballast water capacity.

    (3) Operational information. This includes the estimated number of times ballast water is discharged, estimated volume of ballast water discharged each time, primary port of ballast water loading, primary port of ballast water discharge, and certification of compliance with § 151.2050.

    6. Revise § 151.2070 to read as follows:
    § 151.2070 Recordkeeping requirements.

    (a) The master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel bound for a port or place in the United States, unless specifically exempted by § 151.2015 of this subpart, must ensure the maintenance of written or digital records that include the information required to be reported by § 151.2060 of this subpart and the sediment information in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.

    (1) Discharge of sediment. If sediment was discharged within the jurisdiction of the United States, include the name and location of the facility where sediment disposal took place.

    (2) Certification of accurate information. Include the master, owner, operator, agent, person in charge, or responsible officer's printed name, title, and signature attesting to the accuracy of the information provided and that the activities were in accordance with the ballast water management plan required by § 151.2050(g). If exceptional circumstances required deviation from the plan, the details surrounding the need for deviation and associated actions must be explained. The signature requirement may be satisfied by affirming the certification portion of the electronic ballast water report.

    (b) The master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel subject to this section must retain a signed copy of this information onboard the vessel for 2 years.

    (c) The recordkeeping requirements in this section may be met by maintaining a copy of the reporting form completed pursuant to § 151.2060 of this subpart, in addition to maintaining a record of the sediment information in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. These records may be stored on digital media but must be readily viewable by the Coast Guard during an inspection.

    (d) The master, owner, operator, agent, or person in charge of a vessel subject to this section must retain the monitoring records required in 46 CFR 162.060-20(b) for 2 years. These records may be stored on digital media but must be readily viewable by the Coast Guard during an inspection.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. F.J. Sturm, Acting Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast Guard.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29848 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-1032] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone, Delaware River; New Castle, DE AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone on the waters encompassing Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and the upper portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3 to facilitate dredging in New Castle Range in the Delaware River. This regulation is necessary to provide for the safety of life on the navigable waters of the Delaware River in the vicinity of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3. These closures are intended to restrict vessel anchoring to protect mariners from the hazards associated with ongoing pipe-laying and dredging operations.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from November 24, 2015 through December 31, 2015. For purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from November 20, 2015 through November 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-1032 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Lieutenant Brennan Dougherty, U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Delaware Bay, Chief Waterways Management Division, Coast Guard; telephone (215) 271-4851, email [email protected]

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

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because it is impractical given that the final details for the dredging operation were not received until November 12, 2015. Vessels attempting to enter the waters of either Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 or the upper portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3 during pipe-laying or dredging operations may be at risk. Delaying this rule to wait for a notice and comment period to run would be contrary to the public interest as it would inhibit the Coast Guard's ability to protect the public from the hazards associated with pipe-laying and dredging operations. We are issuing this rule, and, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register because allowing this dredging and pipe laying operation to go forward without a safety zone in place would expose mariners and the public to unnecessary dangers.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231; 33 CFR 1.05-1 and 160.5; and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1. The Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay, has determined that potential hazards associated with dredging and pipe laying operations starting November 20, 2015, will be a safety concern for anyone attempting to transit in the Delaware River, along New Castle Range, in the vicinity of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5, the upper portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3, and near the entrance to the C & D Canal. This rule is needed to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment in the navigable waters within the safety zone while dredging is being conducted.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    The Coast Guard Captain of the Port is temporarily establishing a safety zone on the waters of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and the upper portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3 from November 20, 2015 to December 31, 2015, unless cancelled earlier by the Captain of the Port. The safety zone will include all waters within the boundaries of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and all waters within a portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3 north of a line drawn between positions 39°33′7.5″ N., 75°33′2.0″ W. and 39°33′8.8″ N., 75°32′31.8″ W., as charted on NOAA chart 12311. The waters of the anchorages are described in 33 CFR 110.157. Entry into, transiting, or anchoring within the safety zone is prohibited unless vessels obtain permission from the Captain of the Port (COTP) or make satisfactory passing arrangements with the dredge ESSEX per this rule and the Rules of the Road (33 CFR chapter I, subchapter E).

    The Captain of the Port will terminate the safety zone once all submerged pipeline has been recovered and dredging operations are complete. Notice of the implementation and the termination of the safety zone will be made per 33 CFR 165.7.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    E.O.s 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. E.O. 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under E.O. 12866. Accordingly, it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, and duration of the safety zone. Although this regulation will restrict access to the regulated area, the effect of this rule will not be significant because Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and Reedy Point Anchorage No. 3 are not frequently used anchorages for vessels in the Delaware River, especially during the period of the closure, and there are a number of alternate anchorages available for vessels to anchor. Furthermore, vessels may be permitted to transit through the safety zone with the permission of the Captain of the Port or upon making satisfactory passing arrangements with the dredge. Extensive notification of the safety zone to the maritime public will be made via maritime advisories allowing mariners to alter their plans accordingly.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

    Also, this rule does not have tribal implications under E.O. 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969(42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a safety zone in force from November 20, 2015 to December 31, 2015, that prohibits entry of vessels in Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 and the upper portion of Reed Point Anchorage No. 3. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add temporary § 165.T05-1032, to read as follows:
    § 165.T05-1032 Safety Zone, Delaware River; New Castle, DE

    (a) Location: The safety zone will include all waters within the boundaries of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 (as defined in 33 CFR 110.157(a)(6)) and all waters within a portion of Reedy Point South Anchorage No. 3 (as defined in 33 CFR 110.157(a)(4)) north of a line drawn between positions 39°33′7.5″ N, 75°33′2.0″ W and 39°33′8.8″ N, 75°32′31.8″ W, as charted on NOAA chart 12311. These coordinates are based upon North American Datum 83 (NAD 83).

    (b) Definitions.—(1) The Captain of the Port means the Commander of Sector Delaware Bay or any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant, or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port to act on his behalf.

    (2) Designated representative means any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay, to assist in enforcing the safety zone described in paragraph (a) of this section.

    (c) Regulations: The general safety zone regulations found in 33 CFR part 165 subpart C apply to the safety zone created by this section.

    (1) Entry into, transiting, or anchoring within the safety zone is prohibited unless vessels obtain permission from the Captain of the Port (COTP) or make satisfactory passing arrangements, via VHF-FM channel 16, with the dredge ESSEX per this rule and the Rules of the Road (33 CFR chapter I, subchapter E).

    (2) To seek permission to transit the safety zone, the Captain of the Port's representative can be contact via VHF-FM channel 16.

    (3) Vessels granted permission to transit the safety zone must do so in accordance with the directions provided by the Captain of the Port or his designated representative.

    (4) No person or vessel may enter or remain in a safety zone without permission from the Captain of the Port;

    (5) Each person and vessel in a safety zone shall obey any direction or order of the Captain of the Port or his designated representative.

    (6) At least one side of the main navigational channel will be clear for safe passage of vessels in the vicinity of the safety zone. At no time will the main navigational channel be closed for vessel traffic. Vessels are advised to ensure safety passage by contacting the dredge ESSEX on VHF-FM channel 16 one hour prior to arrival.

    (7) This section applies to all vessels wishing to transit through the safety zone except vessels that are engaged in the following operations: enforcing laws; servicing aids to navigation, and emergency response vessels.

    (d) Enforcement officials. The U.S. Coast Guard may be assisted by Federal, State, and local agencies in the patrol and enforcement of the zone.

    (e) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced from November 20, 2015, to December 31, 2015, unless cancelled earlier by the Captain of the Port.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. B.A. Cooper, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Delaware Bay.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29835 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Royalty Board 37 CFR Part 381 [Docket No. 15-CRB-0013-NCEBR-COLA (2016)] Cost of Living Adjustment for Performance of Musical Compositions by Colleges and Universities AGENCY:

    Copyright Royalty Board, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Copyright Royalty Judges announce a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 2% in the royalty rates that colleges, universities, and other educational institutions not affiliated with National Public Radio pay for the use of published nondramatic musical compositions in the SESAC repertory for the statutory license under the Copyright Act for noncommercial broadcasting.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: December 24, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    LaKeshia Keys, CRB Program Specialist, by telephone at (202) 707-7658 or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Section 118 of the Copyright Act, title 17 of the United States Code, creates a statutory license for the use of published nondramatic musical works and published pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works in connection with noncommercial broadcasting.

    On November 29, 2012, the Copyright Royalty Judges (Judges) adopted final regulations governing the rates and terms of copyright royalty payments under section 118 of the Copyright Act for the license period 2013-2017. See 77 FR 71104. Pursuant to these regulations, on or before December 1 of each year, the Judges shall publish in the Federal Register a notice of the change in the cost of living for the rate codified at § 381.5(c)(3) relating to compositions in the repertory of SESAC. The adjustment, fixed to the nearest dollar, shall be the greater of “the change in the cost of living as determined by the Consumer Price Index (all consumers, all items) [CPI-U] * * * during the period from the most recent index published prior to the previous notice to the most recent index published prior to December 1, of that year,” or 2%. 37 CFR 381.10.

    The change in the cost of living as determined by the CPI-U during the period from the most recent index published before December 1, 2014, to the most recent index published before December 1, 2015, is .2%.1 In accordance with 37 CFR 381.10(b), the Judges announce that COLA for calendar year 2016 shall be 2%. Application of the 2% COLA to the current rate for the performance of published nondramatic musical compositions in the repertory of SESAC—$146 per station—results in an adjusted rate of $149 per station.

    1 On November 17, 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the CPI-U increased .2% over the last 12 months.

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 381

    Copyright, Music, Radio, Television, Rates.

    Final Regulations

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Judges amend part 381 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 381—USE OF CERTAIN COPYRIGHTED WORKS IN CONNECTION WITH NONCOMMERCIAL EDUCATIONAL BROADCASTING 1. The authority citation for part 381 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    17 U.S.C. 118, 801(b)(1), and 803.

    2. Section 381.5 is amended by revising paragraph (c)(3)(iv) to read as follows:
    § 381.5 Performance of musical compositions by public broadcasting entities licensed to colleges and universities.

    (c) * * *

    (3) * * *

    (iv) 2016: $149 per station.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Suzanne M. Barnett, Chief Copyright Royalty Judge.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29862 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-72-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Royalty Board 37 CFR Part 386 [Docket No. 15-CRB-0014-SA-COLA (2016)] Cost of Living Adjustment to Satellite Carrier Compulsory License Royalty Rates AGENCY:

    Copyright Royalty Board, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Copyright Royalty Judges announce a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 0% in the royalty rates satellite carriers pay for a compulsory license under the Copyright Act. The COLA is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index from October 2014 to October 2015.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: January 1, 2016.

    Applicability Dates: These rates are applicable to the period January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    LaKeshia Keys, CRB Program Specialist, by telephone at (202) 707-7658 or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The satellite carrier compulsory license establishes a statutory copyright licensing scheme for the retransmission of distant television programming by satellite carriers. 17 U.S.C. 119. Congress created the license in 1988 and has reauthorized the license for additional five-year periods, most recently with the passage of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014, Public Law 113-200.

    On August 31, 2010, the Copyright Royalty Judges (Judges) adopted rates for the section 119 compulsory license for the 2010-2014 term. See 75 FR 53198. The rates were proposed by Copyright Owners and Satellite Carriers 1 and were unopposed. Id. Section 119(c)(2) of the Copyright Act provides that, effective January 1 of each year, the Judges shall adjust the royalty fee payable under Section 119(b)(1)(B) “to reflect any changes occurring in the cost of living as determined by the most recent Consumer Price Index (for all consumers and for all items) [CPI-U] published by the Secretary of Labor before December 1 of the preceding year.” Section 119 also requires that “[n]otification of the adjusted fees shall be published in the Federal Register at least 25 days before January 1.” 17 U.S.C. 119(c)(2).

    1 Program Suppliers and Joint Sports Claimants comprised the Copyright Owners while DIRECTV, Inc., DISH Network, LLC, and National Programming Service, LLC, comprised the Satellite Carriers.

    The change in the cost of living as determined by the CPI-U during the period from the most recent index published before December 1, 2014, to the most recent index published before December 1, 2015, is .2%.2 Application of the .2% COLA to the current rate for the secondary transmission of broadcast stations by satellite carriers for private home viewing—27 cents per subscriber per month—results in an unchanged rate of 27 cents per subscriber per month (rounded to the nearest cent). See 37 CFR 386.2(b)(1). Application of the .2% COLA to the current rate for viewing in commercial establishments—56 cents per subscriber per month—results in an unchanged rate of 56 cents per subscriber per month (rounded to the nearest cent). See 37 CFR 386.2(b)(2).

    2 On November 17, 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the CPI-U increased .2% over the last 12 months.

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 386

    Copyright, Satellite, Television.

    Final Regulations

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Judges amend part 386 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 386—ADJUSTMENT OF ROYALTY FEES FOR SECONDARY TRANSMISSIONS BY SATELLITE CARRIERS 1. The authority citation for part 386 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    17 U.S.C. 119(c), 801(b)(1).

    2. Section 386.2 is amended by adding paragraphs (b)(1)(vii) and (b)(2)(vii), and footnotes 3 and 4, to read as follows:
    § 386.2 Royalty fee for secondary transmission by satellite carriers.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (vii) 2016: 27 cents per subscriber per month (for each month of 2016).3

    3 This is the 2015 rate adjusted for the amount of inflation as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers All Items from October 2014 to October 2015.

    (2) * * *

    (vii) 2016: 56 cents per subscriber per month (for each month of 2016).4

    4 This is the 2015 rate adjusted for the amount of inflation as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers All Items from October 2014 to October 2015.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Suzanne M. Barnett, Chief Copyright Royalty Judge.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29863 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-72-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593; A-1-FRL-9939-24-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; ME; Repeal of the Maine's General Conformity Provision AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Maine. This revision removes State Regulation Chapter 141—Conformity of General Federal Actions from the SIP. The intended effect of this action is to remove the repealed State Regulation and leave the Federal General Conformity provisions in place to demonstrate conformity with the applicable SIP as required by section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    This direct final rule will be effective January 25, 2016, unless EPA receives adverse comments by December 24, 2015. If adverse comments are received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593 by one of the following methods:

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

    2. Email: [email protected].

    3. Fax: (617) 918-0047.

    4. Mail: “Docket Identification Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593”, Anne Arnold, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Air Quality Planning Unit, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

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

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593. 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 through http://www.regulations.gov, or email, information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected. 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.

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

    In addition, copies of the state submittal and EPA's technical support document are also available for public inspection during normal business hours, by appointment at the State Air Agency; the Bureau of Air Quality Control, Department of Environmental Protection, First Floor of the Tyson Building, Augusta Mental Health Institute Complex, Augusta, ME 04333-0017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ariel Garcia, Air Quality Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone number (617) 918-1660, fax number (617) 918-0660, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    I. Background and Purpose II. State Submittal III. Final Action IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background and Purpose

    Section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act, as amended (the Act), prohibits Federal entities from taking actions in nonattainment or maintenance areas which do not conform to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the attainment and maintenance of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). Therefore, the purpose of conformity is to: (1) Ensure Federal activities do not interfere with the emission budgets in the SIPs; (2) ensure actions do not cause or contribute to new violations; and (3) ensure attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS. Section 176(c) of the Act also requires EPA to promulgate criteria and procedures for demonstrating and ensuring conformity of Federal actions to an applicable implementation plan developed pursuant to Section 110 and Part D of the Act. EPA promulgated a final rulemaking on November 30, 1993 consisting of 40 CFR part 93, subpart B “Determining Conformity of General Federal Actions to State or Federal Implementation Plans,” which applied to Federal agencies immediately (hereafter referred to as the General Conformity rule); and 40 CFR part 51, subpart W “Determining conformity of general Federal Actions to State or Federal Implementation Plans” which established requirements for States in submitting SIPs. The general conformity rules, except for the 40 CFR 51.851(a) language requiring State submission of a SIP revision, were repeated at 40 CFR part 93, subpart B. The General Conformity rule establishes the criteria and procedures governing the determination of conformity for all Federal actions, except Federal highway and transit actions.1

    1 Conformity to State or Federal Implementation Plans of transportation plans, programs, and projects which are developed, funded or approved under Title 23 U.S.C. or the Federal Transit Laws are implemented under 40 CFR part 51, subpart T, and 40 CFR part 93, subpart A.

    The General Conformity rule also establishes the criteria for EPA approval of SIPs. See 40 CFR 51.851 and 93.151. These criteria provide that the state provisions must be at least as stringent as the requirements specified in EPA's General Conformity rule, and that they can be more stringent only if they apply equally to Federal and non-Federal entities (§§ 51.851(b)). Following EPA approval of the State conformity provisions in a SIP revision, the approved State criteria and procedures would govern conformity determinations and the Federal conformity regulations contained in 40 CFR part 51 and part 93 would apply only for the portion, if any, of the State's conformity provisions that is not approved by EPA. Finally, all SIP-approved requirements relating to general conformity remain enforceable until the State revises its SIP to specifically remove them from the SIP and that revision is approved by EPA.

    On October 11, 1996, the State of Maine submitted a formal revision to its SIP. The SIP revision consisted of incorporating-by-reference 40 CFR 51.850 through 51.860 (with the exception of § 51.851) thereby establishing general conformity criteria and procedures in the Maine SIP no more stringent than the Federal rule and not imposing any additional controls on non-Federal entities. EPA approved Maine's General Conformity SIP through a direct final rule published in the Federal Register on September 23, 1997, (62 FR 49608-49611) and effective November 24, 1997.

    On June 29, 2007, the State of Maine submitted a second revision to its General Conformity SIP. This SIP revision consists of incorporating by reference 40 CFR 51.852 (Definitions), and 51.853 (Applicability), of 40 CFR part 51, subpart W, “Determining Conformity of General Federal Actions to State or Federal Implementation Plans,” as amended on July 17, 2006 in the Federal Register (71 FR 40420-40426). By incorporating by reference the amended General Conformity rule, Maine's Chapter 141 “Conformity of General Federal Actions,” is no more stringent than the Federal rule and does not impose any additional controls on non-Federal entities. EPA approved Maine's revision to its General Conformity SIP through a direct final rule published in the Federal Register on February 20, 2008 (73 FR 9203-9206) and effective on April 21, 2008.

    On April 5, 2010, EPA revisited the Federal General Conformity Requirements Rule to clarify the conformity process, authorize innovative and flexible compliance approaches, remove outdated or unnecessary requirements, reduce the paperwork burden, provide transition tools for implementing new standards, address issues raised by Federal agencies affected by the rules, and provide a better explanation of conformity regulations and policies. EPA's April 2010 revised rule simplified state SIP requirements for general conformity, eliminating duplicative general conformity provisions codified at 40 CFR part 93, subpart B and 40 CFR part 51, subpart W by removing section 51.850, and sections 51.852 through 51.860. Finally, the April 2010 revision updated the Federal General Conformity Requirements Rule to reflect changes to governing laws passed by Congress since EPA's 1993 rule.

    The “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users,” (SAFETEA-LU) passed by Congress in 1995 contains a provision eliminating the Clean Air Act requirement for states to adopt general conformity SIPs. As a result of SAFETEA-LU, EPA's April 2010 General Conformity rule eliminated the Federal regulatory requirement for states to adopt and submit general conformity SIPs, instead making submission of a general conformity SIP a state option.

    The 2010 General Conformity amendments (Sections 51.851(c) as well as section 93.151) restated the requirement that in the absence of an EPA approved General Conformity SIP, Federal agencies shall use the provisions of 40 CFR part 93, subpart B to demonstrate conformity with the applicable implementation plan as required by section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7506).

    II. State Submittal

    On August 18, 2015, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection submitted a formal SIP revision to remove Chapter 141-Conformity of General Federal Actions. Maine's Chapter 141 regulation incorporated-by-reference 40 CFR part 51, subpart W “Determining Conformity of General Federal Actions to State or Federal Implementation Plans” as published in the November 30, 1993, Federal Register (58 FR 63247-63253) and amended in the July 17, 2006 Federal Register, (71 FR 40420-40426). As stated above all of the general conformity provisions referenced in Maine's General Conformity regulation were deleted as duplicative on April 5, 2010. At the time they were approved into the SIP, provisions of Maine's General Conformity SIP were no less stringent then the Federal General Conformity regulations, nor did the SIP establish more stringent conformity criteria and procedures applying equally to non-Federal as well as Federal entities.

    As the State of Maine did not revise its SIP-approved Chapter 141—Conformity of General Federal Actions following EPA's April 5, 2010 General Conformity amendments, the current State rule with a state effective date of April 19, 2007, does not provide any flexibility, or relaxation to the general conformity criteria and procedures as allowed by the amendments.

    Maine Department of Environmental Protection repealed Chapter 141 in July 2015 after public notice and opportunity for public hearing. The removal of Chapter 141—Conformity of General Federal Actions from the SIP will leave the Federal General Conformity Regulations at 40 CFR 93.150 through 93.165 as well as 40 CFR 51.851, in place for administrative and enforcement purposes. Once EPA approves the removal of Chapter 141 from Maine's SIP, Federal actions can take advantage of the flexibility provided by the Federal General Conformity Rule. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving Maine's August 18, 2015, SIP revision to remove Chapter 141—Conformity of General Federal Actions from the SIP. EPA has evaluated this SIP revision and has determined that the State has complied with its administrative procedures to repeal Chapter 141. The appropriate public participation and comprehensive interagency consultations have been undertaken during development and adoption of this SIP revision. Finally, EPA has determined that removing Chapter 141 from the Maine SIP will result in Federal agencies using the provisions of 40 CFR part 93, subpart B to demonstrate conformity with the applicable implementation plan as required by section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7506). Federal actions can take advantage of the flexibility provided by the Federal General Conformity Rule which includes EPA's April 2010 General Conformity Amendments.

    EPA is publishing this action without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial amendment and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should relevant adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective January 25, 2016 without further notice unless the Agency receives relevant adverse comments by December 24, 2015.

    If EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a notice withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule will not take effect. All public comments received will then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on the proposed rule. All parties interested in commenting on the proposed rule should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on January 25, 2016 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by January 25, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: November 5, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.

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

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart U—Maine
    § 52.1020 [Amended]
    2. In § 52.1020(c), the table is amended by removing the entry for Chapter 141, “Conformity of General Federal Actions.”
    [FR Doc. 2015-29825 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration 49 CFR Parts 240 and 242 [Docket No. FRA-2015-0123] Best Practices for Designing Vision Field Tests for Locomotive Engineers or Conductors AGENCY:

    Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

    ACTION:

    Interim interpretation with request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    FRA is issuing this interim interpretation to clarify provisions in its locomotive engineer and conductor qualification and certification regulations with respect to vision standards and testing. In particular, this document addresses further evaluation of persons who do not meet the vision threshold criteria provided for in those regulations, and provides best practices guidance for designing valid, reliable, and comparable vision field tests for assessing whether persons who do not meet those thresholds can perform safely as locomotive engineers and conductors.

    DATES:

    Written comments on the interpretation must be received on or before January 25, 2016. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expense or delay.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2015-0123 may be submitted by any of the following methods:

    Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: Docket Operations Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.

    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). See http://www.regulations.gov/#!privacyNotice for the privacy notice of regulations.gov or interested parties may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477).

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its processes. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy. See also http://www.regulations.gov/#!privacyNotice for the privacy notice of regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. B.J. Arseneau, Medical Director, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-6232; Alan Nagler, Senior Trial Attorney, FRA, Office of Chief Counsel, Mail Stop 10, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-6049; or Joseph D. Riley, Railroad Safety Specialist, FRA, Mail Stop 25, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-6318.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FRA is issuing this interim interpretation to clarify provisions in its locomotive engineer and conductor qualification and certification regulations related to further evaluation of persons who do not meet the vision threshold criteria in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 240.121(c) and 242.117(h), and to provide best-practices guidance for designing valid, reliable, and comparable vision field tests, in response to: (1) The fatal railroad accident that occurred near Goodwell, OK, on June 24, 2012; (2) inquiries FRA has received requesting clarification of the applicable regulatory provisions; and (3) numerous requests for FRA review, under the locomotive engineer and conductor certification regulations, when individuals have been denied recertification by a railroad based on a color vision or monocular vision deficiency.

    A. Railroad Accident Near Goodwell, OK

    The fatal accident that occurred near Goodwell, in which two Union Pacific Railroad (UP) trains collided head-on, exemplifies how important it is to railroad safety that each railroad establish valid, reliable, and comparable procedures to evaluate persons who do not meet the vision thresholds in 49 CFR 240.121(c) or 242.117(h), and to strictly adhere to those procedures. The locomotive engineer and conductor of the eastbound train and the engineer of the westbound train were killed. Three locomotives and 24 cars of the eastbound train and 2 locomotives and 8 cars of the westbound train derailed. Several fuel tanks from the derailed locomotives were ruptured, releasing diesel fuel that ignited and burned. Damage was estimated at $14.8 million. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that one of several probable causes of the accident was the eastbound engineer's inability to visually detect and recognize the approach and stop signal aspects of wayside railroad signals due to color vision deficiency and distant visual acuity impairment the engineer had acquired as a result of a number of chronic, progressive eye conditions and visual disturbances.1

    During its investigation of the Goodwell accident, the NTSB found that: (1) The eastbound engineer last underwent vision testing required for recertification in 2009; (2) during that testing, the eastbound engineer failed an initial color vision test (i.e., the Ishihara Color Vision Test 2 ) that UP selected from the list of color vision test protocols in 49 CFR part 240, Appendix F, and did not meet the distant visual acuity threshold (corrected) in 49 CFR 240.121(c); (3) UP relied on a vision field test of unknown validity, reliability, and comparability 3 in further evaluating the engineer and did not adhere to UP's field test protocol; (4) UP relied on a telephonic report of distant visual acuity testing from the engineer's optometrist in recertifying the engineer, and did not adhere to UP's own policy which required UP to obtain written documentation from the engineer's optometrist to confirm the telephonic report; and (5) UP failed to reevaluate the engineer's vision within one year of his 2009 recertification despite the UP medical examiner's written determination that it was necessary to reevaluate the engineer's vision within one year, rather than triennially, due to the engineer's chronic, progressive eye conditions. The NTSB concluded that had the engineer been reevaluated by UP the following year or when he self-reported his test results, the collision might have been avoided.

    1 National Transportation Safety Board Railroad Accident Report NTSB/RAR-13-02 (adopted June 18, 2013). Head-On Collision of Two Union Pacific Railroad Freight Trains Near Goodwell, Oklahoma, June 24, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/RAR1302.pdf on Dec. 2, 2014.

    2 S. Ishihara, Tests for colour-blindness (Handaya, Tokyo, Hongo Harukicho, 1917).

    3 The NTSB did not define the terms “validity,” “reliability,” and “comparability” or indicate what might constitute a valid, reliable, and comparable field test.

    B. Color Vision Deficiency, Monocular Vision and Other Eye Conditions and Visual Disturbance

    As indicated in the NTSB's report on the Goodwell accident, there are numerous eye conditions, including color vision deficiency and monocular vision, which can affect a person's ability to safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor. The American Optometric Association defines “color vision deficiency” as the inability to distinguish certain shades of color, or in more severe cases, see colors at all. The term “color blindness” is also used to describe this visual condition, but very few people are completely color-blind. People who have complete color-blindness, a condition called achromatopsia, can only see things as black and white or in shades of gray. The severity of color vision deficiency can range from mild to severe. “Red-green” is the most common deficiency. Another form of color deficiency is “blue-yellow.” The latter is a rare and more severe form of color vision deficiency since persons with blue-yellow deficiency frequently have red-green deficiency too. Color vision deficiency can be inherited. About 8 percent of Caucasian males are born with some degree of color deficiency. Women are typically asymptomatic if they are carriers of the color deficient gene (i.e., women are carriers of the gene without suffering with color vision deficiency), though approximately 0.5 percent of women have color vision deficiency. People can also acquire a color vision deficiency as a result of certain types of medical conditions, a side-effect of certain medications, and certain eye injuries. Examples of eye conditions that can cause an acquired color-vision deficiency include, but are not limited to, diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, chronic alcoholism, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, syphilis, or other conditions resulting in optic nerve damage or inflammation. Examples of medications that can sometimes cause adverse effects that result in color-vision deficiency include, but are not limited to, certain medications used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure, infections, and nervous disorders.

    There are many other eye conditions and visual disturbances other than color-vision deficiency. Examples of these problems and disturbances include halos, blurred vision (i.e., the loss of sharpness of vision and the inability to see fine details), and blind spots or scotomas (i.e., dark “holes” in the vision in which nothing can be seen, and loss of use of one eye, commonly called “monocular vision”). The degree to which these conditions and disturbances can affect a person's ability to perform safely varies by individual, depending on the specific job duties a person performs as a certified locomotive engineer or conductor, the nature and severity of the condition, the degree to which the visual disturbance is corrected with treatment, and in certain cases, the degree to which a person can compensate for the disturbance. Persons with monocular vision can sometimes, on a case-by-case basis, compensate for a limited degree of peripheral vision field loss by head turning.

    II. FRA's Interpretation A. Requirement for Further Evaluation by the Railroad's Medical Examiner

    FRA's locomotive engineer and conductor qualification and certification rules do not require railroads to categorically disqualify or decertify individuals who do not meet the vision thresholds in 49 CFR 240.121(c) or 242.117(h) because they may have a color-vision, sub-threshold distance visual acuity, or field of vision (e.g., monocular vision) deficiency, if they are otherwise qualified. To the contrary, 49 CFR 240.121(e) and 242.117(e) require railroads to subject, upon request, persons who do not meet those thresholds to further medical evaluation by the railroad's medical examiner to determine whether the person can safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor. FRA's longstanding view is that there are some people who, despite not meeting the vision threshold in 49 CFR 240.121(c) and 242.117(h), have sufficient residual visual capacity to safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor.

    The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) has published medical guidelines that are applicable to qualification and certification of locomotive engineers in Canada.4 FRA allows railroads to adopt the monocular vision criteria in the RAC's guidelines under the railroad's own authority.

    4 Railway Association of Canada (2013), Canadian Medical Rules Handbook, pages 38, 43, 44, and 51. Retrieved from http://www.railcan.ca/publications/rule_handbook on March 24, 2015.

    B. Vision Requirements to Safely Perform as a Locomotive Engineer or a Conductor

    Depending on their assigned responsibilities, a person generally must have sufficient distant visual acuity and field of vision to see railroad signals and stationary and moving objects such as other locomotives, workers, and railroad equipment on or near the track, to perform safely as a locomotive engineer or conductor. Should a person perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor on portions of the railroad system on which colors of railroad signals convey information about speed, routing, or obstructions or other hazards, a person with that responsibility must additionally have sufficient color vision to safely perform.

    FRA recognizes that railroads may assign some employees the responsibility to recognize and distinguish color light railroad signals, but not other employees. For example, some passenger conductors may not have responsibility to recognize and distinguish between colors of railroad signals. FRA also recognizes that some locomotive engineers and conductors only perform service in unsignalled (i.e., dark) territory or in territories where they do not have responsibility to recognize and distinguish between one or more types of colored railroad signals (e.g., wayside color light signals, color-position light signals, and blue flag signals). Although FRA's certification regulations require that both locomotive engineers and conductors be vision-tested, including color-vision, regardless of the actual operating or working conditions, a railroad's medical examiner should be cognizant of whether a person with a color-vision deficiency already works or could work safely in dark territory. Medical examiners should also keep in mind that even though a person may only work in dark territory, that person may still need to be able to identify colored items such as blue signals or roadway worker flags.

    C. Use of Valid, Reliable, and Comparable Vision Tests

    There are many types of eye conditions and visual disturbances ranging in severity from very mild to severe and many types and designs of railroad signals and railroad operating rules. Accordingly, FRA's locomotive engineer and conductor qualification and certification rules grant railroad medical examiners discretion in determining the methods and procedures the medical examiner will use to further evaluate persons who do not meet the vision thresholds in 49 CFR 240.121(c) and 242.117(h). In the 1991 final locomotive engineer certification rule, FRA stated that “[m]edical discretion will allow railroads to respond appropriately when they encounter individuals who fail to meet FRA-prescribed acuity levels, but demonstrate that they can compensate to a sufficient degree for their diminished acuity level.” 56 FR 28228, 28235; June 19, 1991. FRA granted railroad medical examiners similar discretion in further evaluating persons for the purposes of conductor qualification and certification. FRA states in its locomotive engineer and conductor certification rules that, should a person not meet specific vision thresholds, appropriate further evaluation may include optometric or ophthalmologic referral, or (secondary) testing with a field or other practical or scientific screening test. Although FRA's rules grant discretion to railroads in selecting a test protocol, FRA's longstanding interpretation of this provision is that the test offered by a railroad must be a valid, reliable, and comparable test for assessing whether a person who fails an initial vision test can safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor.

    1. Field Tests

    A “practical test,” more commonly known as a “field test” within the railroad community, is a test performed outdoors under test conditions that reasonably match actual operating or working conditions. A railroad is permitted to conduct field testing on a moving train, positioned in a stationary locomotive, or standing on the ground at distances from a signal or other object that the person must see and recognize to perform safely as a locomotive engineer or conductor.

    Before issuing this interpretation, FRA contacted several organizations to collect information that would help in the development of recommended best practices for field tests, and FRA has captured that feedback in memoranda and documents it has placed in the docket. First, FRA wants to thank the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association for providing expert medical information regarding testing and evaluating color perception during six conference calls held with FRA personnel. Second, FRA wants to thank the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and United Transportation Union-SMART Transportation Division for providing information and concerns regarding the strengths and weaknesses of current field testing practices, and asking that FRA find a way to encourage each railroad to conduct such field testing, during a conference call with FRA personnel. Third, FRA wants to thank the Association of American Railroads (AAR) for providing a written overview of the different practices currently used by various Class I railroads. AAR stated, in a July 14, 2015, Discussion on Color Vision Field Testing that field “testing is, at the moment, the preferred way of determining whether an individual's unique set of deficits actually impacts performance.” FRA provides best practices for designing valid, reliable, and comparable vision field tests in Section III, “Best Industry Practices for Conducting Color Vision Field Testing” of this interpretation.

    2. Scientific Tests

    A scientific vision test is a test instrument that, based on the results of a rigorous scientific study published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal or other publication, is a valid, reliable, and comparable test for assessing whether a person has sufficient distance visual acuity, field of vision, or color vision, which, for purposes or railroad operations, allows the person to safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor. Examples of such scientific screening tests include, but are not limited to, a simulator, the Ishihara test and other color plate tests, a perimetry test (i.e., a test of field of vision), and a Snellen or equivalent distance visual acuity test. Should a railroad offer a scientific test to further evaluate persons who fail an initial test, FRA expects the test to be a valid, reliable, and comparable test for assessing whether the person can safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor despite not meeting the specific vision threshold (i.e., distance visual acuity, field of vision, or color perception) in 240.121(c) or 242.117(h). That means the railroad must be able to cite a rigorous scientific study published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical publication that demonstrates the scientific test is a valid, reliable, and comparable test for that visual capacity. For example, Hovis and Oliphant, in 2000, published a validation test of a lantern test that they designed, the CNLAN lantern test. The authors rigorously validated the CNLAN lantern test in a peer-reviewed journal against a simulated field test with a high degree of content validity to show the CNLAN lantern test has a high degree of validity and reliability for assessing the ability to recognize and distinguish between aspects of color light railroad signals in Canada.5 Two major railroads in Canada use the CNLAN lantern test. Interested parties should note, however, that simply showing a person a lantern with different colored lights displayed is certainly not the same as the CNLAN lantern test, which is a scientifically validated test.

    5 Hovis, J.K., and Oliphant, D., A Lantern Color Vision Test for the Rail Industry. American Journal of Internal Medicine, 38:681-696 (2000).

    3. Determining the Validity, Reliability, and Comparability of a Vision Test

    Validity means the degree to which a test actually measures what the test is intended to measure. For example, a color vision field test is valid to the degree that it assesses whether a person can recognize and distinguish between colors of the types of railroad signals in the yard or on all portions of railroad systems on which the person must perform safely, depending on the person's responsibilities. One way to estimate the validity of a test is to assess its degree of job-relatedness (content validity). The degree to which a field test's conditions match actual operating conditions determines, to a large extent, its validity.

    Reliability means the degree of reproducibility of the test results. In this case, reproducibility means an examinee that is repeatedly administered the same test would demonstrate the same number of correct responses and missed signal responses each time the test is administered.

    Comparability means the testing procedures are fairly administered and the test results are uniformly recorded. When tests have comparability, it is fair to compare test results between individuals regardless of whether different testing officers, or different railroads, administered the test. Additionally, for a test to be comparable, the testing officer must administer the test without any bias or prejudice.

    D. Optometric and Ophthalmologic Referral

    In addition to field and scientific tests, FRA's locomotive engineer qualification and certification regulations also permit optometric or ophthalmologic referral which can provide important information about the nature and severity of a person's eye condition or visual disturbance. The referral can also provide information about whether the vision condition is stable or should be monitored more frequently than triennially by the railroad's medical examiner because it is likely to worsen to a level that would make it unsafe to perform service prior to a certified employee's next triennial recertification evaluation.

    E. Special Conditions of Certification (Restrictions)

    Sections 240.121(e) and 242.117(e) permit railroads to conditionally certify a person as a locomotive engineer or conductor if the railroad's medical examiner determines in writing that a special condition of certification is necessary on the basis of findings elicited on further evaluation of the person's vision. Examples of special conditions of certification include: (1) More frequent evaluation of an eye condition or visual disturbance by a railroad's medical examiner that will likely deteriorate prior to the person's next required triennial recertification examination to a level that the person may not be able to safely perform; (2) required use of corrective lenses (i.e., glasses or contact lenses) to correct distant visual acuity to a level that the person can safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor; (3) restriction to perform service only in unsignalled (dark) territory should a person be otherwise qualified but not have the ability to recognize and distinguish between colors of wayside railroad color light or color-position light signals; (4) restriction of service to unsignalled (dark) territory, or marking up for service only at night when there is greater brightness contrast between signals and the remainder of the operating environment, should a person demonstrate the ability to perform safely only under those operating conditions; or (5) restriction of service to performance in a yard or on portions of railroad systems where locomotives move at slower speeds, should a person be able to recognize and distinguish between colors of railroad signals at those slower speeds. There is research evidence that some individuals with color vision deficiency may be able to detect and recognize signal aspects at shorter sighting distance that exist in the yard or on portions of the railroad where locomotives move at slower speed to perform safely.6

    6 Hovis, J.K., and Ramaswamy, S., The Effect of Test Distance on the CN Lantern Results. Visual Neuroscience, 23, 675-679 (2006).

    F. Chromatic Lenses

    FRA's locomotive engineer and conductor certification rules do not permit examinees to use chromatic lenses when taking an initial test the railroad selects from the list of accepted color vision test protocols in the appendices to parts 240 and 242. Although examinees may not use chromatic lenses during an initial color vision test, FRA grants each railroad the discretion to determine whether it will permit examinees to use chromatic lenses during a secondary field or other practical or scientific test offered by a railroad to further evaluate his or her ability to perform safely. However, since the time FRA last amended part 240, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued the following cautionary information about the use of ChromaGen chromatic lenses: 7

    7 Premarket Notification Device Clearance for ChromaGen lenses (510(k) No. 994320), Ophthalmic Devices Panel Meeting Summary for November 8, 2000, Food and Drug Administration, retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/advisorycommittees/committeesmeetingmaterials/medicaldevices/medicaldevicesadvisorycommittee/ophthalmicdevicespanel/ucm124831.htm on Dec. 2, 2014. See also Summary of Safety and Effectiveness: ChromaGen v2.0 Haploscope System, for Color Vision Enhancement (510(k) No. 994320), Department of Health & Human Services Food and Drug Administration, Oct. 20, 2000, retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf/k994320.pdf on Dec. 2, 2014.

    a. ChromaGen lenses do not help wearers to see “new” colors or to perceive or appreciate colors as people with normal color vision do, but merely add brightness/darkness or hue differences to colors that are otherwise difficult or impossible to distinguish;

    b. The ability to pass diagnostic color vision tests with ChromaGen lenses does not imply the ability to perform other color vision-related tasks. Therefore, ChromaGen lenses should not be used with diagnostic color vision tests to meet occupational performance requirements; and

    c. Persons using the darker shades of tint in their ChromaGen lenses may experience some or all of the following: Reduced 10W contrast acuity, reduced illumination at night, distortions in distance perception of moving objects or while driving, distortions of apparent velocity. Wearing darker lenses, especially at night, or under foggy, misty, or other adverse conditions, may make driving an automobile difficult.

    Based on FDA's findings, and the fact that railroads generally operate to a degree under similar environmental lighting and weather conditions as operating an automobile, FRA recommends that railroads take a conservative approach.

    Railroads should not permit locomotive engineers and conductors that have responsibility to recognize and distinguish between colors of railroad signals to safely perform as locomotive engineers and conductors until data from a valid, reliable, and comparable research study clearly establishes operating conditions when it is safe to use chromatic lenses for that purpose, and then restrict use to those operating conditions. Please note that both the FDA and FRA make a distinction between chromatic lenses and contact lenses manufactured to correct distant, intermediate, and near visual acuity that have a very light blue tint to aid the user in locating, handling, and cleaning the contact lens. Railroads should not prohibit use of those blue-tinted contact lenses during testing and when performing as a locomotive engineer or conductor.

    G. Documentation

    The railroad medical examiners are required by FRA certification regulations to document the basis for his or her decision that a person can or cannot safely perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor. This includes reports of testing, and should the examiner use optometric or ophthalmologic referral, the report of testing and evaluation from the optometrist or ophthalmologist.

    H. Part 240 and 242 Program Descriptions

    FRA's locomotive engineer and conductor regulations require each railroad subject to those regulations to have a written visual testing program on file with FRA. Among other things, the certification program must include a railroad's procedure for evaluating the visual acuity of its locomotive engineers and conductors when those train crew members fail to meet the vision threshold criteria provided for in parts 240 and 242. See 49 CFR 240.101, 240.121, 242.101, and 242.117; 49 CFR part 240 Appendix F, and 49 CFR part 242 Appendix D. Such procedure is especially necessary to address situations where locomotive engineers and conductors have a history of safe performance that would normally suggest that they have the ability to safely perform their duties. A review of the programs on file with FRA, however, revealed that the railroads do not sufficiently describe their field testing procedures to allow FRA to determine whether those procedures are likely to produce valid, reliable, and comparable field tests. Thus, each railroad that utilizes field testing procedures should review the best practices provided in this interpretation and update its programs accordingly under part 240 and part 242.

    FRA considers this type of program modification to be a “material modification” requiring railroads to submit their revised programs to FRA for review and approval. See 49 CFR 240.103(e) and 242.103(i). Before implementing a change to its field testing procedures, a railroad must submit a description of how it intends to modify the procedures in its program. For part 240 programs, the description of the modification must be submitted to FRA at least 30 days prior to implementation. See 49 CFR 240.103(e). For part 242 programs, the description of the modification must be submitted to FRA at least 60 days prior to implementation. See 49 CFR 242.103(i). The modified program is considered approved and may be implemented 30 days after being filed with FRA unless FRA notifies the railroad in writing that the program does not conform to the criteria set forth in parts 240 and 242. To facilitate the submission of modified programs to FRA, railroads may submit both parts 240 and 242 programs electronically using the procedures described in Appendix B to Part 242 for “Submission by a Railroad.”

    Attachment A. Best Industry Practices for Conducting Color Vision Field Testing

    The following best practices are intended to guide each railroad in designing, implementing, and scoring color vision field testing for locomotive engineer and conductor certification. They are broadly drafted to allow each railroad to develop field testing procedures that will work for its own operational environment and to consider the unique medical circumstances of each examinee tested. Furthermore, these best practices will guide railroads to establish best field testing practices. Of course, FRA recognizes and appreciates that some railroads already follow many of these best practices, and will readily adopt additional best practices that are viewed as making the field test more valid, reliable, and comparable. FRA encourages each railroad to consider adopting all best practices.

    (1) Standardize Test Procedures. The railroad's procedures for administering and scoring the test are standardized, and the railroad strictly adheres to the procedures established.

    (2) Qualified Supervisor Conducts the Test. The person administering and scoring the field test (testing officer) is qualified to supervise certified locomotive engineers or conductors, as appropriate, and has knowledge of the railroad's field testing procedures.

    (3) The Testing Officer's Vision Meets the Regulatory Medical Thresholds. For purposes of administering and scoring the field test, the testing officer meets the medical thresholds in 49 CFR 240.121(c) and 49 CFR 242.117(h).

    (4) Record the Test Results During Testing. The railroad uses a standard form or method to record all relevant information. For example, the railroad may design a field testing form that will prompt the testing officer to record administrative and test data information such as:

    a. The date and location of the test;

    b. The participants' names and contact information;

    c. The number of signals viewed;

    d. Which signals were incorrectly identified; and

    e. The aspects of each signal encountered.

    (5) Capture All Essential Data and Void Tests With Incomplete Data. The railroad should design any standard form or method used so the testing officer must record all relevant information in a manner ensuring that all essential standard procedures for testing have been followed. If a form is required, and it is missing essential data, the railroad must void the test.

    (6) Testing Officer Affirms Test Data Accurately Recorded. The railroad may gain an additional level of assurance by requiring the testing officer to sign an affirmation that the testing officer strictly adhered to the railroad's field testing procedures and that the data recorded was accurately documented.

    (7) Prior to Test, Inform the Examinee of the Test's Purpose and Procedures. Each railroad should standardize the procedures for informing the examinee of the purpose of the test, what the examinee is required to do during the test, and how test data will be documented and scored. For example, before the start of the test, the testing officer reads a set of instructions out loud and answers any questions. An example of an alternative or additional approach would be to provide a written explanation and test instructions directly to the examinee before the test, either as a separate document or at the top of a railroad's testing form. The railroad may consider it a timesaver to provide this information to the examinee before the test so less time is spent explaining the testing protocol on the day of the test.

    (8) Considerations When Examinee Wears Corrective Lenses. The examinee should be offered the opportunity to wear contact lenses or glasses prescribed by his or her optometrist or ophthalmologist to correct his or her distant visual acuity.

    a. Light Blue Tint May Be Acceptable. Please note that both the FDA and FRA make a distinction between chromatic/ChromaGen lenses and contact lenses manufactured to correct distant, intermediate, and near visual acuity that have a light blue tint added solely to aid the user in locating, handling, and cleaning the contact lens. Thus, use of contact lenses with this type of tinting should be permitted.

    b. Corrective Lenses Worn During Test Must Be Worn On-Duty, If Certified. The examinee should be warned that the use of any lenses or glasses during a passed test will result in conditioning of the examinee's locomotive engineer or conductor certification on wearing those lenses or glasses.

    c. Notify Examinee, Preferably in Writing at Time of Test, What To Do If Corrective Lenses Are No Longer Needed In the Future. If an examinee's certification is conditioned on wearing lenses or glasses, the railroad should notify the examinee in writing that if the examinee's eyes improve, whether on their own or through corrective surgery, the examinee should immediately contact the relevant railroad official who can verify the improved vision and remove the restriction from the certificate and certification records. The railroad should consider including this information on the copy of the test form provided to the examinee.

    (9) Either Prohibit Examinees from Wearing Chromatic/ChromaGen Lenses or Understand Their Limitations and Proceed Accordingly. The FDA has issued cautionary information on the use of chromatic or ChromaGen lenses. Therefore, each railroad medical examiner should understand the limitations of these lenses before deciding whether to allow an examinee to wear them during a field test.

    (10) Consider Whether a Vision Condition Is Stable or Deteriorating. Both examinees with stable vision deficiency conditions and those with deteriorating vision may pass field tests, but that does not mean a railroad, or its medical examiner, should treat these examinees in the same manner. FRA's regulations permit a railroad's medical examiner to consider an examinee's known medical condition, and find that the person either cannot be trusted to operate safely given the volatility of the condition or recommend that the examinee's certification be conditioned on more frequent medical or field testing vision testing than the minimum FRA mandate of every 3 years.

    (11) Design Tests With Validity, Reliability, and Comparability.

    a. Validity to the Examinee's Expected Duties. The railroad should design the test so that the examinee is tested on railroad signal indications the examinee will be expected to recognize and comply with as part of the examinee's typical locomotive engineer or conductor duties. The railroad should require the testing officer to allow the examinee an attempt to recognize signal aspects or indications within the same timeframe, at the appropriate sight distances, as the examinee would be expected to recognize the signal under actual operating or working conditions. Because the field test conditions should reasonably match actual operating or working conditions, the test should be performed outdoors. The examinee may be either on a moving train, positioned in a stationary locomotive, or standing on the ground at distances from a signal or other object that the person must see and recognize to perform safely as a locomotive engineer or conductor.

    b. Assess Content Validity.

    i. Conduct Test On Actual Working Conditions. The railroad should generally administer the test over territories where the examinee has previously demonstrated knowledge of the physical characteristics and will continue to work, if certified. If this is not feasible or practical, the tests should generally be administered over territories where the examinee will be expected to work upon being certified or recertified, to the extent possible. Under all conditions, the tests should be administered to replicate actual operating conditions that the examinee will encounter as a certified locomotive engineer or conductor.

    ii. FRA Does Not Require System-Wide Certification, Restrictions Permitted. A railroad should not test the examinee on every possible railroad signal indication on the system if the examinee has previously been limited to yards, divisions, or other territories where the examinee would only encounter a subset of the types of signal indications found system-wide and the examinee has demonstrated a positive safety record. Moreover, the examinee's certification should be restricted to that limited work arrangement.

    iii. Consider Whether a Person Works in Dark Territory or is Not Required to Recognize Signals. Not all railroad employees are assigned responsibility by a railroad to recognize and distinguish colored railroad signals. For those employees, providing a field test that requires recognition of colored railroad signals would not be a valid test. Rather, the field test in that instance should focus on whether the employee can safely perform his or her duties. For example, the field test may require the employee to identify blue signals or roadway worker flags.

    iv. If Expanding Examinee's Actual Working Conditions, Provide Rationale. If a railroad intends to implement a system-wide type test for an examinee who has not previously worked system-wide, the railroad should provide its rationale for doing so. It is not acceptable for a railroad, or its medical examiner, to inform an examinee that the railroad must ignore a demonstrated positive safety record with a limited work arrangement because FRA's regulations apply a stricter standard, as that is not a true statement.

    c. Reliability.

    i. Signal Sequence Should Not Be Predictable. The railroad should consider the sequencing of railroad signal indications to remove the likelihood that an examinee could pass the test by predicting each signal with an educated guess. For instance, signals that predictably follow a particular sequence familiar to the examinee should be avoided. A qualified supervisor should know where these sequenced signal indications may occur and either avoid them for testing purposes or arrange for them to display an uncharacteristically different sequence of signal indications.

    ii. Remove Chance Guesses By Testing Each Signal Multiple Times. The railroad should consider the number of signal indications viewed to remove the likelihood that an examinee could pass the test by chance guess. Statistics suggest that a minimum of 3 to 6 repetitions of the same signal indication may be necessary to avoid the chance that an examinee can pass with guesses. A railroad may certainly consider additional repetitions of a signal indication if it is designed to probe an examinee's ability to correctly identify signal aspects that a person with the examinee's known color vision deficiency is likely to confuse with another aspect.

    iii. Signal Aspects Must Be Actual Signals or Similar, And In Good Working Condition. The blue flag, sign, or signal light used in testing must be of similar size and chromaticity 8 to the actual signal the person must recognize to safely perform locomotive engineer or conductor duties. For example, an unacceptable field testing practice is use of colored light bulbs that do not have similar size, chromaticity, and transmittance as colored lenses of railroad signals on the railroad systems on which the examinee is expected to perform as a locomotive engineer or conductor. Another unacceptable field testing practice is use of a railroad signal that has an incandescent light source to test an examinee on a safety-critical signal aspect that would typically be displayed by a signal with an LED light source. Similarly, it would be unacceptable to conduct a test with a well-worn, faded blue flag.

    8Chromaticity means the colors (single or multiple) of light emitted by a railroad color-light signal or color-position light signal, specified as x-y or x and y chromaticity coordinates on the chromaticity diagram according to the 1931 Commission International d'Éclairage (CIE) Standard Observer and Coordinate System Railroad Signal Colors. The CIE is a professional organization recognized by the International Standards Organization as an international standardization body regarding illumination.

    iv. Consider Daylight, Darkness, and Weather Conditions to the Extent Those Factors Might Skew the Test Results. The railroad's procedures should allow a medical examiner to inform the testing officer that a particular examinee must be tested at night (i.e., under darkness) or during the day with bright sunshine, or under some other condition, so that the test can appropriately focus on the examinee's known color vision deficiency found during the initial medical testing and will be an accurate indicator of whether the examinee can safely perform anticipated locomotive engineer or conductor duties. For most people, signal visibility will be the greatest at night and more challenging during the daytime in bright sun when the sky is clear. Field testing conducted at sunrise or sunset may pose a greater likelihood that severe glare could skew test results such that it would be difficult for individuals with normal color vision to identify a signal indication or aspect. FRA's regulations do not prohibit a railroad from requiring multiple field tests under different operating or working conditions, and certainly some examinees will warrant such testing based on their known vision deficiency. Likewise, if a test is conducted during a snowstorm, rainstorm, fog, or other weather conditions that would inhibit a person's vision, acceptable sight distances should be adjusted accordingly, and in some instances, may suggest that a test cannot be verified as reliable and should be voided.

    d. Comparability.

    i. Implement Procedures To Address Bias Accusations. To effectively address accusations that a particular test was unfairly designed, implemented, or scored, a railroad should allow the examinee to bring along a volunteer witness of the examinee's choosing, and all participants, including witnesses, should be afforded an opportunity to record their observations regarding whether testing procedures were followed and the conditions under which the test was conducted. The testing officer should have a standard method that will capture the names and contact information of any witnesses who observe the test, and the railroad should permit the examinee and any witnesses an opportunity to submit their observations in writing for direct review by the railroad's medical examiner. The railroad should provide the medical examiner with the authority to void any test in which the examinee or another witness makes a substantial showing that bias or prejudice may have led to a test failure and, in such a situation, request that a new test be conducted with a different testing officer.

    ii. Create Adequate Records and Provide to Examinee. Because an examinee who fails a field test and is subsequently denied certification or recertification may request FRA to review that decision, each railroad should be prepared to provide the examinee with the results of any field tests. A railroad should consider developing a method or protocol by which the testing officer offers a copy of the completed test form to the examinee upon completion of the test. The railroad may want the testing officer to record on the form whether the examinee was offered a copy of the form, and whether the examinee accepted receipt. The form may also include a signature line for the examinee to acknowledge receipt of the completed test form.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 17, 2015. Robert C. Lauby, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety, Chief Safety Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29640 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 110819516-5913-02] RIN 0648-BB02 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic Shark Management Measures AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule; fishery notification.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule implements Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 9) to bring smoothhound sharks under Federal management and establishes an effective date for previously-adopted 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 (August 10, 2011) (2011 HMS Trawl Rule). Specifically, this final rule establishes Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regional smoothhound shark annual commercial quotas based on recent stock assessments; implements the shark gillnet requirements of the 2012 Shark and Smoothhound Biological Opinion (BiOp); and modifies current regulations related to the use of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) by Atlantic shark fishermen using gillnet gear. The term “smoothhound sharks” collectively refers to smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis), Florida smoothhound (M. norrisi), Gulf smoothhound (M. sinusmexicanus), small eye smoothhound (M. higmani), and any other Mustelus spp. that might be found in U.S. waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, collectively. This rule also implements the smooth dogfish specific provisions in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (SCA). The SCA requires that all sharks landed from Federal waters in the United States be landed with their fins naturally attached to the carcass, but includes a limited exception for smooth dogfish. For the Federal Atlantic shark fisheries, current HMS regulations require federally-permitted shark fishermen to land all sharks with fins naturally attached to the carcass. The SCA's fins-attached requirement is being addressed nationwide through a separate ongoing rulemaking. This final rule only addresses the provision contained in the SCA that allows at-sea fin removal of Atlantic smooth dogfish.

    Additionally, NMFS will hold an operator-assisted, public conference call and webinar on December 15, 2015, to discuss the methodology used to calculate the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark quotas (see ADDRESSES).

    DATES:

    Effective March 15, 2016. An operator-assisted, public conference call and webinar will be held on December 15, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EST.

    ADDRESSES:

    The conference call-in phone number is 1-800-857-9816; participant pass code is 9776014. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public questions. To join the webinar go to: https://noaa-meets.webex.com/noaa-meets/j.php?MTID=m812c15f48b46787ea7475fc010c7099e, enter your name and email address, and click the “JOIN” button. If requested, the meeting number is 991 661 137 and the meeting password is NOAA. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to view the webinar.

    Copies of Amendment 9, including the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and other relevant documents, are available from the HMS Management Division Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. Copies of the 2015 smoothhound shark stock assessment results are available on the Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) Web site at http://sedarweb.org/sedar-39.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Durkee by phone: 202-670-6637 or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone: 301-427-8503 or by fax: 301-713-1917.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Atlantic sharks are managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and the authority to promulgate regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries, NOAA. On October 2, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register (71 FR 58058) final regulations, effective November 1, 2006, which detailed management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries, including for the smoothhound shark and Atlantic shark fisheries. The implementing regulations for the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments are at 50 CFR part 635. This final rule implements the conservation and management measures from Amendment 9 in the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries and the measures in Amendment 3 and 2011 HMS Trawl Rule in the Atlantic smoothhound shark fishery.

    Background

    A brief summary of the background of this final action is provided below. A more detailed history of the development of these regulations and the alternatives considered are described in the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for Amendment 9, which can be found online on the HMS Web site (see ADDRESSES).

    NMFS published a proposed rule on August 7, 2014 (79 FR 46217), outlining the alternatives analyzed in the Draft EA, identifying preferred alternatives, and soliciting public comments on the measures, which would impact the smoothhound shark and Atlantic shark fisheries. Specifically, the proposed rule included the following measures: For smooth dogfish only, modifying prohibitions on at-sea fin removal to be consistent with the SCA; implementing Term and Condition 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp; based on updated catch data, adjusting the smoothhound shark quota finalized in Amendment 3; and modifying the VMS requirements for shark gillnet vessels. The full description of the management and conservation measures considered is included in both the Final EA for Amendment 9 and the proposed rule and is not repeated here.

    The comment period for the Draft EA and proposed rule for Amendment 9 ended on November 14, 2014. The comments received, and responses to those comments, are summarized below under the heading labeled Response to Comments.

    Management measures in Amendment 9 will impact both the smoothhound shark and Atlantic shark fisheries. This rule finalizes most of the management measures, but modifies others, that were contained in the Draft EA and proposed rule for Amendment 9. This section provides a summary of the final management measures being implemented by Amendment 9 and notes changes from the proposed rule to this final rule. Measures that are different from the proposed rule, or measures that were proposed but not implemented, are described in detail under the heading titled Changes from the Proposed Rule.

    This final rule implements the smooth dogfish-specific measures in the SCA to establish an allowance for the removal of smooth dogfish fins while at sea. To implement the measures, the proposed rule considered three categories of requirements—catch composition, state permitting, and geographic applicability of the exceptions—and a range of alternatives within each category (“sub-alternatives”). Only fishermen that meet the requirements under all three of these categories and that are, as specified in the Act, fishing within 50 nautical miles of shore and possess fins in an amount that does not exceed 12 percent of the carcass weight, would be authorized to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea.

    For catch composition, NMFS preferred in the proposed rule a sub-alternative that would have required that smooth dogfish make up at least 75 percent of the retained catch on board and that no other sharks could be retained. For state permitting, the proposed rule included a sub-alternative that would have required an individual to hold a state commercial fishing permit that allows smooth dogfish retention, in addition to a Federal smoothhound permit. With regard to geographic applicability, the proposed rule included a sub-alternative that would have applied the SCA exception for smooth dogfish along the entire Atlantic coast but not to Florida's coast in the Gulf of Mexico. During the public comment period, NMFS received support for the two proposed sub-alternatives related to state fishing permits and geographic applicability of the SCA provisions. However, NMFS received many comments opposing the catch composition requirement of 75 percent and the “no other sharks on board” provision. Commenters expressed concern that these requirements do not meet the intent of the statutory exception because they do not reflect the mixed nature of catch in the smooth dogfish fishery and would render the exception largely meaningless. They also stated that the catch composition requirement would lead to excessive dead discards and would be burdensome.

    As detailed under the Changes from the Proposed Rule heading, NMFS is implementing the two sub-alternatives related to state fishing permits and geographic applicability of the exception as originally proposed. NMFS is changing the catch composition requirement and will require smooth dogfish to make up at least 25 percent of the total retained catch in order to remove the fins of smooth dogfish while at sea. Additionally, fishermen may retain other sharks on board provided that the fins of other shark species remain naturally attached to the carcass through offloading. Only fishermen adhering to the measures in the three sub-alternatives, as well as fishing within 50 nautical miles of shore and possessing fins in an amount that does not exceed 12 percent of the carcass weight, will be authorized to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea.

    This final rule also establishes separate Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regional smoothhound shark total allowable catches (TACs) and commercial quotas based on the results of the 2015 Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 39 stock assessments for smoothhound sharks. The assessments were finalized and peer reviewed in March 2015. On June 29, 2015, NMFS issued a stock status determination notice (80 FR 36974) that stated that “[d]ata from tagging and genetic research in SEDAR 39 support the existence of two distinct Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stocks of smooth dogfish separated by peninsular Florida. Therefore, smooth dogfish was treated as two separate stocks, one in the Atlantic region and one in the Gulf of Mexico region.” 80 FR 36974 (June 29, 2015). Each stock had a status of not overfished with no overfishing occurring. Based on public comments requesting that commercial quotas be based on stock assessments and not landings, NMFS is implementing regional smoothhound shark TACs and commercial quotas based on SEDAR 39, instead of the proposed, single overall quota based on landings data. Specifically, while we proposed an overall commercial quota of 1,739.9 mt dw covering both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions (using commercial landings data in the absence of a stock assessment), this final rule establishes separate regional TACs and commercial quotas within those TACs as follows: An Atlantic regional smoothhound shark TAC of 1,430.6 mt dw with a commercial quota of 1,201.7 mt dw, and a Gulf of Mexico regional smoothhound shark TAC of 509.6 mt dw with a commercial quota of 336.4 mt dw. Implementing these science-based TACs and commercial quotas will ensure continued sustainable harvest of smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions and increase the likelihood of maintaining healthy smoothhound shark stocks in both regions. Additional details are provided below under the heading Changes from the Proposed Rule.

    Term and Condition (TC) 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp addressed soak time and net check requirements for gillnet gear. In order to comply with TC 4, this final rule modifies the soak time and net check requirements based on the type of gillnet gear used in the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries. NMFS has determined that current regulations meet the specifications for other TCs in the 2012 BiOp. This final rule will establish a soak time limit of 24 hours for sink gillnet gear and a 0.5 to 2 hour net check requirement for drift gillnet gear in the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries. This requirement would not significantly change smoothhound shark fishing practices, since most smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen primarily use sink gillnet gear and those fishermen already use a soak time of 24 hours or less.

    This final rule also modifies current regulations related to the use of VMS by federal directed shark permit holders using gillnet gear. Before this rule, federal directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear on board were required to use VMS regardless of vessel location in order to simplify compliance and outreach for fishermen operating across multiple regions. This requirement was implemented as part of the 2003 Amendment 1 to the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks to ensure shark gillnet vessels were complying with the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) time/area closures and observer requirements (50 CFR 229.32). However, since implementation, it has become apparent that while some fishermen do fish in multiple regions, many do not fish in or even near the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. As such, this final rule will require federal directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear on board to use VMS only in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area, pursuant to ALWTRP requirements. Requirements to minimize large whale interactions would not change; rather, only the geographic area of the VMS requirement would change, consistent with the ALWTRP.

    This final rule also establishes an effective date for previously-adopted smoothhound shark management measures in Amendment 3 and the 2011 HMS Trawl Rule. The final rule implementing conservation and management measures in Amendment 3 published on June 1, 2010 (75 FR 30484) but delayed the effective date of the smoothhound shark management measures until approximately 2012 pending approval for the data collection measures under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to provide time for implementation of a permit requirement, to provide time for NMFS to complete a Biological Opinion under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and to provide time for affected fishermen to change business practices, particularly as it related to keeping shark fins attached to the carcass through offloading. OMB approved the PRA data collection in May of 2011 and NMFS met informally with smoothhound shark fishermen along the east coast in the fall of 2010. In November 2011, NMFS published a rule (76 FR 70064, November 10, 2011) that indefinitely delayed the effective date for all smoothhound shark management measures in both Amendment 3 and in another rule, the 2011 Final Rule to Modify the Retention of Incidentally-Caught Highly Migratory Species in Atlantic Trawl Fisheries (76 FR 49368, August 10, 2011 (2011 HMS Trawl Rule)), to provide time for NMFS to consider the smooth dogfish-specific provisions in the SCA and for NMFS to finalize a Biological Opinion on the federal actions in Amendment 3, among other things. Previously-adopted management measures from Amendment 3 that will become effective on January 1, 2016, include: A research set-aside quota; an accountability measure (AM), which closes the fishery when smoothhound shark landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota; a requirement for a dealer permit to purchase smoothhound sharks; a requirement for dealers to report smoothhound shark purchases; a smoothhound permit requirement for commercial and recreational fishing and retention; a requirement for vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks to carry an observer, if selected; a requirement for vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks to comply with applicable Take Reduction Plans pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA); and a requirement for commercial vessels to sell catch only to Federally-permitted shark dealers. Management measures affecting smoothhound sharks in the HMS Trawl Rule will allow retention of smoothhound sharks caught incidentally with trawl gear, provided that the total smoothhound shark catch on board or offloaded does not exceed 25 percent of the total catch by weight.

    Finally, this rule makes administrative changes to the observer regulations. Currently, the Atlantic shark fishery observer program is administered by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). However, a portion of the commercial smoothhound shark fishery occurs in the Northeast region in an area typically covered by observer programs administered out of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). Since the fishery spans the geographic area of both the NEFSC and SEFSC, smoothhound shark observer regulations need to accommodate the administrative processes of both programs. The two regional science center observer program processes are slightly different. The SEFSC process is currently outlined in the 50 CFR part 635 regulations but the NEFSC process is not. Thus, this final rule implements changes to the observer regulations in 50 CFR part 635 to incorporate the relevant portions of the NEFSC observer regulations found at 50 CFR part 648.

    Response to Comments

    During the proposed rule stage, NMFS received approximately 500 written comments from fishermen, States, environmental groups, academia and scientists, and other interested parties. NMFS also received feedback from the HMS Advisory Panel; constituents who attended the two public hearings in October 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey, and Manteo, North Carolina; and constituents who attended the conference calls/webinars held on September 24 and November 4, 2014. Additionally, NMFS consulted with the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Regional Fishery Management Councils, along with the Atlantic States and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions. A summary of the comments received on the proposed rule during the public comment period is provided below with NMFS's responses. All written comments submitted during the comment period can be found at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for NOAA-NMFS-2014-0100.

    Implementation of the Smooth-Dogfish Specific Provisions of the Shark Conservation Act

    Comment 1: NMFS received comments in support of Alternative A1, which would not implement the smooth dogfish-specific measures in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and would require fins and tails of all smooth dogfish to remain naturally attached through offloading. Commenters felt that these exceptions to the U.S. ban on at-sea shark fin removal would jeopardize our nation's reputation as a shark conservation champion, and hurt U.S. arguments in support of Regional Fishery Management Organizations' adoption of fins attached requirements. Commenters also felt that the fins naturally attached method was widely recognized as the best practice for accurate data collection and enforcement of finning bans. Commenters felt that adopting a fins attached exception for smooth dogfish would undermine state bans on finning and would widen loopholes in certain state bans on the trade in shark fin products.

    Response: The Shark Conservation Act of 2010, which includes the smooth dogfish-specific exception, became Federal law upon Presidential signature on January 4, 2011. Thus, NMFS must implement the law in a manner that reflects Congressional intent. The Congressional provision clearly creates an exception that allows removal of smooth dogfish shark fins at sea under certain circumstances and did not leave the Agency discretion to forego implementation of the exception.

    Comment 2: NMFS received a comment stating that the 12 percent fin-to-carcass ratio included in the smooth dogfish-specific provision of the SCA was too high and should be lower.

    Response: The 12 percent fin-to-carcass ratio is explicitly included in the smooth dogfish-specific provision of the SCA. Thus, NMFS must implement the provision as mandated. Nevertheless, some data support that a 12 percent fin-to-carcass ratio may be a close approximation of the true ratio for smooth dogfish. In the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Shark Board briefing materials prepared for a May 21, 2013 meeting, the States of New Jersey and New Carolina provided analyses of smooth dogfish fin-to-carcass ratios using both landings data and direct measurements of processed sharks. Those analyses found a range of fin-to-carcass ratios from 7.5 percent to 13 percent, depending on the level of processing (e.g. whether the belly flaps were removed, whether the tail was retained).

    Comment 3: NMFS received a large volume of comments expressing concern that the smooth dogfish-specific provision of the Shark Conservation Act allows finning of sharks. These commenters asked NMFS not to implement this provision and many of the comments provided information about the negative ecological impacts of sharks finning.

    Response: The large volume of comments opposing finning of smooth dogfish appears to be based on a misunderstanding on this action. Finning, which is the removal of shark fins and disposal of the carcass at sea, has been prohibited in Atlantic U.S. shark fisheries since 1993, and will continue to be prohibited in all Atlantic shark fisheries. The exception in the Act allows for the removal of the fins at sea rather than requiring the sharks to be landed with their fins attached as the Act requires for other shark species. The fins and the carcasses still must be landed together.

    Sub-Alternatives—Issue 1: Catch Composition

    Comment 4: NMFS received several comments, including from the SAFMC, MAFMC, and the States of New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland, opposing the proposed sub-alternative A2-1c that smooth dogfish must make up at least 75 percent of the retained catch (no other sharks can be retained). Commenters felt that the 75 percent catch composition would be difficult to enforce and burdensome for fishermen. Some felt that the 75 percent would lead to waste and discarding in cases where fishermen found that their catch percentages did not qualify them for the at-sea processing allowance. Others emphasized that the smoothhound fishery is a mixed fishery, and that fishermen needed more flexibility if the SCA exception were to have any utility. NMFS also received comments that the 75 percent catch composition was inconsistent with ASMFC requirements and that the new federal requirements might push fishermen into state waters where there are no catch composition requirements. Commenters felt that as a consequence, fishermen may avoid obtaining a federal smoothhound shark permit, leading to less data for federal mangers. NMFS received support from the MAFMC and the state of New Jersey for sub-alternative A2-1b that would require smooth dogfish make up at least 25 percent of the retained catch. NMFS also received some limited support for the 75 percent catch composition.

    Response: In the Draft EA and proposed rule, NMFS interpreted the phrase “fishing for smooth dogfish” to mean fishing with the object of commercially harvesting smooth dogfish, but also emphasized that the SCA had specified that the exception applies when an individual is fishing “for” smooth dogfish as opposed to fishing “for” other species and incidentally catching smooth dogfish or simply stating that it applies “when fishing.” We then preferred a sub-alternative that smoothhound sharks must make up 75 percent of the retained catch on board a vessel to constitute a trip fishing “for” smooth dogfish and stated that this would preclude fishermen on trips for other species but who incidentally catch smooth dogfish from removing smooth dogfish fins at sea. The catch composition threshold of 75 percent is used in other fisheries that interact with HMS (e.g., incidental swordfish catch in the squid trawl fishery) to distinguish between directed and incidental fisheries and NMFS felt this high level of retention was an appropriate way to identify those fishing “for” smooth dogfish.

    Based on public comments, however, it has become apparent that the 75 percent level used in other fisheries is not appropriate in the smooth dogfish fishery and does not accurately reflect fishing practices in that fishery. To verify the feedback from commenters, NMFS reviewed data on the mixed nature of the smoothhound shark fishery and how well catch composition reflects the fishery and discovered that, as asserted by the commenters, the smooth dogfish fishery is far more mixed than NMFS assumed in the proposed rule. As a result, implementing a 75 percent catch composition requirement would make the exception largely meaningless. Thus, while NMFS' objective for the implementation of the smooth dogfish-specific provision of the SCA remains the same as described in the Draft EA, and NMFS still needs to give meaning to the phrase “fishing for smooth dogfish” as opposed to simply “fishing,” NMFS agrees with the majority of the commenters that a catch composition requirement of 25 percent is more appropriate. This is consistent with the smooth dogfish-specific provision in the SCA that limits the exception to those fishermen that are fishing “for” smooth dogfish while acknowledging the need for enhanced flexibility in a mixed fishery. The reasons for the change include the four following factors, which were reflected in public comment on the proposed rule:

    • Sink gillnet gear, the predominant gear used in the directed smooth dogfish fishery, often catches other species along with the targeted species. If a fisherman retains other legal species in an amount greater than 25 percent of the total retained catch, it does not necessarily mean that effort was not being directed on smooth dogfish, it could simply mean that other species were encountered in a greater amount than anticipated.

    • Although a 75 percent catch composition is an appropriate indicator of target species in other HMS fisheries, such as the squid trawl fishery, it is not appropriate at this time in the smooth dogfish fishery. In the squid trawl fishery, swordfish caught in squid trawls can only be retained if at least 75 percent of the retained catch is squid, indicating that squid is the targeted fishery. In that fishery, the catch is predominantly squid but swordfish that are feeding on the squid are sometimes inadvertently caught. The smooth dogfish fishery is a more mixed fishery and the target species is often co-located with other species, resulting in less certainty of target species catch levels

    • When fishermen decide to remove fins from smooth dogfish while at sea, the fins are not removed at the end of the trip. Rather, the fins are removed shortly after the smooth dogfish is brought on board in order to maintain the highest quality product. This processing method negates the benefits of a high catch composition requirement. For example: If a fishermen is directing effort on smooth dogfish and removing the fins as the smooth dogfish are brought on board, that fishermen does not know what the final catch composition will be. The first part of the trip could be 100 percent smooth dogfish, but if the catch transitions to predominantly other species, the fishermen may have found that he no longer meets the high catch composition requirement. In that case, the fisherman has two options: To either discard all the smooth dogfish carcasses and fins that have been processed or discard the non-smooth dogfish catch in an amount that will meet the catch composition requirement. Either way, a high catch composition could lead to unnecessary regulatory discards. Although this last example could also pertain to the preferred 25 percent catch composition, the lower threshold provides a greater amount of flexibility and reduces the instances of regulatory discards, consistent with National Standard 9.

    • Smooth dogfish, and the fishery that targets them, closely follow specific water temperature gradients. Fisherman intending to land primarily smooth dogfish may find their gear in sub-optimal water temperatures leading to lower smooth dogfish catch despite the intention to directly target the species and resulting in a lower catch composition than expected.

    Comment 5: NMFS received comments that NMFS was interpreting the smooth dogfish-specific provisions in the SCA incorrectly because the provision does not specify its application to the directed or incidental smooth dogfish fishery and that limiting fishermen to a directed fishery would only serve to inflict financial hardships on fishermen.

    Response: The SCA does not explicitly state that it applies only to directed fisheries; however, the relevant SCA statutory text, (“an individual engaged in commercial fishing for smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis)”) included descriptive language such as “engaged in” and “for” that NMFS understood to be more limiting than if the statute had simply said “while fishing.” We thus interpreted “fishing for smooth dogfish” to limit the exception to those fishing primarily for smooth dogfish, as reflected by the 75 percent retention requirement. Had Congress intended to allow all trips to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea, this qualifying language and emphasis on fishing “for” smooth dogfish would not have been included. As explained in the previous response, the final rule's lower percentage requirement for smooth dogfish catch composition (25 percent v. 75 percent) should address some of the concerns about the practicality of the proposed rule's catch composition requirements in light of the very mixed nature of the fishery, while still ensuring that the exception is limited to those fishing “for” smooth dogfish.

    Comment 6: NMFS received comments, including from the SAFMC, MAFMC, NCDMR, and the States of New Jersey and Maryland opposing the “no other sharks on board” provision. The commenters stated that this provision would be burdensome for fishermen and would lead to unnecessary waste and discards of other valuable shark species since it is a mixed, variable fishery. Others noted that NMFS is interpreting the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA incorrectly because “no other sharks on board” is never mentioned in the statute and that it is inconsistent with ASMFC requirements. Additionally, NMFS received comments stating that a large number of common thresher sharks are often caught with smooth dogfish and if these species had to be discarded, this would be wasteful and could lead to economic impacts to shark fishermen.

    Response: After considering public comment, NMFS has determined that it is more appropriate and consistent with the SCA to implement Sub-Alternative A2-1e, which allows other sharks to be retained when removing smooth dogfish fins at seas, provided those sharks are maintained in a condition where the fins and tail remain naturally attached to the carcass through landing. This measure is included in the new sub-alternative based on public comment and additional analyses, and in recognition that a prohibition on having other sharks on board would likely increase regulatory discards, contrary to National Standard 9. The smooth dogfish fishery is more mixed than previously thought, and other sharks, particularly spiny dogfish and common thresher sharks, make up a portion of the catch and contribute considerable revenue to fishermen participating in the smooth dogfish fishery. Under the new preferred sub-alternative, fishermen would not have to choose whether to land smooth dogfish with the fins removed or another species of shark. This is a change from the proposed rule, which would have prohibited retention of other sharks when removing the fins from smooth dogfish at sea. As proposed, a fisherman who wanted to remove fins of smooth dogfish at sea would have had to discard all non-smooth dogfish sharks even if they were dead and were otherwise legal to retain based on species, size, and permits. Alternatively, as proposed, a fisherman could decide to retain non-smooth dogfish sharks and discard any smooth dogfish carcasses and fins that had already been processed. In either situation, as proposed, dead discards would likely increase, given the mixed catches in the smooth dogfish fishery.

    Allowing other sharks onboard is consistent with the objective of Amendment 9 to narrowly focus the at-sea fin removal allowance for the smooth dogfish fishery and would not undermine the enforcement of the limited smooth dogfish exception or impact the conservation of non-smooth dogfish sharks because smooth dogfish carcasses can be readily differentiated from other non-smoothhound shark carcasses by the presence of a pre-dorsal ridge. As a practical matter, smooth dogfish and other smoothhound species are indistinguishable in the field. But geographically, smooth dogfish largely are the only smoothhound species found in the Atlantic, which is the only place where smooth dogfish fins can be removed, thus largely alleviating that identification concern. Under the new preferred sub-alternative, other sharks would be allowed on board while removing smooth dogfish fins at sea as long as the fins of non-smooth dogfish sharks remain naturally attached through offloading as currently required. NMFS will monitor all shark catches and discards and dead discards to ensure the conservation of all shark species and will take the additional action, as necessary, to address any conservation or management issues that may arise.

    Sub-Alternatives—Issue 2: State Fishing Permit

    Comment 7: NMFS received several comments, including from the MAFMC and the States of New Jersey and Maryland, supporting the preferred Sub-Alternative A2-2b to require any state commercial fishing permit appropriate for the retention of smoothhound sharks when removing smooth dogfish fins at sea. Some of these comments noted the non-preferred sub-alternative, which would require a smoothhound-specific state commercial fishing permit, could require new regulations and may necessitate cost recovery of permit administration.

    Response: NMFS agrees that requiring a smoothhound-specific state fishing permit could be burdensome to states and fishermen. In the Draft EA and proposed rule, NMFS asked for comment on this issue, particularly from the states that would need to develop and administer a smoothhound-specific permit. The states that commented on this issue were unanimously opposed to a smoothhound-specific permit and favored the preferred Sub-Alternative A2-2b. For these reasons, NMFS will implement Sub-Alternative A2-2b as proposed.

    Sub-Alternatives—Issue 3: Geographic Applicability

    Comment 8: NMFS received comments, including from the MAFMC and the State of Florida, in support of the preferred Sub-Alternative A2-3b to apply the exception for smooth dogfish along the Atlantic Coast and not to Florida's coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Conversely, NMFS also received a comment stating that the exception should be applicable in the Gulf of Mexico so that the historical boundaries between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils are honored and the State of Florida can manage the fishery in a balanced way.

    Response: As a practical matter, smooth dogfish and other smoothhound species are indistinguishable in the field. The best available scientific information indicates that smooth dogfish are the predominant smoothhound shark species along the Atlantic coast (only a handful of Florida smoothhound have ever been recorded in the Atlantic and those have been near southern Florida). In the Gulf of Mexico, however, there are at least three different smoothhound species, with no practical way to readily distinguish among them. By limiting the exception to the Atlantic region, as specified at § 635.27(b)(1), this sub-alternative will ensure that the exception only applies where the population is almost entirely smooth dogfish, reducing identification problems and inadvertent finning violations. Furthermore, the State of Florida found the preferred sub-alternative limiting the exception to the Atlantic to be consistent with the Florida Coastal Management Program.

    Commercial Quota Adjustment for the Smoothhound Shark Fishery

    Comment 9: Multiple commenters, including the SAFMC, the States of Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, suggested that none of the landings-based methodologies should be used to establish a smoothhound shark quota. Instead, NMFS should base the quota on the SEDAR 39 smoothhound shark stock assessment that was underway at that time, and which was proposed as an alternative, although the results had not yet been finalized at the time of proposed rule publication. NMFS also received comments opposing the preferred alternative B3, establishing a smoothhound quota equal to the maximum annual landings from 2004-2013 plus two standard deviations because some commenters thought this quota was too high and seemed contrary to a risk averse approach.

    Response: NMFS agrees that it is preferable to establish scientifically-based quotas using results from the SEDAR 39 stock assessments. Since publication of the proposed rule, the SEDAR 39 stock assessments have been completed. Based on the availability of the stock assessment results and public comments, NMFS no longer prefers the alternative to establish a landings-based quota and now is basing the quotas on the results of the stock assessments. Thus, NMFS is establishing a smoothhound shark TAC of 1,430.6 mt dw and a commercial quota of 1,201.7 mt dw in the Atlantic region, and a TAC of 509.6 mt dw and commercial quota of 336.4 mt dw in the Gulf of Mexico region, based on results of SEDAR 39. Section 2 of the Final EA provides a summary of the calculations used to determine these quotas.

    Comment 10: NMFS received a comment asking NMFS not to wait until the stock assessment was completed and to implement Alternative B1, the smoothhound quota of 715.5 mt dw established in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.

    Response: NMFS recognizes the benefits of establishing a quota to limit mortality in the commercial fisheries. However, based on the timing of both this action and the SEDAR 39 stock assessments, NMFS determined that establishing scientifically-based quotas using results of the stock assessments outweigh benefits of implementing a landings-based quota. Since the stock assessments are now available, NMFS is establishing quotas based on those stock assessments.

    Biological Opinion Implementation

    Comment 11: NMFS received support for the preferred alternative C4 to establish a 24-hour soak time limit for sink gillnets and a 0.5 to 2 hour net check requirement for drift gillnet gear. The MAFMC and State of New Jersey also expressed support for the preferred alternative but asked that the definitions of sink and drift gillnets be clarified so that a sink gillnet cannot be mistaken for a net that is drifting in the water column. The State of Maryland expressed support for alternative C3 (24-hour soak time for smoothhound permit holders) stating that net checks are not enforceable. NMFS also received comments suggesting that gillnet fishermen should be required to do both net checks and limit soak time to 24 hours. Other commenters asked NMFS to consider a reduced soak time because they felt that 24 hours was too long and would not reduce the risk of large whale interactions.

    Response: NMFS agrees that a 24-hour soak time limit for sink gillnets and a 0.5 to 2 hour net check requirement for drift gillnet gear are appropriate ways to implement the Term and Condition 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp. NMFS also agrees that the definitions of sink and drift gillnet need to be clear so as not to confuse fishery participants and enforcement officials. As detailed in the Final EA, most smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen will be required to limit soak times to 24 hours since they primarily use sink gillnet gear. This requirement will not significantly change smoothhound shark fishing practices. With regard to other Atlantic shark fishermen, fishermen who use sink gillnet gear will be required to limit soak times to 24 hours and those that use drift gillnets will be required to perform net checks at least every 2 hours. Currently, all Atlantic shark fishermen that use gillnet gear to fish for or who are in possession of any large coastal, small coastal, or pelagic shark, regardless of gillnet type, are required to perform net checks at least every 2 hours (see § 635.21(e)(3)(v)). During the net checks, fishermen are required to look for and remove any sea turtles, marine mammals, or smalltooth sawfish. In the 2012 Shark BiOp, the requirement to use either net checks or the 24-hour set limitation was determined to ensure that any incidentally taken ESA-listed species are detected and released in a timely manner, reducing the likelihood of mortality. As such, NMFS has determined that this alternative will likely have short and long-term minor beneficial ecological impacts on protected resources because it will implement one of the Terms and Conditions of the 2012 Shark BiOp to minimize impacts on protected resources. Because this alternative complies with the 2012 Shark BiOp, has beneficial ecological impacts to protected species, and allows all smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen to continue current fishing practices, NMFS will implement soak time limits for sink gillnets and net checks for drift gillnets, as proposed, in the final rule.

    Comment 12: NMFS received a comment stating that NMFS has not received authorization of the incidental take of endangered large whales that may result due to the operation of the fishery. The comment stated that without incidental take of endangered whales authorized under both the MMPA and ESA, federal management violates those laws. The commenter stated that NMFS must acquire take authorization under the MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E) for the expected whale takes associated with the smoothhound fishery and that NMFS must delay Amendment 9 until completion of a negligible impact analysis for North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale and fin whale. NMFS also received comments stating that (1) since the completion of the BiOp, critical habitat has been designated for loggerhead sea turtles, which triggers the requirement to reinitiate consultation in the shark fishery, and (2) the Draft EA fails to discuss effects of the fishery on loggerhead critical habitat.

    Response: As required by section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, the HMS Management Division of NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries consulted with the NMFS Protected Resources Division (PRD) over proposed Atlantic shark fishery management measures in December 2009. That consultation was completed in 2012, and the Shark BiOp was issued in December 2012. The Biological Opinion concluded that the actions as proposed—including the operation of the smoothhound fishery—were not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Atlantic sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish or any species of ESA-listed large whales or sea turtles.

    Section 9 and regulations implementing section 4(d) of the ESA prohibit the “take” or incidental take of listed species without an exemption. Under the terms of Section 7(b)(4) and Section 7(o)(2), otherwise prohibited take that is incidental to and not intended as part of the agency action may be permitted if it complies with reasonable and prudent measures (RPMs) and terms and conditions of an incidental take statement (ITS). Two RPMs were included in the 2012 Shark BiOp to minimize the effects of the action on sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and Atlantic sturgeon by the smoothhound and Atlantic shark fisheries and to monitor the level of incidental take: (1) Minimize the Potential Effects to Sea Turtles, Smalltooth Sawfish, Atlantic Sturgeon and Marine Mammals, and (2) Monitor the Frequency and Magnitude of Incidental Take. One remaining term and condition will be implemented in this final rule and will require gillnet fishermen to conduct net checks and limit gillnet soak times mitigating or reducing interactions with protected species.

    Since finalizing the 2012 BiOp, NMFS issued a final determination to list four separate DPSs of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) under the ESA (79 FR 38214, July 3, 2014). The DPSs are Central and Southwest Atlantic, Indo-West Pacific, Eastern Atlantic, and Eastern Pacific. The Eastern Atlantic and Eastern Pacific DPSs are listed as endangered, and the Central and Southwest Atlantic and the Indo-West Pacific DPSs are listed as threatened. NMFS determined that each of the DPSs was significant and distinct based on genetic, behavioral, and physical factors, and in some cases, differences in the control of exploitation of the species across international boundaries. On August 27, 2014, NMFS published a final rule to list the following 20 coral species as threatened: Five in the Caribbean, including Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (Dendrogyra cylindrus, Orbicella annularis, Orbicella faveolata, Orbicella franksi, and Mycetophyllia ferox); and 15 in the Indo-Pacific (Acropora globiceps, Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora lokani, Acropora pharaonis, Acropora retusa, Acropora rudis, Acropora speciosa, Acropora tenella, Anacropora spinosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, Isopora crateriformis, Montipora australiensis, Pavona diffluens, Porites napopora, and Seriatopora aculeata). Two Caribbean species currently listed as threatened (Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata) still warranted listing as threatened. The Central and Southwest Atlantic DPS of scalloped hammerhead shark and the seven Caribbean species of coral occur within the boundary of Atlantic HMS commercial and recreational fisheries.

    On October 30, 2014, based on the new listings, NMFS requested re-initiation of ESA section 7 consultation on the continued operation and use of HMS gear types (bandit gear, bottom longline, buoy gear, handline, and rod and reel) and associated fisheries management actions in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS has preliminarily determined that the ongoing operation of the fisheries is consistent with existing biological opinions and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Central and Southwest DPS of scalloped hammerhead sharks or the threatened coral species or result in an irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources which would foreclose formulation or implementation of any reasonable and prudent alternative measures for these species.

    Regarding marine mammals, the final 2014 MMPA List of Fisheries classified the southeastern Atlantic shark gillnet fishery as Category II (occasional serious injuries and mortalities). The southeastern Mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shark BLL shark fishery is classified as Category III (remote likelihood or no known serious injuries or mortalities). Commercial passenger fishing vessel (charter/headboat) fisheries are subject to Section 118 and are listed as a Category III fishery. This action would not significantly increase fishing effort rates, levels, or locations or fishing mortality. The preferred alternatives would not increase effort because the smoothhound quotas are based on the most recent smoothhound shark stock assessments (SEDAR 39). In addition, final management measures are not expected to alter interactions with protected species.

    Atlantic Shark Gillnet Vessel Monitoring System Requirements

    Comment 13: NMFS received support for the preferred alternative of requiring directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear on board to use VMS only in the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area, including from the States of North Carolina, New Jersey, and Maryland, and the MAFMC. NMFS also received comments preferring the status quo stating that VMS should be required regardless of where the vessel is fishing.

    Response: Currently, under Federal HMS regulations, Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen are required to use VMS at certain times of the year regardless of where they are fishing. However, per 50 CFR 229.32(h)(2)(i), the implementing regulations for the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP), Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen are only required to have VMS if they are fishing in the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. Because NMFS has determined that VMS is not necessary for Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen in the other ALWTRP restricted areas through the implementation of the ALWTRP regulations, NMFS believes it is best to maintain consistency with these regulations. Maintaining consistency between the Atlantic HMS and ALWTRP regulations will reduce confusion, help fishermen comply with these regulations more easily, and will avoid unnecessary economic burdens on shark fishery participants.

    Previously Adopted Smoothhound Shark Measures in Amendment 3 and the HMS Trawl Rule

    Comment 14: NMFS received a comment stating that smoothhound sharks should be managed by the Regional Fishery Management Councils in cooperation with ASMFC.

    Response: As detailed in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP, smoothhound sharks are “oceanic sharks” as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act and are subject to management by the Secretary of Commerce under that Act. Please refer to Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP for a detailed explanation of why smoothhound sharks are appropriately subject to Federal management.

    Comment 15: NMFS received a comment stating that the Federal smoothhound permit could trigger an increase in directed smooth dogfish effort. A comment was also received suggesting that the fishery, once permitted, should not be open access and that a control date should be set to discourage new entrants.

    Response: Based on the nature of the fishery, which is labor-intensive and high-volume, additional management burdens such as permit requirements are unlikely to result in an increase in effort. In fact, a slight reduction is more likely. Since effort increases are not expected, NMFS does not believe that introducing a limited access permit in this fishery is necessary at this time. Nevertheless, this action will implement scientifically-based quotas and landings will be closely monitored to ensure that total mortality does not exceed scientifically-determined limits. If, in fact, directed smooth dogfish effort increases, protections will be in place to ensure that fishing pressure does not exceed sustainable levels while NMFS considers if additional measures are necessary.

    Comment 16: NMFS received a comment from the State of Maryland stating that they are concerned about the measure to close the fishery when 80 percent of the smoothhound quota has been caught. They feel that this measure may limit access to some states later in the year. The State of Maryland recommends working with the other Atlantic states to close each state's smoothhound fishery once 80 percent of the state's allocation has been harvested.

    Response: In all quota-managed Atlantic shark fisheries, NMFS closes the applicable fishery when landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota. This measure mitigates for possible late reporting, which could result in quota overharvests. Based on the success of this measure in the other shark fisheries, NMFS prefers to implement the 80-percent accountability measure (AM) in the smoothhound shark fisheries as finalized in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP rather than risk exceeding the quotas in the smoothhound fisheries.

    Through Addendum II to the Coastal Sharks Interstate FMP, the ASMFC instituted state shares of the Federal smoothhound shark quota. Although this system was finalized in May 2013 before the Federal smoothhound shark quota was effective, Addendum II proactively divided the quota among several of the Atlantic states in an amount that would total 100 percent of the Federal quota. This agreement among the Atlantic states to limit each state's harvest does not impact nor influence the Federal quota. Although NMFS recognizes that closing the fishery when landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota could prevent some states from harvesting their full state share of the quota per the ASMFC plan, the measure is an important and effective way to ensure that the sustainability of the smoothhound shark fishery is not jeopardized by overharvests.

    Comment 17: NMFS received a comment stating that NMFS should not implement the smoothhound retention allowance from the 2011 HMS Trawl Rule because the increased retention will lead to increased fishing mortality and this mortality will not be adequately quantified and counted against the quota. There are no reporting requirements with open access permits and fisheries tend to underreport incidental catches.

    Response: Since January 1, 2013, all commercial landings of Atlantic HMS, regardless of gear type or permit, are required to be reported on a weekly basis. Through these weekly reports, NMFS monitors commercial landings of Atlantic HMS, which will include smoothhound sharks upon implementation of this action. Trawl gear and open access permits do not present unique reporting concerns. Allowing smoothhound sharks to be landed by fishermen who use trawl gear or possess an open access permit does not raise unique concerns about the sustainability of the fishery.

    General Comments

    Comment 18: NMFS received comments that Amendment 9 is too narrowly focused on smoothhound sharks and should instead consider all species managed under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. The commenter asserts that a multispecies management approach is preferable. Furthermore, the commenter noted that NMFS' decision to include all HMS in a single, consolidated FMP effectively categorizes all HMS fisheries as a single “fishery.” Thus, all National Standards (NS) under the Magnuson-Stevens Act must be considered in the context of all HMS, not just smoothhound sharks and Atlantic sharks. Specifically, the commenter suggested that NS 3 (“To the extent practicable, an individual stock of fish shall be managed as a unit throughout its range, and interrelated stocks of fish shall be managed as a unit or in close coordination”) requires NMFS to optimize access and management of all HMS, not just smoothhound sharks and Atlantic sharks. Additionally, the commenter felt that NS 1, which mandates achieving optimum yield from each fishery, should be applied across all HMS since all HMS should be categorized as one single fishery.

    Response: While a multispecies management approach is advantageous in some instances, NMFS disagrees that Amendment 9 should broadly consider all HMS (including tunas, billfish, and swordfish) as a single fishery. In 2006, NMFS merged all Atlantic HMS management into a single, consolidated FMP. In the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP, NMFS noted that the interrelated nature of HMS fisheries and the need to consider management actions together necessitated merging the two existing HMS FMPs into one FMP. In addition, NMFS identified some adverse ramifications stemming from separation of the plans, including unnecessary administrative redundancy and complexity, loss of efficiency, and public confusion over the management process. It is important to note that NMFS consolidated management of all HMS under one FMP because of the interrelated nature of some of the fisheries and to streamline administration, not because all HMS constitute a single fishery. As appropriate, NMFS analyzes the impacts of management actions for each HMS fishery and optimizes management for all affected HMS fisheries. The Environmental Assessment appropriately considers any effects on the environment, including effects on other fish stocks or fisheries that may result from the actions in Amendment 9. The analyses show that the actions considered in Amendment 9 are unlikely to affect non-smoothhound shark fisheries or Atlantic shark fisheries. The management objectives are narrowly focused on smoothhound sharks, smooth dogfish, and/or Atlantic sharks caught in gillnet gear, the predominant gear type used in the directed smoothhound shark fishery. None of the fisheries considered in this action are likely to encounter other non-smoothhound shark or Atlantic shark in large numbers. Billfish, swordfish, tunas, and pelagic sharks are unlikely to co-occur with the smoothhound sharks nor can swordfish or tunas be retained if caught in gillnet gear. The one exception is the measure to establish an effective date for the 2011 HMS Trawl Rule. Trawl gear does have the potential to interact with a variety of HMS, including smoothhound sharks, Atlantic sharks, and swordfish. The 2011 HMS Trawl rule, recognizing the potential interaction between trawl gear and some HMS, considered an allowance for the limited retention of incidentally caught swordfish and smoothhound sharks. As such, that action considered impacts and explicitly optimized access to affected HMS. With respect to consistency with NS 1 and 3, each HMS management action considers all National Standards in the context of the affected HMS. For detailed information about Amendment 9's consistency with National Standards, please see Section 10 of the Final EA.

    Changes From the Proposed Rule (79 FR 46217, August 7, 2014)

    NMFS made several changes from the proposed rule, as described below.

    1. Catch Composition and “No Other Sharks” Requirements for Removing Smooth Dogfish Fins at Sea (§ 635.30(c)(5)(iii)). The SCA has provisions related to the removal of smooth dogfish fins while at sea that apply when an individual is fishing “for” smooth dogfish. Thus, the proposed rule considered sub-alternatives to apply the exception only to those fishing with the object of commercially harvesting smooth dogfish by focusing on catch composition. This final rule is not implementing the preferred catch composition sub-alternative (75 percent of retained catch must be smooth dogfish), but another sub-alternative (25 percent smooth dogfish) that had been discussed in the proposed rule and analyzed in the draft EA.

    NMFS received numerous public comments that the 75 percent catch composition requirement did not adequately reflect the mixed nature of the smooth dogfish fishery and would lead to excessive dead discards. Based on this public comment, NMFS reconsidered the 75 percent smooth dogfish requirement, and determined that it does not properly reflect fishing “for” smooth dogfish. According to public comment, fishermen that fish for smooth dogfish often encounter and retain other species of fish. NMFS verified this by evaluating data from vessel trip reports (VTR). On trips that landed smooth dogfish caught in sink gillnet gear between 2003 and 2014, smooth dogfish only made up 36 percent of the total retained catch while other species such as croaker, bluefish, monkfish, and spiny dogfish made up the remainder. See Final EA at Section 3.4.1 for further detail. If NMFS retained the 75 percent requirement, then this could result in dead discards as well as lost revenues from those species. The 25 percent requirement adopted in the final rule better reflects fishing “for” smooth dogfish, and is within the range of alternatives considered and analyzed in the proposed rule.

    Related to the catch composition change and concern about discards, this final rule also makes a change from the proposed rule by allowing retention of other shark species provided that their fins remain naturally attached to the carcass through offloading. This measure is included based on public comment and additional analyses and recognizing that a prohibition on having other sharks on board would likely increase regulatory discards. Specifically, additional analyses indicate that the smooth dogfish fishery is more mixed than previously thought, and that other sharks, particularly spiny dogfish and common thresher sharks, make up a portion of the catch and revenue for fishermen also fishing for smooth dogfish. Given that fishermen process smooth dogfish as they are brought on board, including removing the fins where allowable, the proposed rule approach would have forced fishermen to choose whether to land smooth dogfish with the fins removed (and discard the other species) or land the other species of shark with the fins attached and discard the smooth dogfish with their fins removed at sea. As proposed, a fisherman who wanted to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea would not have been able to retain non-smooth dogfish sharks even if those sharks were dead and otherwise legally retainable based on species, size, and permits. In either situation, as proposed, dead discards would likely have increased given the mixed catches in the smooth dogfish fishery. Thus, other sharks will be allowed on board when smooth dogfish fins have been removed at sea as long as the fins of the non-smooth dogfish sharks remain naturally attached through offloading, as is currently required.

    Allowing other sharks on board should not raise enforcement concerns or impact the conservation of non-smooth dogfish sharks because smooth dogfish carcasses can be readily differentiated from other shark carcasses by the presence of a pre-dorsal ridge. While other “ridgeback sharks” have an interdorsal ridge, smooth dogfish are the only shark species in the Atlantic that have a pre-dorsal ridge. We will work with the Office of Law Enforcement to ensure that they are aware of this identifying feature and will update outreach information for shark identification including relevant workshops as appropriate to make permitted shark fishermen and dealers aware of the distinction. NMFS will also continue to monitor all shark catches and discards and take additional action, if necessary to address non-compliance.

    The changes in this final rule are consistent with the conservation and management objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and Amendment 9 and the SCA. These changes will not impact the conservation of smooth dogfish or other sharks because landings of these species, regardless of catch composition percentage, will be capped at or under the commercial quota through AMs and/or closures. These changes thus will not have an effect on the status of these stocks, nor are other adverse environmental impacts anticipated. They will also provide for a flexible, profitable, and sustainable smooth dogfish fishery.

    2. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Commercial Smoothhound Shark Quotas (§ 635.27(b)(1)(xi)). NMFS proposed a smoothhound shark quota equal to the maximum annual landings from 2004-2013 plus two standard deviations (1,739.9 mt dw) using commercial landings data in the absence of a stock assessment and methodology outlined in Amendment 3. At that time, NMFS anticipated that the SEDAR 39 stock assessment for smoothhound sharks would be completed in 2014. Consequently, the proposed rule discussed, and the draft EA analyzed, a quota alternative that would “implement a TAC and smoothhound shark quota(s) consistent with the results of the 2014 smoothhound shark stock assessment if the results become available before publication of the final rule for this action.” (See Alternative B4 in the Draft EA for Amendment 9). The proposed rule also stated that “[t]he 2014 smoothhound shark stock assessment could separate one or more of the stocks into regional stocks between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico,” and that for the purposes of the environmental analyses, “NMFS assumes one overarching quota but these alternatives and analyses could apply to multiple regions as well.”

    During the public comment period on the proposed rule and draft EA, commenters expressed concern about implementing a smoothhound shark commercial quota based on historical landings, and requested that NMFS wait for SEDAR 39 to be completed. Based on these comments, in this final rule, NMFS is implementing region-specific commercial quotas based on SEDAR 39. Specifically, this final rule establishes an overall TAC of 1,940.2 mt implemented as follows: An Atlantic regional smoothhound shark TAC of 1,430.6 mt dw with a commercial quota of 1,201.7 mt dw, and a Gulf of Mexico regional smoothhound shark TAC of 509.6 mt dw with a commercial quota of 336.4 mt dw. Although the TAC identified in the final rule is inclusive of sources of mortality other than a commercial quota (which is thus necessarily less than the TAC), the overall TAC in the final rule is only 201 mt more than the 1,739.9 mt dw commercial quota from the proposed rule. Thus, establishing a TAC of this level does not raise concerns about requiring additional environmental analyses or additional regulatory action, which may have been the case if the stock assessment had identified a significantly greater allowable TAC (and resultant commercial quota) than those anticipated and analyzed in the proposed rule. The proposed rule presented and analyzed an alternative that anticipated the stock assessment would determine that “the commercial smoothhound shark quota should be set at approximately equal to or greater than 1,739.9 mt dw.” As acknowledged in the EA, even with a higher quota, effort is likely to remain the same relative to current effort. Thus the ecological, economic and social impacts of quota establishing a quota greater than 1,739.9 mt would be within the range analyzed in the Draft EA. In the final rule, the combined regional commercial quotas (1,538.1 mt) are twelve percent less than the original proposed overall quota (1,739.9 mt) but higher than recent annual commercial landings. Both the commercial quotas and the overall TAC in this final rule are within the range of actions considered in the proposed rule and analyzed in the draft EA.

    With regard to the regional quota approach, in the Draft EA, NMFS acknowledged that the stock could be split between two regions based on the SEDAR 39 stock assessments and that the analyses performed for one over-arching quota could apply to multiple regions. Based on information supplied during the Data Workshop for SEDAR 39, including tagging data, the stock assessment scientists decided to split smoothhound sharks into two regional stocks, with smooth dogfish in the Atlantic and smooth dogfish, Florida smoothhound, and Gulf smoothhound in the Gulf of Mexico. This regional split, however, does not affect the impact analyses detailed in the Draft EA under Alternative B4, scenario 4. As noted in Section 3.4 of the Draft EA and as confirmed in the SEDAR 39 stock assessments, the smoothhound shark fishery primarily occurs in the Mid-Atlantic region and is composed entirely of smooth dogfish catch. In the Gulf of Mexico region, only a very small, negligible, number of commercial landings occur and there is no commercial fishery. Thus, the Draft EA Alternative B4 quota analyses were informed entirely by data from the Atlantic region including catch location, price data, landings data, and fishery operations. If NMFS applied the single over-arching quota analyses to regional smoothhound shark quotas at the Draft stage, there would have been no information available for the Gulf of Mexico and, with no commercial fishery in that region, a finding of neutral impact. In the Atlantic region where the fishery is located, all impacts detailed in the Draft EA would apply because all data, including catch location, price data, landings data, and fishery operations, came from the Atlantic. Furthermore, the Atlantic smoothhound shark stock assessment would not have resulted in any new impacts because the assessment found current harvest levels and effort are sustainable with no changes required. In summary, the impact analyses detailed in the Draft EA under Alternative B4, scenario 4 are equally applicable to two regional quotas as to one over-arching quota. The changes in this final rule are consistent with the conservation and management objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and Amendment 9 and based on the best scientific information available. Implementing TACs based on the stock assessment results would ensure continued sustainable harvest of smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions and increase the likelihood of maintaining healthy smoothhound shark stocks in both regions.

    3. Administrative changes (§§ 635.2, 635.7(g)). NMFS is making minor clarifications to the drift and sink gillnet definitions at § 635.2 to indicate that drift gillnets typically are “floating” in the water column and that sink gillnets are fished on or near the “ocean” bottom and can have weights “and/or” anchors. Additionally, NMFS is changing the administrative processes by which vessels are selected for at-sea observer coverage at § 635.7(g). The changes were made, in part, based on consultation with the Northeast and Southeast Observer Programs so that smoothhound shark observer selection is consistent with both programs. The administrative changes to this section should not have any practical effect; rather, they will ensure that the selection processes currently in place may continue.

    4. Administrative Additions (§ 635.19(d)). NMFS is adding language to § 635.19(d) to indicate that trawl gear is an authorized gear for the capture and retention of smoothhound sharks subject to the restrictions specified in § 635.24(a)(7). Regulatory text to authorize retention of smoothhound sharks caught in trawl gear was added to other sections of § 635, including § 635.24(a)(7), and was discussed in the proposed rule but was inadvertently omitted from this part of the regulatory text itself. No substantive changes will occur as a result.

    Commercial Fishing Season Notification

    Pursuant to the measures being implemented in this final rule, the 2016 base quotas for smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions would be 1,201.7 mt dw and 336.4 mt dw, respectively. The fishing season for the smoothhound shark fishery will open on January 1, 2016.

    Classification

    The AA has determined that this final rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

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

    A Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) was prepared for this rule. The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action. The full FRFA and analysis of economic and ecological impacts are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA follows.

    Section 604(a)(1) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires a succinct statement of the need for and objectives of the rule. Chapter 1 of the Final EA and the final rule fully describe the need for and objectives of this final rule. The purpose of this final rulemaking, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the ESA, and the MMPA, and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, is to provide for the sustainable management of smoothhound sharks and Atlantic shark species. The management objectives are to achieve the following: Implement the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA; implement smoothhound shark quotas based on the results of SEDAR 39; implement Term and Condition 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp related to gillnet impacts on ESA-listed species; and revise Atlantic shark gillnet VMS regulations in compliance with the ALWTRP, per the MMPA.

    Section 604(a)(2) of the RFA requires a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA and a summary of the assessment of the Agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made in the rule as a result of such comments. NMFS received many comments on the proposed rule and the Draft EA during the public comment period. A summary of these comments and the Agency's responses, including changes as a result of public comment, are included above. NMFS did not receive comments specifically on the IRFA.

    Section 604(a)(4) of the RFA requires agencies to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The small business size standard for Finfish Fishing is $ 20.5 million, for Shellfish Fishing is $5.5 million, and for Other Marine Fishing is $7.5 million. See 79 FR 33647 (June 24, 2014). Under any of these standards, all Atlantic HMS permit holders subject to this rulemaking would be considered small entities.

    NMFS does not have exact numbers on affected commercial fishermen. The smoothhound shark commercial permit has not yet been established, so NMFS does not know how many smoothhound shark fishermen will be impacted. An annual average of 169 vessels reported retaining smooth dogfish through VTR from 2003-2014. This is NMFS' best estimate of affected smoothhound shark fishermen.

    Additionally, while the retention of sharks in Federal waters requires one of two limited access commercial shark permits, these permits do not specific gear type, including gillnets. For this reason, NMFS does not know the exact number of affected shark gillnet fishermen. As of May 21, 2015, there are 208 directed shark and 253 incidental shark permit holders. Logbook records indicate that there are usually about 18 Atlantic shark directed permit holders that use gillnet gear in any year. However, the universe of directed permit holders using gillnet gear can change from year to year and could include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark directed permit.

    As of May 21, 2015, there are 97 Atlantic shark dealers. These dealers could be affected by these measures to varying degrees. Not all of these dealers purchase smoothhound sharks and those that do are concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic region. NMFS will know more about the number of affected dealers when smoothhound reporting requirements become effective. Similarly, not all of these dealers purchase Atlantic sharks caught with gillnet gear. The number is likely low and is concentrated in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

    Section 604(a)(5) of the RFA requires Agencies to describe any new reporting, record-keeping and other compliance requirements. The Federal commercial smoothhound shark permit requirement analyzed in Amendment 3 will become effective upon the effective date of this rule. NMFS submitted a PRA change request to The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add this permit to the existing HMS permit PRA package (OMB control number 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 November 2015, NMFS submitted a revision to transfer the previously approved commercial smoothhound shark permit from the HMS permit PRA package (OMB Control Number 0648-0327) to the Southeast Regional Office (SERO) permit PRA package (OMB Control Number 0648-0205). That request is still pending approval. Once OMB approves the request, NMFS will issue a notice in the Federal Register announcing the approval of the information collection requirements and the availability of applications for the commercial smoothhound shark permit. This final rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been approved by OMB under OMB Control number 0648-0372. Public reporting burden will be reduced under the modified VMS requirements under this final rule. The burden estimate burden will be reduced by this rule, but the changes will be requested as part of the 2016 extension, at which time the estimate of the burden change will be more accurate.

    The RFA requires a description of the steps the Agency has taken to minimize any significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in the final rule and the reason that each one of the other significant alternatives to the rule considered by the Agency that affect small entities was rejected. These impacts are discussed below and in the FRFA for Amendment 9. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603 (c)(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of “significant” alternatives that could assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. These categories of alternatives are: Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; use of performance rather than design standards; and, exemptions from coverage of the rule for small entities.

    In order to meet the objectives of this rule, consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act and ESA, we cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected are considered small entities. Thus, there are no alternatives discussed that fall under the first and fourth categories described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of this rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Thus, there are no alternatives considered under the third category. As described below, NMFS analyzed several different alternatives in this rulemaking and provided the rationale for identifying the preferred alternative to achieve the desired objective.

    The alternatives considered and analyzed are described below. The FRFA assumes that each vessel will have similar catch and gross revenues to show the relative impact of the final action on vessels.

    Alternatives To Implement the Smooth Dogfish-Specific Provisions of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010

    With regard to the implementation of the SCA, NMFS considered two alternatives. Alternative A1, which would not implement the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA and would instead implement the fins-attached requirement finalized in Amendment 3, and Alternative A2, which would implement the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA and has sub-alternatives that address the specific elements of the of the smooth dogfish-specific provisions.

    Alternative A1 would not implement the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA and would require all smooth dogfish to be landed with fins naturally attached. This alternative would change current fishing practices since smooth dogfish caught in the directed and incidental fisheries are fully processed while at sea. As a result, this Alternative A1 would likely lead to reduced landings and a lower ex-vessel price because the product would not be fully processed. This could lead to adverse socioeconomic impacts.

    Under Alternative A2, the preferred alternative, an allowance for the removal of smooth dogfish fins at sea would increase efficiency in the smooth dogfish fishery and provide a more highly processed product for fishermen to sell to dealers. Quantifying the financial benefits is difficult because baseline effort and increases in efficiency cannot be calculated, but the benefit would fall somewhere between the two extremes of $0 and $699,364, the ex-vessel value of the entire fishery (Section 3.6.2). Assuming that amount is spread evenly across all 169 vessels per year that retain smooth dogfish (Section 6.1), the benefit to individual vessels would be $4,138. However, vessels and trips retain smooth dogfish in widely varying amounts, thus, this per vessel estimate may not provide an accurate picture of individual revenues.

    Supporting entities, such as bait and tackle suppliers, ice suppliers, dealers, and other similar businesses, could experience increased revenue if the efficiency of fin removal at sea results in a higher quality product. However, while supporting businesses would benefit from the increased profitability of the fishery, they do not solely rely on the smooth dogfish fishery. In the long-term, it is likely that changes in the smooth dogfish fishery would not have large impacts on these businesses.

    Catch Composition Sub-Alternatives

    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1a, smooth dogfish could make up any portion of the retained catch on board provided that no other sharks are retained. This sub-alternative would authorize smooth dogfish fishermen to retain any non-shark species of fish while still availing themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance. Smooth dogfish are often caught incidentally during other fishing operations, thus, this sub-alternative would allow fishermen to maximize the profitability of each trip and allow individual operators the flexibility to make decisions, before the trip and while on the water, as to the retained catch composition that would maximize ex-vessel revenues. Under this alternative, fishermen could remove smooth dogfish fins at sea during any type of trip including those trips that are directing effort on other non-shark species. This alternative would maintain the current practice in the fishery and vessels could continue to have ex-vessel revenues of $699,364 per year across the entire fishery (Section 3.6.2).

    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1b, fishermen could avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance only if smooth dogfish comprise 25 percent of the retained catch on board. This sub-alternative would authorize smooth dogfish fishermen to retain some non-shark species of fish while still availing themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance. This sub-alternative would allow some fishermen to maintain the profitability of each trip and allow individual operators some flexibility to make decisions, before the trip and while on the water, as to the retained catch composition that would increase ex-vessel revenues. This increase in flexibility would be to a lesser extent than Sub-Alternative A2-1a which would not have a catch composition requirement, but greater than the other sub-alternatives that limit the fins-attached exception to higher catch composition percentages. This sub-alternative would decrease total ex-vessel revenues relative to the current level of $699,364 per year (Section 3.6.2).

    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1c fishermen could avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance only if smooth dogfish comprise 75 percent of the retained catch on board. This sub-alternative would allow fishermen limited flexibility to maintain the profitability of each trip and would allow fishermen to make decisions, before the trip and while on the water, as to the retained catch composition that would increase ex-vessel revenues. While limited, the flexibility in this alternative would be greater than in sub-alternative A2-1d, which would require smooth dogfish catch composition of 100 percent. Because some fishermen catch smooth dogfish along with other species, this sub-alternative could decrease the number of mixed species trips where fishermen could take advantage of the at-sea fin removal allowance. This sub-alternative would likely decrease total ex-vessel revenues relative to the current level of $699,364 per year.

    Sub-Alternative A2-1d would require smooth dogfish to comprise 100 percent of the retained catch on board the vessel in order for fishermen to avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance for smooth dogfish. This sub-alternative would eliminate the ability of mixed trips to take advantage of the at-sea fin removal, and would reduce flexibility in deciding which species to retain on each fishing trip. However, approximately 31 vessels (annual average 2003-2014) on directed smooth dogfish trips often only retain smooth dogfish due to the processing practices in place. Thus, these fishermen would not be impacted by a 100 percent smooth dogfish requirement and would benefit from the ability to remove the smooth dogfish fins at sea. This sub-alternative would likely decrease total ex-vessel revenues relative to the current level of $699,364 per year.

    Sub-Alternative A2-1e, the preferred sub-alternative, would, similar to Sub-Alternative A2-1b, allow fishermen to avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance only if smooth dogfish comprise 25 percent of the retained catch on board. However, under Sub-Alternative A2-1e, other sharks could be retained as well, provided they are maintained with the fins naturally attached to the carcass. This sub-alternative would allow some fishermen to maintain the profitability of each trip and allow individual operators some flexibility to make decisions, before the trip and while on the water, as to the retained catch composition that would increase ex-vessel revenues. This increase in flexibility would be to a lesser extent than Sub-Alternative A2-1a, which would not have a catch composition requirement, but greater than the other sub-alternatives that limit the fins-attached exception to higher catch composition percentages. This sub-alternative would decrease total ex-vessel revenues relative to the current level of $699,364 per year (Section 3.6.2).

    State Fishing Permit Requirement Sub-Alternatives

    Sub-Alternative A2-2a would require federal smoothhound permitted fishermen to obtain a smooth dogfish-specific state commercial fishing license in order to be able to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea. The requirement to obtain a smooth dogfish-specific state commercial fishing license may be more difficult for fishermen who are in states that do not have smooth dogfish-specific permits in place. This sub-alternative would result in the increased burden on fishermen to obtain another permit, and depending upon the state, could result in an additional permit charge. Since most permits are valid for one year, fishermen would likely need to renew the permit each year for as long as they wish to retain smooth dogfish and remove the fins while at sea. Because not all states have smooth dogfish-specific permits, NMFS does not prefer this alternative.

    Sub-Alternative A2-2b, the preferred alternative, would require fishermen to hold any state commercial fishing permit that allows retention of smooth dogfish. It is likely, however, that most smooth dogfish fishermen already hold this type of state permit and would be unaffected by this requirement. This sub-alternative would likely be the most straightforward for regulatory compliance because the permit requirement would be the simpler than sub-alternative A2-2a. Thus, NMFS prefers this sub-alternative.

    Geographic Applicability of Exception Sub-Alternatives

    NMFS considered two alternatives for Geographic Application of the SCA exception. Under Sub-Alternative A2-3a, the exception would apply along the Atlantic Coast and the Florida west coast in the Gulf of Mexico. As explained earlier, as a practical matter, smooth dogfish and other smoothhound species are indistinguishable, although smoothhound are distinguishable from other ridgeback sharks by the presence of a pre-dorsal ridge. The best available scientific information indicates that smooth dogfish are likely the only smoothhound shark species along the Atlantic coast. In the Gulf of Mexico, however, there are at least three different smoothhound species, with no practical way to distinguish among them. This sub-alternative would apply the smooth dogfish exception 50 nautical miles from the baseline of all the States that fall under the SCA definition of “State.” This sub-alternative could result in other smoothhound sharks indirectly falling under the exception, because they cannot be distinguished from smooth dogfish. NMFS does not expect any impacts because there is no commercial fishery for smooth dogfish in the Gulf of Mexico at this time. However, NMFS does not prefer this sub-alternative because, if a fishery does develop, species misidentification could result in enforcement action.

    Under Sub-Alternative 3b, the preferred sub-alternative, the exception would only apply along the Atlantic coast and not the Florida west coast in the Gulf of Mexico. By not extending the exception into the Gulf of Mexico, this sub-alternative would ensure that the SCA's exception to the fins-attached requirements for smooth dogfish would only apply along the Atlantic Coast where the population is almost entirely smooth dogfish, reducing identification problems and inadvertent finning violations. NMFS does not expect any impacts because, at this time, there is no commercial fishery for smooth dogfish in the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS prefers this sub-alternative because it simplifies enforcement and compliance without adverse impacts. This sub-alternative would not affect total ex-vessel revenues relative to the current level of $699,364 per year.

    Smoothhound Shark Commercial Quotas

    With regard to the smoothhound quota alternatives, NMFS considered four alternatives. Alternative B1, which would implement the smoothhound shark quota finalized in Amendment 3; Alternative B2, which would establish a rolling quota based on the most recent five years of landings data; Alternative B3, which would calculate the smoothhound quota using the same method as in Amendment 3 but would use updated smoothhound landings information; and Alternative B4, which would establish smoothhound shark quotas that reflects the results of the SEDAR 39 smoothhound shark stock assessments.

    Alternative B1 would implement the quota finalized in Amendment 3 (715.5 mt dw), which was based on highest annual landings from (1998 to 2007) and adding two standard deviations. Current reported smoothhound shark landings are higher than the quota level in Alternative B1. As such, implementing this quota would prevent fishermen from fishing at current levels, resulting in lost revenues. In 2010 when landings peaked, total smoothhound shark landings totaled 2,688,249 lb dw (ACCSP data) resulting in ex-vessel revenues across the entire smoothhound sink gillnet fishery of $2,458,135 (2,688,249 lb of meat, 322,590 lb of fins). Implementation of the Amendment 3 quota (715.5 mt dw) would result in ex-vessel revenues of only $1,442,367 (1,577,391 lb of meat, 189,287 lb of fins), which is $1,015,768 less than current ex-vessel revenues. Both of these estimates assume $1.62/lb for fins, $0.72/lb for meat, and a 12 percent fin-to-carcass ratio (prices based on 2014 dealer data and fin-to-carcass ratio based on the SCA). Seventy-five percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark fishery come from sink gillnets and there are approximately 77 vessels that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks in any given year. Assuming an average of 77 sink gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota in this alternative would result in annual ex-vessel revenues of $18,732 per vessel which is less than 2010 ex-vessel revenues of $31,923 per vessel. This is an average across all directed and incidental sink gillnet vessels and this individual annual vessel ex-vessel revenue may fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound sharks.

    The quota in Alternative B1 does not accurately characterize current reported landings of smoothhound sharks. Vessels that fish for smoothhound sharks likely fished opportunistically on multiple species of coastal migratory fish and elasmobranches, and it is unlikely that any sector within the fishing industry in the Northeast (fisherman, dealer, or processor) relies wholly upon smoothhound sharks. Longer-term impacts are expected to be neutral given the small size of the fishery and the generalist nature of the sink gillnet fishery.

    Alternative B2 would establish a rolling smoothhound shark quota set above the maximum annual landings for the preceding five years; this quota would be recalculated annually to account for the most recent landing trends within the smoothhound complex (2016 quota would be 1,729 mt dw based on 2010-2014 data). The 2016 quota under this alternative is likely to result in annual revenues of $3,485,466 (3,811,753 lb of meat, 457,410 lb of fins) assuming an ex-vessel price of $1.62 lb for fins and $0.72 lb for meat. Seventy-five percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark fishery come from sink gillnets and there are approximately 77 vessels that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an average of 77 sink gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota in this alternative would result in individual vessel annual revenues of $45,266 which is more than 2010 ex-vessel revenues of $31,923 per vessel. This is an average across all sink gillnet vessels, regardless of catch levels, and this individual annual vessel revenue may fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound sharks.

    Setting the quota above current landings levels should allow the fishery to continue, rather than be closed, allowing for NMFS to collect more information that can be used in future stock assessments. Alternative B2 is consistent with the intent of Amendment 3, which was to minimize changes to the fishery while information on catch and participants was collected. Because landings in the smoothhound shark fishery are likely underreported, it is unclear at this time whether the increase in reported landings is due to existing smoothhound fishermen reporting in anticipation of future management or increased effort (e.g., new entrants into the fishery). While a rolling quota would cover all current reporting and likely cover all underreporting of landings, the fishery could grow exponentially if reported landings continue to increase over consecutive years, possibly resulting in stock declines and in turn a potential loss of revenue to the fishing industry. The rolling quota could also lead to lower quotas in consecutive years if landings decrease over time. Thus, the changing nature of the rolling quota could lead to uncertainty in the fishery and could cause direct and indirect minor adverse socioeconomic impacts in the long term.

    Alternative B3 would create a smoothhound quota equal to the maximum annual landings from 2005-2014 plus two standard deviations and would equal 1,733.9 mt dw. This alternative would establish a smoothhound quota two standard deviations above the maximum annual landings reported over the last ten years which is the method used to calculate the smoothhound shark quota that was finalized in Amendment 3. This quota would result in potential annual revenues in the entire fishery of $3,495,345 (3,822,556 lb of meat, 458,707 lb of fins) assuming an ex-vessel price of $1.62 lb for fins and $0.72 for meat. Seventy-five percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark fishery come from sink gillnets and there are approximately 77 vessels that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an average of 77 sink gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota proposed in this alternative would result in individual vessel annual revenues of $45,394. This is an average across all sink gillnet vessels, regardless of catch levels, and this individual annual vessel revenue may fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound sharks.

    At the time of publication for the Draft EA, the SEDAR 39 smoothhound stock assessments were underway, but not yet complete. In anticipation that the final stock assessments could be finalized before this final rule, NMFS considered a range of scenarios under Alternative B4 to implement potential results and scenarios, recognizing that results beyond the scope of those analyzed could require additional analysis or regulatory action. The SEDAR 39 stock assessment is now final; thus, the scenarios considered in the Draft EA are no longer appropriate to consider. Rather, NMFS has analyzed the actual results of the stock assessments, which would establish an Atlantic smoothhound commercial quota of 1,201.7 mt dw and a Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark quota of 336.4 mt dw. These quotas would result in annual revenues of $2,422,251.54 (2,649,006 lb of meat, 317,881 lb fins), assuming an ex-vessel price of $1.62 lb for fins and $0.72 lb for meat. Seventy-five percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark fishery come from sink gillnets and there are approximately 77 vessels that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an average of 77 sink gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota in this alternative would result in individual vessel annual revenues of $31,458. This is an average across all sink gillnet vessels, regardless of catch levels, and this individual annual vessel revenue may fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound sharks. The quotas under Alternative B4 are both consistent with the intent of Amendment 3, which was to minimize changes to the fishery while information on catch and participants was collected, while also implementing science-based quotas to ensure continued sustainable harvest of smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. NMFS anticipates short-term, direct minor beneficial socioeconomic impacts under this alternative given the combined commercial quotas for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions under this alternative would result in increased revenues compared to the commercial quota under Alternative B1, though lower than those anticipated under Alternatives B2 or B3. These commercial quotas would allow the fishery to continue at the rate and level observed in recent years into the future without having to be shut down prematurely. Given that the fishery would expect to operate as it currently does, NMFS anticipates in the short term, indirect, minor, positive socioeconomic impacts for shark dealers and processor. Since this alternative establishes scientifically-based quotas and would result in beneficial socioeconomic impacts, NMFS prefers this alternative.

    Biological Opinion Implementation

    In order to implement TC 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp in the smoothhound shark fishery, NMFS considered 4 alternatives. The No Action alternative, which would not implement TC 4 of the 2012 Shark BiOp; alternative C2, which would require smoothhound shark fishermen to conduct net checks at least every 2 hours; alternative C3, which would require smoothhound shark fishermen to limit their gillnet soak time to 24 hours and those smoothhound shark fishermen that also have a Atlantic shark limited access permit to check their nets at least every 2 hours; and finally, Alternative C4, which would require smoothhound and Atlantic shark fishermen using sink gillnet to soak their nets no longer than 24 hours and those fishermen using drift gillnets to check their nets at least every 2 hours.

    Alternative C1 would not implement the BiOp term and condition that would require all smoothhound shark permit holders to either check their gillnet gear at least every 2.0 hours or limit their soak time to no more than 24 hours. This alternative would likely result in short and long-term neutral direct socioeconomic impacts. Under Alternative C1, smoothhound shark fishermen would continue to fish as they do now and so this alternative would not have economic impacts that differ from the status quo. Similarly, this alternative would likely result in neutral short and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts since supporting businesses including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers would not be impacted.

    Alternative C2 would require smoothhound shark fishermen using gillnet gear to conduct net checks at least every 2.0 hours to check for and remove any protected species, and would likely result in short and long-term direct moderate adverse socioeconomic impacts. Some smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen fish multiple nets at one time or deploy their net(s), leave the vicinity, and return later. Alternative C2 would require these fishermen to check each gillnet at least once every 2 hours, making fishing with multiple nets or leaving nets unattended difficult. This would likely lead to a reduction in effort and landing levels, resulting in lower ex-vessel revenues. Quantifying the loss of income is difficult without information characterizing the fishery including the number of nets fished. However, limiting the amount of fishing effort in this manner is likely to reduce total landings of smoothhound sharks or, in order to keep landing levels high, extend the length of trips. Landings of incidentally caught fish species could be reduced as well, although under preferred Sub-Alternative A2-1c, smoothhound shark fishermen that wish to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea could not retain other species. This alternative would not have a large impact on supporting businesses such as dealers or bait, tackle, and ice suppliers since these businesses do not solely rely on the smoothhound shark fishery. The smoothhound shark fishery is small relative to other fisheries. Thus, Alternative C2 would likely result in short and long-term indirect neutral socioeconomic impacts. Alternative C2 would impact the approximately 77 vessels that annually catch smoothhound sharks with gillnet gear (annual average from 2003-2014, Table 3.1).

    Alternative C3 would establish a gillnet soak time limit of 24 hours for smoothhound shark permit holders. Under this alternative, fishermen holding both an Atlantic shark limited access permit and a smoothhound shark permit must abide by the 24 hour soak time restriction and conduct net checks at least every 2 hours. This alternative would likely result in short- and long-term direct minor adverse socioeconomic impacts to those smoothhound permitted fishermen that also have an Atlantic shark limited access permit and therefore would be required to check their nets at least every 2 hours. Currently, smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen sometimes fish multiple nets or leave nets unattended for short periods of time. Rarely are these nets soaked for more than 24 hours, thus, this alternative would not impact smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen that do not have an Atlantic shark limited access permit. Adverse socioeconomic impacts resulting from this alternative would likely occur to the subset of smoothhound shark fishermen that also hold an Atlantic shark limited access permit. These smoothhound shark fishermen would be at a disadvantage to other smoothhound shark fishermen that do not have an Atlantic shark limited access permit because they would be required to check their gillnets at least every 2 hours which is a large change in the way the smoothhound shark fishery currently operates. Dropping the Atlantic shark permit to avoid the net check requirement is unlikely to be feasible because Atlantic shark permits allow limited access (NMFS is no longer issuing new permits) and cannot be easily obtained. Additionally, pelagic longline fishermen are required to have an incidental or directed shark permit when targeting swordfish or tunas, even if they are not fishing for sharks, due to the likelihood of incidental shark catch. In practical terms, this could result in smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen abiding by the 2 hour net check requirement even if they do not fish for Atlantic sharks and only hold a Atlantic shark limited access permit to fish for swordfish or tunas (note that gillnets cannot be used to target swordfish or tunas, but some vessels may switch gears between trips). For this subset of fishermen, basing gillnet requirements on permit types could introduce fishing inefficiencies when compared to other smoothhound fishermen, likely resulting in adverse socioeconomic impacts to these fishermen. It is unlikely that this alternative would have a large impact on supporting businesses such as dealers or bait, tackle, and ice suppliers since these businesses do not solely rely on the smoothhound shark fishery. The smoothhound shark fishery is small relative to other fisheries. It is difficult to determine the number of fishermen that would be adversely affected because NMFS does not yet know which vessels will obtain a smoothhound shark fishing permit. However, it is likely that this number will be approximately equal to 169 which is the average annual number of vessel that retain smoothhound sharks (Section 3.4).

    Alternative C4, the preferred alternative, would establish a soak time limit of 24 hours for fishermen using sink gillnet gear and a 2 hour net check requirement for fishermen using drift gillnet gear in the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries. Drift gillnets would be defined as those that are unattached to the ocean bottom with a float line at the surface and sink gillnet gear would be defined as those with a weight line that sinks to the ocean bottom, has a submerged float line, and is designed to be fished on or near the bottom. Alternative C4 would likely result in neutral short and long-term direct socioeconomic impacts. Smoothhound shark fishermen, who typically use sink gillnets, would be required to limit soak times to 24 hours and as discussed above, this requirement is unlikely to significantly alter smoothhound shark fishing practices. Drift gillnet fishermen, who are more likely to target Atlantic sharks rather than smoothhound sharks, would be required to check their nets at least every 2 hours, as is currently required. Thus, this alternative is unlikely to have any socioeconomic impacts to Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fishermen because it would not change current fishing practices. Similarly, this alternative would likely result in neutral short and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts because supporting businesses including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers should not be impacted. Alternative C4 would impact the approximately 77 vessels that annually catch smoothhound sharks with gillnet gear (annual average from 2003-2014, Table 3.1). Because Alternative C4 would have minimal economic impact but is still consistent with the 2012 Shark BiOp, NMFS prefers this alternative.

    Atlantic Shark Gillnet Vessel Monitoring System Requirements

    NMFS also considered two alternatives to streamline the current VMS requirements for Atlantic shark fishermen with gillnet gear on board. The No Action alternative would maintain the current requirement to have VMS on board when fishing for Atlantic sharks with gillnet regardless of where the vessel is fishing and alternative D2 would require VMS on board only for Atlantic shark fishermen using gillnet gear in an area specified by the ALWTRP requirements at 50 CFR 229.32.

    Alternative D1 would maintain the current requirement of requiring Atlantic shark permit holders fishing with gillnet gear to have VMS on board, regardless of where the vessel is fishing. These VMS requirements were put in place as an enforcement tool for complying with the ALWTRP requirements set forth in 50 CFR 229.32. Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen are only required to have VMS if they are fishing in the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. See 50 CFR 229.32(h)(2)(i). Purchasing and installing a VMS unit costs approximately $3,500, and monthly data transmission charges cost, on average, approximately $44.00. Because these monthly costs are currently incurred whenever a shark gillnet fishermen is fishing, these costs can affect the fishermen's annual revenues. Although the affected fishermen already have VMS installed, they continue to pay for transmission and maintenance costs, and could need to buy a new unit if theirs fails. It is possible that a NMFS VMS reimbursement program could defray part of the purchase cost, but is not certain. Thus, it is likely that this alternative could have short and long-term direct minor adverse socioeconomic impacts to fishermen due to the cost of purchasing and maintaining a VMS unit. While the retention of sharks in federal waters requires one of two limited access commercial shark permits, these permits do not specify gear type, including gillnets. For this reason, NMFS does not know the exact number of affected shark gillnet fishermen. As of October 11, 2014, there are 206 directed shark and 258 incidental shark permit holders. Logbook records indicate that there are usually about 18 Atlantic shark directed permit holders that use gillnet gear in any year. However, the universe of directed permit holders using gillnet gear can change from year to year and could include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark directed permit.

    Alternative D2, the preferred alternative, would change the gillnet VMS requirements and would require federal directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear on board to use VMS only in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area, pursuant to ALWTRP requirements, and would have short and long-term direct minor beneficial socioeconomic impacts. Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen fishing in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area would still incur the installation costs of the VMS, but data transmission would be limited to those times when the vessel is in this area. Furthermore, shark gillnet fishermen outside of this area that do not fish in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area would not need to install a VMS unit or, if they already have one, maintain the VMS unit or replace a malfunctioning one. Thus, the socioeconomic impacts from this alternative, while still adverse, are of a lesser degree than those under Alternative D1, the No Action alternative. This alternative would likely result in neutral short and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts because supporting businesses, including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers, would not be impacted. While the retention of sharks in federal waters requires one of two limited access commercial shark permits, these permits do not specify gear type, including gillnets. For this reason, NMFS does not know the exact number of shark gillnet fishermen that would be affected by this alternative. As of October 11, 2014, there are 206 directed shark and 258 incidental shark permit holders. Logbook records indicate that there are usually about 18 Atlantic shark directed permit holders that use gillnet gear in any year. However, the universe of directed permit holders using gillnet gear can change from year to year and could include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark directed permit. Because this alternative is more in line with the requirements of the ALWTRP, and because it would reduce socioeconomic impacts while still maintaining beneficial ecological impacts for protected whale species, NMFS prefers this alternative.

    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 0648-0372. Public reporting burden will be reduced under the modified VMS requirements under this final rule. The burden estimate burden will be reduced by this rule, but the changes will be requested as part of the 2016 extension, at which time the estimate of the burden change will be more accurate.

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as “small entity compliance guides.” The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as small entity compliance guide (the guide) was prepared. Copies of this final rule are available from the HMS Management Division (see ADDRESSES) and the guide (i.e., permit holder letter) will be sent to all holders of permits for the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark commercial fisheries. The guide and this final rule will be available upon request.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

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

    Dated: November 12, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

    2. In § 635.2, add definitions for “Atlantic States,” “Drift gillnet,” “Sink gillnet,” and “Smoothhound shark(s)” in alphabetical order to read as follows:
    § 635.2 Definitions.

    Atlantic States, consistent with section 803 of Public law 103-206 (16 U.S.C. 5102), refers to Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the District of Columbia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, for purposes of applying the Shark Conservation Act exception at 50 CFR 635.30(c)(5).

    Drift gillnet means a gillnet that is floating unattached to the ocean bottom and not anchored, secured, or weighted to the ocean bottom.

    Sink gillnet means a gillnet that is designed to be or is fished on or near the ocean bottom in the lower third of the water column by means of a weight line or enough weights and/or anchors that the bottom of the gillnet sinks to, on, or near the ocean bottom.

    Smoothhound shark(s) means one of the species, or part thereof, listed in section E of Table 1 in Appendix A to this part.

    3. In § 635.4, add paragraph (e)(4) and revise paragraph (m)(2) to read as follows:
    § 635.4 Permits and fees.

    (e) * * *

    (4) Owners of vessels that fish for, take, retain, or possess the Atlantic oceanic sharks listed in section E of Table 1 of Appendix A to this part with an intention to sell them must obtain a Federal commercial smoothhound permit. In addition to other permits issued pursuant to this section or other authorities, a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may be issued to a vessel alone or to a vessel that also holds either a Federal Atlantic commercial shark directed or incidental limited access permit.

    (m) * * *

    (2) Shark and swordfish permits. A vessel owner must obtain the applicable limited access permit(s) issued pursuant to the requirements in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit issued under paragraph (e) of this section; or an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit issued under paragraph (o) of this section, if: The vessel is used to fish for or take sharks commercially from the management unit; sharks from the management unit are retained or possessed on the vessel with an intention to sell; or sharks from the management unit are sold from the vessel. A vessel owner must obtain the applicable limited access permit(s) issued pursuant to the requirements in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section, a Swordfish General Commercial permit issued under paragraph (f) of this section, an Incidental HMS Squid Trawl permit issued under paragraph (n) of this section, an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit issued under paragraph (o) of this section, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit issued under paragraph (b) of this section, which authorizes a Charter/Headboat to fish commercially for swordfish on a non for-hire trip subject to the retention limits at § 635.24(b)(4) if: The vessel is used to fish for or take swordfish commercially from the management unit; swordfish from the management unit are retained or possessed on the vessel with an intention to sell; or swordfish from the management unit are sold from the vessel. The commercial retention and sale of swordfish from vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit is permissible only when the vessel is on a non for-hire trip. Only persons holding non-expired shark and swordfish limited access permit(s) in the preceding year are eligible to renew those limited access permit(s). Transferors may not renew limited access permits that have been transferred according to the procedures in paragraph (l) of this section.

    4. Revise § 635.7 to read as follows:
    § 635.7 At-sea observer coverage.

    (a) Applicability. NMFS may select for at-sea observer coverage any vessel that has an Atlantic HMS, tunas, shark, or swordfish permit issued under § 635.4 or § 635.32. When selected, vessels are required to take observers on a mandatory basis. Vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling categories may be requested to take observers on a voluntary basis.

    (b) Selection of vessels. NMFS will notify a vessel owner, in writing, by email, by phone, or in person when his or her vessel is selected for observer coverage. Vessels will be selected to provide information on catch, bycatch and other fishery data according to the need for representative samples.

    (c) Notification of trips. If selected to carry an observer, it is the responsibility of the vessel owner to arrange for and facilitate observer placement. The owner or operator of a vessel that is selected under paragraph (b) of this section must notify NMFS, at an address or by phone at a number designated by NMFS, before commencing any fishing trip that may result in the incidental catch or harvest of Atlantic HMS. Notification procedures and information requirements will be specified in a selection letter sent by NMFS.

    (d) Assignment of observers. Once a selected vessel notifies NMFS or its designee, NMFS will assign an observer for that trip based on current information needs relative to the expected catch and bycatch likely to be associated with the indicated gear deployment, trip duration and fishing area. If an observer is not assigned for a fishing trip, NMFS, or their designated observer service provider, will issue a waiver for that trip to the owner or operator of the selected vessel, so long as the waiver is consistent with other applicable laws. If an observer is assigned for a trip, the operator of the selected vessel must arrange to embark the observer and shall not fish for or retain any Atlantic HMS unless the NMFS-assigned observer is aboard.

    (e) Requirements. The owner or operator of a vessel on which a NMFS-approved observer is embarked, regardless of whether required to carry the observer, must comply with safety regulations in § 600.725 and § 600.746 of this chapter and—

    (1) Provide accommodations and food that are equivalent to those provided to the crew.

    (2) Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's communications equipment and personnel upon request for the transmission and receipt of messages related to the observer's duties.

    (3) Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's navigation equipment and personnel upon request to determine the vessel's position.

    (4) Allow the observer free and unobstructed access to the vessel's bridge, working decks, holding bins, weight scales, holds, and any other space used to hold, process, weigh, or store fish.

    (5) Allow the observer to inspect and copy the vessel's log, communications logs, and any records associated with the catch and distribution of fish for that trip.

    (6) Notify the observer in a timely fashion of when fishing operations are to begin and end.

    (f) Vessel responsibilities. An owner or operator of a vessel required to carry one or more observer(s) must provide reasonable assistance to enable observer(s) to carry out their duties, including, but not limited to:

    (1) Measuring decks, codends, and holding bins.

    (2) Providing the observer(s) with a safe work area.

    (3) Collecting bycatch when requested by the observer(s).

    (4) Collecting and carrying baskets of fish when requested by the observer(s).

    (5) Allowing the observer(s) to collect biological data and samples.

    (6) Providing adequate space for storage of biological samples.

    5. In § 635.19, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 635.19 Authorized gears.

    (d) Sharks. No person may possess a shark in the EEZ taken from its management unit without a permit issued under § 635.4. No person issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under § 635.4 may possess a shark taken by any gear other than rod and reel, handline, bandit gear, longline, or gillnet, except that smoothhound sharks may be retained incidentally while fishing with trawl gear subject to the restrictions specified in § 635.24(a)(7). No person issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit may possess a shark taken from the U.S. Caribbean, as defined at § 622.2 of this chapter, by any gear other than with rod and reel, handline or bandit gear. No person issued an HMS Angling permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit under § 635.4 may possess a shark if the shark was taken from its management unit by any gear other than rod and reel or handline, except that persons on a vessel issued both an HMS Charter/Headboat permit and a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit may possess sharks taken with rod and reel, handline, bandit gear, longline, or gillnet if the vessel is not engaged in a for-hire fishing trip.

    6. In § 635.20, add paragraph (e)(5) to read as follows:
    § 635.20 Size limits.

    (e) * * *

    (5) There is no size limit for smoothhound sharks taken under the recreational retention limits specified at § 635.22(c)(6).

    7. In § 635.21, revise the section heading, and paragraphs (g)(2) and (3) to read as follows:
    § 635.21 Gear operation and deployment restrictions.

    (g) * * *

    (2) While fishing with a drift gillnet, a vessel issued or required to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark limited access permit and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit must conduct net checks at least every 2 hours to look for and remove any sea turtles, marine mammals, Atlantic sturgeon, or smalltooth sawfish, and the drift gillnet must remain attached to at least one vessel at one end, except during net checks. Smalltooth sawfish must not be removed from the water while being removed from the net.

    (3) While fishing with a sink gillnet, vessels issued or required to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark limited access permit and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit must limit the soak time of the sink gillnet gear to no more than 24 hours, measured from the time the sink gillnet first enters the water to the time it is completely removed from the water. Smalltooth sawfish must not be removed from the water while being removed from the net.

    8. In § 635.22, add paragraph (c)(6) to read as follows:
    § 635.22 Recreational retention limits.

    (c) * * *

    (6) The smoothhound sharks listed in Section E of Table 1 of Appendix A to this part may be retained and are subject only to the size limits described in § 635.20(e)(5).

    9. In § 635.24, add paragraph (a)(7) to read as follows:
    § 635.24 Commercial retention limits for sharks, swordfish, and BAYS tunas.

    (a) * * *

    (7) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may retain, possess, and land smoothhound sharks if the smoothhound fishery is open in accordance with §§ 635.27 and 635.28. Persons aboard a vessel in a trawl fishery that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit and are in compliance with all other applicable regulations, may retain, possess, land, or sell incidentally-caught smoothhound sharks, but only up to an amount that does not exceed 25 percent, by weight, of the total catch on board and/or offloaded from the vessel. A vessel is in a trawl fishery when it has no commercial fishing gear other than trawls on board and when smoothhound sharks constitute no more than 25 percent by weight of the total catch on board or offloaded from the vessel.

    10. In § 635.27, add paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(E), (b)(1)(ii)(F), and (b)(4)(iv) to read as follows:
    § 635.27 Quotas.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (E) Atlantic smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic smoothhound sharks is 1,201.7 mt dw.

    (ii) * * *

    (F) Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 336.4 mt dw.

    (4) * * *

    (iv) The base annual quota for persons who collect smoothhound sharks under a display permit or EFP is 6 mt ww (4.3 mt dw).

    11. In § 635.30, revise paragraphs (c)(1) through (3), and add paragraph (c)(5) to read as follows:
    § 635.30 Possession at sea and landing.

    (c) Shark. (1) In addition to the regulations issued at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter, a person who owns or operates a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under § 635.4 must maintain all the shark fins including the tail naturally attached to the shark carcass until the shark has been offloaded from the vessel, except for under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. While sharks are on board and when sharks are being offloaded, persons issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under § 635.4 are subject to the regulations at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter.

    (2) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has a valid Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit may remove the head and viscera of the shark while on board the vessel. At any time when on the vessel, sharks must not have the backbone removed and must not be halved, quartered, filleted, or otherwise reduced. All fins, including the tail, must remain naturally attached to the shark through offloading, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. While on the vessel, fins may be sliced so that the fin can be folded along the carcass for storage purposes as long as the fin remains naturally attached to the carcass via at least a small portion of uncut skin. The fins and tail may only be removed from the carcass once the shark has been landed and offloaded, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.

    (3) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit and who lands sharks in an Atlantic coastal port, including ports in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, must have all fins and carcasses weighed and recorded on the weighout slips specified in § 635.5(a)(2) and in accordance with part 600, subpart N, of this chapter. Persons may not possess any shark fins not naturally attached to a shark carcass on board a fishing vessel at any time, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. Once landed and offloaded, sharks that have been halved, quartered, filleted, cut up, or reduced in any manner may not be brought back on board a vessel that has been or should have been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit.

    (5) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may remove the fins and tail of a smooth dogfish shark prior to offloading if the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section have been met. If the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section have not been met, all fins, including the tail, must remain naturally attached to the smooth dogfish through offloading from the vessel:

    (i) The smooth dogfish was caught within waters of the United States located shoreward of a line drawn in such a manner that each point on it is 50 nautical miles from the baseline of an Atlantic State from which the territorial sea is measured, from Maine south through Florida to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shark regional boundary defined in § 635.27(b)(1).

    (ii) The vessel has been issued both a Federal commercial smoothhound permit and a valid State commercial fishing permit that allows for fishing for smooth dogfish.

    (iii) Smooth dogfish make up at least 25 percent of the catch on board at the time of landing.

    (iv) Total weight of the smooth dogfish fins landed or found on board a vessel cannot exceed 12 percent of the total dressed weight of smooth dogfish carcasses on board or landed from the fishing vessel.

    12. In § 635.69, revise paragraph (a)(3) to read as follows:
    § 635.69 Vessel monitoring systems.

    (a) * * *

    (3) Pursuant to Atlantic large whale take reduction plan requirements at 50 CFR 229.32(h), whenever a vessel issued a directed shark LAP has a gillnet(s) on board.

    13. In § 635.71, revise paragraphs (d)(6) and (7), and add paragraph (d)(18) to read as follows:
    § 635.71 Prohibitions.

    (d) * * *

    (6) Fail to maintain a shark in its proper form, as specified in § 635.30(c). Fail to maintain naturally attached shark fins through offloading as specified in § 635.30(c), except for under the conditions specified in § 635.30(c)(5).

    (7) Sell or purchase smooth dogfish fins that are disproportionate to the weight of smooth dogfish carcasses, as specified in § 635.30(c)(5).

    (18) Retain or possess on board a vessel in the trawl fishery smoothhound sharks in an amount that exceeds 25 percent, by weight, of the total fish on board or offloaded from the vessel, as specified at § 635.24(a)(7).

    14. In Appendix A to Part 635, add Section E to Table 1 to read as follows: Appendix A to Part 635—Species Tables

    Table 1 of Appendix A to Part 635—Oceanic Sharks

    E. Smoothhound Sharks Smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis Florida smoothhound, Mustelus norrisi Gulf smoothhound, Mustelus sinusmexicanus Mustelus species
    [FR Doc. 2015-29516 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 226 Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-4070; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-31-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Turbomeca S.A. Turboshaft Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Turbomeca S.A. Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of uncommanded in-flight shutdowns (IFSDs). This proposed AD would require removing the tachometer box on affected engines. We are proposing this AD to prevent failure of the tachometer box, which could lead to failure of the engine, IFSD, and loss of control of the helicopter.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Turbomeca S.A., 40220 Tarnos, France; phone: 33 (0)5 59 74 40 00; fax: 33 (0)5 59 74 45 15. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-4070; 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 proposed AD, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Philip Haberlen, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7770; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-4070; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-31-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this NPRM. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this NPRM based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact with FAA personnel concerning this NPRM.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD 2015-0175, dated August 24, 2015 (referred to hereinafter as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    There have been reports of Arriel 1E2 engines having experienced an uncommanded in-flight shut-down (IFSD) due to an untimely activation of the tachometer box shut-off system which was activated by the power turbine monitoring function of the tachometer box.

    This condition, if not corrected, could potentially lead to further cases of IFSD, possibly resulting in a forced landing.

    You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-4070.

    Related Service Information

    Turbomeca S.A. has issued Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 292 77 0844, Version B, dated July 6, 2015. The service information describes procedures for removing pre-TU 369 tachometer boxes. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of France, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the European Community, EASA has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing 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 products of the same type design. This NPRM would require removing the pre-TU 369 tachometer box from the engine.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 200 engines installed on helicopters of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 3 hours per engine to comply with this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $51,000.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska 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.

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Turbomeca S.A.: Docket No. FAA-2015-4070; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-31-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by January 25, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    (1) This AD applies to Turbomeca S.A. Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines with tachometer boxes with the following part number (P/N) and serial number (S/N) combinations:

    (i) P/N 9580116170—all S/Ns

    (ii) P/N 9580116260—all S/Ns

    (iii) P/N 9580116900—all S/Ns

    (iv) P/N 9580117110—all S/Ns

    (v) P/N 9580117550—all S/Ns 1499 and below with or without suffix letters and all S/Ns 1500 and above that do not contain the suffix letters EL.

    (2) This AD applies only to Turbomeca S.A. Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines with tachometer boxes identified in paragraph (c)(1) of this AD that also have installed electrical connectors labeled as P10106, P10098, and P10108 or P11F, P13F, and P15F.

    (d) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports of uncommanded in-flight shutdowns (IFSDs). We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the tachometer box, which could lead to failure of the engine, IFSD, and loss of control of the helicopter.

    (e) Actions and Compliance

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

    (1) Within 1,600 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, remove the affected tachometer box from the engine.

    (2) Reserved.

    (f) Credit for Previous Action

    You may take credit for the action required by paragraph (e) of this AD if you performed the action before the effective date of this AD in accordance with Turbomeca S.A. MSB 292 77 0844, Version A, dated March 4, 2015 or earlier version.

    (g) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

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

    (h) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Philip Haberlen, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7770; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency AD 2015-0175, dated August 24, 2015, which includes Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 292 77 0844, Version B, dated July 6, 2015, for related information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-4070.

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

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on November 12, 2015. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29748 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3753; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-26-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Turbomeca S.A. Turboshaft Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Turbomeca S.A. Arriel 2B, 2B1, 2C, 2C1, 2C2, 2D, 2E, 2S1, and 2S2 turboshaft engines. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of an uncommanded in-flight shutdown of an Arriel 2 engine caused by rupture of the 41-tooth gear, which forms part of the bevel gear in the engine accessory gearbox (AGB). This proposed AD would require inspection, and, depending on the results, removal of the engine AGB. We are proposing this AD to prevent failure of the engine AGB, which could lead to in-flight shutdown, damage to the engine, and damage to the aircraft.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Turbomeca S.A., 40220 Tarnos, France; phone: 33 0 5 59 74 40 00; fax: 33 0 5 59 74 45 15. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3753; 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 proposed AD, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Philip Haberlen, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7770; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-3753; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-26-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact with FAA personnel concerning this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD 2015-0162, dated August 6, 2015 (referred to hereinafter as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    An uncommanded in-flight shut-down (IFSD) of an ARRIEL 2 engine was reported, caused by rupture of the 41-tooth gear, which forms part of the bevel gear of the accessory gearbox (module M01). The subsequent investigation revealed that wear on the housing of the front bearing of this gear was a major contributor to this rupture. In addition, the investigation showed that this wear mechanism had resulted in positive Spectrometric Oil Analysis (SOA) indications before the event.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially lead to further cases of IFSD, possibly resulting in an emergency landing.

    You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3753.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Turbomeca S.A. has issued Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 292 72 2861, Version A, dated April 24, 2015. The service information describes procedures for inspecting the engine AGB. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this document.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of France, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the European Community, EASA has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing 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 products of the same type design. This proposed AD would require inspection, and, depending on the results, removal of the engine AGB.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 250 engines installed on aircraft of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 0.5 hours per engine to comply with the initial inspection requirement in this proposed AD and about 2 hours per engine to remove the engine AGB. The spectrometric oil analysis kit costs about $79. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $72,875.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska 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.

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Turbomeca S.A.: Docket No. FAA-2015-3753; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-26-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by January 25, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to Turbomeca S.A. Arriel 2B, 2B1, 2C, 2C1, 2C2, 2D, 2E, 2S1, and 2S2 turboshaft engines with an engine accessory gearbox (AGB), part number 0292120650, with a machined front casing.

    (d) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a report of an uncommanded in-flight shutdown of an Arriel 2 engine caused by rupture of the 41-tooth gear, which forms part of the bevel gear in the engine AGB. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the engine AGB, which could lead to in-flight shutdown, damage to the engine, and damage to the aircraft.

    (e) Actions and Compliance

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

    (1) Initial Spectrometric Oil Analysis (SOA)

    (i) Perform an initial SOA within the compliance times given in paragraph (e)(1)(i)(A) or (e)(1)(i)(B) of this AD:

    (A) If the engine AGB has less than 800 engine hours (EHs) since new or since last overhaul, do an initial SOA before exceeding 850 EHs since new or since last overhaul.

    (B) If the engine AGB has 800 EHs or more since new or since last overhaul, or if the EHs are unknown, do an initial SOA within 50 EHs after the effective date of this AD.

    (C) Use paragraphs 2.4.2.1 and 2.4.2.2 of Turbomeca S.A. Mandatory Service Bulletin (MSB) No. 292 72 2861, Version A, dated April 24, 2015, to perform the SOA required by paragraph (e) of this AD.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (2) Repetitive SOA

    (i) If the aluminum concentration determined from the most recent SOA is less than 0.8 parts per million (PPM), repeat the SOA required by paragraph (e) of this AD within 100 EHs time since last analysis (TSLA).

    (ii) If the aluminum concentration determined from the most recent SOA is between 0.8 PPM and 1.4 PPM, inclusive, repeat the SOA required by paragraph (e) of this AD within 50 EHs TSLA. Do not perform draining before doing the next SOA.

    (iii) If the aluminum concentration determined from the most recent SOA is greater than 1.4 PPM, remove the engine AGB from service within 50 EHs TSLA.

    (f) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

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

    (g) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Philip Haberlen, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7770; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency AD 2015-0162, dated August 6, 2015, for more information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-3753.

    (3) Turbomeca S.A. MSB No. 292 72 2861, Version A, dated April 24, 2015, can be obtained from Turbomeca S.A., using the contact information in paragraph (g)(4) of this proposed AD.

    (4) For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Turbomeca S.A., 40220 Tarnos, France; phone: 33 0 5 59 74 40 00; fax: 33 0 5 59 74 45 15.

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

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on November 12, 2015. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29747 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3108; Airspace Docket No. 12-AAL-15] Proposed Establishment of Class E Airspace, South Naknek, AK AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes to establish Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at South Naknek NR 2 Airport, South Naknek, AK, to accommodate new Area Navigation (RNAV) Global Positioning System (GPS) standard instrument approach procedures developed for the airport. The FAA is proposing this action to enhance the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at the airport.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; telephone (202) 366-9826. You must identify FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-3108; Airspace Docket No. 12-AAL-15, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Office (telephone 1-800-647-5527), is on the ground floor of the building at the above address.

    FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 29591; telephone: 202-267-8783. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Richard Roberts, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057; telephone (425) 203-4517.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part, A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it would establish Class E airspace at South Naknek NR 2 Airport, South Naknek, AK.

    Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments, as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal. Communications should identify both docket numbers and be submitted in triplicate to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this notice must submit with those comments a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. FAA-2015-3108/Airspace Docket No. 12-AAL-15.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

    Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Recently published rulemaking documents can also be accessed through the FAA's Web page at http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/airspace_amendments/.

    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office (see the ADDRESSES section for the address and phone number) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. An informal docket may also be examined during normal business hours at the Northwest Mountain Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization, Western Service Center, Operations Support Group, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057.

    Persons interested in being placed on a mailing list for future NPRMs should contact the FAA's Office of Rulemaking, (202) 267-9677, for a copy of Advisory Circular No. 11-2A, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Distribution System, which describes the application procedure.

    Availability and Summary of Documents Proposed for Incorporation by Reference

    This document would amend FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015. FAA Order 7400.9Z is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.9Z lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Proposal

    The FAA is proposing an amendment to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 71 by establishing Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.5-mile radius of the South Naknek NR 2 Airport, South Naknek, AK. Development of new RNAV (GPS) standard instrument approach procedures have made this action necessary for continued safety and management of IFR operations at the airport.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.9Z, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current, is non-controversial and unlikely to result in adverse or negative comments. It, therefore: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Environmental Review

    This proposal will be subject to an environmental analysis in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures” prior to any FAA final regulatory action.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for 14 CFR part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. AAL AK E5 South Naknek, AK [New] South Naknek NR 2 Airport, Alaska (Lat. 58°42′08″ N., long. 157°00′09″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.5-mile radius of South Naknek NR 2 Airport.

    Issued in Seattle, Washington, on November 10, 2015. Christopher Ramirez, Manager, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29789 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3771; Airspace Docket No. 15-ANM-28] Proposed Establishment of Class E Airspace, South Bend, WA AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes to establish Class E airspace at Willapa Harbor Heliport, South Bend, WA, to accommodate new standard instrument approach and departure procedures developed at the heliport. Controlled airspace is necessary for the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at the heliport.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; telephone (202) 366-9826. You must identify FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-3771; Airspace Docket No. 15-ANM-28, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Office (telephone 1-800-647-5527), is on the ground floor of the building at the above address.

    FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 29591; telephone: 202-267-8783. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Haga, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057; telephone (425) 203-4563.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part, A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it would establish Class E airspace at Willapa Harbor Heliport, South Bend, WA.

    Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments, as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal. Communications should identify both docket numbers and be submitted in triplicate to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this notice must submit with those comments a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. FAA-2015-3771; Airspace Docket No. 15-ANM-28.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

    Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Recently published rulemaking documents can also be accessed through the FAA's Web page at http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/airspace_amendments/.

    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office (see the ADDRESSES section for the address and phone number) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. An informal docket may also be examined during normal business hours at the Northwest Mountain Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization, Western Service Center, Operations Support Group, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057.

    Persons interested in being placed on a mailing list for future NPRMs should contact the FAA's Office of Rulemaking, (202) 267-9677, for a copy of Advisory Circular No. 11-2A, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Distribution System, which describes the application procedure.

    Availability and Summary of Documents Proposed for Incorporation by Reference

    This document would amend FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015. FAA Order 7400.9Z is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.9Z lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Proposal

    The FAA is proposing an amendment to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 71 by establishing Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Willapa Harbor Heliport, South Bend, WA. Establishment of a GPS approach and departure procedure has made this action necessary for the safety and management of IFR operations at the heliport. Class E airspace would be established within a 1.8-mile radius of the Willapa Harbor Heliport, with a segment extending from the 1.8-mile radius to 5.5 miles northwest of the heliport.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.9Z, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current, is non-controversial and unlikely to result in adverse or negative comments. It, therefore: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Environmental Review

    This proposal will be subject to an environmental analysis in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures” prior to any FAA final regulatory action.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for 14 CFR part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Z, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2015, and effective September 15, 2015, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. ANM WA E5 Willapa Harbor Heliport, South Bend, WA [New] Willapa Harbor Heliport, WA (Lat. 46°39′47″ N., long. 123°48′44″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 1.8-mile radius of Willapa Harbor Heliport, and that airspace bounded by a line beginning at a point where the Willapa Harbor 278° bearing intersects the Willapa Harbor 1.8-mile radius, thence northwest to lat. 46°42′26″ N., long. 123°55′39″ W.; to lat. 46°45′28″ N., long. 123°52′46″ W.; to lat. 46°43′55″ N., long. 123°48′46″ W.; to lat. 46°41′18″ N., long. 123°46′14″ W.; to a point where the Willapa Harbor 98° bearing intersects the Willapa Harbor 1.8-mile radius, thence clockwise along the 1.8-mile radius to the point of beginning.

    Issued in Seattle, Washington, on November 10, 2015. Christopher Ramirez, Manager, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29788 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 573 [Docket No. FDA-2015-F-4282] BASF Corp.; Filing of Food Additive Petition (Animal Use) AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of petition.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that BASF Corp. has filed a petition proposing that the food additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of sodium formate as a feed acidifier in poultry feed.

    DATES:

    The food additive petition was filed on October 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chelsea Trull, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-6729, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (section 409(b)(5) (21 U.S.C. 348(b)(5))), notice is given that a food additive petition (FAP 2293) has been filed by BASF Corp., 100 Park Ave., Florham Park, NJ 07932. The petition proposes to amend the food additive regulations in 21 CFR part 573 Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals to provide for the safe use of sodium formate as a feed acidifier in poultry feed.

    The petitioner has claimed that this action is categorically excluded under 21 CFR 25.32(r) because it is of a type that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. In addition, the petitioner has stated that to their knowledge, no extraordinary circumstances exist. If FDA determines a categorical exclusion applies, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required. If FDA determines a categorical exclusion does not apply, we will request an environmental assessment and make it available for public inspection.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Bernadette Dunham, Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29832 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Bureau of Prisons 28 CFR Part 549 [BOP-1169-P] RIN 1120-AB69 Infectious Disease Management: Voluntary and Involuntary Testing AGENCY:

    Bureau of Prisons, Justice.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Bureau of Prisons proposes two minor revisions to its regulations on the management of infectious diseases. One change would remove the requirement for HIV pre-test counseling for inmates, because the counseling requirement has become an obstacle to necessary testing. Inmates testing positive for HIV will continue to receive HIV post-test counseling. The second change would alter language regarding tuberculosis (TB) testing to clarify that it is testing for the TB infection, but not “skin testing.” This would account for advances in medical technology that allow for newer testing methods.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, 320 First Street NW., Washington, DC 20534.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, phone (202) 353-8214.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Posting of Public Comments

    Please note that all comments received are considered part of the public record and made available for public inspection online at www.regulations.gov. Such information includes personal identifying information (such as your name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter.

    If you want to submit personal identifying information (such as your name, address, etc.) as part of your comment, but do not want it to be posted online, you must include the phrase “PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION” in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also locate all the personal identifying information you do not want posted online in the first paragraph of your comment and identify what information you want redacted.

    If you want to submit confidential business information as part of your comment but do not want it to be posted online, you must include the phrase “CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS INFORMATION” in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also prominently identify confidential business information to be redacted within the comment. If a comment contains so much confidential business information that it cannot be effectively redacted, all or part of that comment may not be posted on www.regulations.gov.

    Personal identifying information identified and located as set forth above will be placed in the agency's public docket file, but not posted online. Confidential business information identified and located as set forth above will not be placed in the public docket file. If you wish to inspect the agency's public docket file in person by appointment, please see the “For Further Information Contact” paragraph.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Bureau proposes two minor revisions to its regulations on the infectious disease management program (28 CFR, part 549, subpart A). One change would remove the requirement for HIV pre-test counseling for inmates, because the counseling requirement has become an obstacle to necessary testing. Inmates testing positive for HIV will continue to receive HIV post-test counseling. The second change would alter language regarding tuberculosis (TB) testing to clarify that it is testing for the TB infection, but not “skin testing.” This would account for advances in medical technology that allow for newer testing methods.

    Clarifications to inmate information procedures. 28 CFR 549.12(a)(1) currently states that the “Bureau tests inmates who have sentences of six months or more if health services staff determine, taking into consideration the risk as defined by the Centers for Disease Control Guidelines, that the inmate is at risk for HIV infection.” We propose to make minor clarifying changes to this language to make it clear that such inmates will be informed orally or in writing that HIV testing will be performed unless they decline testing. This would be a minor change to be consistent with CDC Guidelines, which state that “HIV screening is recommended for patients in all health-care settings after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening)”. In light of the CDC Guidelines, we propose to change the regulation language to clarify that HIV screening is recommended for all inmates because risk factors are present in the correctional health-care setting. The language as it currently exists in the regulation does not make it clear that inmates will be so notified, although this has already been the Bureau's longstanding procedure during Admission and Orientation of inmates.

    Eliminating the requirement for HIV pre-test counseling and HIV post-test counseling for HIV-negative inmates. In 28 CFR 549.12 (Testing), subparagraph (a)(5) currently states that “Inmates being tested for HIV will receive pre- and post-test counseling, regardless of the test results.” We propose altering this subparagraph to read as follows: “Inmates testing positive for HIV will receive post-test counseling.” This change would eliminate the requirement that the Bureau provide pre-test counseling for inmates and post-test counseling for HIV-negative inmates. We propose these changes to bring our requirements in conformance with those recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in their report entitled “Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health Care Settings” (2006, MMWR 55(RR14); 1-17); http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5514a1.htm.

    The CDC set forth guidelines in 1994 for counseling and testing persons with high-risk behaviors which specified prevention (pre-test) counseling to develop specific prevention goals and strategies for each person (client-centered counseling). However, in 2003, CDC introduced an initiative entitled “Advancing HIV Prevention: New Strategies for a Changing Epidemic”. One key point of this initiative was to make HIV testing a routine part of medical care on the same voluntary basis as other diagnostic and screening tests. In its technical guidance, CDC acknowledged that although prevention (pre-test) counseling is desirable for all persons at risk for HIV, such counseling might not be appropriate or feasible in all settings. Because time constraints caused some providers to perceive requirements for prevention counseling and written informed consent as a barrier to uniform testing, the initiative advocated streamlined approaches. The CDC found that although targeted testing programs, like the Bureau's infection disease management program, were implemented in acute-care settings and nearly two thirds of patients in these settings accept testing; risk assessment and prevention (pre-test) counseling are time-consuming, so only a limited proportion of eligible patients can be tested.

    There are significant benefits of HIV testing for inmates because treatment for HIV can be initiated promptly preventing serious complications and death. The CDC has found that requirements for pre-test prevention counseling pose a barrier to testing and therefore CDC recommends that an “opt-out” testing protocol be utilized, in which persons are informed that they will be tested unless they choose not to be tested. Specifically CDC recommends that:

    • HIV screening is recommended for patients in all health-care settings after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).

    • Separate written consent for HIV testing should not be required; general consent for medical care should be considered sufficient to encompass consent for HIV testing.

    • Prevention counseling should not be required with HIV diagnostic testing or as part of HIV screening programs in health-care settings.

    “Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health Care Settings” (2006, MMWR 55(RR14); 1-17); http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5514a1.htm.

    In addition to the above, the Bureau also notes that eliminating the pre-test counseling requirement would save Bureau staff approximately 20 minutes per counseling session. Since the Bureau strives to test all inmates, the time savings this would permit are substantial. We therefore propose to delete the requirement for pre-test counseling in order to conform with CDC guidelines and to remove this barrier to testing as many inmates as possible.

    We also propose to remove the requirement for post-HIV-test counseling for inmates who have tested negative for HIV. Those testing positive will continue to receive post-test counseling. Those testing negative, however, have no need for further counseling, but may ask questions of Health Services staff as needed. Eliminating the post-test counseling requirement for inmates testing HIV negative would also save 20 minutes per counseling session per inmate. Again, the time saving is quite substantial, considering that more than 98% of HIV tests performed are negative results.

    Changing terminology to clarify that TB testing is no longer “skin testing.” In 28 CFR 549.12(b)(4), we currently state that “[i]f an inmate refuses skin testing, and there is no contraindication to tuberculin skin testing, then, institution medical staff will test the inmate involuntarily.” (Emphasis added.) We now proposed to alter this sentence to read as follows: “If an inmate refuses testing for TB infection, and there is no contraindication to testing, then institutional medical staff will test the inmate involuntarily.” The only alteration we make in this language is to clarify that Tuberculosis testing is no longer “skin testing.”

    The Bureau currently primarily uses the tuberculin skin test for testing for latent TB infection. However, a new type of test for TB infection has become available, a blood test called the Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA). In the next 5 to 10 years it is anticipated that blood tests for TB infection will replace the tuberculin skin test. These tests appear to be at least as accurate as the skin test and have the benefit of requiring only one interaction with an inmate to draw blood (rather than place the skin test and reading it 2 to 3 days later). Using this type of test would eliminate the need for a second health care visit to conduct the test, as no “reading” would be required, which would result in great time savings to Bureau staff.

    Once more, we make this change to bring the Bureau into conformance with CDC guidelines. In 2010, the CDC issued “Updated Guidelines for Using Interferon Gamma Release Assays to Detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection—United States, 2010” (MMWR 59(RR-5) 1-13; http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5905.pdf. In this report, the CDC states that “[b]efore 2001, the tuberculin skin test (TST) was the only practical and commercially available immunologic test for TB infection approved in the United States.”

    However, several risks are associated with the use of TSTs: Difficulty with the very specific administration needed, unreliable patient return to the health-care provider for the test reading, and inaccuracies and biases existing in reading the TSTs, such as false-positives. IGRAs, however, assess the presence of specific tuberculosis proteins, and therefore offer improved test specificity compared with TSTs.

    For this reason, the CDC has recommended increasing use of IGRAs. Although skin testing may still be used, it will not be used exclusively, so we propose to update our regulatory language to allow for the possibility of other kinds of testing for TB infection.

    Other changes for clarity:

    We also propose to make minor changes to § 549.12(a)(2), Exposure incidents, to clarify that the current language stating that the Bureau will test “when there is a well-founded reason to believe that the inmate may have transmitted the HIV infection” means the following: The Bureau tests an inmate, regardless of the length of sentence or pretrial status, when there is a well-founded reason to believe that the inmate has been the source of a percutaneous or mucous membrane blood exposure, via an altercation or accident or other means to Bureau employees, other non-inmates who are lawfully present in a Bureau institution, or other inmates, regardless of whether the exposure was intentional or unintentional. Exposure incident testing does not require the inmate's consent. This language more accurately reflects the intention of the regulation.

    Executive Order 12866

    This proposed regulation has been drafted and reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review”, section 1(b), Principles of Regulation. The Director, Bureau of Prisons has determined that this proposed regulation is a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f), and accordingly this proposed regulation has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    Executive Order 13132

    This proposed regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, under Executive Order 13132, we determine that this proposed regulation does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Director of the Bureau of Prisons, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), reviewed this proposed regulation and certifies that it will not have a significant economic impact upon a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: This proposed regulation pertains to the correctional management of inmates committed to the custody of the Attorney General or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons. Its economic impact is limited to the Bureau's appropriated funds.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This proposed regulation will not result in the expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This proposed rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 804. This proposed regulation will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.

    List of Subjects in 28 CFR Part 571

    Prisoners.

    Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director, Bureau of Prisons.

    Under rulemaking authority vested in the Attorney General in 5 U.S.C. 301; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510 and delegated to the Director, Bureau of Prisons in 28 CFR 0.96, we proposed to amend 28 CFR part 549 as follows.

    SUBCHAPTER C—INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT PART 549—MEDICAL SERVICES 1. The authority citation for 28 CFR part 549 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 301; 10 U.S.C. 876b; 18 U.S.C. 3621, 3622, 3524, 4001, 4005, 4042, 4045, 4081, 4082 (Repealed in part as to offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987), Chapter 313, 5006-5024 (Repealed October 12, 1984 as to offenses committed after that date), 5039; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510.

    2. Amend § 549.12 by revising paragraphs (a) and (b)(4) to read as follows:
    § 549.12 Testing.

    (a) Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)—(1) Testing. All inmates who have sentences of six months or more will be informed upon admission either orally or in writing that HIV testing will be performed unless they refuse testing. If the inmate refuses testing and the inmate has risk factors for HIV infection as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staff will provide pre-test counseling, and if the inmate continues to refuse testing, staff may initiate an incident report for refusing to obey an order. Any inmate may request HIV testing during the pre-release process.

    (2) Exposure incidents. The Bureau tests an inmate, regardless of the length of sentence or pretrial status, when there is a well-founded reason to believe that the inmate has been the source of a percutaneous or mucous membrane blood exposure, via an altercation or accident or other means to Bureau employees, other non-inmates who are lawfully present in a Bureau institution, or other inmates, regardless of whether the exposure was intentional or unintentional. Exposure incident testing does not require the inmate's consent.

    (3) Surveillance testing. The Bureau conducts HIV testing for surveillance purposes as needed. If the inmate refuses testing, staff will offer pre-test counseling, and if the inmate continues to refuse testing, staff may initiate an incident report for refusing to obey an order.

    (4) Inmate request. An inmate may request to be tested. The Bureau limits such testing to no more than one per 12-month period unless the Bureau determines that additional testing is warranted.

    (5) Counseling. Inmates testing positive for HIV will receive post-test counseling.

    (b) * * *

    (4) An inmate who refuses TB screening may be subject to an incident report for refusing to obey an order. If an inmate refuses testing for TB infection, and there is no contraindication to testing, then, institution medical staff will test the inmate involuntarily.

    [FR Doc. 2015-29790 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket No. USCG-2013-0760] RIN 1625-AA11 Regulated Navigation Area; Reporting Requirements for Barges Loaded With Certain Dangerous Cargoes, Inland Rivers, Eighth Coast Guard District; Stay (Suspension) Expiring AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The stay of reporting requirements under the Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) applicable to barges loaded with certain dangerous cargoes on the inland rivers in the Eighth District area of responsibility (AOR) is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2015. The Coast Guard intends to allow the stay to expire in part. Once the stay partially expires, RNA reporting requirements in a limited form will resume under the existing regulation. The Coast Guard is developing an amendment to the existing regulation.

    DATES:

    November 24, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information about this document call or email Shelley Miller, Coast Guard; telephone 504-671-2330, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background and Regulatory History

    The reporting requirements under 33 CFR 165.830, “Regulated Navigation Area; Reporting Requirements for Barges Loaded with Certain Dangerous Cargoes, Inland Rivers, Eighth Coast Guard District,” were initially suspended in January 2011 due to the expiration of the contract for the reporting system at the Inland River Vessel Movement Center (IRVMC). This suspension was published in the Federal Register on January 10, 2011 and was due to expire on January 15, 2013 (76 FR 1360). On January 2, 2013, the Coast Guard extended this suspension through September 30, 2013 (78 FR 25) and on October 1, 2013, the Coast Guard extended the suspension again through December 31, 2015 (78 FR 60216). The suspension of reporting requirements is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2015.

    Additionally, the Coast Guard published a final rule in January 2015 (80 FR 5282), titled Vessel Requirements for Notices of Arrival and Departure, and Automatic Identification System. This rule contains an exemption, at 33 CFR 160.204(a)(3), for any vessel required to report its movements, its cargo, or the cargo in barges it is towing under 33 CFR 165.830 after December 31, 2015.

    II. Discussion

    The Coast Guard intends to allow the suspension of certain reporting requirements under 33 CFR 165.830 to expire as scheduled. The Coast Guard does not intend to reinstate reporting, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, at 90 plus reporting points under the RNA as currently published. Rather, we anticipate reporting will be required in response to specific concerns, under a limited form of the RNA currently in the CFR.

    Specifically, the Coast Guard is considering whether existing § 165.830(d)(1)(ix), (d)(2)(iv), (f)(9), (g)(4), and (h) of the existing RNA may take effect on January 1, 2016, with revisions to the references to IRVMC. Although we have not yet developed revisions to the existing regulation, we are publishing this document to inform members of the public who are aware of, and may have questions about, the upcoming expiration of the suspension.

    This document is issued under authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a).

    Dated: November 9, 2015. D.R. Callahan, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29714 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0545; FRL-9937-27-Region 9] Disapproval of California Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management District AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to disapprove revisions to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) portion of the California State Implementation Plan (SIP) concerning Vehicle Scrapping, Employee Trip Reduction, and procedures for the hearing board concerning variances and subpoenas. We are proposing action on local rules that regulate these activities under the Clean Air Act (CAA or the Act). We are taking comments on this proposal and plan to follow with a final action.

    DATES:

    Any comments must arrive by December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments, identified by docket number EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0545, by one of the following methods:

    1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions.

    2. Email: [email protected]

    3. Mail or deliver: Andrew Steckel (Air-4), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3901.

    Instructions: All comments 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 Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Information that you consider CBI or otherwise protected should be clearly identified as such and should not be submitted through www.regulations.gov or email. www.regulations.gov is an “anonymous access” system, and EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send email directly to EPA, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the public comment. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: Generally, documents in the docket for this action are available electronically at www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California. While all documents in the docket are listed at www.regulations.gov, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material, large maps), and some may not be publicly available in either location (e.g., CBI). To inspect the hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment during normal business hours with the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Idalia Pérez, EPA Region IX, (415) 972-3248, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    Table of Contents I. The State's Submittal A. What rules did the State submit? B. Are there other versions of these rules? C. What is the purpose of the submitted rules? II. EPA's Evaluation and Action A. How is the EPA evaluating these rules? B. Do the rules meet the evaluation criteria? C. What are the identified rule deficiencies? D. Proposed Action and Public Comment III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. The State's Submittal A. What rules did the State submit?

    Table 1 lists the rules proposed for disapproval with the date that they were adopted or amended and submitted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    Table 1—Submitted Rules Local agency Rule No. Rule title Adopted or amended Submitted SCAQMD 1610 Old-Vehicle Scrapping 05/09/97 06/03/97 SCAQMD 2202 On-Road Motor Vehicle Mitigation Options 10/09/98 06/03/99 SCAQMD 503.1 Ex Parte Petitions for Variances 02/05/88 02/07/89 SCAQMD 504 Rules from which Variances Are Not Allowed 01/05/90 05/13/91 SCAQMD 511.1 Subpoenas 02/05/88 02/07/89

    On December 3, 1997, the submittal for SCAQMD Rule 1610 was deemed by operation of law to meet the completeness criteria in 40 CFR part 51, appendix V, which must be met before formal EPA review. On December 3, 1999, the submittal for SCAQMD Rule 2202 was deemed by operation of law to meet the completeness criteria. On May 5, 1989, the EPA determined that the submittal for SCAQMD Rules 503.1 and 511.1 met the completeness criteria. On July 10, 1991, the EPA determined that the submittal for SCAQMD Rule 504 met the completeness.

    B. Are there other versions of these rules?

    There are no previous versions of Rule 1610 in the SIP, although the SCAQMD adopted earlier versions of this rule on 02/11/94, 10/13/95, 02/08/96 and 04/11/97, and CARB submitted them to us on 07/13/94, 10/18/96, 10/18/96 and 06/03/97 respectively. There are no previous versions of Rule 2202 in the SIP, although the SCAQMD adopted earlier versions of this rule on 12/08/95, 03/08/96 and 11/08/96, and CARB submitted them to us on 11/26/96, 11/26/96 and 12/19/97 respectively. There are no previous versions of Rules 503.1 and 511.1. There are no previous versions of Rule 504 in the SIP, although the SCAQMD adopted an earlier version of this rule on 02/05/88. While we can only act on the most recently submitted version, we have reviewed materials provided with previous submittals.

    C. What is the purpose of the submitted rules?

    Nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) help produce ground-level ozone, smog and particulate matter (PM), which harm human health and the environment. Section 110(a) of the CAA requires States to submit regulations that control VOC and NOX emissions. Rule 1610 is a voluntary rule with the goal of reducing motor vehicle exhaust emissions of VOC, NOX, carbon monoxide (CO), and PM by issuing mobile source emission reduction credits (MSERCs) in exchange for the scrapping of old, high emitting vehicles. Rule 2202 requires employers with 250 or more full or part-time employees at a worksite to reduce mobile source emissions of VOC, NOX and CO generated from employee commutes. The EPA's technical support documents (TSDs) have more information about rules 1610 and 2202.

    Rules 503.1 describes procedures for how sources can apply for ex parte variances. Rule 504 specifies rules for which the SCAQMD hearing board will not grant variances. Rule 511.1 describes procedures for the hearing board regarding subpoenas.

    II. EPA's Evaluation and Action A. How is the EPA evaluating these rules?

    SIP rules must be enforceable (see CAA section 110(a)(2)), must not interfere with applicable requirements concerning attainment and reasonable further progress or other CAA requirements (see CAA section 110(l)), and must not modify certain SIP control requirements in nonattainment areas without ensuring equivalent or greater emissions reductions (see CAA section 193). In addition, pursuant to CAA section 110(i), neither EPA nor a state may revise a SIP by issuing an “order, suspension, plan revision, or other action modifying any requirement of an applicable implementation plan” without a plan promulgation or revision.

    Generally, SIP rules must require Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) for each category of sources covered by a Control Techniques Guidelines (CTG) document as well as each major source of VOCs and NOX in ozone nonattainment areas classified as moderate or above (see CAA section 182(b)(2) and 182(f)). The SCAQMD regulates an ozone nonattainment area classified as extreme for the 1997 and 2008 8-hour ozone standards (40 CFR 51.305). In addition, SIP rules must implement Reasonably Available Control Measures (RACM) in moderate PM2.5 nonattainment areas (see CAA sections 172(c)(1) and 189(a)(1)(C)). The SCAQMD regulates a PM2.5 nonattainment area classified as moderate for the annual and 24-hour standards (40 CFR 51.312). A RACM evaluation is generally performed in context of a broader plan.

    Guidance and policy documents that we use to evaluate enforceability, revision/relaxation and rule stringency requirements for the applicable criteria pollutants include the following:

    1. “State Implementation Plans; General Preamble for the Implementation of Title I of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990,” 57 FR 13498 (April 16, 1992); 57 FR 18070 (April 28, 1992).

    2. “Issues Relating to VOC Regulation Cutpoints, Deficiencies, and Deviations,” EPA, May 25, 1988 (the Bluebook, revised January 11, 1990).

    3. “Guidance Document for Correcting Common VOC & Other Rule Deficiencies,” EPA Region 9, August 21, 2001 (the Little Bluebook).

    4. “Review of State Implementation Plans and Revisions for Enforceability and Legal Sufficiency,” EPA from J. Craig Potter, Thomas L. Adams Jr., Francis S. Blake, September 23, 1987.

    5. “Guidance an Enforceability Requirements for Limiting Potential to Emit through SIP and § 112 Rules and General Permits” EPA from Kathie A. Stein, January 25, 1995.

    B. Do the rules meet the evaluation criteria?

    EPA supports SCAQMD efforts to implement nontraditional and innovative strategies for reducing air pollutant emissions, including commuter programs to reduce the frequency that employees drive alone to work, and programs to incentivize early adoption and turnover to cleaner, less-polluting mobile sources.1 Nonetheless, we have identified several provisions in these rules that do not meet the evaluation criteria. These deficiencies are summarized below and discussed further in the TSDs. Because these deficiencies are significant enough to prevent our approval of these rules, we have not attempted to identify all other potential approvability issues, and are not providing a detailed analysis of all the evaluation criteria listed above. While we cannot propose to approve SCAQMD Rules 1610 and 2202 at this time, we commend SCAQMD's leadership in developing and implementing creative programs like these for many years and we commit to continued collaboration to address SCAQMD's air quality challenges.

    1 See, e.g., U.S. EPA, Transportation and Climate Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, “Commuter Programs: Quantifying and Using Their Emission Benefits in SIPs and Conformity” (February 2014) and Memorandum from Richard D. Wilson, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, to EPA Regional Administrators, re: “Guidance on Incorporating Voluntary Mobile Source Emission Reduction Programs in State Implementation Plans (SIPs)” (October 1997).

    EPA and California have long recognized that a state-issued variance, though binding as a matter of state law, does not prevent EPA from enforcing the underlying SIP provisions unless and until EPA approves that variance as a SIP revision. The variance provisions in Rules 503.1 and 504 are deficient for various reasons, including their failure to address the fact that a state- or district-issued variance has no effect on enforcing the underlying federal requirement unless the variance is submitted to and approved by EPA as a SIP revision. Therefore, the inclusion of these rules in the SIP is inconsistent with the Act and may be confusing to regulated industry and the general public.

    States and Districts can adopt various provisions describing local agency investigative or enforcement authority, including the authority to issue subpoenas such as in Rule 511.1, to demonstrate adequate enforcement authority under section 110(a)(2) of the Act. These rules should not be approved into the applicable SIP, however, to avoid potential conflict with EPA's independent authorities provided in CAA section 113, section 114 and elsewhere.

    C. What are the identified rule deficiencies?

    The deficiencies listed below are some of the provisions that of the submitted rules that do not satisfy the requirements of section 110 and part D of Title I of the Act and prevent full approval of the SIP submittals.

    We propose to disapprove the SIP revision for Rule 1610 based at least in part on the following deficiencies:

    1. The Section (e)(2) requirement that engines of scrapped vehicles be destroyed is insufficiently federally enforceable for various reasons.

    2. The Section (f)(2)(A) requirement that the vehicle be registered for two years within SCAQMD is not fully enforceable by allowing the Executive Officer to approve different documentation.

    3. The Section (g) requirement of a visual and functional inspection of the vehicle has no recordkeeping requirements.

    4. There is no recordkeeping requirement to demonstrate compliance with the Section (g)(1) requirement that vehicles be driven under their own power to the scrapping site.

    5. There is no requirement to maintain records for the life of the MSERCs.

    We propose to disapprove the SIP revision for Rule 2202 based at least in part on the following deficiencies:

    1. Per Section (f)(1), the rule relies on Regulation XVI, which is not currently in the SIP.

    2. Per Section (f)(3), the rule relies on AQIP (Rule 2501), which is not currently in the SIP.

    3. Per Section (f)(4), the rule relies on emission reduction strategies approved on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Officer.

    4. Per Section (g)(4), the rule relies on vehicle miles travelled reduction programs approved on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Officer.

    We propose to disapprove the SIP revision for Rules 503.1 and 504 because they conflict with CAA sections 110(a) and (i) and fail to address that a state- or district-issued variance has no effect on enforcing the underlying federal requirement unless the variance is submitted to and approved by EPA as a SIP revision.

    We propose to disapprove the SIP revision for Rule 511.1 to avoid potential conflict with EPA's independent authorities provided in CAA section 113, section 114 and elsewhere.

    D. Proposed Action and Public Comment

    As authorized in section 110(k)(3) of the Act, we are proposing full disapproval of the submitted SCAQMD Rules 1610, 2202, 503.1, 504, and 511.1. There are no sanctions or Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) implications should EPA finalize this disapproval. Sanctions would not be imposed under CAA section 179(b) because the submittal of Rules 1610 and 2202 is discretionary (i.e., not required to be included in the SIP). A FIP would not be imposed under CAA section 110(c)(1) because the disapproval does not reveal a deficiency in the SIP that such a FIP must correct. Specifically: (1) Rule 1610 is voluntary and only serves to provide for an alternative method of compliance for stationary and other emission sources subject to other District regulations that allow the use of credits as a compliance option; and (2) Rule 2202 is not a required CAA submittal because the CAA gives state and local agencies discretion, but does not require, employers “to implement programs to reduce work-related vehicle trips and miles travelled by employees” (see CAA section 182(d)(1)(B)). Additionally, at this time, we have not credited emission reductions from Rules 1610 or 2202 in an approved SIP and we are not aware of a SCAQMD plan submitted to EPA that relies on emission reductions from these rules to fulfill a CAA requirement. Accordingly, the failure of the SCAQMD to adopt revisions to Rules 1610 and 2202 would not adversely affect the SIP's compliance with the CAA's requirements, such as the requirements for section 182 ozone RACT, reasonable further progress, and attainment demonstrations. Rules 503.1, 504 and 511.1 regulate hearing board procedures and do not control emission sources or otherwise generate emission reductions nor are they required elements of the SIP. Thus, EPA does not need to impose sanctions or promulgate a FIP upon their disapproval. Note that the submitted rules have been adopted by the SCAQMD, and a final disapproval by the EPA would not prevent the local agency from enforcing them or the revised versions of these rules subsequently adopted by SCAQMD as a matter of State law.

    We will accept comments from the public on the proposed disapproval for the next 30 days.

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

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

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act

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

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

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

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

    We continue to be interested in the potential impacts of this proposed rule on small entities and welcome comments on issues related to such impacts.

    D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    E. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

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

    This action does not have federalism implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132, because it merely disapproves certain State requirements for inclusion into the SIP and does not alter the relationship or the distribution of power and responsibilities established in the Clean Air Act. Thus, Executive Order 13132 does not apply to this action.

    F. Executive Order 13175, Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    This action does not have tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP rules EPA is proposing to disapprove would not apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this action.

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

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

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

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

    I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: October 30, 2015. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, Region IX.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29802 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593; A-1-FRL-9939-23-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; ME; Repeal of the Maine's General Conformity Provision AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Maine. This revision removes State Regulation Chapter 141 Conformity of General Federal Actions from the SIP.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593 by one of the following methods:

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

    2. Email: [email protected].

    3. Fax: (617) 918-0047

    4. Mail: “EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0593”, Anne Arnold, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

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

    Please see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register for detailed instructions on how to submit comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ariel Garcia, Air Quality Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone number (617) 918-1660, fax number (617) 918-0660, email [email protected] .

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    For additional information, see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register.

    Dated: November 5, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29824 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 69 [WC Docket No. 05-25 and RM-10593; DA 15-1239] Wireline Competition Bureau Extends Comment and Reply Comment Deadlines in Business Data Services (Also Referred to as Special Access Services) Rulemaking Proceeding AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; extension of comment and reply deadlines.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Wireline Competition Bureau grants in part a request seeking an extension to the comment and reply comment deadlines in the business data services (also referred to as special access services) rulemaking proceeding, Special Access FNPRM.

    DATES:

    Comments may be filed on or before January 6, 2016, and reply comment comments may be filed by February 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joseph Price, Pricing Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, 202-418-1540 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's document, WC Docket 05-25, RM-10593, DA 15-1239, released November 2, 2015. This document does not contain information collection(s) subject to the Paperwork Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-93. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified “information collection burdens[s] for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002. The full text of this document may be downloaded at the following Internet address: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db1102/DA-15-239A1.pdf. To request alternative formats for persons with disabilities (e.g. accessible format documents, sign language, interpreters, CARTS, etc.), send an email to [email protected] or call the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 or (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Background

    In Section IV.B of the FNPRM accompanying the Data Collection Order, adopted on December 11, 2012, the Commission sought comment on possible changes to its rules for the business data services provided by incumbent local exchange carriers in price cap areas. The Commission set the comment deadlines on this portion of the Special Access FNPRM, 78 FR 2600 (Jan. 11, 2013), several months beyond the document's release date to allow interested parties opportunity to review the data and information collected before filing comments. The Bureau has extended these deadlines, upon request and in consideration of oppositions filed in response to the request for extensions of time, to allow interested parties adequate time to access and review the data and information collected. Accordingly, the deadline for filing comments is extended to January 6, 2016, and the deadline for reply comments is extended to February 5, 2016.

    Federal Communications Commission. Pamela Arluk, Chief, Pricing Policy Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29906 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    80 226 Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Francis Marion-Sumter Resource Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Francis Marion-Sumter Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet in Columbia, South Carolina. The committee is authorized under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (the Act) and operates in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The purpose of the committee is to improve collaborative relationships and to provide advice and recommendations to the Forest Service concerning projects and funding consistent with Title II of the Act. Additional RAC information, including the meeting agenda and the meeting summary/minutes can be found at the following Web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/scnfs/workingtogether/advisorycommittees.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held December 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.

    All RAC meetings are subject to cancellation. For status of meeting prior to attendance, please contact the person listed under For Further Information Contact.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Harbision State Forest, Environmental Education Center, 5600 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina.

    Written comments may be submitted as described under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. All comments, including names and addresses when provided, are placed in the record and are available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments received at Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest Headquarters. Please call ahead to facilitate entry into the building.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Morrison, RAC Coordinator, by phone at 803-561-4000 or via email at [email protected]

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the meeting is:

    1. Review project proposals; and

    2. Recommend Title II projects.

    The meeting is open to the public. The agenda will include time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should request in writing by November 5, 2015, to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the committee may file written statements with the committee staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and requests for time to make oral comments must be sent to Mary Morrison, RAC Coordinator, 4931 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina 29212; by email to [email protected] or via facsimile to 803-561-4004.

    Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices or other reasonable accommodation for access to the facility or proceedings by contacting the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. John Richard Lint, Forest Supervisor, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29877 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Shasta-Trinity National Forest; California; Trinity Post Fire Hazard Reduction and Salvage AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

    SUMMARY:

    The proposed action would treat approximately 8,100 acres to reduce hazardous conditions within a buffer along open roads that burned in the 2015 wildfires. Standing dead and downed trees would be utilized to the extent practicable.

    DATES:

    Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by December 24, 2015. The draft environmental impact statement is expected April 2016 and the final environmental impact statement is expected August 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send written comments to Trinity Post Fire Hazard Reduction and Salvage Project, Attn: Brenda Olson, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, CA 96002. Comments may also be sent via email to [email protected], or via facsimile to 530-226-2475.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brenda Olson by phone at 530-226-2422, or by email at [email protected]

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Purpose and Need for Action

    The Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Six Rivers National Forest have experienced wildfire on approximately 220,000 acres as a result of lighting in 2015. The majority of acres affected are the result of a July 30, 2015 lightning event. Much of the fire areas burned through National Forest System lands, but a number of private landowners were also affected. Approximately 161,000 acres of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest were burned. Wildfires affected most land allocations including designated Wilderness, Adaptive Management Areas, and Late-Successional Reserve, as well as Inventoried Roadless Areas. Fires burned in a mosaic of intensities; acres burned have been categorized into high, moderate and low severity based on Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition After Wildfire (RAVG) data. Five fire complexes and one separate fire burned on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest:

    • The Fork Complex near the communities of Hayfork, Post Mountain, and Wildwood (34,500 acres; 8,900 acres of high and moderate severity);

    • The South Complex north and east of the community of Hyampom (29,400 acres; 5,900 acres high and moderate severity);

    • The Mad River Complex near the communities of Mad River, Ruth, and Forest Glen (39,200 acres; 6,600 acres high and moderate severity);

    • The Route Complex near the communities of Mad River and Hyampom (35,700 acres; 6,300 acres high and moderate severity);

    • The River Complex near the Hoopa Reservation, the communities of Burnt Ranch and Denny, and within the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area (78,600 acres; 17,100 acres high and moderate severity); and

    • The Saddle Fire northwest of the town of Hyampom (1,500 acres; 600 acres high and moderate severity).

    A portion of the areas that burned at moderate and high severity had conifer forest cover prior to the fires (other acres were brush, grasslands or oak woodlands). The acres of conifer and mixed conifer forest that burned at high severity generally have no remaining live trees, and the areas that burned at moderate severity also have a high likelihood of deforestation or large pockets of mortality due to fire-injury. Many trees showing signs of live branches or tops immediately following the fire will be lost due to cambium death or secondary mortality from insects compounded by years of drought.

    The areas affected by the 2015 wildfires on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest include vegetation along 387 miles of road (353 miles of National Forest System roads, 32 miles administered by state and county). Of these 387 miles, 248 miles are open to the public, including 233 miles through National Forest System lands. The vegetation along these roads experienced wildfire at varying degrees of intensity. Forested lands experiencing moderate and high intensity fire has resulted in a substantial number of dead and dying trees. Structural integrity of fire-killed trees has been compromised and it is expected many of them will fall during a wind or storm event.

    Current conditions within the burned area differ from the desired condition as identified in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan; 1995). Trees that were killed by the fire become less stable and increase the risk to all forest users. Once this material is on the ground and combined with the dead brush, fire behavior is likely to be more intense and more difficult to control. Because of the expected future fire behavior and the elevated risk of fire killed trees falling on firefighters, wildfire suppression strategies would be limited. Desired future conditions would be safe firefighter and public access; conditions that lead to a slower rate of wildfire spread and reduced intensity, with associated increased effectiveness of initial attack by firefighters; and roadside conditions that could be used as a line of defense for control of wildfires.

    Within areas experiencing large scale disturbance on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in 2015 due to wildfire, the purpose of this project is to move towards the desired conditions in the following ways:

    1. Reduce hazards (i.e. fire-killed trees and excessive fuels) that threaten public and firefighter safety along open National Forest System, County, and State roads;

    2. Sustain and establish forest cover; and,

    3. Within the treated areas, capture the economic value of felled trees and support the economies of local communities by providing forest products.

    Based on the Forest Plan and post fire assessment, we have identified a need to:

    • Provide for public safety and protection of structures by managing fuel loading, distribution and arrangement within Wildland Urban Interface for low flame lengths and rate of spread (Forest Plan 4-18);

    • Remove danger/hazard trees (Forest Plan 4-26);

    • Reduce surplus activity fuels that remain after meeting wildlife, riparian, soil and other environmental needs (Forest Plan, pg. 4-17);

    • Create conditions that will support the restoration of fire to its natural role in the ecosystem (Forest Plan 4-4).

    • Establish forest stands at densities appropriate to contribute to forest harvest in the future and to maintain wildlife habitat (Forest Plan, pg. 4-154).

    • Quickly recover the monetary value of wood through salvage and sale, where feasible and appropriate, to provide economic stimulus to local communities (Forest Plan 4-5).

    Proposed Action

    Dead vegetation will be treated on National Forest System lands along 233 miles of roads open to the public (i.e. National Forest System Roads (NFS), county roads, and state highways) that burned during the 2015 wildfire season. Treatments are proposed along 233 miles of public roads which cross National Forest System lands, including:

    • 153 miles of NFS Maintenance Level 2 (accessible with high clearance vehicles) roads;

    • 34 miles of NFS Maintenance Level 3 (accessible with passenger cars) roads;

    • 19 miles of NFS Maintenance Level 4 (paved) roads; and

    • 27 miles of state and county roads.

    Treatments along these roads could include:

    • Remove or treat dead vegetation (using one of the “treatment types” listed below) within a 300 foot total width buffer. Width of the buffer on either side of the road would change but would always total 300 feet; i.e. if conditions lend to a wider treatment on the uphill side, the uphill side may be treated up to 275 feet from the road and the downhill side would be treated for 25 feet from the road. The area of treatment is approximately 8,100 acres. The minimum treatment area along either side of the road will be 25 feet. Treatment types for both initial entry and maintenance could include:

    ○ Hand felling of dead trees and brush. Dead vegetation will be identified at the time of treatment.

    ○ Mastication, which pulverizes or chops standing trees and logs into small particles. This treatment can include mowing, mulching, or chipping.

    ○ Lopping woody debris (slash) and scattering around the treated area, which redistributes woody material.

    ○ Hand piling slash, which reduces surface fuels.

    ○ Machine piling slash, which reduces surface fuels.

    ○ Pile burning, which reduces surface fuels.

    ○ Jackpot burning, which is a burning method used to reduce heavy intermittent fuel concentrations, where fuels are not continuous enough to carry a broadcast fire.

    ○ Broadcast burning, which is a burning method used where heavy continuous fuel concentrations exist.

    ○ Chipping, which pulverizes or chops trees, brush, and logs into small particles.

    • Maintain treated areas through understory burning, where feasible.

    • Utilize wood products whenever possible. This can include salvage logs, commercial or personal firewood, biomass removal, etc.

    ○ Large timber sales are expected to be feasible on up to 128 miles of the roads proposed for treatment.

    • Provide for future forest cover through planting, utilizing a species composition consistent with historic conditions, with spacing between seedlings of 18 to 30 feet.

    • Create a control line on the outside edge of treatment areas where necessary to maintain fuel reductions with prescribed fire.

    • Where appropriate, stumps of freshly cut conifers will be treated with an EPA-registered borate compound to prevent spread of Heterobasidion root disease.

    • Trees or snags that are imminent hazards to the road and/or operations would felled; trees that are felled outside the treatment buffer would be left onsite.

    • No treatments are proposed within Wilderness.

    • Additional Resource Protection Measures will be developed to address resource concerns for wildlife, watersheds, soils and other issues that are identified.

    Fuels reduction treatment goals are to:

    • Reduce downed logs to 10-20 tons per acre. Downed logs includes woody material >3-inches in diameter including fuels created by salvage and suppression actions.

    • Reduce dead brush by 50-100%.

    Responsible Official

    David R. Myers, Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

    Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor will decide whether to implement the proposed action, take an alternative action that meets the purpose and need or take no action.

    Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. This project is within Wildland Urban Interface and as such is consistent with the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA), which contains provisions to expedite hazardous fuels reduction and forest restoration projects on federal lands. Project authorized under HFRA are defined under Section 102(a) of the act and are designed to actively involve the public (Section 104(e) and (f) of the act). In an effort to provide for collaborative design of this project or alternatives, you are invited to participate in open public meetings at the following locations and times: Hyampom Community Center on November 30, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.; Weaverville Board of Supervisor's Chambers on December 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.; Trinity County Fairgrounds dining hall in Hayfork on December 2, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.; Ruth Lake Community Services District Hall in Mad River on December 3, 2015; and, Burnt Ranch School on December 4, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Additional project information is available on the project Web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48060.

    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer's concerns and alternative means of meeting the purpose and need.

    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the respondent with standing to participate in subsequent administrative review or judicial review. An Emergency Situation Determination will be requested for this project consistent with regulations at 36 CFR 218.21. An Emergency Situation Determination would eliminate the 30-day Objection period prior to a decision.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. David R. Myers, Forest Supervisor.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29878 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-11-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [Docket No.: 151106999-5999-01] Call for Applications for the International Buyer Program Calendar Year 2017 AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and Call for Applications.

    SUMMARY:

    In this notice, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) announces that it will begin accepting applications for the International Buyer Program (IBP) for calendar year 2017 (January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017). The announcement also sets out the objectives, procedures and application review criteria for the IBP. The purpose of the IBP is to bring international buyers together with U.S. firms in industries with high export potential at leading U.S. trade shows. Specifically, through the IBP, the ITA selects domestic trade shows which will receive ITA assistance in the form of global promotion in foreign markets, provision of export counseling to exhibitors, and provision of matchmaking services at the trade show. This notice covers selection for IBP participation during calendar year 2017.

    DATES:

    Applications for the IBP must be received by Friday, January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The application form can be found at www.export.gov/ibp. Applications may be submitted by any of the following methods: (1) Mail/Hand Delivery Service: International Buyer Program, Trade Promotion Programs, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Suite 800M—Mezzanine Level—Atrium North, Washington, DC 20004; (2) Facsimile: (202) 482-7800; or (3) email: [email protected] Facsimile and email applications will be accepted as interim applications, but must be followed by a signed original application that is received by the program no later than five (5) business days after the application deadline. To ensure that applications are received by the deadline, applicants are strongly urged to send applications by express delivery service (e.g., U.S. Postal Service Express Delivery, Federal Express, UPS, etc.).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Vidya Desai, Acting Director, International Buyer Program, Trade Promotion Programs, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Ronald Reagan Building, Suite 800M—Mezzanine Level—Atrium North, Washington, DC 20004; Telephone (202) 482-2311; Facsimile: (202) 482-7800; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The IBP was established in the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-418, codified at 15 U.S.C. 4724) to bring international buyers together with U.S. firms by promoting leading U.S. trade shows in industries with high export potential. The IBP emphasizes cooperation between the DOC and trade show organizers to benefit U.S. firms exhibiting at selected events and provides practical, hands-on assistance such as export counseling and market analysis to U.S. companies interested in exporting. Shows selected for the IBP will provide a venue for U.S. companies interested in expanding their sales into international markets.

    Through the IBP, ITA selects U.S. trade shows with participation by U.S. firms interested in exporting that ITA determines to be leading international trade shows, for promotion in overseas markets by U.S. Embassies and Consulates. The DOC is authorized to provide successful applicants with assistance in the form of overseas promotion of the show; outreach to show participants about exporting; recruitment of potential buyers to attend the events; and staff assistance in setting up international trade centers at the events. Worldwide promotion is executed through ITA officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 70 countries representing the United States' major trading partners, and also in Embassies in countries where ITA does not maintain offices.

    The International Trade Administration (ITA) is accepting applications from trade show organizers for the IBP for trade events taking place between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017. Selection of a trade show is valid for one event, i.e., a trade show organizer seeking selection for a recurring event must submit a new application for selection for each occurrence of the event. For events that occur more than once in a calendar year, the trade show organizer must submit a separate application for each event.

    For the IBP in calendar year 2017, the ITA expects to select approximately 20 events from among the applicants. The ITA will select those events that are determined to most clearly meet the statutory mandate in 15 U.S.C. 4721 to promote U.S. exports, especially those of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the selection criteria articulated below.

    There is no fee required to submit an application. If accepted into the program for calendar year 2017, a participation fee of $9,800 is required for shows of five days or fewer. For trade shows more than five days in duration, or requiring more than one International Trade Center, a participation fee of $15,000 is required. For trade shows ten days or more in duration, and/or requiring more than two International Trade Centers, the participation fee will be determined by DOC and stated in the written notification of acceptance. It would be calculated on a full cost recovery basis. Successful applicants will be required to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ITA within 10 days of written notification of acceptance into the program. The participation fee (by check or credit card) is due within 30 days of written notification of acceptance into the program.

    The MOA constitutes an agreement between ITA and the show organizer specifying which responsibilities for international promotion and export assistance services at the trade shows are to be undertaken by ITA as part of the IBP and, in turn, which responsibilities are to be undertaken by the show organizer. Anyone requesting application information will be sent a sample copy of the MOA along with the application and a copy of this Federal Register Notice. Applicants are encouraged to review the MOA closely as IBP participants are required to comply with all terms, conditions, and obligations in the MOA. Trade show organizer obligations include, but are not limited to, providing waived or reduced admission fees for international attendees who are participating in the IBP, the construction of an International Trade Center at the trade show, production of an export interest directory, and provision of complimentary hotel accommodations for DOC staff as explained in the MOA. One of the most important commitments is for the trade show organizer to: include in the terms and conditions of its exhibitor contracts provisions for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR); to have procedures in place at the trade show to address IPR infringement which, at a minimum, provide information to help U.S. exhibitors procure legal representation during the trade show; and to agree to assist the DOC to reach and educate U.S. exhibitors on the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!), IPR protection measures available during the show, and the means to protect IPR in overseas markets, as well as in the United States. ITA responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the worldwide promotion of the trade show and, where feasible, recruitment of international buyers to that show, provision of on-site export assistance to U.S. exhibitors at the show, and the reporting of results to the show organizer.

    Selection as an IBP partner does not constitute a guarantee by DOC of the show's success. IBP partnership status is not an endorsement of the show except as to its international buyer activities. Non-selection of an applicant for IBP partnership status should not be viewed as a determination that the event will not be successful in promoting U.S. exports.

    Eligibility: All 2017 U.S. trade events are eligible to apply for IBP participation through the show organizer.

    Exclusions: Trade shows that are either first-time or horizontal (non-industry specific) events generally will not be considered.

    General Evaluation Criteria: The ITA will evaluate shows to be International Buyer Program partners using the following criteria:

    (a) Export Potential: The trade show promotes products and services from U.S. industries that have high export potential, as determined by DOC sources, including industry analysts' assessment of export potential, ITA best prospects lists and U.S. export statistics.

    (b) Level of International Interest: The trade show meets the needs of a significant number of overseas markets and corresponds to marketing opportunities as identified by ITA. Previous international attendance at the show may be used as an indicator of such interest.

    (c) Scope of the Show: The event offers a broad spectrum of U.S. made products and services for the subject industry. Trade shows with a majority of U.S. firms as exhibitors will be given priority.

    (d) U.S. Content of Show Exhibitors: Trade shows with exhibitors featuring a high percentage of products produced in the United States or products with a high degree of U.S. content will be preferred.

    (e) Stature of the Show: The trade show is clearly recognized by the industry it covers as a leading event for the promotion of that industry's products and services both domestically and internationally, and as a showplace for the latest technology or services in that industry.

    (f) Level of Exhibitor Interest: U.S. exhibitors have expressed interest in receiving international business visitors during the trade show. A significant number of U.S. exhibitors should be seeking to begin exporting or to expand their sales into additional export markets.

    (g) Level of Overseas Marketing: There has been a demonstrated effort by the applicant to market this event and prior related events. For this criterion, the applicant should describe in detail, among other information, the international marketing program to be conducted for the event, and explain how efforts should increase individual and group international attendance.

    (h) Logistics: The trade show site, facilities, transportation services, and availability of accommodations at the site of the exhibition (i.e. International Trade Center, interpreters) are capable of accommodating large numbers of attendees whose native language will not be English.

    (i) Level of Cooperation: The applicant demonstrates a willingness to cooperate with the ITA to fulfill the program's goals and adhere to the target dates set out in the MOA and in the event timetables, both of which are available from the program office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above). Past experience in the IBP will be taken into account in evaluating the applications received.

    (j) Delegation Incentives: The IBP Office will be evaluating the level and/or range of incentives offered to delegations and/or delegation leaders recruited by U.S. overseas Embassies and Consulates. Examples of incentives to international visitors and to organized delegations include: Special organized events, such as receptions, meetings with association executives, briefings, and site tours; and complimentary accommodations for delegation leaders (beyond those required in the MOA). Review Process: ITA will evaluate all applications received based on the criteria set out in this notice. Vetting will include soliciting input from ITA industry analysts, as well as domestic and international field offices, focusing primarily on the export potential, level of international interest, and stature of the show. In reviewing applications, ITA will also consider scheduling and sector balance in terms of the need to allocate resources to support selected events.

    Application Requirements: Show organizers submitting applications for the 2017 IBP are requested to submit: (1) A narrative statement addressing each question in the application, Form OMB 0625-0143 (found at www.export.gov/ibp); (2) a signed statement that “The information submitted in this application is correct and the applicant will abide by the terms set forth in the Call for Applications for the 2017 International Buyer Program (January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017);” and (3) two copies of the application: one copy of the application printed on company letterhead, and one electronic copy of the application submitted on a CD-RW (preferably in Microsoft Word® format), on or before the deadline noted above. There is no fee required to apply. Applications for the IBP must be received by Friday, January 8, 2016. ITA expects to issue the results of its review process in April 2016.

    Legal Authority: The statutory program authority for the ITA to conduct the International Buyer Program is 15 U.S.C. 4724. The DOC has the legal authority to enter into MOAs with show organizers under the provisions of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (MECEA), as amended (22 U.S.C.s 2455(f) and 2458(c)). MECEA allows ITA to accept contributions of funds and services from firms for the purposes of furthering its mission.

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the information collection requirements of the application to this program (Form OMB 0625-0143) under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (OMB Control No. 0625-0143). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

    For further information please contact: Vidya Desai, Acting Director, International Buyer Program ([email protected]).

    Frank Spector, Trade Promotion Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29859 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [Docket No.: 151106999-5999-01] Call for Applications for the International Buyer Program Select Service for Calendar Year 2017 AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and call for applications.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), International Trade Administration (ITA) announces that it will begin accepting applications for the International Buyer Program (IBP) Select service for calendar year 2017 (January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017). This announcement sets out the objectives, procedures and application review criteria for IBP Select. Under IBP Select, ITA recruits international buyers to U.S. trade shows to meet with U.S. suppliers exhibiting at those shows. The main difference between IBP and IBP Select is that IBP offers worldwide promotion, whereas IBP Select focuses on promotion and recruitment in up to five international markets. Specifically, through the IBP Select, the DOC selects domestic trade shows that will receive DOC assistance in the form of targeted promotion and recruitment in up to five foreign markets, export counseling to exhibitors, and export counseling and matchmaking services at the trade show. This notice covers selection for IBP Select participation during calendar year 2017.

    DATES:

    Applications for IBP Select must be received by Friday, January 8, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The application form can be found at www.export.gov/ibp. Applications may be submitted by any of the following methods: (1) Mail/Hand Delivery Service International Buyer Program, Trade Promotion Programs, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Suite 800—Mezzanine Level —Atrium North, Washington, DC 20004; (2) Facsimile: (202) 482-7800; or (3) email: [email protected] Facsimile and email applications will be accepted as interim applications, and must be followed by a signed original application that is received by the program no later than five (5) business days after the application deadline. To ensure that applications are received by the deadline, applicants are strongly urged to send applications by express delivery service (e.g., U.S. Postal Service Express Delivery, Federal Express, UPS, etc.).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Vidya Desai, Acting Director, International Buyer Program, Trade Promotion Programs, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Ronald Reagan Building, Suite 800M—Mezzanine Level—Atrium North, Washington, DC 20004; Telephone (202) 482-2311; Facsimile: (202) 482-7800; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The IBP was established in the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-418, title II, § 2304, codified at 15 U.S.C. 4724) to bring international buyers together with U.S. firms by promoting leading U.S. trade shows in industries with high export potential. The IBP emphasizes cooperation between the DOC and trade show organizers to benefit U.S. firms exhibiting at selected events and provides practical, hands-on assistance such as export counseling and market analysis to U.S. companies interested in exporting. Shows selected for the IBP Select will provide a venue for U.S. companies interested in expanding their sales into international markets.

    Through the IBP, the DOC selects trade shows that DOC determines to be leading trade shows with participation by U.S. firms interested in exporting. DOC provides successful applicants with assistance in the form of targeted overseas promotion of the show by U.S. Embassies and Consulates; outreach to show participants about exporting; recruitment of potential buyers to attend the events; and staff assistance in setting up and staffing international trade centers at the events. Targeted promotion in up to five markets can be executed through the overseas offices of ITA or in U.S. Embassies in countries where ITA does not maintain offices.

    ITA is accepting applications for IBP Select from trade show organizers of trade events taking place between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017. Selection of a trade show for IBP Select is valid for one event. A trade show organizer seeking selection for a recurring event must submit a new application for selection for each occurrence of the event. For events that occur more than once in a calendar year, the trade show organizer must submit a separate application for each event.

    There is no fee required to submit an application. For IBP Select in calendar year 2017, ITA expects to select approximately 8 events from among the applicants. ITA will select those events that are determined to most clearly support the statutory mandate in 15 U.S.C. 4721 to promote U.S. exports, especially those of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and that best meet the selection criteria articulated below. Once selected, applicants will be required to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DOC, and submit payment of the $6,000 2017 participation fee (by check or credit card) within 30 days of written notification of acceptance into IBP Select. The MOA constitutes an agreement between the DOC and the show organizer specifying which responsibilities for international promotion and export assistance services at the trade shows are to be undertaken by the DOC as part of the IBP Select and, in turn, which responsibilities are to be undertaken by the show organizer. Anyone requesting application information will be sent a sample copy of the MOA along with the application form and a copy of this Federal Register Notice. Applicants are encouraged to review the MOA closely, as IBP Select participants are expected to comply with all terms, conditions, and obligations in the MOA. Trade show organizer obligations include the construction of an International Trade Center at the trade show, production of an export interest directory, and provision of complimentary hotel accommodations for DOC staff as explained in the MOA. ITA responsibilities include targeted promotion of the trade show and, where feasible, recruitment of international buyers to that show from up to five target markets identified, provision of on-site export assistance to U.S. exhibitors at the show, and the reporting of results to the show organizer.

    Selection as an IBP Select show does not constitute a guarantee by DOC of the show's success. IBP Select participation status is not an endorsement of the show except as to its international buyer activities. Non-selection of an applicant for IBP Select status should not be viewed as a determination that the event will not be successful in promoting U.S. exports. Eligibility: 2017 U.S. trade events with 1,350 or fewer exhibitors are eligible to apply, through the show organizer, for IBP Select participation. First-time events will also be considered. Exclusions: U.S. trade shows with over 1,350 exhibitors will not be considered for IBP Select. General Evaluation Criteria: ITA will evaluate applicants for IBP Select using the following criteria:

    (a) Export Potential: The trade show promotes products and services from U.S. industries that have high export potential, as determined by DOC sources, including industry analysts' assessment of export potential, ITA best prospects lists, and U.S. export analysis.

    (b) Level of International Interest: The trade show meets the needs of a significant number of overseas markets and corresponds to marketing opportunities as identified by ITA. Previous international attendance at the show may be used as an indicator.

    (c) Scope of the Show: The event must offer a broad spectrum of U.S. made products and services for the subject industry. Trade shows with a majority of U.S. firms as exhibitors are given priority.

    (d) U.S. Content of Show Exhibitors: Trade shows with exhibitors featuring a high percentage of products produced in the United States or products with a high degree of U.S. content will be preferred.

    (e) Stature of the Show: The trade show is clearly recognized by the industry it covers as a leading event for the promotion of that industry's products and services both domestically and internationally, and as a showplace for the latest technology or services in that industry.

    (f) Level of Exhibitor Interest: There is significant interest on the part of U.S. exhibitors in receiving international business visitors during the trade show. A significant number of U.S. exhibitors should be new-to-export or seeking to expand their sales into additional export markets.

    (g) Level of Overseas Marketing: There has been a demonstrated effort by the applicant to market prior shows overseas. In addition, the applicant should describe in detail the international marketing program to be conducted for the event, and explain how efforts should increase individual and group international attendance.

    (h) Level of Cooperation: The applicant demonstrates a willingness to cooperate with ITA to fulfill the program's goals and adhere to the target dates set out in the MOA and in the event timetables, both of which are available from the program office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above). Past experience in the IBP will be taken into account in evaluating the applications received.

    (i) Delegation Incentives: Waived or reduced (by at least 50%) admission fees are required for international attendees who are participating in IBP Select. Delegation leaders also must be provided complimentary admission to the event. In addition, show organizers should offer a range of incentives to delegations and/or delegation leaders recruited by the DOC overseas posts. Examples of incentives to international visitors and to organized delegations include: Special organized events, such as receptions, meetings with association executives, briefings, and site tours; or complimentary accommodations for delegation leaders.

    Review Process: ITA will vet all applications received based on the criteria set out in this notice. Vetting will include soliciting input from ITA industry analysts, as well as domestic and international field offices, focusing primarily on the export potential, level of international interest, and stature of the show. In reviewing applications, ITA will also consider sector and calendar diversity in terms of the need to allocate resources to support selected events.

    Application Requirements: Show organizers submitting applications for 2017 IBP Select are required to submit: (1) A narrative statement addressing each question in the application, OMB 0625-0143 (found at www.export.gov/ibp); and (2) a signed statement that “The above information provided is correct and the applicant will abide by the terms set forth in this Call for Applications for the International Buyer Program Select (January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017);” on or before the deadline noted above. Applications for IBP Select must be received by Friday, January 8, 2016. There is no fee required to apply. ITA expects to issue the results of this process in April 2016.

    Legal Authority:

    The statutory program authority for ITA to conduct the IBP is 15 U.S.C. 4724. ITA has the legal authority to enter into MOAs with show organizers under the provisions of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (MECEA), as amended (22 U.S.C.s 2455(f) and 2458(c)). MECEA allows ITA to accept contributions of funds and services from firms for the purposes of furthering its mission.

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the information collection requirements of the application to this program (0625-0143) under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (OMB Control No. 0625-0143). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

    For further information please contact: Vidya Desai, Acting Director, International Buyer Program ([email protected]).

    Frank Spector, Acting Director, Trade Promotion Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29858 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of a public workshop.

    SUMMARY:

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the NMFS Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers (NWFSC and SWFSC, respectively) will hold a public workshop to review and critique its groundfish stock assessment process in 2015. The Groundfish Stock Assessment Process Review Workshop is open to the public.

    DATES:

    The Groundfish Stock Assessment Process Review Workshop will commence at 8:30 a.m. PT, Wednesday, December 9, 2015 and continue until 5:30 p.m. or as necessary to complete business for the day. The workshop will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. PT, Thursday, December 10, 2015 and continue until 5:30 p.m. or as necessary to complete business for the day

    ADDRESSES:

    The Groundfish Stock Assessment Process Review Workshop will be held at Room 203, Fishery Sciences Building (FSH), University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat Street, Seattle, WA 98105.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. John DeVore, Pacific Council; telephone: (503) 820-2413.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the Groundfish Stock Assessment Process Review Workshop webinar is for participants in the Council's 2015 stock assessment process to consider the procedures used in 2015 to assess and update groundfish stock abundance and develop recommendations for improving the process for future assessments and future assessment reviews. No management actions will be decided in this workshop. Any recommendations developed at the workshop will be submitted for consideration by the Council at its March 2016 meeting in Sacramento, CA or its April 2016 meeting in Vancouver, WA (see the Council's Web site at www.pcouncil.org for future Council meeting agendas).

    Although non-emergency issues not identified in the workshop agenda may come before the workshop participants for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this workshop. Formal action at the workshop will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the workshop participants' intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This workshop is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at (503) 820-2425 at least 5 days prior to the workshop date.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29891 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0075] Grant of Interim Extension of the Term of U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146; fluciclovine (18F) AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Interim Patent Term Extension.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued an order granting interim extension under 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(5) for a one-year interim extension of the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary C. Till by telephone at (571) 272-7755; by mail marked to her attention and addressed to the Commissioner for Patents, Mail Stop Hatch-Waxman PTE, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by fax marked to her attention at (571) 273-7755; or by email to [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Section 156 of Title 35, United States Code, generally provides that the term of a patent may be extended for a period of up to five years if the patent claims a product, or a method of making or using a product, that has been subject to certain defined regulatory review, and that the patent may be extended for interim periods of up to one year if the regulatory review is anticipated to extend beyond the expiration date of the patent.

    On October 22, 2015, Emory University, the patent owner of record, timely filed an application under 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(5) for an interim extension of the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146. The patent claims the active ingredient fluciclovine (18F) of the drug product AxuminTM. The application for patent term extension indicates that New Drug Application (NDA) 208054 was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 28, 2015. In a letter dated October 8, 2015, FDA acknowledged receipt of NDA 208054 for “AxuminTM ([F-18] Fluciclovine)”.

    Review of the patent term extension application indicates that, except for permission to market or use the product commercially, the subject patent would be eligible for an extension of the patent term under 35 U.S.C. 156, and that the patent should be extended for one year as required by 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(5)(B). Because the regulatory review period has continued beyond the original expiration date of the patent, November 9, 2015, interim extension of the patent term under 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(5) is appropriate.

    An interim extension under 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(5) of the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,808,146 is granted for a period of one year from the original expiration date of the patent.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Robert Bahr, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29887 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No: CFPB-2015-0051] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) is requesting to renew the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) titled, “Report of Terms of Credit Card Plans (FR 2572)”.

    DATES:

    Written comments are encouraged and must be received on or before January 25, 2016 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by the title of the information collection, OMB Control Number (see below), and docket number (see above), by any of the following methods:

    Electronic: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    Please note that comments submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. In general, all comments received will become public records, including any personal information provided. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, should not be included.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Documentation prepared in support of this information collection request is available at www.regulations.gov. Requests for additional information should be directed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, (202) 435-9575, or email: [email protected] Please do not submit comments to this mailbox.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title of Collection: Report of Terms of Credit Card Plans (FR 2572).

    OMB Control Number: 3170-0001.

    Type of Review: Extension without change of a currently approved collection.

    Affected Public: Private Sector.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 150.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 75.

    Abstract: Form FR 2572 collects data on credit card pricing and availability from a sample of at least 150 financial institutions that offer credit cards. The data enable the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or the Bureau) to present information to the public on terms of credit card plans.

    Request for Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. Darrin A. King, Paperwork Reduction Act Officer, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29818 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No: CFPB-2015-0048] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) is proposing a new information collection titled, “Financial Well-Being National Survey.”

    DATES:

    Written comments are encouraged and must be received on or before January 25, 2016 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by the title of the information collection, OMB Control Number (see below), and docket number (see above), by any of the following methods:

    Electronic: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    Please note that comments submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. In general, all comments received will become public records, including any personal information provided. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, should not be included.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Documentation prepared in support of this information collection request is available at www.regulations.gov. Requests for additional information should be directed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, (202) 435-9575, or email: [email protected] Please do not submit comments to this mailbox.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title of Collection: Financial Well-Being National Survey.

    OMB Control Number: 3170-XXXX.

    Type of Review: New collection (Request for a new OMB control number).

    Affected Public: Individuals.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 6,000.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 2,000.

    Abstract: Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, the Bureau's Office of Financial Education is responsible for developing and implementing a strategy to improve the financial literacy of consumers that includes measurable goals and initiatives, in consultation with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, consistent with the National Strategy for Financial Literacy. In addition, the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans within the Bureau is charged with conducting research to identify methods and strategies to educate and counsel seniors, and developing goals for programs that provide seniors with financial literacy and counseling.

    Through prior research, the Bureau has determined that improvement in consumer financial well-being is the ultimate goal of such financial literacy initiatives. In order to inform our identification and development of financial literacy strategies that explicitly seek to improve consumer financial well-being, the Bureau plans to conduct a nationally representative survey to measure adult financial well-being and related concepts, as well as an oversample of adults age 62 and older to gather additional data relevant to the needs and experiences of older consumers. The specific goals of the survey are to (1) measure the level of financial well-being of American adults and key sub-populations; (2) quantitatively test previously developed hypotheses about the specific types of knowledge, behavior, traits and skills that may support higher levels of financial well-being; and (3) produce fully de-identified public use data files that will allow external researchers to examine additional questions about financial well-being and its drivers.

    Request for Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. Darrin A. King, Paperwork Reduction Act Officer, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29816 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No: CFPB-2015-0050] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) is requesting to renew the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for an existing information collection titled, “Homeownership Counseling Amendments to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X) 12 CFR 1024.”

    DATES:

    Written comments are encouraged and must be received on or before January 25, 2016 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by the title of the information collection, OMB Control Number (see below), and docket number (see above), by any of the following methods:

    Electronic: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    Please note that comments submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. In general, all comments received will become public records, including any personal information provided. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, should not be included.
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Documentation prepared in support of this information collection request is available at www.regulations.gov. Requests for additional information should be directed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, (202) 435-9575, or email: [email protected] Please do not submit comments to this mailbox.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title of Collection: Homeownership Counseling Amendments to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X) 12 CFR 1024.

    OMB Control Number: 3170-0025.

    Type of Review: Request approval for an existing information collection.

    Affected Public: Businesses and other for-profit entities.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 2,259.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 117,500.

    Abstract: Regulation X implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, ensures that consumers are provided with more helpful information about the cost of the mortgage settlement and protected from unnecessarily high settlement charges caused by certain abusive practices. Regulation X contains information collections in the form of third party disclosures and recordkeeping requirements.

    This amendment to Regulation X requires lenders to provide mortgage applicants a list of certified homeownership counselors at or soon after the time of their application. This requirement is meant to help applicants be informed about the process of applying for a mortgage, and receive additional non-biased guidance if desired.

    Request for Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Darrin A. King, Paperwork Reduction Act Officer, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29815 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem Rates AGENCY:

    Defense Travel Management Office, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of revised non-foreign overseas per diem rates.

    SUMMARY:

    The Defense Travel Management Office is publishing Civilian Personnel Per Diem Bulletin Number 300. This bulletin lists revisions in the per diem rates prescribed for U.S. Government employees for official travel in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and Possessions of the United States when applicable. AEA changes announced in Bulletin Number 194 remain in effect. Bulletin Number 300 is being published in the Federal Register to assure that travelers are paid per diem at the most current rates.

    DATES:

    Effective date: December 1, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Sonia Malik, 571-372-1276.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document gives notice of revisions in per diem rates prescribed by the Defense Travel Management Office for non-foreign areas outside the contiguous United States. It supersedes Civilian Personnel Per Diem Bulletin Number 299. Per Diem Bulletins published periodically in the Federal Register now constitute the only notification of revisions in per diem rates to agencies and establishments outside the Department of Defense. For more information or questions about per diem rates, please contact your local travel office. Civilian Bulletin 300 includes updated rates for Puerto Rico.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. BILLING CODE 5001-06-P EN24NO15.014 EN24NO15.015 EN24NO15.016 EN24NO15.017 EN24NO15.018 EN24NO15.019 EN24NO15.020 EN24NO15.021 EN24NO15.022 EN24NO15.023
    [FR Doc. 2015-29875 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-C
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2015-ICCD-0097] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Natural Experiments and Model Career-Focused Schools: An Environmental Scan AGENCY:

    Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), Office of Career, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a new information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2015-ICCD-0097. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E105, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Braden Goetz, 202-245-7405.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Natural Experiments and Model Career-Focused Schools: An Environmental Scan.

    OMB Control Number: 1830-NEW.

    Type of Review: A new information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local and Tribal Governments.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 100.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 25.

    Abstract: The purpose of this collection is to determine the extent to which there are natural circumstances that approximate random assignment among a group of college- and career-focused schools that belong to one or more school reform networks. A survey will be administered to principals of these schools to determine if they are oversubscribed and use lotteries for student admission. If a sufficient number of schools with such practices are identified, future research could use these naturally occurring experimental conditions to investigate differences in the outcomes achieved by students who attend these types of schools.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29847 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [OE Docket No. EA-306-B] Application To Export Electric Energy; MAG Energy Solutions, Inc. AGENCY:

    Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of application.

    SUMMARY:

    MAG Energy Solutions, Inc. (Applicant or MAG E.S.) has applied to renew its authority to transmit electric energy from the United States to Canada pursuant to section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act.

    DATES:

    Comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be submitted on or before December 24, 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 March 30, 2011, DOE issued Order No. EA-306-A to MAG E.S., which authorized the Applicant to transmit electric energy from the United States to Canada as a power marketer for a five-year term using existing international transmission facilities. That authority expires on April 6, 2016. On November 3, 2015, MAG E.S. filed an application with DOE for renewal of the export authority contained in Order No. EA-306 for an additional five-year term.

    In its application, MAG E.S. 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 MAG E.S. proposes to export to Canada 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 MAG E.S. 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.

    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 MAG E.S.'s application to export electric energy to Canada should be clearly marked with OE Docket No. EA-306-B. An additional copy is to be provided directly to both Ruta Kalvaitis Skucas, Pierce Atwood LLC., 900 17th Street NW., Suite 350, Washington, DC 20006 and Simon Pelletier, MAG Energy Solutions, Inc., 999 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Suite 875, Montreal, Quebec H3A 3L4 Canada.

    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 18, 2015. Christopher Lawrence, Electricity Policy Analyst, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29885 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL-9939-18-ORD; Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0357] Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice; public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a 60-day public comment period for the draft document titled, “External Review Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria” (EPA/600/R-15/066). The draft document was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) within the EPA's Office of Research and Development as part of the review of the primary (health-based) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2). The Integrated Science Assessment (ISA), in conjunction with additional technical and policy assessments, provides the scientific basis for the EPA's decisions on the adequacy of the current NAAQS and the appropriateness of possible alternative standards. EPA intends to develop a separate ISA as part of an independent review for the secondary (welfare-based) NAAQS for oxides of nitrogen and sulfur.

    EPA is releasing this draft document to seek review by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the public (meeting date and location to be specified in a separate Federal Register notice). This draft document is not final as described in EPA's information quality guidelines, and it does not represent, and should not be construed to represent, Agency policy or views. When revising the document, EPA will consider any public comments submitted during the 60-day comment period in response to this notice.

    DATES:

    The 60-day public comment period begins on November 24, 2015, and ends on January 25, 2016. Comments must be received on or before January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The “External Review Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria” will be available primarily via the Internet on EPA's Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Dioxide (Health Criteria) home page at http://www2.epa.gov/isa/integrated-science-assessment-isa-sulfur-dioxide-health-criteria or the public docket at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0357. A limited number of CD-ROM copies will be available. Contact Ms. Marieka Boyd by phone: 919-541-0031; fax: 919-541-5078; or email: [email protected] to request a CD-ROM, and please provide your name, your mailing address, and the document title, “External Review Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria” to facilitate processing of your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the public comment period, contact the ORD Docket at the EPA Headquarters Docket Center; telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 202-566-9744; or email: [email protected]

    For technical information, contact Dr. Tom Long, NCEA; telephone: 919-541-1880; facsimile: 919-541-1818; or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Information About the Document

    Section 108(a) of the Clean Air Act directs the Administrator to identify certain pollutants which, among other things, “cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare” and to issue air quality criteria for them. These air quality criteria are 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. . . .” Under section 109 of the Act, EPA is then to establish NAAQS for each pollutant for which EPA has issued criteria. Section 109(d) of the Act subsequently requires periodic review and, if appropriate, revision of existing air quality criteria to reflect advances in scientific knowledge on the effects of the pollutant on public health or welfare. EPA is also required to review and, if appropriate, revise the NAAQS, based on the revised air quality criteria (for more information on the NAAQS review process, see http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/review.html).

    Sulfur oxides are one of six criteria pollutants for which EPA has established NAAQS. Periodically, EPA reviews the scientific basis for these standards by preparing an ISA (formerly called an Air Quality Criteria Document). The ISA, in conjunction with additional technical and policy assessments, provides the scientific basis for the EPA's decisions on the adequacy of the current NAAQS and the appropriateness of possible alternative standards. The CASAC, an independent science advisory committee whose review and advisory functions are mandated by Section 109(d)(2) of the Clean Air Act, is charged (among other things) with independent scientific review of the EPA's air quality criteria.

    On May 10, 2013 (78 FR 27387), EPA formally initiated its current review of the air quality criteria for the health effects of sulfur oxides and the primary (health-based) SO2 NAAQS, requesting the submission of recent scientific information on specified topics. EPA held a workshop on June 12 and 13, 2013, to discuss with invited scientific experts, both internal and external to the EPA, key science and policy issues relevant to the review of the health effects of sulfur oxides (78 FR 27387). These science and policy issues were incorporated in EPA's “Integrated Review Plan for the Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide” (EPA-452/R-14-007), which was finalized in October 2014 with a prior draft available for public comment (79 FR 14035) and discussion by the CASAC via publicly accessible teleconference consultations (79 FR 16325, 79 FR 30137, 79 FR 34739). On June 23-24, 2014, EPA held a workshop to discuss, with invited internal and external scientific experts, initial draft materials prepared in the development of the ISA (79 FR 33750).

    The “External Review Draft Integrated Science Assessment for Sulfur Oxides—Health Criteria” will be discussed at a public meeting for review by CASAC and the public. In addition to the public comment period announced in this notice, the public will have an opportunity to address CASAC. A separate Federal Register notice will inform the public of the exact date and time of the CASAC meeting and of the procedures for public participation.

    II. How To Submit Technical Comments to the Docket at www.regulations.gov

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0357, by one of the following methods:

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

    Email: [email protected]

    Fax: 202-566-9744.

    Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center (ORD Docket), Mail Code: 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460. The phone number is 202-566-1752.

    Hand Delivery: The ORD Docket is located in the EPA Headquarters Docket Center, EPA West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is 202-566-1744. Such deliveries are only accepted during the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. If you provide comments by mail or hand delivery, please submit three copies of the comments. For attachments, provide an index, number pages consecutively with the comments, and submit an unbound original and three copies.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2013-0357. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the specified comment period. Comments received after the closing date will be marked “late,” and may only be considered if time permits. It is the EPA's policy to include all comments it receives in the public docket without change and to make the comments available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless a comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information through www.regulations.gov or email that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, the EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If the EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about the EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www2.epa.gov/dockets.

    Docket: Documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other materials, such as copyrighted material, are publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the ORD Docket in the EPA Headquarters Docket Center.

    Dated: November 6, 2015. Mary A. Ross, Deputy Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29800 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION FCC To Hold Open Commission Meeting Thursday, November 19, 2015 November 12, 2015.

    The Federal Communications Commission will hold an Open Meeting on the subjects listed below on Thursday, November 19, 2015, which is scheduled to commence at 10:30 a.m. in Room TW-C305, at 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC.

    Item No. Bureau Subject 1 Public Safety and Homeland Security Title: Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts and Community-Initiated Alerting (PS Docket No. 15-91).
  • Summary: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would improve the effectiveness of WEA message content and the geographic targeting of WEA messages, and facilitate WEA testing and proficiency training.
  • 2 Wireless Tele-Communications Title: Amendment of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Handsets (WT Docket No. 07-250).
  • Summary: The Commission will consider a Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would update the scope of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules and seek comment on additional measures that would ensure greater deployment of hearing aid compatible wireless handsets.
  • 3 Media Title: Accessibility of User Interfaces, and Video Programming Guides and Menus (MB Docket No. 12-108).
  • Summary: The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to provide consumers with better information about the availability of accessible devices and features, and create easier access to video programming and closed captioning on devices.
  • *         *         *         *         *         * Consent Agenda The Commission will consider the following subjects listed below as a consent agenda and these items will not be presented individually: 1 Enforcement Title: Enforcement Bureau Order.
  • Summary: The Commission will consider an Order concerning an Application for Review.
  • 2 Media Title: Bellizzi Broadcasting Network, Inc. Station WEYW-LP, Key West, Florida Summary: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning an Application for Review filed by Bellizzi Broadcasting Network, Inc. seeking review of a Media Bureau Order on Reconsideration finding WEYW is not a qualified low-power television station. 3 Media Title: Hawaii Public Radio, Inc. for a New Noncommercial Educational FM station at Kailua, Hawaii, et al. Summary: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning Applications for Review filed by Wren Communications, Inc., Cedar Cove Broadcasting, Inc. and Kanu O Ka Aina Learning Ohana seeking review the Media Bureau's decisions regarding NCE MX Group 510. 4 Media Title: Susquehanna Radio Corp. and Whitley Media, LLC Application for Consent to Assignment of License and Cancellation of License for DKTDK(FM), Sanger, Texas. Summary: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning Petitions for Reconsideration filed by Whitley Media and North Texas Radio Group seeking review of a Commission Order regarding the Petitioners standing to challenge the cancellation of DKTDK(FM). 5 Media Title: Christian Broadcasting of East Point, Inc. Applications to Renew and Assign the License of DWTJH(AM), East Point, GA. Summary: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning two Applications for Review filed by Praise 95, Inc. and Christian Broadcasting of East Point, Inc. seeking review of a Media Bureau decision finding that the license of DWTJH(AM) had forfeited.

    The meeting site is fully accessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Sign language interpreters, open captioning, and assistive listening devices will be provided on site. Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. In your request, include a description of the accommodation you will need and a way we can contact you if we need more information. Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill. Send an email to: [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    Additional information concerning this meeting may be obtained from the Office of Media Relations, (202) 418-0500; TTY 1-888-835-5322. Audio/Video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC Live Web page at www.fcc.gov/live.

    For a fee this meeting can be viewed live over George Mason University's Capitol Connection. The Capitol Connection also will carry the meeting live via the Internet. To purchase these services, call (703) 993-3100 or go to www.capitolconnection.gmu.edu.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29849 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-0349] 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 Communication 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 24, 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 Cathy Williams, 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 Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918. 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: 3060-0349.

    Title: Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Policy, 47 CFR Sections 73.2080, 76.73, 76.75, 76.79 and 76.1702.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; not for profit institutions.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 14,179 respondents; 14,179 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 42 hours.

    Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement; annual reporting requirement; five year reporting requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority which covers this information collection is contained in Section 154(i) and 303 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Section 634 of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984.

    Total Annual Burden: 595,518 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: No cost.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

    Privacy Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: 47 CFR Section 73.2080 provides that equal opportunity in employment shall be afforded by all broadcast stations to all qualified persons and no person shall be discriminated against in employment by such stations because of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. Section 73.2080 requires that each broadcast station employment unit with 5 or more full-time employees shall establish, maintain and carry out a program to assure equal opportunity in every aspect of a broadcast station's policy and practice. These same requirements also apply to Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (“SDARS”) licensees.

    Revised Information Collection Requirement: In 1997, the Commission determined that SDARS licensees must comply with the Commission's EEO requirements. See Establishment of Rules and Policies for the Digital Audio Radio Satellite Service in the 2310-2360 MHz Frequency Band, 12 FCC Rcd 5754, 5791,) 91 (1997) (“1997 SDARS Order”), FCC 97-70. In 2008, the Commission clarified that SDARS licensees must comply with the Commission's EEO broadcast rules and policies, including the same recruitment, outreach, public file, Web site posting, record-keeping, reporting, and self-assessment obligations required of broadcast licensees, consistent with 47 CFR 73.2080, as well as any other Commission EEO policies. See Applications for Consent to the Transfer of Control of Licenses, SM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., Transferor, to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., Transferee, 23 FCC Rcd 12348, 12426,) 174, and note 551 (2008) (“XM-Sirius Merger Order”).

    The Commission is making this submission to the Office of Management and Budget for approval to add SDARS licensees to this information collection.

    Federal Communications Commission.

    Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer. Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29850 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION [Docket No. 15-11] Igor Ovchinnikov, Irina Rzaeva, and Denis Nekipelov v. Michael Hitrinov a/k/a Michael Khitrinov, Empire United Lines Co., Inc., and Carcont, Ltd.; Notice of Filing of Complaint and Assignment

    Notice is given that a complaint has been filed with the Federal Maritime Commission (Commission) by Igor Ovchinnikov, Irina Rzaeva, and Denis Nekipelov, hereinafter “Complainants,” against Michael Hitrinov (“Hitrinov”), Empire United Lines Co., Inc. (“EUL”) and CarCont Ltd. (“CarCont”), hereinafter “Respondents.” Complainants state that they are individuals residing in the Russian Federation. Complainants allege that Respondent EUL is a New York corporation and a licensed non-vessel-operating common carrier, Respondent CarCont is a company in Finland, and Respondent Hitrinov is the owner of both EUL and CarCont.

    Complainants allege that Respondents have violated the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. 40301, 40302, 40501, 40701, 41102, 41104, 41106, and the Commission's regulations at 46 CFR part 515, in connection with shipment of 3 vehicles. Complainants allege that each Complainant purchased a vehicle, which vehicles were shipped to Finland but never released or delivered because of unpaid loans due Respondents by the seller of the vehicles, affiliates G-Auto Sales, Inc. and Effect Auto Sales Inc. Complainant Igor Ovchinnikov seek damages in excess of $28,960. Complainant Irina Rzaeva seek damages in excess of $32,101. Complainant Denis Nekipelov seek damages in excess of $19,920.

    Complainants request that: “(1) Respondents be required to answer the charges herein; (2) that after due hearing, an order be made commanding said Respondent to pay to Complainants by way of reparations for the unlawful conduct . . . with interest and attorney's fees or such other sum as the Commission may determine to be proper as an award of reparation; (3) that the Commission issue an Order holding that the Respondents . . . violated the Shipping Act of 1984; (4) that the Commission Order the Respondents to provide Empire United Lines Co., Inc.'s house bills of lading for the shipments described herein; and (5) that the Commission issue such other and further order or orders as the Commission determines to be just and proper.”

    The full text of the complaint can be found in the Commission's Electronic Reading Room at www.fmc.gov/15-11.

    This proceeding has been assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judges. The initial decision of the presiding officer in this proceeding shall be issued by November 17, 2016, and the final decision of the Commission shall be issued by May 16, 2017.

    Karen V. Gregory, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29856 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6731-AA-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than December 9, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Colette A. Fried, Assistant Vice President) 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-1414:

    1. Thomas P. Haleas, Clarendon Hills, Illinois, Peter J. Haleas, Evanston, Illinois, Peter E. Haleas Sarasota, Florida, and Sophia M. Haleas, Clarendon Hills, Illinois, as a group acting in concert; to retain voting shares of Bridgeview Bancorp, Inc., and thereby indirectly retain voting shares of Bridgeview Bank Group, both in Bridgeview, Illinois.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 19, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29869 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [Notice-AD-2015-01; Docket 2015-0002; Sequence 31] Notice of the 2016 Presidential Transition Directory AGENCY:

    Presidential Transition, General Services Administration.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability of the General Services Administration 2016 Presidential Transition Directory.

    SUMMARY:

    The Presidential Transition Directory Web site is designed to help candidates in the 2016 Presidential election get quick and easy access to key resources about the federal government structure and key policies related to Presidential Transition. The creation of the Presidential Transition Directory is mandated by the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended.

    DATES:

    Effective: November 24, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The GSA Presidential Transition Team at [email protected] .gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Presidential Transition Directory (presidentialtransition.usa.gov) Web site is designed to help candidates in the 2016 Presidential election get quick and easy access to key resources about the Federal Government structure and key policies related to Presidential Transition. The creation of the Presidential Transition Directory is mandated by the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended. Connecting resources from the Government Printing Office, Office of Personnel Management, National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Office of Government Ethics and others, the site will also help future political appointees better understand key aspects of their roles and some of the key policies and aspects of federal service. Additionally, the Directory will be connecting to not-for-profit resources about Presidential Transition to help acquaint potential appointees with the types of problems and challenges that most typically confront new political appointees when they make the transition from prior activities to assuming the responsibility for governance. The site will be continuously updated as new information becomes available to help ensure candidates and their staffs have access to the best information possible as they begin their planning to establish the next management of the Executive Branch of the federal government.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. Mary D. Gibert, Director, Presidential Transition, U.S. General Services Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29920 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [OMB Control No. 3090-00XX; Docket No. 2015-0001; Sequence No. 26] Information Collection; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting AGENCY:

    Federal Acquisition Service; General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for comments regarding a new request for an OMB clearance.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Regulatory Secretariat Division will be submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request to review and approve a new information collection requirement regarding OMB Control No: 3090-00XX; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before: January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by Information Collection 3090-00XX; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting by any of the following methods:

    Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching for “Information Collection 3090-00xx; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting”. Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “Information Collection 3090-00XX; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 3090-00xx; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting” on your attached document.

    Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 3090-00XX, Simplifying Federal Award Reporting.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 3090-00XX; Simplifying Federal Award Reporting, in all correspondence related to this collection. Comments received generally will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal and/or business confidential information provided. To confirm receipt of your comment(s), please check www.regulations.gov, approximately two to three days after submission to verify posting (except allow 30 days for posting of comments submitted by mail).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Kenneth Goldman, GSA, at telephone 202-779-2265.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A. Purpose

    The President's Management Agenda includes objectives for creating a twenty-first century government that delivers better results to the American people in a more efficient manner. Leveraging information technology capabilities to reduce reporting burden is key to achieving these goals. Section 5 of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (Pub. L. 113-101) requires a pilot program to develop recommendations for standardizing reporting, eliminating unnecessary duplication, and reducing compliance costs for recipients of Federal awards. The pilot participants are required to provide requested reports as well as the cost to collect the data via the pilot. The proposed pilot program will provide an alternative submission method for existing Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements, and assess the pilot results against the existing FAR-required method.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Respondents: 720.

    Responses per Respondent: 3 each week.

    Total Annual Responses: 2,160.

    Hours per Response: .5.

    Total Burden Hours: 56,160.

    C. Public Comments

    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information will have practical utility; whether our estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Obtaining Copies of Proposals: Requesters may obtain a copy of the information collection documents from the General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, telephone 202-501-4755.

    Please cite OMB Control No. 3090-XXXX, Simplifying Federal Award Reporting, in all correspondence.

    Dated: November 18, 2015. David A. Shive, Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29896 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-61-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-16-1067; Docket No. CDC-2015-0106] 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 revision of the information collection entitled Improving the Impact of Laboratory Practice Guidelines: A New Paradigm for Metrics—College of American Pathologists, which will allow for a fuller exploration of the factors that underlie the reasons why laboratorians adhere to the College of American Pathologists' laboratory practice guideline for immunohistochemistry test validation.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2015-0106 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

    Improving the Impact of Laboratory Practice Guidelines (LPGs): A New Paradigm for Metrics—College of American Pathologists, REVISION (OMB Control No. 0920-1067, Expiration 05/31/16)—Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (CSELS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding three 5-year projects collectively entitled “Improving the Impact of Laboratory Practice Guidelines: A New Paradigm for Metrics”. An “LPG” is defined as written recommendations for voluntary, standardized approaches for medical laboratory testing that takes into account processes for test selection, sample procurement and processing, analytical methods, and results reporting for effective diagnosis and management of disease and health conditions. LPGs may be disseminated to, and used by, laboratorians and clinicians to assist with test selection and test result interpretation. The overall purpose of these cooperative agreements is to increase the effectiveness of LPGs by defining measures and collecting information to inform better LPG creation, revision, dissemination, promotion, uptake, and impact on clinical testing and public health. The project will explore how these processes and their impediments and facilitators differ among various intended users of LPGs. Through this demonstration project, CDC seeks to understand how to customize LPG creation and promotion to better serve these intended users of LPGs. An important goal is to help organizations that sponsor the development of LPGs create a sustainable approach for continuous quality improvement to evaluate and improve an LPG's impact through better collection of information.

    The CDC selected three organizations that currently create and disseminate LPGs to support activities under a cooperative agreement funding mechanism to improve the impact of their LPGs. The American Society for Microbiology, the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, and the College of American Pathologists (CAP), will each use their LPGs as models to better understand how to improve uptake and impact of these and future LPGs. Only the CAP submission will be described in this notice.

    The CAP project will address two LPGs that are important to clinical testing: immunohistochemistry test validation (IHC) and an algorithm for diagnosing acute leukemia (ALA). As part of the completed survey collections that was conducted under OMB Control Number 0920-1067, the intended users of the CAP's IHC LPG included pathologists, clinical laboratory directors, and laboratory managers overseeing the IHC staining department; the intended users of the CAP's ALA LPG were pathologists and hematologists overseeing testing for acute leukemia. For this revision request, CDC is proposing information collections to conduct qualitative studies of the survey respondents of the IHC post-survey with the intent to include representation from the laboratory professionals who submitted the IHC post-survey results (pathologists, clinical laboratory directors, and laboratory managers).

    Prior to entering into this cooperative agreement project with the CDC, the CAP had already completed a baseline IHC LPG information collection from laboratories that used IHC testing. Because of this prior baseline assessment, the CAP only needed to collect post-dissemination data. This has been completed using the information approved under OMB Control Number 0920-1067. Similarly, the CAP also completed an ALA baseline survey under this clearance.

    We are submitting a revision request to allow for a fuller exploration of the factors that underlie the reasons why laboratorians adhere to the College of American Pathologists' laboratory practice guideline for IHC. We propose to conduct telephone interviews that will explore the impediments and facilitators that affect uptake and use of the CAP IHC LPG, both generally and concerning specific recommendations. This will be followed by two focus groups, arranged by peer group of pathologists and non-pathologists (referred to as laboratory directors and managers for the purpose of estimating burden), which will allow us to collect information on the current usage of CAP's tools and resources (toolkit) to facilitate implementation of the IHC guideline for its future improvement. To the extent possible, we will include non-adopters of the CAP's IHC LPG, but this fraction won't be known until the information collection occurs. We propose to collect information for the telephone interviews and focus groups combined, from 64 of the IHC post-survey respondents which include pathologists and non-pathologist laboratory directors and laboratory managers.

    For this request, the CAP will collect information via telephone interviews from 40 laboratorians. The time it will take each respondent to complete the interview is 20 minutes. Because the CAP anticipates that as many as 121 individuals may need to be contacted to reach 40 individuals who will voluntarily participate, and the burden for those individuals who will not go on to participate (81) in the telephone interview is one minute, the anticipated total burden for individuals who decline participation is 1.35 hours (81 minutes). The telephone interview respondents will be targeted from two primary segments: (1) Laboratories exclusively using CAP Proficiency Testing (PT) products, and (2) laboratories identified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services billing codes that perform IHC testing but are not enrolled in CAP PT products. The telephone interview respondents will be randomly sampled from the submitted post-survey results and will be cross-checked for appropriate distribution of laboratory type and size. Because there are fewer of them, all of the non-CAP PT customer respondents will be included. The CAP estimates that the individuals who complete the telephone interview will be comprised of 20 pathologists, 10 laboratory directors, and 10 laboratory managers and will each take 20 minutes and the 40 respondents combined will take approximately 13 hours (800 minutes) total burden.

    The two in-person focus group sessions will include some of the probe questions from the telephone interview survey and a specific subset concentrating on evaluating CAP's current tools and resources (toolkit). It is anticipated that 200 individuals will be contacted to determine their availability to participate in one of two focus group sessions and each will take no longer than five minutes to read and respond to the invitation letter (~17 hours or 1,000 minutes total). Among the 200 individuals contacted, only the 24 who are selected to participate in a focus group session will each be asked to read and submit a signed consent form prior to the session (5 minutes each) (2 hours or 120 minutes total). Twelve participants will be selected to participate in each of the two focus groups (pathologist peers and laboratory director/manager peers) and will last no more than 90 minutes each (36 hours or 2,160 minutes total). Thus, the total burden for the focus group is estimated to be ~55 hours (3,280 minutes) total.

    Including both telephone interviews and focus group sessions, the total new burden for this revision request will be an additional ~68 hours (321 individuals) at $4,421 total, compared with the original OMB approved burden of 1,570 hours (4,435 individuals) at $97,460 total.

    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)
  • Pathologist IHC telephone interview 20 1 20/60 7 IHC telephone interview—contacted 27 1 1/60 0.45 IHC focus group 12 1 1.50 18 IHC focus group—invitation 100 1 5/60 8 IHC focus group—consent form 12 1 5/60 1 Laboratory Directors IHC telephone interview 10 1 20/60 3 IHC telephone interview—contacted 27 1 1/60 0.45 IHC focus group 6 1 1.50 9 IHC focus group—invitation 50 1 5/60 4 IHC focus group—consent form 6 1 5/60 0.50 Laboratory Managers IHC telephone interview 10 1 20/60 3 IHC telephone interview—contacted 27 1 1/60 0.45 IHC focus group 6 1 1.50 9 IHC focus group—invitation 50 1 5/60 4 IHC focus group—consent form 6 1 5/60 0.50 Total 68.00
    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. 2015-29867 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60 Day-16-0968; Docket No. CDC-2015-0104] 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 System for DELTA FOCUS Awardees”. 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 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2015-0104 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 System for DELTA FOCUS Awardees, (OMB Control No. 0920-0968, expiration 5/31/2016)—Extension—National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans and results in serious consequences for victims, families, and communities. IPV occurs between two people in a close relationship. The term “intimate partner” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. IPV can impact health in many ways, including long-term health problems, emotional impacts, and links to negative health behaviors. Given these factors, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (42 U.S.C. 10401) provides an important opportunity for the advancement of public health and reduction of IPV. Support and guidance for programs addressing IPV have been provided through cooperative agreement funding and technical assistance administered by CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). CDC seeks to continue collecting information needed to monitor cooperative agreement programs funded under Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership through Alliances, Focusing on Outcomes for Communities United with States DELTA FOCUS (FOA CDC-RFA-CE13-130).

    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 the Program Management Information System (PMIS) consisting of fillable electronic templates and submitted via Grant Solutions.

    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 goals and to make adjustments in the type and level of technical assistance provided to them, as needed, to support attainment of their objectives. CDC's monitoring and evaluation activities also allow CDC to provide oversight of the use of federal funds, and to identify and disseminate information about successful prevention and control strategies implemented by awardees. These functions are central to the NCIPC's broad mission of reducing the burden of injury and violence. Finally, the information collection allows CDC to monitor the increased emphasis on partnerships and programmatic collaboration, and is expected to reduce duplication of effort, enhance program impact and maximize the use of federal funds.

    This is an extension request 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)
  • State Domestic Violence Coalitions DELTA FOCUS PMIS: Semi-annual reporting 10 2 3 60 Total 60
    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. 2015-29866 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Request for Nominations of Candidates To Serve as Members of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF); Reopening of Nomination Period AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the reopening of the nomination period for individuals qualified to serve as members of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). The nomination period originally closed on November 9, 2015.

    DATES:

    Nomination packages must be received by December 8, 2015. Complete nomination packages must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered. Individuals who submitted a nomination package during the original nomination period do not need to re-submit their nomination package to be considered.

    ADDRESSES:

    Nomination packages should be submitted electronically to [email protected] or by U.S. mail to the address provided below in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Donyelle Russ, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS E-69, Atlanta, Georgia 30329. Phone (404) 498-3971, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On September 25, 2015 HHS/CDC published a notice in the Federal Register (80 FR 57820) requesting nomination of individuals to serve on the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). The closing date for nominations was November 9, 2015. Today, CDC is reopening the nomination period to provide the public an additional opportunity to nominate individuals to serve on the CPSTF. The submission process and qualification requirements, the selection process, and the time commitment of Task Force members are described below. Individuals who submitted a nomination package during the original nomination period do not need to re-submit their nomination package to be considered.

    Nomination Submissions

    Nomination packages must be submitted electronically, and should include:

    (1) The nominee's current curriculum vitae;

    (2) A brief biographic sketch of the nominee;

    (3) The nominee's contact information, including mailing address, email address, and telephone number; and

    (4) A brief explanation of how the nominee meets the qualification requirements and how he/she would contribute to the CPSTF. The information provided should also attest to the nominee's willingness to serve as a member of the CPSTF.

    HHS/CDC will later ask persons under serious consideration for CPSTF membership to provide detailed information that will permit evaluation of possible significant conflicts of interest.

    To obtain diverse perspectives, HHS/CDC encourages nominations of all races, genders, ages and persons living with disabilities. Interested individuals can self-nominate. Organizations and individuals may nominate one or more persons qualified for membership on the CPSTF. Federal employees are not eligible to be CPSTF members. Individuals nominated prior to this round, who continue to have interest in serving on the CPSTF, should be re-nominated.

    Qualification Requirements

    To qualify for the CPSTF and support its mission, a nominee must, at a minimum, demonstrate knowledge, experience, and national leadership in the following areas:

    • The critical evaluation of research or policy, and/or in the methods of evidence review; and

    • Research, evaluation, or implementation of community and/or health system-based programs, policies, or services to improve population health.

    Strongest consideration will be given to individuals with expertise and experience:

    • That is applied, with practical applications for public health action;

    • That addresses broad public health considerations, or is beyond one or two highly defined areas;

    • In state and/or local health departments; and

    • With policy.

    In the current round of nominations, the strongest consideration will also be given to people with expertise and experience in systematic review methods, minority health, and aging. The CPSTF will also benefit from members with expertise and experience in the following areas: Youth populations; environmental health; injury (in particular substance abuse and violence prevention); media, communications, and marketing; public health nursing; and economic analysis.

    Candidates with experience and skills in any of these areas should highlight them in their nomination materials.

    All nominated individuals will be considered for CPSTF membership.

    Applicants must have no substantial conflicts of interest, whether financial, professional, or intellectual, that would impair the scientific integrity of the work of the CPSTF and must be willing to complete regular conflict of interest disclosures.

    Applicants must have the ability to work collaboratively with a team of diverse professionals who support the mission of the CPSTF. Applicants must have adequate time to contribute substantively to the work products of the CPSTF.

    Nominee Selection

    Appointments to the CPSTF will be made on the basis of qualifications as outlined above (see Qualification Requirements) and the current expertise needs of the CPSTF.

    Background of the CPSTF

    The CPSTF was established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify population health interventions that are scientifically proven to save lives, increase lifespans, and improve quality of life. The CPSTF produces recommendations (and identifies evidence gaps) to help inform the decision making of federal, state, and local health departments, other government agencies, communities, healthcare providers and organizations, employers, schools and research organizations.

    The CPSTF (http://www.thecommunityguide.org/about/task-force-members.html), is an independent, nonpartisan, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health and prevention experts that is statutorily mandated to provide evidence-based findings and recommendations about community preventive services, programs, and policies to improve health (Public Health Service Act § 399U(a)). Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community preventive services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention. The CPSTF members are appointed by the CDC Director and serve five year terms, with extensions possible in order to maintain a full scope of expertise, complete specific work, and ensure consistency of CPSTF methods and recommendations. CDC provides “ongoing administrative, research, and technical support for the operations of the Task Force” as directed by the Public Health Service Act § 399U(c).

    The CPSTF bases its recommendations on rigorous, replicable systematic reviews of the scientific literature, which do all of the following:

    • Evaluate the strength and limitations of published scientific studies about community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs, services, and policies;

    • Assess whether the programs, services, and policies are effective in promoting health and preventing disease, injury, and disability;

    • Examine the applicability of these programs, services, and policies to varied populations and settings; and

    • Conduct economic analyses of recommended interventions.

    These systematic reviews are conducted, with CPSTF oversight, by scientists and subject matter experts from HHS/CDC in collaboration with a wide range of government, academic, policy, and practice-based partners. CPSTF findings and recommendations and the systematic reviews on which they are based are available at http://www.thecommunityguide.org/index.html.

    Time Commitment

    The CPSTF conducts three, two-day meetings each year that are open to the public. In addition, a significant portion of the CPSTF's work occurs between meetings during conference calls and via email discussions. Member duties include overseeing the process of prioritizing Task Force work, participating in the development and refinement of systematic review methods, serving as members of individual review teams, and issuing recommendations and findings to help inform the decision making process about policy, practice, research, and research funding in a wide range of U.S. settings. The estimated workload for CPSTF members is approximately 168 hours a year in addition to the three in-person meetings. The members are all volunteers and do not receive any compensation beyond support for travel to in-person meetings.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Sandra Cashman, Acting Director, Division of the Executive Secretariat, Office of the Chief of Staff, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29882 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-4272] Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon; Draft Guidance for Industry; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon: Guidance for Industry.” We developed the draft guidance to assist food manufacturers that wish to voluntarily label their food product or ingredients (for humans or animals) derived from Atlantic salmon as either containing or not containing products from genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon.

    DATES:

    Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that FDA considers your comment on the draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to http://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2015-D-4272 for “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon; Draft Guidance for Industry.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted onhttp://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Division of Dockets Management. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/dockets/default.htm.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Submit written requests for single copies of the draft guidance to the Office of Nutrition, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements (HFS-820), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740. Send two self-addressed adhesive labels to assist the office in processing your request. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Regarding human food issues: Andrea Krause, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-820), Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-2371. Regarding animal food issues: Kathleen Jones, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-220), Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-7077.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    We are announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon.” We are issuing the draft guidance consistent with our good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on this topic. It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternate approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

    On November 19, 2015, FDA approved a new animal drug application (NADA) related to AquAdvantage Salmon, a GE Atlantic salmon. This is FDA's first approval of an NADA in support of a GE animal for use as food. According to information in the NADA, AquAdvantage Salmon is genetically engineered to reach market size in a shorter period than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine reviewed the NADA and made a determination concerning the safety and effectiveness of the new animal drug in AquAdvantage Salmon.

    In terms of labeling of food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon, the law requires, among other things, that the label includes a name that accurately describes the basic nature of a food and any other information that is considered material with regard to consequences that may result from the use of the food. In a 1992 policy on foods derived from new plant varieties and a 2001 draft guidance on voluntary labeling of food from GE plants, we explained that: Name changes are appropriate when a food from a GE plant is materially different from its traditional counterpart, such that the common or usual name no longer adequately describes the new food; or when there are other material differences that affect the food's nutritional or functional characteristics.1 (Elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, we are announcing the availability of a final guidance entitled “Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants.”) Changes to the name of the product or other additional labeling are not required if the resulting food is not materially different from its non-genetically engineered counterpart.

    1 See 57 FR 22984, May 29, 1992.

    In the process of deciding whether or not to require additional labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon, FDA considered whether food from AquAdvantage Salmon is materially different from non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon. As part of our evaluation, we assessed data and information submitted in response to our August 26, 2010, Federal Register document entitled “Food Labeling; Labeling of Food Made From AquAdvantage Salmon; Public Hearing; Request for Comments” (75 FR 52602), as well as data and information submitted by the sponsor.

    Based on our review of the sponsor's data and information, and other information available to the Agency (e.g., FDA's laboratory analyses establishing that AquAdvantage Salmon meets the criteria for Atlantic salmon established for the Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia), we found that the composition, nutritional profile, and safety of food from AquAdvantage Salmon do not differ from food from non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon in any material way, and thus it is as safe and nutritious as food from non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon. For these reasons, we concluded that there is no basis to require additional labeling of food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon.2 3

    2 We note that, if a different GE salmon is developed in the future, we will separately assess the data and information about that salmon to determine whether it differs materially from non-GE salmon and, as such, whether additional labeling would be required on food derived from that salmon.

    3 Memorandum to File: Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, CFSAN: Evaluation of data and information and recommendations related to the labeling of food from AquAdvantage Salmon.

    II. Guidance on Voluntary Labeling

    Recognizing that some consumers are interested in whether a food contains GE Atlantic salmon and some manufacturers may want to respond to this consumer interest, we developed this draft guidance to assist food manufacturers that wish to voluntarily label their food product or ingredients (for humans or animals) as either containing or not containing products from GE Atlantic salmon. FDA's main concern within the context of this guidance is that any voluntary labeling be truthful and not misleading.

    III. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (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. This draft guidance contains proposed collections of information. “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 60-day notice in the Federal Register soliciting public comment on each proposed collection of information before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, FDA will publish a 60-day notice on the proposed collections of information in this draft guidance in a future issue of the Federal Register.

    IV. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the draft guidance at http://www.fda.gov/FoodGuidances or http://www.regulations.gov. Use the FDA Web site listed in the previous sentence to find the most current version of the guidance.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29904 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2000-D-0075] Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Plants; Guidance for Industry; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing the availability of a guidance for industry entitled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants.” The guidance is intended to help food manufacturers that wish to voluntarily label their plant-derived food products or ingredients (for humans or for animals) as having been made with or without bioengineering.

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments on the guidance at any time. Fax written comments on the collection of information by December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To ensure that comments on the information collection are received, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommends that written comments be faxed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: FDA Desk Officer, FAX: 202-395-7285, or emailed to [email protected] All comments should be identified with the OMB control number 0910-New and title “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants.” Also include the FDA docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document.

    You may submit comments as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to http://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2000-D-0075 for “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on http://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Division of Dockets Management. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/dockets/default.htm.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Submit written requests for single copies of this guidance to the Office of Nutrition, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements (HFS-800), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740. Send two self-addressed adhesive labels to assist that office in processing your request. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the guidance.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Regarding human food issues: Andrea Krause, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-820), Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-2371. Regarding animal food issues: Kathleen Jones, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-220), Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-7077. Regarding the information collection: FDA PRA Staff, Office of Operations, Food and Drug Administration, 8455 Colesville Rd., COLE-14526, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 343) generally governs the labeling of foods. Under section 403(a)(1) of the FD&C Act, a food is misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any particular.

    Section 201(n) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 321(n)) provides that labeling is misleading if, among other things, it fails to reveal facts that are material in light of representations made or suggested in the labeling, or material with respect to consequences that may result from the use of the food to which the labeling relates under the conditions of use prescribed in the labeling, or under such conditions of use as are customary or usual.

    In the Federal Register of May 29, 1992 (57 FR 22984), we published a “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (1992 Policy). The 1992 Policy applies to foods for humans and animals that are developed from new plant varieties, including varieties that are developed using recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology. This technology has long been referred to as “rDNA technology,” “genetic engineering,” or “bioengineering,” and more recently, as “modern biotechnology.”

    In the 1992 Policy, we addressed, among other things, the labeling of foods derived from new plant varieties, including plants developed by bioengineering. In the 1992 Policy, we explained that we were not establishing special labeling requirements for foods from bioengineered plants as a class of foods because we did not find any basis for concluding that foods from bioengineered plants, as a class, differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

    In the Federal Register of January 18, 2001 (66 FR 4839), we announced the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering.” We received more than 155,000 comments on the draft guidance. Most comments were submitted by consumers. Other comments represented the views of advocacy groups, trade organizations, organic grocers/food co-ops, private sector business, farming/farm bureaus, food manufacturers, crop developers, local governments, and academic researchers. We have considered the comments and revised the guidance as appropriate. We understand that consumers may want information about whether or not a food is developed through genetic engineering. Thus, we are providing guidance on voluntary labeling that will help manufacturers that would like to provide consumers with additional information about the foods they consume.

    We are issuing this guidance consistent with our good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The guidance represents the current thinking of FDA on this topic. It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. In addition, this guidance does not preempt State food labeling requirements that are consistent with the Federal requirements described in the guidance and that are not otherwise expressly preempted by the FD&C Act.

    II. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This final guidance contains information collection provisions that are subject to review by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). Under the PRA, Federal Agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3 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 provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, in the Federal Register of January 18, 2001, we gave interested persons 60 days to comment on the information collection provisions in the draft guidance (66 FR 4839 at 4840).

    After publishing the 60-day notice requesting public comment, section 3507 of the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3507) requires Federal Agencies to submit the proposed collection to OMB for review and clearance. In compliance with 44 U.S.C. 3507, we have submitted the following proposed collection of information to OMB for review and clearance. FDA is issuing this final guidance subject to OMB approval of the collection of information. If the collection is approved, FDA will publish a notice in the Federal Register concerning OMB approval and providing an OMB control number.

    Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Plants OMB Control Number 0910-New

    As noted, in the Federal Register of January 18, 2001, we announced the availability of the draft guidance document and requested public comment on the information collection provisions. Subsequently, we published a document in the Federal Register of October 31, 2003 (68 FR 62086), informing interested parties that the proposed collection of information had been submitted to the OMB for review and clearance under the PRA. However, we determined that the request for comments was issued prematurely. Thus, we withdrew the notice on November 21, 2003 (68 FR 65717). We are now reissuing the request for comments and submitting the proposed collection of information to OMB.

    The guidance entitled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants” is intended to assist manufacturers that wish to voluntarily label their foods (human or animal) as being made with or without genetic engineering or the use of genetically engineered ingredients, to ensure that such labeling is truthful and not misleading. The information that the manufacturers will collect is documentation of handling practices so that they can truthfully label their products to indicate, if they so choose, whether the food has or has not been developed using genetic engineering.

    In general, we anticipate that manufacturers claiming that a product is not developed using genetically engineered material would substantiate the claim. We suggest that manufacturers document practices and procedures to substantiate a claim that a food was not developed using genetic engineering. Examples of documentation that we anticipate will demonstrate practices and procedures are recordkeeping, and certifications or affidavits from farmers, processors, and others in the food production and distribution chain. We are neither suggesting that firms maintain a certain set list of documents nor are we suggesting that anything less or different would likely be considered unacceptable. Rather, we are leaving it to each firm's judgment to maintain appropriate documentation to demonstrate that the food was produced using traditional methods.

    Description of Respondents: The respondents to the proposed collection of information are manufacturers of foods that were or were not derived from genetically engineered plants who wish to voluntarily label their food products.

    As noted, in the Federal Register of January 18, 2001, we published a 60-day notice requesting public comment on the proposed collection of information. We received more than 155,000 comments, each containing one or more issues. The following is a discussion of the comments we received on the information collection and our response to those comments.

    (Comment 1) Most comments agreed that labeling food products as genetically engineered or non-genetically engineered would result in costs due to segregation, testing, or third-party validation, in addition to label changes. However, some comments said the producers that choose to label their products as non-genetically engineered and the consumers that choose to purchase these products should incur these costs. Other comments said that these costs should be borne by the growers, manufacturers, processors, and marketers of genetically engineered foods.

    (Response) We disagree that it would be necessary to incur costs due to segregation, testing, or third-party validation to substantiate a claim that a food was not developed using genetic engineering. We also note that the question of who should bear the paperwork burden is not within the scope of the guidance.

    (Comment 2) One comment stated that we underestimated the number of small firms that will choose to label their product as not genetically engineered, but will not attempt to make an organic claim.

    (Response) We disagree that we underestimated the number of respondents in the 2001 60-day Federal Register notice. The comment did not offer any evidence to substantiate this claim or give an estimate of how many small firms will choose to make a non-genetically engineered claim. We based our estimate of the number of firms that would label their products with a genetically engineered claim on the number of products making an organic claim and the number of products that were not currently making an organic claim on their label, but were making a statement about genetic engineering on their Web site, through a press release, or other venue when the 2001 60-day notice was published. We have, however, updated in this notice the estimated number of recordkeepers to reflect new information on the number of foods that are labeled as not genetically engineered.

    (Comment 3) Numerous comments pointed out that mandatory labeling would have high costs for additional activities such as segregation, testing, labeling, quality control, and certification. One comment estimated that these costs could be as high as 6 to 17 percent of the farmgate price.

    (Response) The paperwork reduction analysis only estimates the paperwork burden associated with voluntary labeling. The estimates related to mandatory labeling are outside the scope of the guidance, and we have not included them in the analysis.

    FDA estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

    Table 1—Estimated Annual Recordkeeping Burden 1 Activity Number of recordkeepers Number of records per recordkeeper Total annual records Average
  • burden per
  • recordkeeping
  • Total hours
    Recordkeeping per the Guidance 85 4 340 1 340 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information.

    We have updated the number of recordkeepers and respondents to reflect new information on the number of food products that are labeled using the terms “biotechnology” and “GMO” (genetically modified organism) since the 2001 issuance of the 60-day notice and draft guidance. We estimate a recordkeeping burden, to retain paperwork to substantiate that the food or ingredient is produced without genetic engineering, only for products that are not also already labeled using the term “organic.” We did not include products that are labeled “organic” in the estimated annual recordkeeping burden because, according to a final rule in the Federal Register of December 21, 2000 (65 FR 80548), issued by the Agriculture Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a food labeled as “organic” would not be permitted to contain genetically engineered materials. Thus, there is no additional paperwork burden to substantiate a claim that a product is not developed using genetic engineering for these certified organic products.

    We based our revised estimates of the recordkeeping burden (table 1 of this document) on data from Labelbase by FoodEssentials. Labelbase is a custom online system for accessing a consumer packaged goods product data; the database contains more than 250,000 product labels that can be searched by keyword, ingredient, nutrient, allergen, label claim, or food additive, for example. Using this database, we have identified 540 food manufacturers who produce 2,160 products with the term “bioengineered” or “GMO” on their labels; this estimate includes manufacturers of human food and pet food. In addition, the National Center for Appropriate Technology's National Sustainable Agriculture Information Center maintains on its Web site a list of Organic Livestock Feed Suppliers. Using this list, we have identified 54 livestock feed suppliers that would be likely to include a statement about bioengineering on the label of their products and thus would have documentation to substantiate their claim.

    Of the 2,160 human food and pet food products that we have identified as using the term “bioengineered” or “GMO” on their labels (presumably used in a context to designate foods that are not bioengineered), 1,140 of these products (285 manufacturers) also use the term “organic” on the label; 1,020 products do not use the term “organic” on the label (2,160 − 1,140 = 1,020 products not organics; 540−285 = 255 manufacturers of not organic products). In addition, the 54 livestock feed suppliers are also organic producers, thus the 216 products attributed to these manufacturers already are considered to be labeled “organic.” Thus, there are 1,020 products made by 255 human food and pet food manufacturers that would need to substantiate that their product or ingredient was not genetically engineered.

    We estimate that the burden of maintaining the documentation is a one-time burden; the document to substantiate that the product or ingredient was produced without genetic engineering only needs to be generated once and then kept on file. To annualize this one-time burden, we divide by 3 because paperwork burden collections are approved on a 3-year cycle (255/3 = 85). Thus, we estimate in table 1 that, on average, 85 manufacturers annually will collect and keep information that substantiates their label claim for four products (1,020 products/3 = 340 products/85 manufacturers = 4 products per manufacturer).

    We estimate this one-time recordkeeping burden to be 1 hour per product that makes use of a labeling claim which results in a burden of 1 hour for a total annualized recordkeeping burden of 340 hours (85 manufacturers × 4 records per manufacturer × 1 hour per record). In the 2001 notice, we estimated $53,040 as “operating and maintenance costs” associated with this recordkeeping burden. These costs were reported in error and have been removed from table 1. We estimate no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this recordkeeping burden.

    We do not estimate any reporting burden or third party disclosure burden associated with this information collection. Manufacturers who want to make use of this voluntary labeling claim option are considered to be those that already have such wording on their products' labels. We do not expect that this guidance will cause labels already in the marketplace to need to be re-worded.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the guidance at http://www.fda.gov/FoodGuidances or http://www.regulations.gov. Use the FDA Web site listed in the previous sentence to find the most current version of the guidance.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29903 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; 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 contract proposals and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the contract proposals, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel, NIAID Investigator Initiated Program Project Applications (P01).

    Date: December 17, 2015.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 4H200 A/B, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Kelly Y. Poe, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities, Room 3F40B, National Institutes of Health, NIAID, 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9823, Bethesda, MD 20892-9823, (240) 669-5036, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.855, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research; 93.856, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: November 18, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29854 Filed 11-23-15; 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 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 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; Fellowships: Physiology and Pathobiology of Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems.

    Date: November 23-24, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The St. Regis Washington, DC, 923 16th St.NW., Washington, DC 20006.

    Contact Person: Abdelouahab Aitouche, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4222, MSC 7812, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-2365, [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. 93.306, 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 18, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29853 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [USCG-2015-1005] Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee; Vacancies AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Request for applications.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard seeks applications for membership on the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee. The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters related to medical certification determinations for issuance of licenses, certificates of registry, and merchant mariners' documents; medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels; medical examiner education; and medical research. Applicants selected for service on the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee via this solicitation will not begin their respective term until August 8, 2016.

    DATES:

    Completed applications should reach the Coast Guard on or before January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Applicants should send a cover letter expressing interest in an appointment to the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee that also identifies which membership category the applicant is applying under, along with a resume detailing the applicant's experience via one of the following methods:

    By Email: [email protected].

    By Fax: 202-372-4908.

    By Mail: Lieutenant Ashley Holm, Alternate Designated Federal Officer of the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee, Commandant, Mariner Credentialing Program Policy Division (CG-CVC-4), U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE., Stop 7501 Washington, DC 20593-7501.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lieutenant Ashley Holm, Alternate Designated Federal Officer of the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee, Commandant, Mariner Credentialing Program Policy Division (CG-CVC-4), U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE., Stop 7501 Washington, DC 20593-7501, [email protected], phone: 202-372-1128, fax: 202-372-4908.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee was established under Section 210 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, Public Law 111-281 and operates in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, (5 U.S.C. Appendix). The Committee's purpose is to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters related to medical certification determinations for issuance of licenses, certificates of registry, and merchant mariners' documents; medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels; medical examiner education; and medical research.

    The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee is expected to meet at least twice a year at various locations around the country. It may also meet intercessionally for extraordinary purposes. Working groups may also meet to consider specific tasks as required.

    The Coast Guard will consider applications for seven positions that expire on August 8, 2016. These positions include two professional mariners with knowledge and experience in mariners' occupational requirements, and five health care professionals with particular expertise, knowledge, or experience regarding the medical examinations of merchant mariners or occupational medicine.

    The members appointed will serve a term of office of five years. The members are limited to serving no more than two consecutive terms. All members serve without compensation from the Federal Government; however, members may be reimbursed for travel and per diem depending on fiscal budgetary constraints.

    Members of the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee will be appointed and serve as Special Government Employees as defined in section 202(a) of Title 18 United States Code. As candidates for appointment as Special Government Employees, applicants are required to complete Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports (OGE Form 450). Coast Guard may not release the reports or the information in them to the public except under an order issued by a Federal court or as otherwise provided under the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a). Only the Designated Coast Guard Ethics Official or his designee may release a Confidential Financial Disclosure Report. Applicants can obtain this form by going to the Web site of the Office of Government Ethics (www.oge.gov), or by contacting the individual listed above in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Applications for a Special Government Employees that are not accompanied by a completed OGE Form 450 will not be considered.

    Registered lobbyists are not eligible to serve on Federal advisory committees in an individual capacity. Registered lobbyists are lobbyists required to comply with provisions contained in the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1605; Pub. L. 104-65; as amended by Title II of Pub. L. 110-81).

    The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee members are appointed in their individual capacity and would be designated as a Special Government Employee as defined in 202(a) of Title 18, U.S.C. See “Revised Guidance on Appointment of Lobbyist to Federal Advisory Committees, Boards and Commissions” (79 FR 47482, August 13, 2014).

    The Department of Homeland Security does not discriminate in selection of Committee members on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disabilities and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or any other non-merit factor. The Department of Homeland Security strives to achieve a widely diverse candidate pool for all of its recruitment actions.

    If you are interested in applying to become a member of the Committee, send your cover letter and resume to Lieutenant Ashley Holm, Designated Alternate Federal Officer of the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee by email or mail according to instructions in the ADDRESSES section by the deadline in the DATES section of this notice.

    All email submittals will receive email receipt confirmation.

    To visit our online docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov enter the docket number (for this notice (USCG-2015-1005) in the Search box, and click “Search”. Please do not post your resume or OGE 450 Form on this site.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. V.B. Gifford, Jr., Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Director, Inspections and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29836 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2015-1018] Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's Response to Task Statement 1, Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08 Revision AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard announces the availability of the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's response to Task Statement 1, “Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08 Revision Working Group.” This document recommends various changes to NVIC 04-08, “Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials,” which the Coast Guard uses when making decisions on mariner credentialing. The Coast Guard has not adopted this document as policy, but will consider it in future policy development.

    ADDRESSES:

    Task Statement 1 and the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's response to the task are available on the Coast Guard's Web site at: https://homeport.uscg.mil. To locate the documents on the Web site, select Missions/Ports and Waterways/Safety Advisory Committees/MEDMAC/Announcements/MEDMAC's Response to Task Statement 1—Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08 Revision.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this notice, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background and Purpose

    The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (the Committee) is authorized under 46 United States Code 7115 and operates in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Title 5 U.S.C., Appendix). The Committee advises the Secretary on matters related to (a) medical certification determinations for issuances of licenses, certificates of registry, and merchant mariners' documents; (b) medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels; (c) medical examiner education; and (d) medical research.

    The Committee voted to accept Task Statement 1 during the second public meeting held on May 8-9, 2012 in Martinsburg, WV. This task requested that the Committee review sections of NVIC 04-08, “Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials,” to ensure that the Coast Guard's guidance is in compliance with all current regulations and reflects medical considerations that are appropriate for merchant mariners.

    Task Statement 1 required the following inputs. First, it required the working group to review the introduction and Enclosures 1, 2, 5, and 6 of NVIC 04-08 to ensure compliance with existing Coast Guard regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations. Second, it required the working group to review all medical conditions listed in Enclosures 3 and 4 of the NVIC and perform the following actions:

    —Identify circumstances defining inordinate risk for the condition. —Identify circumstances which would decrease the risk from inordinate. —Determine appropriate amplifying information and testing required to assess the condition. —Identify the standards used to determine the suitability of the condition. —Determine the minimum compliance for the condition that should allow safe operation. —Determine whether or not a waiver is required and define waiver parameters. —Work with the Top Mariner Conditions working group to incorporate their recommendations for the top medical conditions.

    Subsequently, a working group was established. The working group was comprised of individual members of MEDMAC and the public, although the composition of the working group changed over time. The Committee voted to accept the response to Task Statement 1 provided by the working group during the sixth public meeting held on September 29-30, 2014 in Piney Point, MD. All working group meetings were open to the public.

    The response to Task Statement 1 is in the form of a revised NVIC 04-08. This revision includes both the introduction to NVIC 04-08 as well as revised versions of each of the enclosures. In accordance with the task statement, the working group has made revisions to each enclosure, but made substantial revisions to enclosures 3 and 4. These enclosures, entitled “Vision and Hearing Standards” and “Guidance on Specific Medical Conditions,” provide detailed guidelines that can help the Coast Guard make fitness determinations for mariners to maintain their credentials.

    The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee's response to Task Statement 1 is a work product of the Committee and therefore is not an official Coast Guard policy and may not be cited as an official agency position. The Coast Guard may use the response, or portions of the response, for development of future policy.

    Authority

    This notice is issued under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a), 46 U.S.C. 7101 et seq., 46 CFR 10.215, and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0710.1.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. V. B. Gifford, Jr., Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Director of Inspections and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29837 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [OMB Control Number 1615-0047] Agency Information Collection Activities: Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection AGENCY:

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security.

    ACTION:

    60-Day notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment upon this proposed revision of a currently approved collection of information. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the information collection notice is published in the Federal Register to obtain comments regarding the nature of the information collection, the categories of respondents, the estimated burden (i.e., the time, effort, and resources used by the respondents to respond), the estimated cost to the respondent, and the actual information collection instruments.

    DATES:

    Comments are encouraged and will be accepted for 60 days until January 25, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    All submissions received must include the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number 1615-0047 in the subject box, the agency name, and Docket ID USCIS-2006-0068. To avoid duplicate submissions, please use only one of the following methods to submit comments:

    (1) Online. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at http://www.regulations.gov under e-Docket ID number USCIS-2006-0068;

    (2) Email. Submit comments to [email protected];

    (3) Mail. Submit written comments to DHS, USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2140.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, Laura Dawkins, Chief, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2140, telephone number 202-272-8377. (This is not a toll-free number.) Comments are not accepted via telephone message). Please note contact information provided here is solely for questions regarding this notice. It is not for individual case status inquiries. Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check Case Status Online, available at the USCIS Web site at http://www.uscis.gov, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments

    You may access the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information, by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: http://www.regulations.gov and enter USCIS-2006-0068 in the search box. Regardless of the method used for submitting comments or material, all submissions will be posted, without change, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary submission you make to DHS. DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing that it determines may impact the privacy of an individual or is offensive. For additional information, please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov.

    Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points:

    (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 submission of responses.

    Overview of This Information Collection

    (1) Type of Information Collection: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection.

    (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Employment Eligibility Verification.

    (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable DHS component sponsoring the collection: I-9; USCIS.

    (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract:

    Primary: Employers, employees, recruiters and referrers for a fee (limited to agricultural associations, agricultural employers, or farm labor contractors), and state employment agencies. This form was developed to facilitate compliance with section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits the knowing employment of unauthorized aliens. This information collection is necessary for employers, agricultural recruiters and referrers for a fee, and state employment agencies to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired (or recruited or referred for a fee, if applicable) for employment in the United States.

    (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection I-9 is 55,400,000 for employers and recruiters and referrers with an estimated hour burden per response is .33 hours; 55,400,000 for individuals/households with an estimated hour burden response of .17 hour; and 20,000,000 for record keepers with an estimated hour burden response of .08 hours.

    (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 29,300,000 hours.

    (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: The estimated total annual cost burden associated with this collection of information is $0.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Laura Dawkins, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29909 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT [Docket No. FR-5898-N-01] Statutorily Mandated Designation of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for 2016 AGENCY:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, HUD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This document designates “Difficult Development Areas” (DDAs) and “Qualified Census Tracts” (QCTs) for purposes of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 42 (26 U.S.C. 42). The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) makes new DDA and QCT designations annually. As previously announced, the 2016 metropolitan DDA designations use for the first time Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), rather than metropolitan-area Fair Market Rents (FMRs), for designating metropolitan DDAs. Compared to previous designations, this notice: (1) Describes a strengthening of the data quality standard HUD uses in designating the 2016 QCTs, (2) extends from 365 days to 730 days the period for which the 2016 lists of QCTs and DDAs are effective for projects located in areas not on a subsequent list of DDAs or QCTs but having submitted applications while the area was a 2016 QCT or DDA, and (3) establishes the effective date of the new QCTs and DDAs as July 1, 2016 rather than January 1.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For questions on how areas are designated and on geographic definitions, contact Michael K. Hollar, Senior Economist, Economic Development and Public Finance Division, Office of Policy Development and Research, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 8234, Washington, DC 20410-6000; telephone number 202-402-5878, or send an email to [email protected] For specific legal questions pertaining to Section 42, contact Branch 5, Office of the Associate Chief Counsel, Passthroughs and Special Industries, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224; telephone number 202-317-4137, fax number 202-317-6731. For questions about the “HUB Zone” program, contact Mariana Pardo, Director, HUBZone Program, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street SW., Suite 8800, Washington, DC 20416; telephone number 202-205-2985, fax number 202-481-6443, or send an email to [email protected] A text telephone is available for persons with hearing or speech impairments at 800-877-8339. (These are not toll-free telephone numbers.) Additional copies of this notice are available through HUD User at 800-245-2691 for a small fee to cover duplication and mailing costs.

    Copies Available Electronically: This notice and additional information about DDAs and QCTs are available electronically on the Internet at http://www.huduser.org/datasets/qct.html.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This Document

    This notice designates DDAs for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The designations of DDAs in this notice are based on modified Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), FY2015 income limits, and 2010 Census population counts, as explained below.

    This notice also designates QCTs based on new income and poverty data released in the American Community Survey (ACS). HUD relies on the most recent three sets of ACS estimates to ensure that anomalous estimates, due to sampling, do not affect the QCT status of tracts.

    2010 Census and 2007-2011, 2008-2012 and 2009-2013 American Community Survey Data

    Data from the 2010 Census on total population of metropolitan areas and nonmetropolitan areas are used in the designation of DDAs. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) first published new metropolitan area definitions incorporating 2000 Census data in OMB Bulletin No. 03-04 on June 6, 2003, and updated them periodically through OMB Bulletin No. 10-02 on December 1, 2009. FY2015 FMRs and FY2015 income limits used to designate DDAs are based on these metropolitan statistical area (MSA) definitions, with modifications to account for substantial differences in rental housing markets (and, in some cases, median income levels) within MSAs. SAFMRs are calculated for the ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs), or portions of ZCTAs within the metropolitan areas defined by OMB Bulletin No. 10-02.

    Data from the 2010 Census on total population of census tracts, metropolitan areas, and the nonmetropolitan parts of states are used in the designation of QCTs. The FY2015 income limits used to designate QCTs are based on these MSA definitions with modifications to account for substantial differences in rental housing markets (and in some cases median income levels) within MSAs. This QCT designation uses the OMB metropolitan area definitions published in OMB Bulletin No. 10-02 on December 1, 2009, without modification for purposes of evaluating how many census tracts can be designated under the population cap, but uses the HUD-modified definitions and their associated area median incomes for determining QCT eligibility.

    Because the 2010 Decennial Census did not include questions on respondent household income, HUD uses ACS data to designate QCTs. The ACS tabulates data collected over 5 years to provide estimates of socioeconomic variables for small areas containing fewer than 20,000 persons, such as census tracts. Due to anomalies in estimates from year-to-year, HUD incorporates three sets of ACS tabulations to ensure that anomalous estimates do not affect QCT status.

    Background

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and its Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are authorized to interpret and enforce the provisions of the LIHTC found at IRC Section 42. The Secretary of HUD is required to designate DDAs and QCTs by IRC Section 42(d)(5)(B). In order to assist in understanding HUD's mandated designation of DDAs and QCTs for use in administering IRC Section 42, a summary of the section is provided. The following summary does not purport to bind Treasury or the IRS in any way, nor does it purport to bind HUD, since HUD has authority to interpret or administer the IRC only in instances where it receives explicit statutory delegation.

    Summary of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

    The LIHTC is a tax incentive intended to increase the availability of low-income housing. IRC Section 42 provides an income tax credit to owners of newly constructed or substantially rehabilitated low-income rental housing projects. The dollar amount of the LIHTC available for allocation by each state (credit ceiling) is limited by population. Each state is allowed a credit ceiling based on a statutory formula indicated at IRC Section 42(h)(3). States may carry forward unallocated credits derived from the credit ceiling for one year; however, to the extent such unallocated credits are not used by then, the credits go into a national pool to be redistributed to states as additional credit. State and local housing agencies allocate the state's credit ceiling among low-income housing buildings whose owners have applied for the credit. Besides IRC Section 42 credits derived from the credit ceiling, states may also provide IRC Section 42 credits to owners of buildings based on the percentage of certain building costs financed by tax-exempt bond proceeds. Credits provided under the tax-exempt bond “volume cap” do not reduce the credits available from the credit ceiling.

    The credits allocated to a building are based on the cost of units placed in service as low-income units under particular minimum occupancy and maximum rent criteria. In general, a building must meet one of two thresholds to be eligible for the LIHTC; either: (1) 20 percent of the units must be rent-restricted and occupied by tenants with incomes no higher than 50 percent of the Area Median Gross Income (AMGI), or (2) 40 percent of the units must be rent-restricted and occupied by tenants with incomes no higher than 60 percent of AMGI. A unit is “rent-restricted” if the gross rent, including an allowance for tenant-paid utilities, does not exceed 30 percent of the imputed income limitation (i.e., 50 percent or 60 percent of AMGI) applicable to that unit. The rent and occupancy thresholds remain in effect for at least 15 years, and building owners are required to enter into agreements to maintain the low-income character of the building for at least an additional 15 years.

    The LIHTC reduces income tax liability dollar-for-dollar. It is taken annually for a term of 10 years and is intended to yield a present value of either: (1) 70 Percent of the “qualified basis” for new construction or substantial rehabilitation expenditures that are not federally subsidized (as defined in IRC Section 42(i)(2)), or (2) 30 percent of the qualified basis for the cost of acquiring certain existing buildings or projects that are federally subsidized. The actual credit rates are adjusted monthly for projects placed in service after 1987 under procedures specified in IRC Section 42. Individuals can use the credits up to a deduction equivalent of $25,000 (the actual maximum amount of credit that an individual can claim depends on the individual's marginal tax rate). For buildings placed in service after December 31, 2007, individuals can use the credits against the alternative minimum tax. Corporations, other than S or personal service corporations, can use the credits against ordinary income tax, and, for buildings placed in service after December 31, 2007, against the alternative minimum tax. These corporations also can deduct losses from the project.

    The qualified basis represents the product of the building's “applicable fraction” and its “eligible basis.” The applicable fraction is based on the number of low-income units in the building as a percentage of the total number of units, or based on the floor space of low-income units as a percentage of the total floor space of residential units in the building. The eligible basis is the adjusted basis attributable to acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction costs (depending on the type of LIHTC involved). These costs include amounts chargeable to a capital account that are incurred prior to the end of the first taxable year in which the qualified low-income building is placed in service or, at the election of the taxpayer, the end of the succeeding taxable year. In the case of buildings located in designated DDAs or designated QCTs, eligible basis can be increased up to 130 percent from what it would otherwise be. This means that the available credits also can be increased by up to 30 percent. For example, if a 70 percent credit is available, it effectively could be increased to as much as 91 percent.

    IRC Section 42 defines a DDA as an area designated by the Secretary of HUD that has high construction, land, and utility costs relative to the AMGI. All designated DDAs in metropolitan areas (taken together) may not contain more than 20 percent of the aggregate population of all metropolitan areas, and all designated areas not in metropolitan areas may not contain more than 20 percent of the aggregate population of all nonmetropolitan areas.

    IRC Section 42(d)(5)(B)(v) allows states to award an increase in basis up to 30 percent to buildings located outside of federally designated DDAs and QCTs if the increase is necessary to make the building financially feasible. This state discretion applies only to buildings allocated credits under the state housing credit ceiling and is not permitted for buildings receiving credits in connection with tax-exempt bonds. Rules for such designations shall be set forth in the LIHTC-allocating agencies' qualified allocation plans (QAPs).

    Explanation of HUD Designation Method A. 2016 Difficult Development Areas

    In developing the list of DDAs, HUD compared housing costs with incomes. HUD used 2010 Census population for ZCTAs, and nonmetropolitan areas, and the MSA definitions, as published in OMB Bulletin No. 10-02 on December 1, 2009, with modifications, as described below. In keeping with past practice of basing the coming year's DDA designations on data from the preceding year, the basis for these comparisons is the FY2015 HUD income limits for very low-income households (very low-income limits, or VLILs), which are based on 50 percent of AMGI, and modified FMRs based on the FY2015 FMRs used for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. For metropolitan DDAs, HUD used SAFMRs based on 3 annual releases of ACS data, to avoid statistical anomalies which affect estimates for some ZCTAs. For non-metropolitan DDAs, HUD used the final FY2015 FMRs as published on October 3, 2014 (79 FR 59786) and updated on January 12, 2015 (80 FR 1511).

    In formulating the FY2015 FMRs and VLILs, HUD modified the current OMB definitions of MSAs to account for substantial differences in rents among areas within each current MSA that were in different FMR areas under definitions used in prior years. HUD formed these “HUD Metro FMR Areas” (HMFAs) in cases where one or more of the parts of newly defined MSAs that previously were in separate FMR areas had 2000 Census based 40th-percentile recent-mover rents that differed, by 5 percent or more, from the same statistic calculated at the MSA level. In addition, a few HMFAs were formed on the basis of very large differences in AMGIs among the MSA parts. All HMFAs are contained entirely within MSAs. All nonmetropolitan counties are outside of MSAs and are not broken up by HUD for purposes of setting FMRs and VLILs. (Complete details on HUD's process for determining FY2015 FMR areas and FMRs are available at http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/docsys.html&data=fmr15. Complete details on HUD's process for determining FY2015 income limits are available at http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/il/il15/index.html.)

    HUD's unit of analysis for designating metropolitan DDAs consists of ZCTAs, whose SAFMRs are compared to metropolitan VLILs. For purposes of computing VLILs in metropolitan areas, HUD considers entire MSAs, in cases where these were not broken up into HMFAs for purposes of computing VLILs; and HMFAs within the MSAs that were broken up for such purposes. Hereafter in this notice, the unit of analysis for designating metropolitan DDAs will be called the ZCTA, and the unit of analysis for nonmetropolitan DDAs will be the nonmetropolitan county or county equivalent area. The procedure used in making the DDA calculations follows:

    1. For each metropolitan ZCTA and each nonmetropolitan county, HUD calculated a ratio. HUD used a modified FY2015 two-bedroom SAFMR for ZCTAs, the final FY2015 two-bedroom FMR as published for non-metropolitan counties, and the FY2015 four-person VLIL for this calculation. The modified FY2015 two-bedroom SAFMRs for ZCTAs differ from the final FY2015 SAFMRs in 5 ways.

    First, three years of median rents from the American Community Survey (ACS) were deflated and averaged. Three years of ACS releases are averaged to avoid anomalies that occur due to statistical sampling in some ZCTAs. The modified SAFMRs rely on the 2006-2010, 2007-2011 and 2008-2012 5-year ACS estimates. Only rents with margins of error less than 50 percent of the rent estimate were considered.1 Second, HUD did not limit the median gross ZCTA rent to 150 percent of the median gross Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) rent, as in the SAFMR calculations used in HUD's demonstration project. Third, for a small percentage of ZCTAs with median rents exceeding $2,000, the census releases only a value of “$2,000+”. HUD's modified FY2015 SAFMRs includes an interpolated value above $2,000 for these areas. Fourth, HUD adjusted median rent values in New York City to correct for the downward-bias resulting from rent control and stabilization regulations using the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.2 Finally, the adjustment for recent mover rents is calculated at the HMFA-level rather than CBSA-level.

    1 HUD is moving to a tighter margin of error ratio for most uses of ACS data (base rents, recent mover rents, median rents used in the Small Area FMR calculations, etc.) in order to make the FMRs more reliable and stable. ACS data with a coefficient of variation (CV) greater than 30 percent, which coincides with a margin of error ratio of 50 percent, is highly suspect.

    2 HUD encourages other jurisdictions with rent control laws that affect rents paid by recent movers into existing units to contact HUD about what data might be provided or collected to adjust SAFMRs in those jurisdictions.

    a. The numerator of the ratio, representing the development cost of housing, was the area's FY2015 FMR, or SAFMR in metropolitan areas. In general, the FMR is based on the 40th-percentile gross rent paid by recent movers to live in a two-bedroom apartment.

    b. The denominator of the ratio, representing the maximum income of eligible tenants, was the monthly LIHTC income-based rent limit, which was calculated as 1/12 of 30 percent of 120 percent of the area's VLIL (where the VLIL was rounded to the nearest $50 and not allowed to exceed 80 percent of the AMGI in areas where the VLIL is adjusted upward from its 50 percent-of-AMGI base).

    2. The ratios of the FMR, or SAFMR, to the LIHTC income-based rent limit were arrayed in descending order, separately, for ZCTAs and for nonmetropolitan counties.

    3. The DDAs are those with the highest ratios cumulative to 20 percent of the 2010 population of all metropolitan areas and all nonmetropolitan areas. For purposes of applying this population cap, HUD excluded the population in areas designated as 2016 QCTs. Thus, an area can be designated as a QCT or DDA, but not both.

    B. Application of Population Caps to DDA Determinations

    In identifying DDAs, HUD applied caps, or limitations, as noted above. The cumulative population of metropolitan DDAs cannot exceed 20 percent of the cumulative population of all metropolitan areas, and the cumulative population of nonmetropolitan DDAs cannot exceed 20 percent of the cumulative population of all nonmetropolitan areas.

    In applying these caps, HUD established procedures to deal with how to treat small overruns of the caps. The remainder of this section explains those procedures. In general, HUD stops selecting areas when it is impossible to choose another area without exceeding the applicable cap. The only exceptions to this policy are when the next eligible excluded area contains either a large absolute population or a large percentage of the total population, or the next excluded area's ranking ratio, as described above, was identical (to four decimal places) to the last area selected, and its inclusion resulted in only a minor overrun of the cap. Thus, for both the designated metropolitan and nonmetropolitan DDAs, there may be minimal overruns of the cap. HUD believes the designation of additional areas in the above examples of minimal overruns is consistent with the intent of the IRC. As long as the apparent excess is small due to measurement errors, some latitude is justifiable, because it is impossible to determine whether the 20 percent cap has been exceeded. Despite the care and effort involved in a Decennial Census, the Census Bureau and all users of the data recognize that the population counts for a given area and for the entire country are not precise. Therefore, the extent of the measurement error is unknown. There can be errors in both the numerator and denominator of the ratio of populations used in applying a 20 percent cap. In circumstances where a strict application of a 20 percent cap results in an anomalous situation, recognition of the unavoidable imprecision in the census data justifies accepting small variances above the 20 percent limit.

    C. Qualified Census Tracts

    In developing this list of QCTs, HUD used 2010 Census 100-percent count data on total population, total households, and population in households; the median household income and poverty rate as estimated in the 2007-2011, 2008-2012 and 2009-2013 ACS tabulations; the FY2015 Very Low-Income Limits (VLILs) computed at the HUD Metropolitan FMR Area (HMFA) level 3 to determine tract eligibility; and the MSA definitions published in OMB Bulletin No. 10-02 on December 1, 2009, for determining how many eligible tracts can be designated under the statutory 20 percent population cap.

    3 HUD income limits for very low-income households (very low-income limits, or VLILs) are based on 50 percent of AMGI. In formulating the Fair Market Rents (FMRs) and VLILs, HUD modified the current OMB definitions of MSAs to account for substantial differences in rents among areas within each new MSA that were in different FMR areas under definitions used in prior years. HUD formed these “HUD Metro FMR Areas” (HMFAs) in cases where one or more of the parts of newly defined MSAs that previously were in separate FMR areas had 2000 Census based 40th-percentile recent-mover rents that differed, by 5 percent or more, from the same statistic calculated at the MSA level. In addition, a few HMFAs were formed on the basis of very large differences in AMGIs among the MSA parts. All HMFAs are contained entirely within MSAs. All nonmetropolitan counties are outside of MSAs and are not broken up by HUD for purposes of setting FMRs and VLILs. (Complete details on HUD's process for determining FMR areas and FMRs are available at http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr.html. Complete details on HUD's process for determining income limits are available at http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/il.html.)

    HUD uses the HMFA-level AMGIs to determine QCT eligibility because the statute, specifically IRC Section 42(d)(5)(B)(iv)(II), refers to the same section of the IRC that defines income for purposes of tenant eligibility and unit maximum rent, specifically IRC Section 42(g)(4). By rule, the IRS sets these income limits according to HUD's VLILs, which, starting in FY2006 and thereafter, are established at the HMFA level. Similarly, HUD uses the entire MSA to determine how many eligible tracts can be designated under the 20 percent population cap as required by the statute (IRC Section 42(d)(5)(B)(ii)(III)), which states that MSAs should be treated as singular areas. The QCTs were determined as follows:

    1. To be eligible to be designated a QCT, a census tract must have 50 percent of its households with incomes below 60 percent of the AMGI or have a poverty rate of 25 percent or more. Due to potential statistical anomalies in the ACS 5-year estimates, one of these conditions must be met in at least 2 of the 3 evaluation years for a tract to be considered eligible for QCT designation. HUD calculates 60 percent of AMGI by multiplying by a factor of 1.2 the HMFA or nonmetropolitan county FY2015 VLIL adjusted for inflation to match the ACS estimates. For example, the FY2015 VLILs were adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars to compare with the median income estimate from the 2008-2012 ACS estimates. The inflation-adjusted 2012 VLIL was then deflated to 2011 for comparison with the 2007-2011 ACS estimates and inflated to 2013 to compare with the 2009-2013 ACS estimates.

    2. For each census tract, whether or not 50 percent of households have incomes below the 60 percent income standard (income criterion) was determined by: (a) Calculating the average household size of the census tract, (b) applying the income standard after adjusting it to match the average household size, and (c) comparing the average-household-size-adjusted income standard to the median household income for the tract reported in each of the three years of ACS tabulations (2007-2011, 2008-2012 and 2009-2013). HUD did not consider estimates of median household income to be statistically reliable unless the margin of error was less than half of the estimate (or a Margin of Error Ratio, MoER, of 50 percent or less). If at least two of the three estimates were not statistically reliable by this measure, HUD determined the tract to be ineligible under the income criterion due to lack of consistently reliable median income statistics across the 3 ACS tabulations. In prior designations of QCTs, HUD accepted ACS data with MoERs of up to, but not including 100 percent. The higher data quality standard used for the 2016 QCTs is consistent with current thinking about the reliability of ACS data.4 Since 50 percent of households in a tract have incomes above and below the tract median household income, if the tract median household income is less than the average-household-size-adjusted income standard for the tract, then more than 50 percent of households have incomes below the standard.

    4 For a discussion of ACS data quality measures, see: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2008/acs/ACSGeneralHandbook.pdf.

    3. For each census tract, the poverty rate was determined in each of the three releases of ACS tabulations (2007-2011, 2008-2012 and 2009-2013) by dividing the population with incomes below the poverty line by the population for whom poverty status has been determined. As with the evaluation of tracts under the income criterion, HUD uses a higher data quality standard for evaluating ACS poverty rate data in designating the 2016 QCTs than HUD used in previous designations. HUD did not consider estimates of the poverty rate to be statistically reliable unless both the population for whom poverty status has been determined and the number of persons below poverty had MoERs of less than 50 percent of the respective estimates. In prior designations of QCTs, HUD accepted ACS data with MoERs of up to, but not including 100 percent. If at least two of the three poverty rate estimates were not statistically reliable, HUD determined the tract to be ineligible under the poverty rate criterion due to lack of reliable poverty statistics across the ACS tabulations.

    4. QCTs are those census tracts in which 50 percent or more of the households meet the income criterion in at least two of the three years evaluated, or 25 percent or more of the population is in poverty in at least two of the three years evaluated, such that the population of all census tracts that satisfy either one or both of these criteria does not exceed 20 percent of the total population of the respective area.

    5. In areas where more than 20 percent of the population resides in eligible census tracts, census tracts are designated as QCTs in accordance with the following procedure:

    a. The income and poverty criteria are each averaged over the three ACS tabulations (2007-2011, 2008-2012 and 2009-2013). Statistically reliable values that did not exceed the income and poverty rate thresholds were included in the average.

    b. Eligible tracts are placed in one of two groups based on the averaged values of the income and poverty criteria. The first group includes tracts that satisfy both the income and poverty criteria for QCTs for at least two of the three evaluation years. The second group includes tracts that satisfy either the income criterion or the poverty criterion in at least two of three years, but not both. A tract must qualify by at least one of the criteria in at least two of the three evaluation years to be eligible, although it does not need to be the same criterion.

    c. Tracts in the first group are ranked from highest to lowest by the average of the ratios of the tract average-household-size-adjusted income limit to the median household income. Then, tracts in the first group are ranked from highest to lowest by the average of the poverty rates. The two ranks are averaged to yield a combined rank. The tracts are then sorted on the combined rank, with the census tract with the highest combined rank being placed at the top of the sorted list. In the event of a tie, more populous tracts are ranked above less populous ones.

    d. Tracts in the second group are ranked from highest to lowest by the average of the ratios of the tract average-household-size-adjusted income limit to the median household income. Then, tracts in the second group are ranked from highest to lowest by the average of the poverty rates. The two ranks are then averaged to yield a combined rank. The tracts are then sorted on the combined rank, with the census tract with the highest combined rank being placed at the top of the sorted list. In the event of a tie, more populous tracts are ranked above less populous ones.

    e. The ranked first group is stacked on top of the ranked second group to yield a single, concatenated, ranked list of eligible census tracts.

    f. Working down the single, concatenated, ranked list of eligible tracts, census tracts are identified as designated until the designation of an additional tract would cause the 20 percent limit to be exceeded. If a census tract is not designated because doing so would raise the percentage above 20 percent, subsequent census tracts are then considered to determine if one or more census tract(s) with smaller population(s) could be designated without exceeding the 20 percent limit.

    D. Exceptions to OMB Definitions of MSAs and Other Geographic Matters

    As stated in OMB Bulletin 10-02, defining metropolitan areas:

    OMB establishes and maintains the definitions of Metropolitan . . . Statistical Areas, . . . solely for statistical purposes. . . . OMB does not take into account or attempt to anticipate any non-statistical uses that may be made of the definitions[.] In cases where . . . an agency elects to use the Metropolitan . . . Area definitions in nonstatistical programs, it is the sponsoring agency's responsibility to ensure that the definitions are appropriate for such use. An agency using the statistical definitions in a nonstatistical program may modify the definitions, but only for the purposes of that program. In such cases, any modifications should be clearly identified as deviations from the OMB statistical area definitions in order to avoid confusion with OMB's official definitions of Metropolitan . . . Statistical Areas.

    Following OMB guidance, the estimation procedure for the FMRs and income limits incorporates the current OMB definitions of metropolitan areas based on the CBSA standards, as implemented with 2000 Census data, but makes adjustments to the definitions, in order to separate subparts of these areas in cases where FMRs (and in a few cases, VLILs) would otherwise change significantly if the new area definitions were used without modification. In CBSAs where subareas are established, it is HUD's view that the geographic extent of the housing markets are not yet the same as the geographic extent of the CBSAs, but may approach becoming so as the social and economic integration of the CBSA component areas increases.

    The geographic baseline for the FMR and income limit estimation procedure is the CBSA Metropolitan Areas (referred to as Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSAs) and CBSA Non-Metropolitan Counties (nonmetropolitan counties include the county components of Micropolitan CBSAs where the counties are generally assigned separate FMRs). The HUD-modified CBSA definitions allow for subarea FMRs within MSAs based on the boundaries of “Old FMR Areas” (OFAs) within the boundaries of new MSAs. (OFAs are the FMR areas defined for the FY2005 FMRs. Collectively, they include the June 30, 1999, OMB definitions of MSAs and Primary MSAs (old definition MSAs/PMSAs), metropolitan counties deleted from old definition MSAs/PMSAs by HUD for FMR-setting purposes, and counties and county parts outside of old definition MSAs/PMSAs referred to as nonmetropolitan counties). Subareas of MSAs are assigned their own FMRs and Income Limits when the subarea 2000 Census Base FMR differs significantly from the MSA 2000 Census Base FMR (or, in some cases, where the 2000 Census base AMGI differs significantly from the MSA 2000 Census Base AMGI). MSA subareas, and the remaining portions of MSAs after subareas have been determined, are referred to as “HUD Metro FMR Areas (HMFAs),” to distinguish such areas from OMB's official definition of MSAs.

    In the New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), HMFAs are defined according to county subdivisions or minor civil divisions (MCDs), rather than county boundaries. However, since no part of an HMFA is outside an OMB-defined, county-based MSA, all New England nonmetropolitan counties are kept intact for purposes of designating Nonmetropolitan DDAs.

    For the convenience of readers of this notice, the geographical definitions of designated Metropolitan DDAs are included in the list of DDAs.

    Future Designations

    DDAs are designated annually as updated income and FMR data are made public. QCTs are designated annually as new income and poverty rate data are released.

    Effective Date

    The 2016 lists of QCTs and DDAs are effective:

    (1) for allocations of credit after June 30, 2016; or

    (2) for purposes of IRC Section 42(h)(4), if the bonds are issued and the building is placed in service after June 30, 2016.

    If an area is not on a subsequent list of QCTs or DDAs, the 2016 lists are effective for the area if:

    (1) the allocation of credit to an applicant is made no later than the end of the 730-day period after the applicant submits a complete application to the LIHTC-allocating agency, and the submission is made before the effective date of the subsequent lists; or

    (2) for purposes of IRC Section 42(h)(4), if:

    (a) the bonds are issued or the building is placed in service no later than the end of the 730-day period after the applicant submits a complete application to the bond-issuing agency, and

    (b) the submission is made before the effective date of the subsequent lists, provided that both the issuance of the bonds and the placement in service of the building occur after the application is submitted.

    An application is deemed to be submitted on the date it is filed if the application is determined to be complete by the credit-allocating or bond-issuing agency. A “complete application” means that no more than de minimis clarification of the application is required for the agency to make a decision about the allocation of tax credits or issuance of bonds requested in the application.

    In the case of a “multiphase project,” the DDA or QCT status of the site of the project that applies for all phases of the project is that which applied when the project received its first allocation of LIHTC. For purposes of IRC Section 42(h)(4), the DDA or QCT status of the site of the project that applies for all phases of the project is that which applied when the first of the following occurred: (a) The building(s) in the first phase were placed in service, or (b) the bonds were issued.

    For purposes of this notice, a “multiphase project” is defined as a set of buildings to be constructed or rehabilitated under the rules of the LIHTC and meeting the following criteria:

    (1) The multiphase composition of the project (i.e., total number of buildings and phases in project, with a description of how many buildings are to be built in each phase and when each phase is to be completed, and any other information required by the agency) is made known by the applicant in the first application of credit for any building in the project, and that applicant identifies the buildings in the project for which credit is (or will be) sought;

    (2) The aggregate amount of LIHTC applied for on behalf of, or that would eventually be allocated to, the buildings on the site exceeds the one-year limitation on credits per applicant, as defined in the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) of the LIHTC-allocating agency, or the annual per-capita credit authority of the LIHTC allocating agency, and is the reason the applicant must request multiple allocations over 2 or more years; and

    (3) All applications for LIHTC for buildings on the site are made in immediately consecutive years.

    Members of the public are hereby reminded that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or the Secretary's designee, has legal authority to designate DDAs and QCTs, by publishing lists of geographic entities as defined by, in the case of DDAs, the Census Bureau, the several states and the governments of the insular areas of the United States and, in the case of QCTs, by the Census Bureau; and to establish the effective dates of such lists. The Secretary of the Treasury, through the IRS thereof, has sole legal authority to interpret, and to determine and enforce compliance with the IRC and associated regulations, including Federal Register notices published by HUD for purposes of designating DDAs and QCTs. Representations made by any other entity as to the content of HUD notices designating DDAs and QCTs that do not precisely match the language published by HUD should not be relied upon by taxpayers in determining what actions are necessary to comply with HUD notices.

    Interpretive Examples of Effective Date

    For the convenience of readers of this notice, interpretive examples are provided below to illustrate the consequences of the effective date in areas that gain or lose DDA status. The examples covering DDAs are equally applicable to QCT designations.

    (Case A) Project A is located in a 2016 DDA that is NOT a designated DDA in 2017 or 2018. A complete application for tax credits for Project A is filed with the allocating agency on November 15, 2016. Credits are allocated to Project A on October 30, 2018. Project A is eligible for the increase in basis accorded a project in a 2016 DDA because the application was filed BEFORE January 1, 2017 (the assumed effective date for the 2017 DDA lists), and because tax credits were allocated no later than the end of the 730-day period after the filing of the complete application for an allocation of tax credits.

    (Case B) Project B is located in a 2016 DDA that is NOT a designated DDA in 2017 or 2018. A complete application for tax credits for Project B is filed with the allocating agency on December 1, 2016. Credits are allocated to Project B on March 30, 2019. Project B is NOT eligible for the increase in basis accorded a project in a 2016 DDA because, although the application for an allocation of tax credits was filed BEFORE January 1, 2017 (the assumed effective date of the 2017 DDA lists), the tax credits were allocated later than the end of the 730-day period after the filing of the complete application.

    (Case C) Project C is located in a 2016 DDA that was not a DDA in 2015. Project C was placed in service on November 15, 2015. A complete application for tax-exempt bond financing for Project C is filed with the bond-issuing agency on January 15, 2016. The bonds that will support the permanent financing of Project C are issued on September 30, 2016. Project C is NOT eligible for the increase in basis otherwise accorded a project in a 2016 DDA, because the project was placed in service BEFORE July 1, 2016.

    (Case D) Project D is located in an area that is a DDA in 2016, but is NOT a DDA in 2017 or 2018. A complete application for tax-exempt bond financing for Project D is filed with the bond-issuing agency on October 30, 2016. Bonds are issued for Project D on April 30, 2018, but Project D is not placed in service until January 30, 2019. Project D is eligible for the increase in basis available to projects located in 2016 DDAs because: (1) One of the two events necessary for triggering the effective date for buildings described in Section 42(h)(4)(B) of the IRC (the two events being bonds issued and buildings placed in service) took place on April 30, 2018, within the 730-day period after a complete application for tax-exempt bond financing was filed, (2) the application was filed during a time when the location of Project D was in a DDA, and (3) both the issuance of the bonds and placement in service of Project D occurred after the application was submitted.

    (Case E) Project E is a multiphase project located in a 2016 DDA that is NOT a designated DDA or QCT in 2017. The first phase of Project E received an allocation of credits in 2016, pursuant to an application filed July 15, 2016, which describes the multiphase composition of the project. An application for tax credits for the second phase of Project E is filed with the allocating agency by the same entity on July 15, 2017. The second phase of Project E is located on a contiguous site. Credits are allocated to the second phase of Project E on October 30, 2017. The aggregate amount of credits allocated to the two phases of Project E exceeds the amount of credits that may be allocated to an applicant in one year under the allocating agency's QAP and is the reason that applications were made in multiple phases. The second phase of Project E is, therefore, eligible for the increase in basis accorded a project in a 2016 DDA, because it meets all of the conditions to be a part of a multiphase project.

    (Case F) Project F is a multiphase project located in a 2016 DDA that is NOT a designated DDA in 2017 or 2018. The first phase of Project F received an allocation of credits in 2016, pursuant to an application filed July 15, 2016, which does not describe the multiphase composition of the project. An application for tax credits for the second phase of Project F is filed with the allocating agency by the same entity on March 15, 2018. Credits are allocated to the second phase of Project F on October 30, 2018. The aggregate amount of credits allocated to the two phases of Project F exceeds the amount of credits that may be allocated to an applicant in one year under the allocating agency's QAP. The second phase of Project F is, therefore, NOT eligible for the increase in basis accorded a project in a 2016 DDA, since it does not meet all of the conditions for a multiphase project, as defined in this notice. The original application for credits for the first phase did not describe the multiphase composition of the project. Also, the application for credits for the second phase of Project F was not made in the year immediately following the first phase application year.

    Findings and Certifications Environmental Impact

    This notice involves the establishment of fiscal requirements or procedures that are related to rate and cost determinations and do not constitute a development decision affecting the physical condition of specific project areas or building sites. Accordingly, under 40 CFR 1508.4 of the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality and 24 CFR 50.19(c)(6) of HUD's regulations, this notice is categorically excluded from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321).

    Federalism Impact

    Executive Order 13132 (entitled “Federalism”) prohibits an agency from publishing any policy document that has federalism implications if the document either imposes substantial direct compliance costs on state and local governments and is not required by statute, or the document preempts state law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements of section 6 of the executive order. This notice merely designates DDAs as required under IRC Section 42, as amended, for the use by political subdivisions of the states in allocating the LIHTC. This notice also details the technical method used in making such designations. As a result, this notice is not subject to review under the order.

    Dated: November 19, 2015. Katherine M. O'Regan, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29953 Filed 11-20-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0166; FXIA16710900000-156-FF09A30000] Endangered Species; Receipt of Applications for Permit AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of receipt of applications for permit.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits activities with listed species unless Federal authorization is acquired that allows such activities.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0166.

    U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0166; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    When submitting comments, please indicate the name of the applicant and the PRT# you are commenting on. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section below for more information). Viewing Comments: Comments and materials we receive will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; telephone 703-358-2095.
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2281 (fax); [email protected] (email).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Comment Procedures A. How do I request copies of applications or comment on submitted applications?

    Send your request for copies of applications or comments and materials concerning any of the applications to the contact listed under ADDRESSES. Please include the Federal Register notice publication date, the PRT-number, and the name of the applicant in your request or submission. We will not consider requests or comments sent to an email or address not listed under ADDRESSES. If you provide an email address in your request for copies of applications, we will attempt to respond to your request electronically.

    Please make your requests or comments as specific as possible. Please confine your comments to issues for which we seek comments in this notice, and explain the basis for your comments. Include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include.

    The comments and recommendations that will be most useful and likely to influence agency decisions are: (1) Those supported by quantitative information or studies; and (2) Those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. We will not consider or include in our administrative record comments we receive after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or comments delivered to an address other than those listed above (see ADDRESSES).

    B. May I review comments submitted by others?

    Comments, including names and street addresses of respondents, will be available for public review at the street address listed under ADDRESSES. The public may review documents and other information applicants have sent in support of the application unless our allowing viewing would violate the Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    II. Background

    To help us carry out our conservation responsibilities for affected species, and in consideration of section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), along with Executive Order 13576, “Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government,” and the President's Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies of January 21, 2009—Transparency and Open Government (74 FR 4685; January 26, 2009), which call on all Federal agencies to promote openness and transparency in Government by disclosing information to the public, we invite public comment on these permit applications before final action is taken.

    III. Permit Applications Endangered Species Applicant: Big Cat Rescue Corporation, Tampa, FL; PRT-75301B

    The applicant requests a permit to import one captive-bred male tiger (Bengal tigris) for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through conservation education and zoological display.

    Applicant: Tanganyika Wildlife Park, Goddard, KS; PRT-68465B

    The applicant requests a permit to import 16 captive-bred African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through zoological display.

    Applicant: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Bay Lake, FL; PRT-80902B

    The applicant requests a permit to import three captive-bred lion-tailed macaques (Macaca Silenus) for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through captive breeding. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Applicant: SOS Ranch, LLC, Crystal City, TX; PRT-66741B

    The applicant requests a captive-bred wildlife registration under 50 CFR 17.21(g) for the following species to enhance species propagation or survival: barasingha (Cervus duvaucelii), Eld's deer (Cervus eldii), Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), and red lechwe (Kobus lechwe). This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Multiple Applicants

    The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Applicant: Jeffrey Scherer, Beemer, NE; PRT-78213B Applicant: Kevin Poynter, Houston, TX; PRT-80785B Applicant: Daniel Danell, Hanford, CA; PRT-80787B Brenda Tapia, Program Analyst/Data Administrator, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29864 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [167 A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900] Indian Gaming; Extension of Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota) AGENCY:

    Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces the extension of the Class III gaming compact between the Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota.

    DATES:

    November 24, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Paula L. Hart, Director, Office of Indian Gaming, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary—Policy and Economic Development, Washington, DC 20240, (202) 219-4066.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    An extension to an existing tribal-state Class III gaming compact does not require approval by the Secretary if the extension does not include any amendment to the terms of the compact. See 25 CFR 293.5. The Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota have reached an agreement to extend the expiration of their existing Tribal-State Class III gaming compact until April 19, 2016. This publishes notice of the new expiration date of the compact.

    Dated: November 17, 2015. Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29911 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4337-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Reclamation [RR83570000, 167R5065C6, RX.59389832.1009676] Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB Review; Renewal of a Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY:

    Bureau of Reclamation, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has forwarded the following Information Collection Request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval: Recreation Use Data Reports, OMB Control Number: 1006-0002. As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burdens, Reclamation invites State, local, or tribal governments that manage recreation sites at Reclamation projects; concessionaires, and not-for-profit organizations who operate concessions on Reclamation lands; and the public, to comment on this information collection.

    DATES:

    OMB has up to 60 days to approve or disapprove this information collection request, but may respond after 30 days; therefore, public comments must be received on or before December 24, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send written comments to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, via facsimile to (202) 395-5806, or email to [email protected] A copy of your comments should also be directed to the Mr. Jerome Jackson, Bureau of Reclamation, 84-57000, P.O. Box 25007, Denver, CO 80225-0007; or via email to [email protected] Please reference OMB Control Number 1006-0002 in your comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Jerome Jackson at (303) 445-2712. You may also view the information collection request at www.reginfo.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    Reclamation collects agency-wide recreation and concession information to fulfill congressional reporting requirements pursuant to current public laws, including Public Law 89-72, as amended through 106-580, Federal Water Project Recreation Act of 1965; and Public Law 102-575, Title XXVIII, Reclamation Recreation Management Act of 1992. In addition, collected information will permit relevant program assessments of resources managed by Reclamation, its recreation managing partners, and/or concessionaires for the purpose of contributing to the implementation of Reclamation's mission. More specifically, the collected information enables Reclamation to (1) evaluate the effectiveness of program management based on existing recreation and concessionaire resources and facilities, and (2) validate the efficiency of resources for public use within partner managed recreation resources, located on Reclamation project lands in the 17 Western States. No changes are being made to this information collection.

    II. Data

    OMB Control Number: 1006-0002.

    Title: Recreation Use Data Reports.

    Form Numbers: 7-2534, Part I, Managing Partners and Direct Managed Recreation Areas; 7-2535, Part II, Concessionaires.

    Frequency: Annually.

    Respondents: State, local, or tribal governments; agencies who manage Reclamation's recreation resources and facilities; and commercial concessions, and nonprofit organizations located on Reclamation lands with associated recreation services.

    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 270.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Number of Annual Responses: 270.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 136 hours.

    Form No. Burden
  • estimate
  • per form
  • (in minutes)
  • Annual
  • number of
  • respondents
  • Annual
  • burden on
  • respondents
  • (in hours)
  • 7-2534 (Part I, Managing Partners and Direct Managed Recreation Areas) 30 155 78 7-2535 (Part II, Concessionaires) 30 115 58 Total Burden Hours 136
    III. Request for Comments

    A Federal Register notice with a 60-day public comment period soliciting comments on this collection of information was published on September 3, 2015 (80 FR 53326). No comments were received.

    We invite comments concerning this information collection on:

    (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of our functions, including whether the information will have practical use;

    (b) The accuracy of our burden estimate for the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (c) Ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Reclamation will display a valid OMB control number on the forms.

    IV. Public Disclosure

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: November 13, 2015. Roseann Gonzales, Director, Policy and Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29872 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4332-90-P-P
    INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION [Investigation No. 337-TA-930] Certain Laser Abraded Denim Garments; Commission Decision Terminating the Remaining Respondents From the Investigation; Setting the Date for the Commission To Determine Whether To Grant the Petition for Review of Order Nos. 43 and 83 AGENCY:

    U.S. International Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has determined not to review the presiding administrative law judge's (“ALJ”) initial determinations (“IDs”) (Order No. 105 and 106), which terminated the investigation as to the remaining three respondents in the investigation. The Commission has determined to set January 20, 2016 as the date by which to determine whether to grant the petition for review of Order Nos. 43 and 83 by intervenor Dentons US LLP.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sidney A. Rosenzweig, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 708-2532. Copies of non-confidential documents filed in connection with this investigation are or will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000. General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server at http://www.usitc.gov. The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's electronic docket (EDIS) at http://edis.usitc.gov. Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission TDD terminal on (202) 205-1810.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Commission instituted this investigation on September 23, 2014, based on a complaint filed by RevoLaze, LLC and TechnoLines, LLC, both of Westlake, Ohio. 79 Fed. Reg. 56828 (Sept. 23, 2014). The complaint alleged violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. 1337, by reason of the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain laser abraded denim garments. The complaint alleged the infringement of seventy-one claims of six United States patents. The notice of institution named twenty respondents. On January 23, 2015, the ALJ granted the complainants' motion to amend the complaint and notice of investigation to add nine respondents. Order No. 20 at 3-4 (Jan. 23, 2015), not reviewed, Notice at 2 (Feb. 20, 2015). As a result of numerous unreviewed initial determinations terminating various respondents, only three respondents remain in the investigation: H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB of Stockholm, Sweden; H&M Hennes & Mauritz LP of New York, New York (collectively, “H&M”); and Eroglu Giyin San Tic AS of Istanbul, Turkey (“Eroglu”).

    On October 1, 2015, the complainants moved to terminate H&M based upon a withdrawal of the complaint. See 19 CFR 210.21(a). The Commission investigative attorney (“IA”) supported the motion. On October 20, 2015, the ALJ granted the motion as an ID (Order No. 105). She found that the complainants complied with Commission Rule 210.21(a) and that good cause for withdrawal had been shown. Order No. 105 at 2.

    Also on October 1, 2015, the complainants moved to terminate Eroglu on the basis of a settlement. See 19 CFR 210.21(b). The IA supported the motion. The ALJ found that termination as to Eroglu was in the public interest, and granted the motion. Order No. 106 at 3; see 19 CFR 210.50(b)(2).

    One respondent was previously found to be in default. See Order No. 81 (Aug. 7, 2015), not reviewed, Notice (Sept. 1, 2015) (respondent Martelli Lavorazioni Tessili S.p.A. of Toscanella, Italy). On October 6, 2015, the complainants filed a contingent motion to terminate the investigation, explaining that they do not seek relief as to the defaulting respondent. The ALJ found the contingent motion to terminate to be moot in view of the issuance of Order Nos. 105 and 106 and in view of complainants' decision not to seek relief against the defaulting respondent. Order No. 106 at 3.

    No petitions for review of the foregoing terminations (including as to the defaulting party) were filed. The Commission has determined not to review the IDs. The Commission notes that in granting termination as to Eroglu in Order No. 106, the ALJ observed the “unconventional state of the Agreements” demonstrating the settlement between the complainants and Eroglu. Order No. 106 at 2. That characterization is accurate, but the Commission finds that in view of the unique circumstances of this investigation, the ALJ's determination to terminate the investigation as to Eroglu was appropriate.

    However, previously in the investigation, the then-presiding ALJ disqualified complainants' former counsel Dentons US LLP (“Dentons”) in a non-ID order. Order No. 43 (May 7, 2015). Subsequently, the ALJ granted (as an ID) Dentons' motion to intervene regarding its disqualification, Order No. 82 (Aug. 7, 2013), but denied (as an order) Dentons' motion for reconsideration of Order No. 43 as well as Dentons' request for leave to seek interlocutory review before the Commission, Order No. 83 (Aug. 7, 2015); see 19 CFR 210.24 (interlocutory review by the Commission). The Commission determined not to review Order No. 82. Notice (Aug. 26, 2015).

    In response to the issuance of Order No. 106, which terminated the investigation before the ALJ, on October 27, 2015, Dentons filed a petition for Commission review of Order Nos. 43 and 83. See 19 CFR 210.24 (rulings by the ALJ “on motions may not be appealed to the Commission prior to the administrative law judge's issuance of an initial determination”). On November 9, 2015, former respondent the Gap opposed Dentons' motion.

    Commission Rule 210.42 does not impose a deadline upon the Commission for ruling on Dentons' petition for review, which arises from previously unreviewable orders in the investigation. The target date for completion of the investigation is September 26, 2016. The Commission has determined that Order Nos. 43 and 83 shall become the determination of the Commission on January 20, 2016, unless the Commission shall have ordered review of those orders or certain issues therein or by order has changed that date.

    The authority for the Commission's determination is contained in section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and in Part 210 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR part 210).

    Issued: November 18, 2015.

    By order of the Commission.

    Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29846 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7020-02-P
    INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION [Investigation No. 337-TA-936] Certain Footwear Products; Notice of Request for Statements on the Public Interest AGENCY:

    U.S. International Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the presiding administrative law judge (“ALJ”) has issued a Final Initial Determination on Violation of Section 337 and Recommended Determination on Remedy and Bonding in the above-captioned investigation. The Commission is soliciting comments on public interest issues raised by the recommended relief should the Commission find a violation of section 337, as amended, 19 U.S.C. 1337. The ALJ recommended a general exclusion order directed to footwear products that infringe the asserted trademarks, and recommended cease and desist orders directed against those respondents found to infringe. This notice is soliciting public interest comments from the public only. Parties are to file public interest submissions pursuant to 19 CFR 210.50(a)(4).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Clint A. Gerdine, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 708-2310. Copies of non-confidential documents filed in connection with this investigation are or will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000. General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server at http://www.usitc.gov. The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's electronic docket (EDIS) at http://edis.usitc.gov. Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission's TDD terminal on (202) 205-1810.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 provides that if the Commission finds a violation it shall exclude the articles concerned from the United States:

    unless, after considering the effect of such exclusion upon the public health and welfare, competition conditions in the United States economy, the production of like or directly competitive articles in the United States consumers, it finds that such articles should not be excluded from entry. 19 U.S.C. 1337(d)(1). A similar provision applies to cease and desist orders. 19 U.S.C. 1337(f)(1).

    The Commission is interested in further development of the record on the public interest in its investigations. Accordingly, members of the public are invited to file submissions of no more than five (5) pages, inclusive of attachments, concerning the public interest in light of the administrative law judge's Recommended Determination on Remedy and Bonding issued in this investigation on November 17, 2015. Comments should address whether issuance of an exclusion order and/or cease and desist orders in this investigation could affect the public health and welfare in the United States, competitive conditions in the United States economy, the production of like or directly competitive articles in the United States, or United States consumers.

    In particular, the Commission is interested in comments that:

    (i) Explain how the articles potentially subject to the recommended orders are used in the United States;

    (ii) identify any public health, safety, or welfare concerns in the United States relating to the recommended orders;

    (iii) indicate the extent to which like or directly competitive articles are produced in the United States or are otherwise available in the United States, with respect to the articles potentially subject to the recommended orders;

    (iv) indicate whether Complainant, Complainant's licensees, and/or third party suppliers have the capacity to replace the volume of articles potentially subject to the recommended orders within a commercially reasonable time; and

    (v) explain how the recommended orders would impact consumers in the United States.

    Written submissions must be filed no later than by close of business on December 28, 2015.

    Persons filing written submissions must file the original document electronically on or before the deadlines stated above and submit 8 true paper copies to the Office of the Secretary by noon the next day pursuant to Commission rule 210.4(f), 19 CFR 210.4(f). Submissions should refer to the investigation number (“Inv. No. 337-TA-936”) in a prominent place on the cover page and/or the first page. (See Handbook for Electronic Filing Procedures, http://www.usitc.gov/secretary/fed_reg_notices/rules/handbook_on_electronic_filing.pdf). Persons with questions regarding filing should contact the Secretary (202-205-2000).

    Any person desiring to submit a document (or portion thereof) to the Commission in confidence must request confidential treatment unless the information has already been granted such treatment during the proceedings. All such requests should be directed to the Secretary of the Commission and must include a full statement of the reasons why the Commission should grant such treatment. See 19 CFR 201.6. Documents for which confidential treatment by the Commission is sought will be treated accordingly. A redacted non-confidential version of the document must also be filed simultaneously with any confidential filing. All non-confidential written submissions will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Secretary and on EDIS.

    This action is taken under authority of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. 1337, and Part 210 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR part 210).

    By order of the Commission.

    Issued: November 18, 2015. Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29805 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7020-02-P
    INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION [Investigation No. 337-TA-926] Certain Marine Sonar Imaging Systems, Products Containing the Same, and Components Thereof; Commission's Final Determination Finding a Violation of Section 337; Issuance of Limited Exclusion Order and Cease and Desist Orders; Termination of the Investigation AGENCY:

    U.S. International Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has found a violation of section 337 in this investigation and has (1) issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting importation of infringing marine sonar imaging systems, products containing the same, and components thereof and (2) issued cease and desist orders directed to the domestic respondents. The investigation is terminated.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Panyin A. Hughes, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone 202-205-3042. Copies of non-confidential documents filed in connection with this investigation are or will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone 202-205-2000. General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server (http://www.usitc.gov). The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's electronic docket (EDIS) at http://edis.usitc.gov. Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission's TDD terminal on 202-205-1810.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Commission instituted this investigation on August 21, 2014, based on a complaint filed by Johnson Outdoors lnc. of Racine, Wisconsin and Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. of Eufaula, Alabama (collectively, “Johnson Outdoors”). 79 FR 49536 (Aug. 21, 2014). The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain marine sonar imaging systems, products containing the same, and components thereof by reason of infringement of one or more of claims 1, 2, 17, 25, 26, 31, 32, 35, 36, 41-43, 53, and 56 of U.S. Patent No. 7,652,952 (“the '952 patent”); claims 1, 5, 7, 8, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, and 29 of U.S. Patent No. 7,710,825 (“the '825 patent”); and claims 14, 18, 21-23, 25, and 33 of U.S. Patent No. 7,755,974 (“the '974 patent”). Id. The notice of investigation named the following respondents: Garmin International, Inc.; Garmin North America, Inc.; Garmin USA, Inc. all of Olathe, Kansas; and Garmin Corporation of New Taipei City, Taiwan (collectively, “Garmin”). Id. The Office of Unfair Import Investigations is not a party to the investigation.

    On January 30, 2015, the parties entered into a stipulation that the domestic industry requirement was met. The parties also agreed to a stipulation regarding importation of Garmin accused products. That same day, Johnson Outdoors filed two unopposed motions for summary determination: (1) That Garmin's importation and sales satisfy the importation requirement and (2) that Johnson Outdoors satisfies the domestic industry requirement. On March 24, 2015, the ALJ granted Johnson Outdoors' summary determination motions in Order Nos. 14 and 15, respectively. The Commission determined not to review these orders. See Notice of Commission Determination Not to Review Two Initial Determinations Granting Unopposed Motions for Summary Determinations of Importation and the Existence of a Domestic Industry That Practices the Asserted Patents (April 22, 2015).

    On July 13, 2015, the ALJ issued his final ID, finding a violation of section 337 by Garmin in connection with claims 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 33 of the '974 patent. The ID found no violation of section 337 in connection with the asserted claims of the '952 and '825 patents; and claim 25 of the '974 patent. Specifically, the ID found that the Commission has subject matter jurisdiction, in rem jurisdiction over the accused products, and in personam jurisdiction over Garmin. ID at 21. The ID further found that the accused products infringe asserted claims 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 33 of the '974 patent but do not infringe the asserted claims of the '952 and '825 patents or claim 25 of the '974 patent. See ID at 55-57, 58-59, and 60-62. The ID also found that Garmin failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the asserted claims of the '952, '825, or '974 patents were anticipated or rendered obvious by the cited prior art references. See id. at 68-80, 89-100. Finally, the ID found that the '952, '825, and '974 patents are not unenforceable due to inequitable conduct and that the '952 patent is not invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(f) for derivation. ID at 80-83, 100-109.

    On July 27, 2015, Garmin filed a petition for review of the ID. That same day, Johnson Outdoors filed a contingent petition for review of the ID. On August 4, 2015, the parties filed responses to the petitions.

    On August 25, 2015, the Commission determined to review the final ID on all issues petitioned. 80 FR 55872-74 (Sept. 17, 2015). Specifically, the Commission asked the parties to discuss any impact on the ID's findings if it were to construe the claim term “mounted to a boat” to mean “proximately secured to the boat in a fixed manner.”

    On September 21, 2015, the parties filed written submissions on the issues under review, remedy, the public interest, and bonding. On September 28, 2015, the parties filed reply submissions.

    Having examined the record of this investigation, including the final ID, and the parties' submissions, the Commission has determined to modify the ID's construction of the claim term “mounted to a boat,” a claim term recited in each of the asserted claims of the '952, '974, and '825 patents (save for asserted claim 29 of the '825 patent), which the ID construed as “attached to a bottom surface of the boat.” Instead, the Commission adopts the construction proposed by complainants before the ALJ and construes the limitation to mean “proximately secured to the boat in a fixed manner.” The Commission finds that the record evidence supports the ID's findings on infringement and invalidity based on this construction. The Commission has determined to affirm the ID's finding of no violation of section 337 in connection with the asserted claims of the'952 patent, '825 patent, and claim 25 of the '974 patent. The Commission further finds a violation of Section 337 with respect to claims 14, 18, 21-23, and 33 of the '974 patent. The Commission adopts the ID's findings to the extent they are not inconsistent with the Commission opinion issued herewith.

    Having found a violation of section 337 in this investigation, the Commission has determined that the appropriate form of relief is: (1) A limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry of marine sonar imaging systems, products containing the same, and components thereof that infringe one or more of claims 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 33 of the '974 patent that are manufactured by, or on behalf of, or are imported by or on behalf of Garmin or any of its affiliated companies, parents, subsidiaries, agents, or other related business entities, or their successors or assigns; and (2) cease and desist orders prohibiting domestic respondents Garmin International, Inc.; Garmin North America, Inc.; and Garmin USA, Inc. from conducting any of the following activities in the United States: Importing, selling, marketing, advertising, distributing, transferring (except for exportation), and soliciting U.S. agents or distributors for, marine sonar imaging systems, products containing the same, and components thereof covered by claims 14, 18, 21, 22, 23 and 33 of the '974 patent. The proposed cease and desist orders include the following exemptions: (1) If in a written instrument, the owner of the patents authorizes or licenses such specific conduct, or such specific conduct is related to the importation or sale of covered products by or for the United States.

    The Commission has also determined that the public interest factors enumerated in section 337(d) and (f) (19 U.S.C. 1337(d) and (f)) do not preclude issuance of the limited exclusion order or cease and desist orders. Finally, the Commission has determined that a bond in the amount of zero is required to permit temporary importation during the period of Presidential review (19 U.S.C. 1337(j)) of marine sonar imaging systems, products containing the same, and components thereof that are subject to the remedial orders. The Commission's orders and opinion were delivered to the President and to the United States Trade Representative on the day of their issuance.

    The authority for the Commission's determination is contained in section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and in Part 210 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR part 210).

    Issued: November 18, 2015.

    By order of the Commission.

    Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29857 Filed 11-23-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7020-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Antitrust Division United States et al. v. Springleaf Holdings, Inc., et al.; Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement

    Notice is hereby given pursuant to the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, 15 U.S.C. 16(b)-(h), that a proposed Final Judgment, Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order, and Competitive Impact Statement have been filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in United States et. al. v. Springleaf Holdings, Inc., et. al., Civil Action No. 15-1992 (RMC). On November 13, 2015, the United States filed a Complaint alleging that the proposed acquisition by Springleaf Holdings, Inc. of OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18. The proposed Final Judgment, filed at the same time as the Complaint, requires Springleaf Holdings to divest 127 branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

    Copies of the Complaint, proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement are available for inspection on the Antitrust Division's Web site at http://www.justice.gov/atr, and at the Office of the Clerk of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Copies of these materials may be obtained from the Antitrust Division upon request and payment of the copying fee set by Department of Justice regulations.

    Public comment is invited within 60 days of the date of this notice. Such comments, including the name of the submitter, and responses thereto, will be posted on the Antitrust Division's Web site, filed with the Court and, under certain circumstances, published in the Federal Register. Comments should be directed to Maribeth Petrizzi, Chief, Litigation II Section, Antitrust Division, Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street NW., Suite 8700, Washington, DC 20530 (telephone: 202-307-0924).

    Patricia A. Brink, Director of Civil Enforcement. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division 450 Fifth Street NW., Suite 8700 Washington, DC 20530, STATE OF COLORADO Colorado Department of Law 1300 Broadway, 7th Floor Denver, CO 80203, STATE OF IDAHO Office of the Attorney General of Idaho 954 W. Jefferson Street, Second Floor P.O. Box 83720 Boise, ID 83720, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Strawberry Square, 14th Floor Harrisburg, PA 17120, STATE OF TEXAS Office of the Attorney General of Texas 300 West 15th Street, 7th Floor Austin, TX 78701, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA Office of the Attorney General of Virginia 900 East Main Street Richmond, VA 23219, STATE OF WASHINGTON Office of the Attorney General of Washington 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000 Seattle, WA 98104, and STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA Office of the Attorney General of West Virginia 269 Aikens Center Martinsburg, WV 25404 Plaintiffs, v. SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS, INC. 601 NW. Second Street Evansville, IN 47708, ONEMAIN FINANCIAL HOLDINGS, LLC 300 Saint Paul Place Baltimore, MD 21202, and CITIFINANCIAL CREDIT COMPANY c/o CITIGROUP INC. 399 Park Avenue New York, NY 10022 Defendants. CASE NO.: 1:15-cv-01992 JUDGE: Rosemary M. Collyer FILED: 11/13/2015 Complaint

    The United States of America (“United States”), acting under the direction of the Attorney General of the United States, and the States of Colorado, Idaho, Texas, Washington and West Virginia and the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia (collectively, “Plaintiff States”), acting by and through their respective Offices of the Attorney General, bring this civil action to enjoin the proposed acquisition of OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC (“OneMain”) by Springleaf Holdings, Inc. (“Springleaf”) and to obtain other equitable relief.

    I. Nature of the Action

    1. OneMain and Springleaf are the two largest lenders that offer personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States, and the only two with a nationwide branch network. Personal installment loans to subprime borrowers are fixed-rate, fixed-term and fully amortized loan products that appeal to borrowers who have limited access to credit from traditional banking institutions. OneMain and Springleaf specialize in the same products (large installment loans typically ranging from $3,000 to $6,000), target the same customer base, and often operate branches within close proximity to one another.

    2. In local markets across Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia, Springleaf and OneMain face limited competition for the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers and serve as each other's closest—and often only—competitor. Elimination of the competition between Springleaf and OneMain would leave subprime borrowers seeking personal installment loans with few choices. This reduction in consumer choice may drive many financially struggling borrowers to much more expensive forms of credit or, worse, leave them with no reasonable alternative. As a result, Springleaf's proposed acquisition of OneMain likely would substantially lessen competition in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in numerous local markets, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18.

    II. The Defendants and the Transaction

    3. Defendant Springleaf is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Evansville, Indiana. Springleaf is the second-largest provider of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States, with approximately 830 branches in 27 states. Springleaf has a consumer loan portfolio that totals $4.0 billion.

    4. Defendant OneMain, a Delaware limited liability company headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is the largest provider of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States, with 1,139 branch locations in 43 states. OneMain has a consumer loan portfolio that totals $8.4 billion. OneMain is a subsidiary of Defendant CitiFinancial Credit Company (“CitiFinancial”), a Delaware corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas. CitiFinancial is a holding company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citigroup, Inc.

    5. Pursuant to a Purchase Agreement dated March 2, 2015, Springleaf agreed to purchase OneMain from CitiFinancial for $4.25 billion.

    III. Jurisdiction and Venue

    6. The United States brings this action pursuant to Section 15 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 25, as amended, to prevent and restrain Defendants from violating Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18.

    7. The Plaintiff States bring this action under Section 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 26, to prevent and restrain Springleaf and OneMain from violating Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18. The Plaintiff States, by and through their respective Offices of the Attorney General, bring this action as parens patriae on behalf of the citizens, general welfare, and economy of each of their states.

    8. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to Section 15 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 25, and 28 U.S.C. 1331, 1337(a), and 1345. Defendants offer personal installment loans to customers in the United States in a regular, continuous, and substantial flow of interstate commerce. Defendants' activities in the provision of personal installment loans have had a substantial effect upon interstate commerce.

    9. Defendants have consented to venue and personal jurisdiction in this District. Therefore, venue in this District is proper under Section 12 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 22, and 28 U.S.C. 1391(b) and (c).

    IV. Trade and Commerce A. Personal Installment Loans to Subprime Borrowers

    10. The average size of a personal installment loan typically falls in the range of $3,000 to $6,000. Personal installment loans to subprime borrowers are closed-end, fixed-rate, fixed-term, and fully amortized loan products. In a fully amortized loan, both principal and interest are paid fully through scheduled installments by the end of the loan term, which typically is between 18 and 60 months in duration. Each monthly payment is the same amount and the schedule of payments is clear. If the borrower makes each scheduled payment, at the end of the loan term, the loan is repaid in full.

    11. Personal installment lenders target a unique segment of borrowers who may not be able to obtain cheaper sources of credit from other financial institutions but have enough cash flow to afford the monthly payments of personal installment loans. Borrowers of personal installment loans are considered “subprime” because of blemishes in their credit histories, such as serious delinquencies or defaults. These borrowers likely have been denied credit by a bank in the past and turn to personal installment lenders for the speed, ease, and likelihood of success in obtaining credit. Their borrowing needs vary, for example, from paying for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills, to consolidating debts. A typical subprime borrower's annual income is in the range of $35,000 to $45,000.

    12. The blemished credit histories of subprime borrowers suggest a higher propensity for default on future loans relative to so-called “prime” borrowers. Personal installment lenders mitigate this credit risk by closely analyzing a borrower's characteristics and ability to repay the loan. The lender examines several categories of information about the borrower, including, among other criteria, credit history, income and outstanding debts, stability of employment, and availability or value of collateral. Lenders typically require borrowers to meet face-to-face at a branch location to close the loan, even if the application begins online. This face-to-face meeting allows the lender to efficiently collect information used in underwriting and verify key documents (reducing the risk of fraud). Subprime borrowers seeking installment loans also value having a branch office close to where they live or work; a nearby branch reduces the borrower's travel cost to close the loan and allows convenient and timely access to loan proceeds. If approved, borrowers immediately obtain the funds at the branch.

    13. Local branch presence also helps lenders and borrowers establish close customer relationships during the life of the loan. Local branch employees monitor delinquent payments of existing customers and assist borrowers in meeting their payment obligations to minimize loan loss. Borrowers also benefit from knowing the local branch employees. Borrowers may visit a branch to make payments, refinance their loans, or speak with a branch employee at times of financial difficulties. Lenders place branches where their target borrowers live or work so that it is convenient for their borrowers to come into a branch.

    14. The interest rate on a personal installment loan is the largest component of the total cost of a loan. Other costs, such as origination fees, maintenance fees, and closing fees, increase the effective interest rate that a borrower will pay. The Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) combines the two components, interest rates and fees, to indicate the annual charges associated with the loan. Although the maximum interest rates and fees charged on personal installment loans vary by state, Springleaf and OneMain have a self-imposed interest rate cap of 36 percent on their respective loans.

    15. While borrowers consider APR in selecting a loan, subprime borrowers typically focus most on the monthly payment and on the ease and speed of obtaining approval. Subprime borrowers' main concerns are whether the payment will fit into their monthly budget and whether they can obtain the money quickly to meet their needs. For these reasons, negotiations between borrowers and lenders tend to focus more on the amount of the loan, the repayment terms, and collateral requirements than on the rates and fees. When a subprime borrower needs or wants a lower monthly payment, personal installment lenders generally lower the amount of the loan or lengthen the term of the loan.

    16. Every state requires personal installment lenders to obtain licenses to offer loans to subprime borrowers. Many states also have regulations governing the interest rates and fees on loans charged by consumer finance companies licensed to operate in the state. Some states impose a maximum rate and fee for all personal installment loans, while others have a tiered-rate system that establishes different interest rates and fees for different loan amounts. State regulations significantly affect the number of personal installment lenders offering loans to subprime lenders in the state.

    B. Relevant Product Market

    17. Subprime borrowers turn to personal installment loans when they need cash but have limited access to credit from banks, credit card companies, and other lenders. The products offered by these lenders are not meaningful substitutes for personal installment loans for a substantial number of subprime borrowers.

    18. Banks and credit unions offer personal installment loans at rates and terms much better than those offered by personal installment lenders, but subprime borrowers typically do not meet the underwriting criteria of those institutions and are unlikely to be approved. Further, the loan application and underwriting process at banks and credit unions typically take much longer than that of personal installment lenders, who can provide subprime borrowers with funds on a far quicker timetable. For these and other reasons, subprime borrowers would not turn to banks and credit unions as an alternative in the event personal installment lenders were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loan terms less appealing by a small but significant amount.

    19. Payday and title lenders provide short-term cash, but charge much higher rates and fees, usually lend in amounts well below $1,000, and require far quicker repayment than personal installment lenders. Specifically, rates and fees for these types of short-term cash advances can exceed 250 percent APR with repayment generally due in less than 30 days. Given these key differences, subprime borrowers likely would not turn to payday and title loans as an alternative in the event personal installment lenders were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loan terms less appealing by a small but significant amount.

    20. Most subprime borrowers also cannot turn to credit cards as an alternative to personal installment loans. Subprime borrowers frequently have difficulty obtaining credit cards, and those who have credit cards have often reached their maximum available credit limits (which are much lower than those given to prime borrowers), or have limited access to additional credit extensions. Although subprime borrowers may use credit cards for everyday purchases, such as groceries or dining out, they typically have insufficient remaining credit to pay for larger expenses such as major car repairs or significant medical bills. Subprime borrowers therefore could not generally turn to credit cards as an alternative in the event lenders offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loan terms less appealing by a small but significant amount.

    21. Finally, although online lenders have been successful in making loans to prime borrowers, they face challenges in meeting the needs of and mitigating the credit risk posed by subprime borrowers. Without a local branch presence, online lenders do not maintain close customer relationships, nor can they conduct face-to-face meetings to verify key documents, measures which reduce the risk of fraud and borrower default. Online lenders tend to focus on borrowers with better credit profiles or higher incomes than the borrowers typically served by personal installment lenders with branches in local markets. Furthermore, online lenders are unable to process an application and distribute loan proceeds as quickly as local personal installment lenders. For these reasons, subprime borrowers generally would not turn to loans offered by online lenders in the event lenders offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loan terms less appealing by a small but significant amount.

    22. Accordingly, the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers is a line of commerce and a relevant product market within the meaning of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

    C. Relevant Geographic Market

    23. Subprime borrowers seeking personal installment loans value convenience, which includes quick access to the borrowed funds and minimal travel time. Consequently, subprime borrowers considering a personal installment lender look for a branch near where they live or where they work. While the distance a borrower is willing to travel may vary by geography, the vast majority of subprime borrowers travel less than twenty miles to a branch for a personal installment loan.

    24. Personal installment lenders have established local trade areas for their branches. Lenders usually rely on direct mail solicitations as the primary means of marketing and solicit customers who live within close proximity to their branches. Lenders who place branches in the same areas compete to serve the same target borrower base. Borrowers view lenders with branches in close proximity to each other as close substitutes.

    25. For these reasons, the overlapping trade areas of competing personal installment lenders form geographic markets where the lenders located within the trade areas compete for subprime borrowers who live or work near the branches. The size and shape of the overlapping trade areas of these branches may vary as the distance borrowers are willing to travel depends on factors specific to each local area. Even so, typically more than three-quarters of the personal installment loans to subprime borrowers made by a given branch are made to borrowers residing within twenty miles of the branch. Personal installment lenders with branches located outside these trade areas usually are not convenient alternatives for borrowers.

    26. Springleaf and OneMain have a high degree of geographic overlap between their branch networks. In local areas within and around 126 towns and municipalities in eleven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—Springleaf and OneMain have branches located within close proximity of one another, often within five miles. In these overlapping trade areas of Springleaf's and OneMain's branches, few other lenders have branches offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers. In many of these overlapping trade areas, Springleaf and OneMain are the only two personal installment lenders.

    27. In local areas within and around 126 towns and municipalities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia, subprime borrowers of personal installment loans would not seek such loans outside the local areas in the event lenders offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loans less appealing by a small but significant amount. Accordingly, the overlapping trade areas located in the 126 towns and municipalities identified in the Appendix hereto constitute relevant geographic markets within the meaning of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

    D. Anticompetitive Effects

    28. Springleaf and OneMain are the two largest providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States. Both companies have a long history in the business of providing personal installment loans to subprime borrowers, have built an extensive branch network, and have established close ties to the local communities. Leveraging their years of experience and large customer base, both companies have developed sophisticated risk analytics that allow them to minimize expected credit losses when extending loans to borrowers with blemished credit histories.

    29. Compared to Springleaf and OneMain, other lenders that offer personal installment loans to subprime borrowers have much smaller branch footprints and are present in a more limited number of states and local markets. These personal installment lenders may operate in states with regulations that permit higher interest rates and fees, rather than in those with low interest rate caps. State regulations, lack of scale, and other economic factors have limited the competitive presence of these lenders in many states and local areas.

    30. In local markets within and around the 126 towns and municipalities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia identified in the Appendix, the market for the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers is highly concentrated. In the local areas within these states, Springleaf and OneMain are the largest providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers, and face little, if any, competition from other personal installment lenders. Even if other providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers have a branch presence in these states, these lenders compete in a limited number of local markets or in communities located far from a Springleaf or OneMain branch. As a result, these local markets are highly concentrated.

    31. In local markets within and around the 126 towns and municipalities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia identified in the Appendix, the proposed acquisition would substantially increase concentration in the market for personal installment loans to subprime borrowers. Without the benefit of head-to-head competition between Springleaf and OneMain, subprime borrowers are likely to face higher interest rates or fees, greater limits on the amount they can borrow and restraints on their ability to obtain loans, and more onerous loan terms. The proposed acquisition therefore likely will substantially lessen competition in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers.

    E. Entry

    32. Entry of additional competitors into the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in local markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia is unlikely to be timely or sufficient to defeat the likely anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition. In some states, the state regulatory rate caps create unattractive markets for entry. In others, lenders face entry barriers in terms of cost and time to establish a local branch presence. Personal installment lenders need experienced branch employees with knowledge of the local market to build a base of customer relationships. A new lender in a local market faces more risks as it does not have knowledge of local market conditions. A lender also must obtain funding and devote resources to building a successful local presence.

    33. As a result of these barriers, entry into the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the local markets identified above would not be timely, likely, or sufficient to defeat the substantial lessening of competition that likely would result from Springleaf's acquisition of OneMain.

    V. Violation Alleged

    34. The acquisition of OneMain by Springleaf likely would substantially lessen competition in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the relevant geographic markets identified the Appendix, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18.

    35. Unless enjoined, the proposed acquisition likely would have the following anticompetitive effects, among others:

    a. actual and potential competition between Springleaf and OneMain in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in local markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia would be eliminated;

    b. competition generally in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in local markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia would be substantially lessened; and

    c. prices and other terms for personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in local markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia would become less favorable to consumers and access to such loans by subprime borrowers would decrease.

    VI. Requested Relief

    36. Plaintiffs request that the Court:

    a. adjudge and decree that Springleaf's proposed acquisition of OneMain is unlawful and in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18;

    b. preliminarily and permanently enjoin and restrain Defendants and all persons acting on their behalf from entering into any other agreement, understanding, or plan by which Springleaf would acquire OneMain;

    c. award Plaintiffs their costs for this action; and

    d. grant Plaintiffs such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

    DATED: November 13, 2015

    Respectfully submitted,

    FOR PLAINTIFF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: ___/s/___ WILLIAM J. BAER (D.C. Bar #324723) Assistant Attorney General. ___/s/___ RENATA B. HESSE (D.C. Bar #466107) Deputy Assistant Attorney General. ___/s/___ PATRICIA A. BRINK Director of Civil Enforcement. ___/s/___ MARIBETH PETRIZZI (D.C. Bar #435204) Chief, Litigation II Section. ___/s/___ DOROTHY FOUNTAIN (D.C. Bar #439469) Assistant Chief, Litigation II Section. ___/s/___ ANGELA TING (D.C. Bar #449576). STEPHANIE FLEMING. LESLIE PERTIZ. JAY D. OWEN. TARA SHINNICK (D.C. Bar #501462). REBECCA VALENTINE (D.C. Bar #989607). United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Litigation II Section, 450 Fifth Street NW., Suite 8700, Washington, DC 20530, (202) 616-7721, (202) 514-9033 (Facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF COLORADO: CYNTHIA H. COFFMAN Attorney General of Colorado. ___/s/___ DEVIN LAIHO Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Section, Colorado Department of Law, Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, 1300 Broadway, 7th Floor, Denver, CO 80203, (720) 508-6219, (720) 508-6040 (Facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF IDAHO: LAWRENCE G. WASDEN Attorney General of Idaho. ___/s/___ BRETT T. DELANGE Idaho State Bar No. 3628, Deputy Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of Idaho, 954 W. Jefferson Street, Second Floor, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720, (208) 334-4114, (208) 334-4151 (facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA: Tracy W. Wertz Chief Deputy Attorney General, Antitrust Section. ___/s/___ Joseph S. Betsko State Bar No. 82620, Senior Deputy Attorney General, Antitrust Section, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Strawberry Square, 14th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17120, (717) 787-4530, (717) 787-1190 (facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF TEXAS: KEN PAXTON Attorney General of Texas. CHARLES E. ROY First Assistant Attorney General. JAMES E. DAVIS Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation. JOHN T. PRUD'HOMME Chief, Consumer Protection Division. KIM VAN WINKLE Chief, Antitrust Section. ___/s/___ MARK A. LEVY Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Antirust Section, Office of the Attorney General of Texas, 300 W. 15th Street, 7th Floor, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 936-1847, (512) 320-0975 (Facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA: MARK R. HERRING Attorney General of Virginia. CYNTHIA E. HUDSON Chief Deputy Attorney General. RHODES B. RITENOUR Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation. ___/s/___ DAVID B. IRVIN Virginia State Bar No. 23927, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief, MARK S. KUBIAK, Virginia State Bar No. 73119, Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Section, Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, 900 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, Phone: (804) 786-4047, Facsimile: (804) 786-0122, [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF WASHINGTON: ROBERT W. FERGUSON Attorney General of Washington. DARWIN P. ROBERTS Deputy Attorney General. JONATHAN A. MARK Chief, Antitrust Division. ___/s/___ STEPHEN T. FAIRCHILD State Bar No. 41214, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, Office of the Attorney General of Washington, 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 389-2848, (206) 464-6338 (Facsimile), [email protected]. FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA: PATRICK MORRISEY Attorney General of West Virginia. ANN L. HAIGHT Deputy Attorney General, Director, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division. ___/s/___ TANYA L. GODFREY West Virginia State Bar No. 7448, District of Columbia Bar No. 1016435, Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of West Virginia, 269 Aikens Center, Martinsburg, WV 25404, (304) 267-0239, (304) 267-0248 (Facsimile), [email protected].
    APPENDIX City State PHOENIX AZ TEMPE AZ TUCSON AZ ANAHEIM CA ANTIOCH CA BAKERSFIELD CA CHICO CA CHULA VISTA CA SACRAMENTO CA ESCONDIDO CA FREMONT CA FRESNO CA HANFORD CA LEMON GROVE CA LONG BEACH CA MADERA CA MERCED CA MODESTO CA OXNARD CA PALMDALE CA PARAMOUNT CA PASADENA CA POMONA CA RANCHO CUCAMONGA CA REDDING CA RIALTO CA SAN FERNANDO CA SANTA ANA CA SANTA MARIA CA SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO CA STOCKTON CA TORRANCE CA COLORADO SPRINGS CO FORT COLLINS CO PUEBLO CO AURORA CO THORNTON CO LITTLETON CO TWIN FALLS ID COEUR D'ALENE ID POCATELLO ID BOISE ID FOREST CITY NC HENDERSON NC MOREHEAD CITY NC MOUNT AIRY NC KINSTON NC WILKESBORO NC SHELBY NC WILSON NC CHARLOTTE NC DURHAM NC CLINTON NC KERNERSVILLE NC WILLIAMSTON NC REIDSVILLE NC ALBEMARLE NC MORGANTON NC MARION NC ASHTABULA OH ATHENS OH CAMBRIDGE OH GARFIELD HEIGHTS OH REYNOLDSBURG OH FAIRBORN OH DOVER OH GALLIPOLIS OH LIMA OH ONTARIO OH SANDUSKY OH TOLEDO OH CHILLICOTHE OH ELYRIA OH FAIRLAWN OH LANCASTER OH MARION OH WOOSTER OH CHELTENHAM PA LANCASTER PA JOHNSTOWN PA MONACA PA E NORRITON TWP PA SHAMOKIN DAM PA STATE COLLEGE PA TANNERSVILLE PA UPPER DARBY PA WASHINGTON PA BURLESON TX AMARILLO TX BEAUMONT TX BRYAN TX DEL RIO TX DENTON TX LAKE JACKSON TX LUFKIN TX ODESSA TX SAN ANGELO TX CHRISTIANSBURG VA ALTAVISTA VA COLLINSVILLE VA DANVILLE VA FARMVILLE VA FRONT ROYAL VA GALAX VA LEESBURG VA PETERSBURG VA RICHMOND VA SOUTH HILL VA STAUNTON VA SUFFOLK VA TAPPAHANNOCK VA WOODBRIDGE VA BREMERTON WA EVERETT WA KENNEWICK WA MOUNT VERNON WA OLYMPIA WA RENTON WA SPOKANE WA UNION GAP WA LOGAN WV PRINCETON WV LEWISBURG WV BARBOURSVILLE WV OAK HILL WV SOUTH CHARLESTON WV UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, STATE OF COLORADO, STATE OF IDAHO, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE OF TEXAS, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, STATE OF WASHINGTON, and STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, Plaintiffs, v. SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS, INC., ONEMAIN FINANCIAL HOLDINGS, LLC, and CITIFINANCIAL CREDIT COMPANY, Defendants. CASE NO.: 1:15-cv-01992 JUDGE: Rosemary M. Collyer FILED: 11/13/2015 Competitive Impact Statement

    Plaintiff United States of America (“United States”), pursuant to Section 2(b) of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act (“APPA” or “Tunney Act”), 15 U.S.C. 16(b)-(h), files this Competitive Impact Statement relating to the proposed Final Judgment submitted for entry in this civil antitrust proceeding.

    I. Nature and Purpose of the Proceeding

    Pursuant to a Stock Purchase Agreement dated March 2, 2015, Springleaf Holdings, Inc. proposes to acquire OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC from CitiFinancial Credit Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Citigroup, Inc., for approximately $4.25 billion. The proposed merger would combine the two largest providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States.

    The United States filed a civil antitrust Complaint on November 13, 2015, seeking to enjoin the proposed acquisition. The Complaint alleges that the acquisition likely would substantially lessen competition for personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in numerous local markets across eleven states, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18. That loss of competition likely would result in a reduction of consumer choice that may drive financially struggling borrowers to much more expensive forms of credit or, worse, leave them with no reasonable alternative.

    At the same time the Complaint was filed, the United States filed an Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order and a proposed Final Judgment designed to eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the acquisition. Under the proposed Final Judgment, which is explained more fully below, Springleaf is required to divest 127 branches in eleven states to Lendmark Financial Services, or to one or more other Acquirers acceptable to the United States. Under the terms of the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order, Springleaf will take certain steps to ensure that the divestiture branches are operated as competitively independent, economically viable, and ongoing business concerns; that they remain independent and uninfluenced by the consummation of the acquisition; and that competition is maintained during the pendency of the ordered divestiture.

    The United States and Defendants have stipulated that the proposed Final Judgment may be entered after compliance with the APPA. Entry of the proposed Final Judgment would terminate this action, except that the Court would retain jurisdiction to construe, modify, or enforce the provisions of the proposed Final Judgment and to punish violations thereof.

    II. Description of the Events Giving Rise to the Alleged Violation A. The Defendants and the Proposed Transaction

    Defendant Springleaf Holdings, Inc. (“Springleaf”) is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters in Evansville, Indiana. Springleaf is the second-largest provider of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States. Springleaf operates approximately 830 branches in 27 states and has a consumer loan portfolio of about $4.0 billion.

    Defendant OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC (“OneMain”) is a Delaware limited liability company, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. OneMain is the largest provider of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States. OneMain operates 1,139 branches in 43 states and has a consumer loan portfolio that totals $8.4 billion. OneMain is a subsidiary of CitiFinancial Credit Company, a holding company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citigroup, Inc.

    B. Background on Personal Installment Loans to Subprime Borrowers

    Personal installment loans to subprime borrowers are closed-end, fixed-rate, fixed-term, and fully amortized loan products that typically range from $3,000 to $6,000. Both the principal and interest are paid fully through scheduled installments by the end of the loan term, which typically is between 18 and 60 months in duration. Each monthly payment is the same amount and the schedule of payments is clear.

    Personal installment lenders target a unique segment of borrowers who may not be able to obtain cheaper sources of credit from other financial institutions but have enough cash flow to afford the monthly payments of personal installment loans. Borrowers of personal installment loans are considered “subprime” because of blemishes in their credit histories, such as serious delinquencies or defaults. These borrowers likely have been denied credit by a bank in the past and turn to personal installment lenders for the speed, ease, and likelihood of success in obtaining credit. Their borrowing needs vary, for example, from paying for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills, to consolidating debts. A typical subprime borrower's annual income is in the range of $35,000 to $45,000.

    The blemished credit histories of subprime borrowers suggest a higher propensity for default on future loans relative to so-called “prime” borrowers. Personal installment lenders mitigate this credit risk by closely analyzing a borrower's characteristics and ability to repay the loan, including the borrower's credit history, income and outstanding debts, stability of employment, and availability or value of collateral. Lenders typically require borrowers to meet face-to-face at a branch location to close the loan, even if the application begins online. This face-to-face meeting allows the lender to efficiently collect information used in underwriting and verify key documents (reducing the risk of fraud). Subprime borrowers seeking installment loans also value having a branch office close to where they live or work; a nearby branch reduces the borrower's travel cost to close the loan and allows convenient and timely access to loan proceeds. If approved, borrowers immediately obtain the funds at the branch.

    Local branch presence also helps lenders and borrowers establish close customer relationships during the life of the loan. Local branch employees monitor delinquent payments of existing customers and assist borrowers in meeting their payment obligations to minimize loan loss. Borrowers also benefit from knowing the local branch employees. Borrowers may visit a branch to make payments, refinance their loans, or speak with a branch employee at times of financial difficulties. Lenders place branches where their target borrowers live or work so that it is convenient for their borrowers to come in to a branch.

    The interest rate on a personal installment loan is the largest component of the total cost of a loan, but other fees increase the effective interest rate that a borrower will pay. The Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) combines the interest rates and fees to indicate the annual charges associated with the loan. Although the maximum interest rates and fees charged on personal installment loans vary by state, Springleaf and OneMain have a self-imposed interest rate cap of 36 percent on their respective loans.

    While subprime borrowers consider APR in selecting a loan, they typically focus most on the monthly payment and on the ease and speed of obtaining approval. For these reasons, negotiations between borrowers and lenders tend to focus more on the amount of the loan, the repayment terms, and collateral requirements than on the rates and fees.

    Every state requires personal installment lenders to obtain licenses to offer loans to subprime borrowers. Many states also have regulations governing the interest rates and fees on personal installment loans, with some states imposing maximum rates and fees and others utilizing a tiered-rate system that establishes different interest rates and fees for different loan amounts. The nature of state regulations significantly affects the number of personal installment lenders operating in a state.

    C. Relevant Product Market

    Subprime borrowers turn to personal installment loans when they need cash but have limited access to credit from banks, credit card companies, and other lenders. As explained in the Complaint, the products offered by these lenders are not meaningful substitutes for personal installment loans for a substantial number of subprime borrowers.

    For example, banks and credit unions offer personal installment loans at rates and terms much better than those offered by personal installment lenders, but subprime borrowers typically do not meet the underwriting criteria of those institutions and are unlikely to be approved. Further, the loan application and underwriting process at banks and credit unions typically take much longer than that of personal installment lenders.

    Payday and title lenders provide short-term cash, but charge much higher rates and fees, usually lend in amounts well below $1,000, and require far quicker repayment than personal installment lenders. Rates and fees for these types of short-term cash advances can exceed 250 percent APR with repayment generally due in less than 30 days.

    Credit cards are also not a viable alternative for most subprime borrowers. Subprime borrowers may have difficulty obtaining credit cards, and those who have credit cards have often reached their credit limits and have limited access to additional credit extensions. Although subprime borrowers may use credit cards for everyday purchases, they typically have insufficient remaining credit to pay for larger expenses such as major car repairs or significant medical bills.

    Finally, although online lenders have been successful in making loans to prime borrowers, they face challenges in meeting the needs of and mitigating the credit risk posed by subprime borrowers. Without a local branch presence, online lenders do not maintain close customer relationships, nor can they conduct face-to-face meetings to verify key documents, measures which reduce the risk of fraud and borrower default. Online lenders are also unable to process applications and distribute loan proceeds as quickly as local personal installment lenders.

    For all of these reasons, as explained in the Complaint, subprime borrowers generally would not turn to banks and credit unions, payday and title lenders, credit cards, or online lenders in the event lenders offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loan terms less appealing by a small but significant amount. Accordingly, the Complaint alleges that the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers is a line of commerce and a relevant product market within the meaning of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

    D. Relevant Geographic Market

    As explained in the Complaint, subprime borrowers seeking personal installment loans value convenience, including quick access to borrowed funds and minimal travel time, and look for a branch near where they live or work. While the distance a borrower is willing to travel may vary by geography, the vast majority of subprime borrowers travel less than twenty miles to a branch for a personal installment loan.

    Personal installment lenders have established local trade areas for their branches. Lenders usually rely on direct mail solicitations as the primary means of marketing and solicit customers who live within close proximity to their branches. Lenders who place branches in the same areas compete to serve the same target borrower base. Borrowers view lenders with branches in close proximity to each other as close substitutes.

    For these reasons, the overlapping trade areas of competing personal installment lenders form geographic markets where the lenders located within the trade areas compete for subprime borrowers who live or work near the branches. The size and shape of the overlapping trade areas of these branches may vary as the distance borrowers are willing to travel depends on factors specific to each local area. Even so, typically more than three-quarters of the personal installment loans to subprime borrowers made by a given branch are made to borrowers residing within twenty miles of the branch. Personal installment lenders with branches located outside these trade areas usually are not convenient alternatives for borrowers.

    Springleaf and OneMain have a high degree of geographic overlap between their branch networks. In local areas within and around 126 towns and municipalities in eleven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—Springleaf and OneMain have branches located within close proximity of one another, often within five miles. In these overlapping trade areas of Springleaf's and OneMain's branches, few, if any, other lenders have branches offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers.

    According to the Complaint, in local areas within and around the 126 towns and municipalities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia, subprime borrowers of personal installment loans would not seek such loans outside the local areas in the event lenders offering personal installment loans to subprime borrowers were to increase the interest rate or otherwise make their loans less appealing by a small but significant amount. Accordingly, the overlapping trade areas located in the 126 towns and municipalities identified in the Appendix attached to the Complaint constitute relevant geographic markets within the meaning of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

    E. Anticompetitive Effects

    As alleged in the Complaint, Springleaf and OneMain are the two largest providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States. Both companies have a long history in the business, an extensive branch network, and close ties to the local communities in which they operate. Both companies have used their years of experience and large customer base to develop sophisticated risk analytics that allow them to minimize expected credit losses. Other lenders that offer personal installment loans to subprime borrowers have much smaller branch footprints and are present in fewer states and local markets than Springleaf and OneMain.

    In local markets within and around the 126 towns and municipalities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia identified in the Appendix to the Complaint, the market for the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers is highly concentrated. In these local markets, Springleaf and OneMain are the largest providers of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers, and face little, if any, competition from other personal installment lenders. The Complaint alleges that the proposed acquisition would substantially increase concentration in these local markets and likely would result in subprime borrowers facing higher interest rates or fees, greater limits on the amount they can borrow and restraints on their ability to obtain loans, and more onerous loan terms. The proposed acquisition therefore likely will substantially lessen competition in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers.

    F. Difficulty of Entry

    According to the Complaint, entry of additional competitors into the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the 126 local markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia identified in the Complaint is unlikely to be timely or sufficient to defeat the likely anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition. In some states, the state regulatory rate caps create unattractive markets for entry. In others, lenders face entry barriers in terms of cost and time to establish a local branch presence. Personal installment lenders need experienced branch employees with knowledge of the local market to build a base of customer relationships. A new lender in a local market faces more risks as it does not have knowledge of local market conditions. A lender also must obtain funding and devote resources to building a successful local presence. As a result of these barriers, entry is unlikely to remedy the anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition.

    III. Explanation of the Proposed Final Judgment

    The divestiture required by the proposed Final Judgment will eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the acquisition by establishing an independent and economically viable competitor in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in each of the local markets of concern.

    Specifically, Paragraphs IV(A) and IV(B) of the proposed Final Judgment requires Defendants to divest 127 Springleaf branches, which are identified in the Attachment to the proposed Final Judgment, to Lendmark Financial Services or to one or more alternative Acquirers acceptable to the United States. The branches to be divested are located in the local markets within and around the 126 towns and municipalities identified in the Appendix to the Complaint. The divestiture will establish Lendmark or an alternative Acquirer as a new, independent and economically viable competitor in some states and will allow Lendmark or an alternative Acquirer to compete in new local areas and to enhance its competitive presence in others.

    The divestiture of the 127 Springleaf branches includes all active loans originated or serviced at those branches, including all historical performance information (including account-level payment histories) and all customers' credit scores and other credit metrics with respect to loans that are active, closed, paid-off, or defaulted that have been originated or serviced at the Divestiture Branches at any point since January 1, 2010. The historical performance information will allow a lender to gain an understanding of local market conditions and to perform risk analytics essential to making personal installment loans to subprime borrowers. In the event that Lendmark is not the Acquirer, Paragraph II(G)(3) provides that Springleaf will further divest, at the Acquirer's option, assets related to back office and technical support that would provide the Acquirer with additional capability and know-how.

    Paragraph IV(A) of the proposed Final Judgment requires Springleaf to divest the Divestiture Assets within 120 calendar days after the filing of the Complaint or within five (5) calendar days after satisfaction of all state licensing requirements, whichever is sooner. The United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, may agree to one or more extensions of the time period, not to exceed sixty (60) calendar days in total. In addition, in the event that Lendmark has initiated the state licensing process in a particular state but has not satisfied the state's licensing requirements before the end of the period specified in Paragraph IV(A), the period to divest the Divestiture Assets of that particular state shall be extended to five (5) calendar days after satisfaction of the state licensing requirements. Paragraph IV(A) also requires Springleaf to use its best efforts to divest the Divestiture Assets as expeditiously as possible.

    In the event that Lendmark is unable to acquire the Divestiture Assets in one or more states, Paragraphs IV(B) provides that Springleaf shall divest the remaining Divestiture Assets to an alternative Acquirer(s) acceptable to the United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the relevant Plaintiff States. Springleaf shall divest the remaining Divestiture Assets within thirty (30) days after the United States receives notice that Lendmark is not the Acquirer of such Divestiture Assets, or within five (5) days of satisfaction of all state licensing requirements, whichever is sooner. The United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the relevant Plaintiff States, may agree to one or more extensions of the time period, not to exceed sixty (60) calendar days in total. Pursuant to Paragraph V(I), Springleaf must divest to a single Acquirer all of the Divestiture Branches located in a particular state.

    Paragraph IV(G) prohibits Defendants from entering into non-compete agreements with any employee at any of Defendants' branches or with any regional manager with responsibility for managing any of Defendants' branches for a period of two (2) years from the date of the filing of the Complaint. Defendants also must waive any existing non-compete agreements with such employees. Paragraph IV(G) ensures that competing providers of personal installment loans, including the Acquirer, may hire Defendants' branch employees and regional managers who are experienced in making personal installment loans to subprime borrowers.

    Paragraph IV(H) provides for the possibility of a transition services agreement between Springleaf and the Acquirer(s) for a period of up to six (6) months. This provision is necessary because the transfer of loan records and customer information from Springleaf's data system to the Acquirer's data system will require system testing, and the transition may take a period of months after the divestiture. The transition services provided pursuant to such an agreement shall include providing the Acquirer(s) access to a separate information technology environment within Springleaf's information system for loan origination, administration and services. During the term of the transition services agreement, Springleaf shall implement and maintain procedures to preclude the sharing of data between Springleaf and the Acquirer(s). The United States, in its sole discretion, may approve one or more extensions of this agreement for a total of up to an additional six (6) months.

    Section X of the proposed Final Judgment provides that the United States may appoint a Monitoring Trustee with the power and authority to investigate and report on Defendants' compliance with the terms of the proposed Final Judgment and the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order during the pendency of the divestiture. Because satisfaction of the state licensing requirements may take 120 calendar days or longer, a Monitoring Trustee will assist Plaintiffs in monitoring the divestiture process and ensuring Defendants' compliance with the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order. The Monitoring Trustee shall file monthly reports with the United States and shall serve until the completion of the divestiture and the expiration of any transition services agreement.

    In the event that Springleaf does not accomplish the divestiture to either Lendmark or an alternative Acquirer(s) within the periods prescribed in the proposed Final Judgment, pursuant to Section V, the Court shall appoint a Divestiture Trustee selected by the United States and approved by the Court to effect the divestiture. If a Divestiture Trustee is appointed, the proposed Final Judgment provides that Springleaf will pay all costs and expenses of the trustee. After its appointment becomes effective, the Divestiture Trustee will file monthly reports with the Court and the United States setting forth its efforts to accomplish the divestiture. At the end of six (6) months, if the divestiture has not been accomplished, the Divestiture Trustee and the United States will make recommendations to the Court, which shall enter such orders as appropriate, in order to carry out the purpose of the Final Judgment, including extending the trust or the term of the Divestiture Trustee's appointment.

    IV. Remedies Available to Potential Private Litigants

    Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 15, provides that any person who has been injured as a result of conduct prohibited by the antitrust laws may bring suit in federal court to recover three times the damages the person has suffered, as well as costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. Entry of the proposed Final Judgment will neither impair nor assist the bringing of any private antitrust damage action. Under the provisions of Section 5(a) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 16(a), the proposed Final Judgment has no prima facie effect in any subsequent private lawsuit that may be brought against Defendants.

    V. Procedures Available for Modification of the Proposed Final Judgment

    The United States and Defendants have stipulated that the proposed Final Judgment may be entered by the Court after compliance with the provisions of the APPA, provided that the United States has not withdrawn its consent. The APPA conditions entry upon the Court's determination that the proposed Final Judgment is in the public interest.

    The APPA provides a period of at least sixty (60) days preceding the effective date of the proposed Final Judgment within which any person may submit to the United States written comments regarding the proposed Final Judgment. Any person who wishes to comment should do so within sixty (60) days of the date of publication of this Competitive Impact Statement in the Federal Register, or the last date of publication in a newspaper of the summary of this Competitive Impact Statement, whichever is later. All comments received during this period will be considered by the United States Department of Justice, which remains free to withdraw its consent to the proposed Final Judgment at any time prior to the Court's entry of judgment. The comments and the response of the United States will be filed with the Court. In addition, comments will be posted on the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division's Internet Web site and, under certain circumstances, published in the Federal Register.

    Written comments should be submitted to:

    Maribeth Petrizzi, Chief, Litigation II Section, Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street NW., Suite 8700, Washington, DC 20530. The proposed Final Judgment provides that the Court retains jurisdiction over this action, and the parties may apply to the Court for any order necessary or appropriate for the modification, interpretation, or enforcement of the Final Judgment. VI. Alternatives to the Proposed Final Judgment

    The United States considered, as an alternative to the proposed Final Judgment, a full trial on the merits against Defendants. The United States could have continued the litigation and sought preliminary and permanent injunctions against Springleaf's acquisition of OneMain. The United States is satisfied, however, that the divestiture of assets described in the proposed Final Judgment will preserve competition for personal installment loans to subprime borrowers. Thus, the proposed Final Judgment would achieve all or substantially all of the relief the United States would have obtained through litigation, but avoids the time, expense, and uncertainty of a full trial on the merits of the Complaint.

    VII. Standard of Review Under the APPA for the Proposed Final Judgment

    The Clayton Act, as amended by the APPA, requires that proposed consent judgments in antitrust cases brought by the United States be subject to a sixty-day comment period, after which the Court shall determine whether entry of the proposed Final Judgment “is in the public interest.” 15 U.S.C. 16(e)(1). In making that determination, the Court, in accordance with the statute as amended in 2004, is required to consider:

    (A) the competitive impact of such judgment, including termination of alleged violations, provisions for enforcement and modification, duration of relief sought, anticipated effects of alternative remedies actually considered, whether its terms are ambiguous, and any other competitive considerations bearing upon the adequacy of such judgment that the court deems necessary to a determination of whether the consent judgment is in the public interest; and

    (B) the impact of entry of such judgment upon competition in the relevant market or markets, upon the public generally and individuals alleging specific injury from the violations set forth in the complaint including consideration of the public benefit, if any, to be derived from a determination of the issues at trial.

    15 U.S.C. 16(e)(1)(A) & (B). In considering these statutory factors, the Court's inquiry is necessarily a limited one as the government is entitled to “broad discretion to settle with the defendant within the reaches of the public interest.” United States v. Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d 1448, 1461 (D.C. Cir. 1995); see generally United States v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 489 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2007) (assessing public interest standard under the Tunney Act); United States v, U.S. Airways Group, Inc., 38 F. Supp. 3d 69, 75 (D.D.C. 2014) (explaining that the “court's inquiry is limited” in Tunney Act settlements); United States v. InBev N.V./S.A., No. 08-1965 (JR), 2009-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 76,736, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *3, (D.D.C. Aug. 11, 2009) (noting that the court's review of a consent judgment is limited and only inquires “into whether the government's determination that the proposed remedies will cure the antitrust violations alleged in the complaint was reasonable, and whether the mechanism to enforce the final judgment are clear and manageable.”).1

    1 The 2004 amendments substituted “shall” for “may” in directing relevant factors for courts to consider and amended the list of factors to focus on competitive considerations and to address potentially ambiguous judgment terms. Compare 15 U.S.C. 16(e) (2004), with 15 U.S.C. 16(e)(1) (2006); see also SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11 (concluding that the 2004 amendments “effected minimal changes” to Tunney Act review).

    As the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has held, under the APPA a court considers, among other things, the relationship between the remedy secured and the specific allegations set forth in the government's complaint, whether the decree is sufficiently clear, whether enforcement mechanisms are sufficient, and whether the decree may positively harm third parties. See Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1458-62. With respect to the adequacy of the relief secured by the decree, a court may not “engage in an unrestricted evaluation of what relief would best serve the public.” United States v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 1988) (quoting United States v. Bechtel Corp., 648 F.2d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 1981)); see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1460-62; United States v. Alcoa, Inc., 152 F. Supp. 2d 37, 40 (D.D.C. 2001); InBev, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *3. Courts have held that:

    [t]he balancing of competing social and political interests affected by a proposed antitrust consent decree must be left, in the first instance, to the discretion of the Attorney General. The court's role in protecting the public interest is one of insuring that the government has not breached its duty to the public in consenting to the decree. The court is required to determine not whether a particular decree is the one that will best serve society, but whether the settlement is “within the reaches of the public interest.” More elaborate requirements might undermine the effectiveness of antitrust enforcement by consent decree. Bechtel, 648 F.2d at 666 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).2 In determining whether a proposed settlement is in the public interest, a district court “must accord deference to the government's predictions about the efficacy of its remedies, and may not require that the remedies perfectly match the alleged violations.” SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17; see also U.S. Airways, 38 F. Supp. 3d at 75 (noting that a court should not reject the proposed remedies because it believes others are preferable); Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (noting the need for courts to be “deferential to the government's predictions as to the effect of the proposed remedies”); United States v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., 272 F. Supp. 2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2003) (noting that the court should grant due respect to the United States's prediction as to the effect of proposed remedies, its perception of the market structure, and its views of the nature of the case).

    2Cf. BNS, 858 F.2d at 464 (holding that the court's “ultimate authority under the [APPA] is limited to approving or disapproving the consent decree”); United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975) (noting that, in this way, the court is constrained to “look at the overall picture not hypercritically, nor with a microscope, but with an artist's reducing glass”). See generally Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (discussing whether “the remedies [obtained in the decree are] so inconsonant with the allegations charged as to fall outside of the `reaches of the public interest'”).

    Courts have greater flexibility in approving proposed consent decrees than in crafting their own decrees following a finding of liability in a litigated matter. “[A] proposed decree must be approved even if it falls short of the remedy the court would impose on its own, as long as it falls within the range of acceptability or is `within the reaches of public interest.' ” United States v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 552 F. Supp. 131, 151 (D.D.C. 1982) (citations omitted) (quoting United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975)), aff'd sub nom. Maryland v. United States, 460 U.S. 1001 (1983); see also U.S. Airways, 38 F. Supp. 3d at 76 (noting that room must be made for the government to grant concessions in the negotiation process for settlements) (citing Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461); United States v. Alcan Aluminum Ltd., 605 F. Supp. 619, 622 (W.D. Ky. 1985) (approving the consent decree even though the court would have imposed a greater remedy). To meet this standard, the United States “need only provide a factual basis for concluding that the settlements are reasonably adequate remedies for the alleged harms.” SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17.

    Moreover, the Court's role under the APPA is limited to reviewing the remedy in relationship to the violations that the United States has alleged in its Complaint, and does not authorize the Court to “construct [its] own hypothetical case and then evaluate the decree against that case.” Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459; see also U.S. Airways, 38 F. Supp. 3d at 75 (noting that the court must simply determine whether there is a factual foundation for the government's decisions such that its conclusions regarding the proposed settlements are reasonable); InBev, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *20 (“the `public interest' is not to be measured by comparing the violations alleged in the complaint against those the court believes could have, or even should have, been alleged”). Because the “court's authority to review the decree depends entirely on the government's exercising its prosecutorial discretion by bringing a case in the first place,” it follows that “the court is only authorized to review the decree itself,” and not to “effectively redraft the complaint” to inquire into other matters that the United States did not pursue. Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459-60. As this Court confirmed in SBC Communications, courts “cannot look beyond the complaint in making the public interest determination unless the complaint is drafted so narrowly as to make a mockery of judicial power.” SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 15.

    In its 2004 amendments, Congress made clear its intent to preserve the practical benefits of utilizing consent decrees in antitrust enforcement, adding the unambiguous instruction that “[n]othing in this section shall be construed to require the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing or to require the court to permit anyone to intervene.” 15 U.S.C. 16(e)(2); see also U.S. Airways, 38 F. Supp. 3d at 76 (indicating that a court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing or to permit intervenors as part of its review under the Tunney Act). The language wrote into the statute what Congress intended when it enacted the Tunney Act in 1974, as Senator Tunney explained: “[t]he court is nowhere compelled to go to trial or to engage in extended proceedings which might have the effect of vitiating the benefits of prompt and less costly settlement through the consent decree process.” 119 Cong. Rec. 24,598 (1973) (statement of Sen. Tunney). Rather, the procedure for the public interest determination is left to the discretion of the Court, with the recognition that the Court's “scope of review remains sharply proscribed by precedent and the nature of Tunney Act proceedings.” SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11.3 A court can make its public interest determination based on the competitive impact statement and response to public comments alone. U.S. Airways, 38 F. Supp. 3d at 76.

    3See United States v. Enova Corp., 107 F. Supp. 2d 10, 17 (D.D.C. 2000) (noting that the “Tunney Act expressly allows the court to make its public interest determination on the basis of the competitive impact statement and response to comments alone”); United States v. Mid-Am. Dairymen, Inc., No. 73-CV-681-W-1, 1977-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 61,508, at 71,980, *22 (W.D. Mo. 1977) (“Absent a showing of corrupt failure of the government to discharge its duty, the Court, in making its public interest finding, should . . . carefully consider the explanations of the government in the competitive impact statement and its responses to comments in order to determine whether those explanations are reasonable under the circumstances.”); S. Rep. No. 93-298, at 6 (1973) (“Where the public interest can be meaningfully evaluated simply on the basis of briefs and oral arguments, that is the approach that should be utilized.”).

    VIII. Determinative Documents

    There are no determinative materials or documents within the meaning of the APPA that were considered by the United States in formulating the proposed Final Judgment.

    Dated: November 13, 2015

    Respectfully submitted,

    ___/s/___ Angela Ting (DC Bar #449576) U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Litigation II Section, 450 Fifth Street NW., Suite 8700, Washington, DC 20530, (202) 616-7721, (202) 514-9033 (Facsimile) [email protected]
    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, STATE OF COLORADO, STATE OF IDAHO, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVNIA, STATE OF TEXAS, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, STATE OF WASHINGTON, and STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, Plaintiffs, v. SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS, INC., ONEMAIN FINANCIAL HOLDINGS, LLC, and CITIFINANCIAL CREDIT COMPANY, Defendants. CASE NO.: 1:15-cv-01992 JUDGE: Rosemary M. Collyer FILED: 11/13/2015 Proposed Final Judgment

    Whereas, Plaintiffs United States of America, and the States of Colorado, Idaho, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, and the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia (collectively, “Plaintiff States”), filed their Complaint on November 13, 2015, Plaintiffs and Defendants Springleaf Holdings, Inc., OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC, and CitiFinancial Credit Company, by their respective attorneys, have consented to the entry of this Final Judgment without trial or adjudication of any issue of fact or law, and without this Final Judgment constituting any evidence against or admission by any party regarding any issue of fact or law;

    And whereas, Defendants agree to be bound by the provisions of this Final Judgment pending its approval by the Court;

    And whereas, the essence of this Final Judgment is the prompt and certain divestiture of certain rights or assets by the Defendants to assure that competition is not substantially lessened;

    And whereas, Plaintiffs require Defendants to make certain divestitures for the purpose of remedying the loss of competition alleged in the Complaint;

    And whereas, Defendants have represented to Plaintiffs that the divestitures required below can and will be made and that Defendants will later raise no claim of hardship or difficulty as grounds for asking the Court to modify any of the divestiture provisions contained below;

    Now therefore, before any testimony is taken, without trial or adjudication of any issue of fact or law, and upon consent of the parties, it is ordered, adjudged and decreed:

    I. Jurisdiction

    This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of and each of the parties to this action. The Complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted against Defendants under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended (15 U.S.C. 18).

    II. Definitions

    As used in this Final Judgment:

    A. “Acquirer” means Lendmark or another entity to which Defendants divest the Divestiture Assets.

    B. “Springleaf” means Defendant Springleaf Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its headquarters in Evansville, Indiana, and its successors, assigns, subsidiaries, divisions, groups, affiliates, partnerships and joint ventures, and their directors, officers, managers, agents, and employees.

    C. “OneMain” means Defendant OneMain Financial Holdings, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company with its headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, and its successors, assigns, subsidiaries, divisions, groups, affiliates, partnerships and joint ventures, and their directors, officers, managers, agents, and employees.

    D. “CitiFinancial” means Defendant CitiFinancial Credit Company, a Delaware corporation, with its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citigroup and the holding company of OneMain.

    E. “Lendmark” means Lendmark Financial Services, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company with its headquarters in Covington, Georgia, its successors and assigns, and its subsidiaries, divisions, groups, affiliates, partnerships and joint ventures, and their directors, officers, managers, agents, and employees.

    F. “Divestiture Branches” means the Springleaf branches identified in the Attachment to this Final Judgment.

    G. “Divestiture Assets” means the Divestiture Branches, including, but not limited to:

    (1) All real property and improvements, equipment, fixed assets, personal property, office furniture, materials, and supplies; all licenses, permits and authorizations issued by any governmental organization to the extent permitted by such governmental organization; and all contracts, leases and agreements related to the Divestiture Branches.

    (2) All active loans originated or serviced at the Divestiture Branches; all insurance and other ancillary products sold in conjunction with such loans; all loan documents, records, files, current and past customer information, accounts, and agreements related to such loans and ancillary products; all historical performance information (including account-level payment histories) and all customers' credit scores and other credit metrics with respect to loans that are active, closed, paid-off, or defaulted that have been originated or serviced at the Divestiture Branches at any point since January 1, 2010.

    (3) In the event that Lendmark is not the Acquirer, at the Acquirer's option, all tangible and intangible assets related to Springleaf's back office and technical support for loan origination, underwriting, and servicing at the Divestiture Branches, including, but not limited to, all equipment and fixed assets; all patents, licenses and sublicenses, intellectual property, technical information, computer software and related documentation, know-how, and trade secrets; and all manuals and technical information Springleaf provides to its own employees.

    III. Applicability

    A. This Final Judgment applies to Springleaf, OneMain and CitiFinancial, as defined above, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them who receive actual notice of this Final Judgment by personal service or otherwise.

    B. If, prior to complying with Section IV and V of this Final Judgment, Springleaf sells or otherwise disposes of all or substantially all of its assets or of lesser business units that include the Divestiture Assets, it shall require the purchaser to be bound by the provisions of this Final Judgment. Springleaf need not obtain such an agreement from the Acquirer(s) of the assets divested pursuant to this Final Judgment.

    IV. Divestitures

    A. Springleaf is ordered and directed within 120 calendar days after the filing of the Complaint in this matter, or within five (5) calendar days after satisfaction of all state licensing requirements, whichever is sooner, to divest the Divestiture Assets in a manner consistent with this Final Judgment to Lendmark. The United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, may agree to one or more extensions of this time period not to exceed sixty (60) calendar days in total, and shall notify the Court in such circumstances. In the event that Lendmark has initiated the state licensing process in a particular state but has not satisfied the state's licensing requirements before the end of the period specified in this Paragraph IV(A), the period shall be extended until five (5) calendar days after satisfaction of the state licensing requirements with respect to those Divestiture Assets. Springleaf agrees to use its best efforts to divest the Divestiture Assets as expeditiously as possible.

    B. In the event Lendmark is not the Acquirer of the Divestiture Assets in one or more states, Springleaf or the Monitoring Trustee shall promptly notify the United States of that fact in writing. In such circumstance, within thirty (30) calendar days after the United States receives such notice, or within five (5) days of satisfaction of all state licensing requirements, whichever is sooner, Springleaf shall divest the remaining Divestiture Assets in a manner consistent with this Final Judgment to an alternative Acquirer(s) acceptable to the United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the relevant Plaintiff States. The United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the relevant Plaintiff States, may agree to one or more extensions of either time period in this Paragraph IV(B), provided that the extension of either time period shall not exceed sixty (60) calendar days in total. The United States shall notify the Court of any such extension of time.

    C. In the event that Lendmark is not the Acquirer of the Divestiture Assets in one or more states, Springleaf shall make known, by usual and customary means, the availability of the remaining Divestiture Assets. Springleaf shall inform any person making an inquiry regarding a possible purchase of the Divestiture Assets that they are being divested pursuant to this Final Judgment and provide that person with a copy of this Final Judgment. Springleaf shall offer to furnish to all prospective acquirers, subject to customary confidentiality assurances, all information and documents relating to the Divestiture Assets customarily provided in a due diligence process except such information or documents subject to the attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine. Springleaf shall make available such information to Plaintiffs at the same time that such information is made available to any other person.

    D. Springleaf shall provide the Acquirer(s) and the United States information relating to the personnel employed at each Divestiture Branch to enable the Acquirer(s) to make offers of employment. Springleaf shall not interfere with any negotiations by the Acquirer(s) to employ any Springleaf employee who works at any Divestiture Branch.

    E. Springleaf shall permit prospective acquirers of the Divestiture Assets to have reasonable access to personnel and to make inspections of the Divestiture Branches; access to any and all environmental, zoning, and other permit documents and information; and access to any and all financial, operational, or other documents and information customarily provided as part of a due diligence process.

    F. Defendants shall not take any action that would impede in any way the permitting, operation, or divestiture of the Divestiture Assets. Springleaf shall use its best efforts to assist the Acquirer(s) in satisfying any state licensing requirements or obtaining any other needed governmental approvals relating to the acquisition of the Divestiture Assets.

    G. For a period of two (2) years from the date of the filing of the Complaint in this matter, Defendants shall not enter into any non-compete agreement with any employee at any of Defendants' branches or with any regional manager with responsibility for managing any of Defendants' branches. Defendants shall waive all obligations under any existing non-compete agreement with any such employee.

    H. At the option of the Acquirer(s), Springleaf shall enter into a transition services agreement with the Acquirer(s) for back office and technical support sufficient to meet all or part of the needs of the Acquirer(s) for a period of up to six (6) months. The United States, in its sole discretion, may approve one or more extensions of this agreement for a total of up to an additional six (6) months. The transition services provided pursuant to such an agreement shall include, but are not limited to, providing the Acquirer(s) access to a separate information technology environment within Springleaf's information systems for loan origination, administration and servicing. During the term of the transition services agreement, Springleaf shall implement and maintain procedures to preclude the sharing of data between Springleaf and the Acquirer(s). The terms and conditions of any contractual arrangement intended to satisfy this provision must be reasonably related to market conditions.

    I. Unless the United States otherwise consents in writing, the divestiture pursuant to Section IV, or by a Divestiture Trustee appointed pursuant to Section V, of this Final Judgment, shall include the entire Divestiture Assets, and shall be accomplished in such a way as to satisfy the United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the relevant Plaintiff States, that the Divestiture Assets can and will be used by the Acquirer(s) as part of a viable, ongoing business involving the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States. Divestiture of the Divestiture Branches may be made to one or more Acquirer(s), provided that Springleaf must divest to a single Acquirer all of the Divestiture Branches located in a particular state and that, in each instance, it is demonstrated to the sole satisfaction of the United States that the Divestiture Branches will remain viable and the divestiture of such assets will remedy the competitive harm alleged in the Complaint. The divestiture, whether pursuant to Section IV or Section V of this Final Judgment,

    (1) shall be made to an Acquirer or Acquirers that, in the United States's sole judgment, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, has the intent and capability (including the necessary managerial, operational, technical and financial capability) of competing effectively in the provision of personal installment loans to subprime borrowers in the United States; and

    (2) shall be accomplished so as to satisfy the United States, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, that none of the terms of any agreement between the Acquirer(s) and Springleaf gives Springleaf the ability unreasonably to raise the Acquirer's costs, to lower the Acquirer's efficiency, or otherwise to interfere in the ability of the Acquirer(s) to compete effectively.

    V. Appointment of Divestiture Trustee

    A. If Springleaf has not divested the Divestiture Assets within the time period specified in Paragraph IV(A) or Paragraph IV(B), Springleaf shall notify Plaintiffs of that fact in writing. Upon application of the United States, the Court shall appoint a Divestiture Trustee selected by the United States and approved by the Court to effect the divestiture of the Divestiture Assets.

    B. After the appointment of a Divestiture Trustee becomes effective, only the Divestiture Trustee shall have the right to sell the Divestiture Assets. The Divestiture Trustee shall have the power and authority to accomplish the divestiture to an Acquirer or Acquirers acceptable to the United States, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, at such price and on such terms as are then obtainable upon reasonable effort by the Divestiture Trustee, subject to the provisions of Sections IV, V, and VI of this Final Judgment, and shall have such other powers as this Court deems appropriate. Subject to Paragraph V(D) of this Final Judgment, the Divestiture Trustee may hire at the cost and expense of Springleaf any investment bankers, attorneys, or other agents, who shall be solely accountable to the Divestiture Trustee, reasonably necessary in the Divestiture Trustee's judgment to assist in the divestiture. Any such investment bankers, attorneys, or other agents shall serve on such terms and conditions as the United States approves including confidentiality requirements and conflict of interest certifications.

    C. Defendants shall not object to a sale by the Divestiture Trustee on any ground other than the Divestiture Trustee's malfeasance. Any such objections by Defendants must be conveyed in writing to the United States and the Divestiture Trustee within ten (10) calendar days after the Divestiture Trustee has provided the notice required under Section VI.

    D. The Divestiture Trustee shall serve at the cost and expense of Springleaf pursuant to a written agreement, on such terms and conditions as the United States approves including confidentiality requirements and conflict of interest certifications. The Divestiture Trustee shall account for all monies derived from the sale of the assets sold by the Divestiture Trustee and all costs and expenses so incurred. After approval by the Court of the Divestiture Trustee's accounting, including fees for its services yet unpaid and those of any professionals and agents retained by the Divestiture Trustee, all remaining money shall be paid to Springleaf and the trust shall then be terminated. The compensation of the Divestiture Trustee and any professionals and agents retained by the Divestiture Trustee shall be reasonable in light of the value of the Divestiture Assets and based on a fee arrangement providing the Divestiture Trustee with an incentive based on the price and terms of the divestiture and the speed with which it is accomplished, but timeliness is paramount. If the Divestiture Trustee and Springleaf are unable to reach agreement on the Divestiture Trustee's or any agents' or consultants' compensation or other terms and conditions of engagement within fourteen (14) calendar days of appointment of the Divestiture Trustee, the United States may, in its sole discretion, take appropriate action, including making a recommendation to the Court. The Divestiture Trustee shall, within three (3) business days of hiring any other professionals or agents, provide written notice of such hiring and the rate of compensation to Springleaf and the United States.

    E. Springleaf shall use its best efforts to assist the Divestiture Trustee in accomplishing the required divestiture. The Divestiture Trustee and any consultants, accountants, attorneys, and other agents retained by the Divestiture Trustee shall have full and complete access to the personnel, books, records, and facilities of the business to be divested, and Springleaf shall develop financial and other information relevant to such business as the Divestiture Trustee may reasonably request, subject to reasonable protection for trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information or any applicable privileges. Defendants shall take no action to interfere with or to impede the Divestiture Trustee's accomplishment of the divestiture.

    F. After its appointment, the Divestiture Trustee shall file monthly reports with the United States and, as appropriate, the Court setting forth the Divestiture Trustee's efforts to accomplish the divestiture ordered under this Final Judgment. To the extent such reports contain information that the Divestiture Trustee deems confidential, such reports shall not be filed in the public docket of the Court. Such reports shall include the name, address, and telephone number of each person who, during the preceding month, made an offer to acquire, expressed an interest in acquiring, entered into negotiations to acquire, or was contacted or made an inquiry about acquiring, any interest in the Divestiture Assets, and shall describe in detail each contact with any such person. The Divestiture Trustee shall maintain full records of all efforts made to divest the Divestiture Assets.

    G. If the Divestiture Trustee has not accomplished the divestiture ordered under this Final Judgment within six (6) months after its appointment, the Divestiture Trustee shall promptly file with the Court a report setting forth (1) the Divestiture Trustee's efforts to accomplish the required divestiture, (2) the reasons, in the Divestiture Trustee's judgment, why the required divestiture has not been accomplished, and (3) the Divestiture Trustee's recommendations. To the extent such report contains information that the Divestiture Trustee deems confidential, such reports shall not be filed in the public docket of the Court. The Divestiture Trustee shall at the same time furnish such report to the United States which shall have the right to make additional recommendations consistent with the purpose of the trust. The Court thereafter shall enter such orders as it shall deem appropriate to carry out the purpose of the Final Judgment, which may, if necessary, include extending the trust and the term of the Divestiture Trustee's appointment by a period requested by the United States.

    H. If the United States determines that the Divestiture Trustee has ceased to act or failed to act diligently or in a reasonably cost-effective manner, it may recommend the Court appoint a substitute Divestiture Trustee.

    VI. Notice of Proposed Divestiture

    A. Within two (2) business days following execution of a definitive divestiture agreement, Springleaf or the Divestiture Trustee, whichever is then responsible for effecting the divestiture required herein, shall notify Plaintiffs of any proposed divestiture required by Section IV or V of this Final Judgment. If the Divestiture Trustee is responsible, it shall similarly notify Springleaf. The notice shall set forth the details of the proposed divestiture and list the name, address, and telephone number of each person not previously identified who offered or expressed an interest in or desire to acquire any ownership interest in the Divestiture Assets, together with full details of the same.

    B. Within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt by the United States of such notice, the United States, after consultation with the Plaintiff States, may request from Springleaf, the proposed Acquirer(s), any other third party, or the Divestiture Trustee, if applicable, additional information concerning the proposed divestiture, the proposed Acquirer(s), and any other potential Acquirer(s). Springleaf and the Divestiture Trustee shall furnish any additional information requested within fifteen (15) calendar days of the receipt of the request, unless the parties shall otherwise agree.

    C. Within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of the notice or within twenty (20) calendar days after the United States has been provided the additional information requested from Springleaf, the proposed Acquirer(s), any third party, and the Divestiture Trustee, whichever is later, the United States shall provide written notice to Springleaf and the Divestiture Trustee, if there is one, stating whether or not it objects to the proposed divestiture. If the United States provides written notice that it does not object, the divestiture may be consummated, subject only to Springleaf's limited right to object to the sale under Paragraph V(C) of this Final Judgment. Absent written notice that the United States does not object to the proposed Acquirer(s) or upon objection by the United States, a divestiture proposed under Section IV or Section V shall not be consummated. Upon objection by Springleaf under Paragraph V(C), a divestiture proposed under Section V shall not be consummated unless approved by the Court.

    VII. Financing

    Defendants shall not finance all or any part of any purchase made pursuant to Section IV or V of this Final Judgment.

    VIII. Asset Preservation

    Until the divestiture required by this Final Judgment has been accomplished, Defendants shall take all steps necessary to comply with the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order entered by this Court. Defendants shall take no action that would jeopardize the divestiture ordered by this Court.

    IX. Affidavits

    A. Within twenty (20) calendar days of the filing of the Complaint in this matter, and every thirty (30) calendar days thereafter until the divestiture has been completed under Section IV or V, Springleaf shall deliver to the United States an affidavit as to the fact and manner of its compliance with Section IV or V of this Final Judgment. Each such affidavit shall include the name, address, and telephone number of each person who, during the preceding thirty (30) calendar days, made an offer to acquire, expressed an interest in acquiring, entered into negotiations to acquire, or was contacted or made an inquiry about acquiring, any interest in the Divestiture Assets, and shall describe in detail each contact with any such person during that period. Each such affidavit shall also include a description of the efforts Springleaf has taken to solicit buyers for the Divestiture Assets, and to provide required information to prospective acquirers, including the limitations, if any, on such information. Assuming the information set forth in the affidavit is true and complete, any objection by the United States to information provided by Springleaf, including limitation on information, shall be made within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of such affidavit.

    B. Within twenty (20) calendar days of the filing of the Complaint in this matter, Defendants shall deliver to the United States an affidavit that describes in reasonable detail all actions Defendants have taken and all steps Defendants have implemented on an ongoing basis to comply with Section VIII of this Final Judgment. Defendants shall deliver to the United States an affidavit describing any changes to the efforts and actions outlined in Defendants' earlier affidavits filed pursuant to this section within fifteen (15) calendar days after the change is implemented.

    C. Springleaf shall keep all records of all efforts made to preserve and divest the Divestiture Assets until one year after such divestiture has been completed.

    X. Appointment of Monitoring Trustee

    A. Upon application of the United States, the Court shall appoint a Monitoring Trustee selected by the United States and approved by the Court.

    B. The Monitoring Trustee shall have the power and authority to monitor Defendants' compliance with the terms of this Final Judgment and the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order entered by this Court, and shall have such other powers as this Court deems appropriate. The Monitoring Trustee shall be required to investigate and report on the Defendants' compliance with this Final Judgment and the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order and the Defendants' progress toward effectuating the purposes of this Final Judgment.

    C. Subject to Paragraph X(E) of this Final Judgment, the Monitoring Trustee may hire at the cost and expense of Springleaf any consultants, accountants, attorneys, or other agents, who shall be solely accountable to the Monitoring Trustee, reasonably necessary in the Monitoring Trustee's judgment. Any such consultants, accountants, attorneys, or other agents shall serve on such terms and conditions as the United States approves including confidentiality requirements and conflict of interest certifications.

    D. Springleaf shall not object to actions taken by the Monitoring Trustee in fulfillment of the Monitoring Trustee's responsibilities under any Order of this Court on any ground other than the Monitoring Trustee's malfeasance. Any such objections by Springleaf must be conveyed in writing to the United States and the Monitoring Trustee within ten (10) calendar days after the action taken by the Monitoring Trustee giving rise to Springleaf's objection.

    E. The Monitoring Trustee shall serve at the cost and expense of Springleaf pursuant to a written agreement with Springleaf and on such terms and conditions as the United States approves, including confidentiality requirements and conflict of interest certifications. The compensation of the Monitoring Trustee and any consultants, accountants, attorneys, and other agents retained by the Monitoring Trustee shall be on reasonable and customary terms commensurate with the individual's experience and responsibilities. If the Monitoring Trustee and Springleaf are unable to reach agreement on the Monitoring Trustee's or any agent's or consultant's compensation or other terms and conditions of engagement within fourteen (14) calendar days of appointment of the Monitoring Trustee, the United States may, in its sole discretion, take appropriate action, including making a recommendation to the Court. The Monitoring Trustee shall, within three (3) business days of hiring any consultants, accountants, attorneys, or other agents, provide written notice of such hiring and the rate of compensation to Springleaf and the United States.

    F. The Monitoring Trustee shall have no responsibility or obligation for the operation of Springleaf's business.

    G. Defendants shall use their best efforts to assist the Monitoring Trustee in monitoring Defendants' compliance with their individual obligations under this Final Judgment and under the Asset Preservation Stipulation and Order. The Monitoring Trustee and any consultants, accountants, attorneys, and other agents retained by the Monitoring Trustee shall have full and complete access to the personnel, books, records, and facilities relating to compliance with this Final Judgment, subject to reasonable protection for trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information or any applicable privileges. Defendants shall take no action to interfere with or to impede the Monitoring Trustee's accomplis