Federal Register Vol. 80, No.241,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 241 (December 16, 2015)

Page Range78117-78648
FR Document

80_FR_241
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 78169 - Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting Change NoticePDF
80 FR 78593 - Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned AircraftPDF
80 FR 78117 - Half-Day Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on Thursday, December 24, 2015PDF
80 FR 78283 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 78283 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Visiting Masterpieces: Pairing Picassos” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 78283 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Munch and Expressionism” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 78284 - Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Van Gogh's Bedrooms” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 78283 - Culturally Significant Object Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 78200 - Guidelines for Carrying Out Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as AmendedPDF
80 FR 78253 - Exelon Generation Company, LLC; R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power PlantPDF
80 FR 78256 - Exelon Generation Company, LLC; Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2PDF
80 FR 78251 - Notice of January 11, 2016, Meeting for Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory CommissionPDF
80 FR 78236 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 78229 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
80 FR 78253 - Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
80 FR 78257 - Northern States Power Company-Minnesota; Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant Independent Spent Fuel Storage InstallationPDF
80 FR 78255 - Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power PlantPDF
80 FR 78258 - Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Indian Point Nuclear Generating, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3PDF
80 FR 78285 - Reports, Forms, and Recordkeeping RequirementsPDF
80 FR 78243 - Proposed Collection; 60-Day Comment Request; CareerTracPDF
80 FR 78170 - Glycine From the People's Republic of China: Notice of Amended Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review Pursuant to Settlement; 2012-2013PDF
80 FR 78252 - Distribution of Cable and Satellite Royalty FundsPDF
80 FR 78166 - Availability of FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw PoultryPDF
80 FR 78155 - USPTO Law School Clinic Certification ProgramPDF
80 FR 78172 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery ProgramsPDF
80 FR 78208 - Notice of Petition for Waiver of Whirlpool Corporation From the Department of Energy Clothes Washer Test Procedure, and Grant of Interim WaiverPDF
80 FR 78208 - Application To Amend Presidential Permit; Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc., as Agent for the Joint Owners of the Highgate ProjectPDF
80 FR 78240 - National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 78176 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Test Pile ProgramPDF
80 FR 78222 - Salt Lake City Area Integrated Projects and Colorado River Storage Project 2025 General Power Marketing CriteriaPDF
80 FR 78215 - Guidance and Application for Hydroelectric Incentive PaymentsPDF
80 FR 78218 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 78169 - Emergency Food Assistance Program; Availability of Foods for Fiscal Year 2016PDF
80 FR 78251 - Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals With Disabilities; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 78167 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Summer Food Service ProgramPDF
80 FR 78250 - Proposed Information Collection; Mining Claims and Non-Federal Oil and Gas RightsPDF
80 FR 78218 - Advanced Hydropower, Inc.; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 78221 - Notice of Commission Staff AttendancePDF
80 FR 78219 - Grid Assurance LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory OrderPDF
80 FR 78216 - Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC ; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Proposed Line WB2VA Integrity ProjectPDF
80 FR 78220 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 78219 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 78217 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 78284 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Airport Grant ProgramPDF
80 FR 78231 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
80 FR 78232 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 78172 - Limitation of Duty-Free Imports of Apparel Articles Assembled in Haiti Under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), as Amended by the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE)PDF
80 FR 78248 - Notice of Public Meeting; Powder River Regional Coal Team ActivitiesPDF
80 FR 78246 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Receipt of Application for an Incidental Take Permit; Availability of Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Associated Documents; Highlands County, FLPDF
80 FR 78237 - Statement of Organization, Functions and Delegations of AuthorityPDF
80 FR 78238 - Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; Draft Guidance; Extension of the Comment PeriodPDF
80 FR 78175 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 78247 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Availability of Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plans, Brevard and Putnam Counties, FLPDF
80 FR 78249 - National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Pending Nominations and Related ActionsPDF
80 FR 78282 - Texas Disaster Number TX-00461PDF
80 FR 78282 - Maryland Disaster #MD-00029PDF
80 FR 78199 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Patents External Quality SurveyPDF
80 FR 78198 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; “International Work Sharing”PDF
80 FR 78170 - U.S. Education Mission to Africa: South Africa and Ghana (Optional Stop to Cote d'Ivoire); March 6-12, 2016PDF
80 FR 78285 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Information Collection Renewal; Submission for Review; FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment ToolPDF
80 FR 78234 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
80 FR 78206 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note and Endorser AddendumPDF
80 FR 78275 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change to Its Rules To Provide That the Co-location Services Offered by the Exchange Include Three Time Feeds and Four Bundles of Co-location ServicesPDF
80 FR 78262 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE MKT LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change to Its Rules To Provide That the Co-Location Services Offered by the Exchange Include Three Time Feeds and Four Bundles of Co-Location ServicesPDF
80 FR 78269 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change to Its Rules To Provide That the Co-Location Services Offered by the Exchange Include Three Time Feeds and Four Bundles of Co-Location ServicesPDF
80 FR 78161 - Adoption of RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 78160 - Petition for Reconsideration of Action in a Rulemaking ProceedingPDF
80 FR 78229 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated AuthorityPDF
80 FR 78260 - Public Inquiry on Commission Jurisdiction Over Postal Service Determinations To Close or Consolidate Post OfficesPDF
80 FR 78206 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan and Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan Master Promissory NotePDF
80 FR 78207 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; TEACH Grant: Study of Institutional Practices and Grant Recipient Outcomes and ExperiencesPDF
80 FR 78289 - Additional Designations, Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation ActPDF
80 FR 78131 - Waivers for State InnovationPDF
80 FR 78233 - Submission for OMB Review; Notice of Radioactive MaterialsPDF
80 FR 78232 - Information Collection; Drug-Free WorkplacePDF
80 FR 78233 - Information Collection; Qualification RequirementsPDF
80 FR 78242 - National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78242 - National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 78243 - National Human Genome Research Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 78242 - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78241 - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78241 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78240 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 78245 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78239 - National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; Notice of MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78244 - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Notice of MeetingsPDF
80 FR 78230 - Filing Dates for the Ohio Special Elections in the 8th Congressional DistrictPDF
80 FR 78230 - Notice to All Interested Parties of the Termination of the Receivership of 10227, Champion Bank, Creve Coeur, MOPDF
80 FR 78227 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Projects (New)PDF
80 FR 78225 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Categorical Non-Waste Determination for Selected Non Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM): Construction and Demolition Wood, Paper Recycling Process Residuals, and Creosote-Treated Railroad Ties (Additions to List of Section 241.4 Categorical Non-Waste Fuels)PDF
80 FR 78224 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts, Chemical and Radionuclides RulesPDF
80 FR 78226 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; EPA Worker Protection Standards for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 78227 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Water Quality Standards Regulation (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 78119 - Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility; Actively Engaged in FarmingPDF
80 FR 78199 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 78228 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 78130 - Temporary Modification of Category XI of the United States Munitions ListPDF
80 FR 78135 - Air Plan Approval; NH; Infrastructure State Implementation Plan Requirements for Ozone, Lead, and Nitrogen DioxidePDF
80 FR 78159 - Air Plan Approval; Minnesota and Michigan; Revision to Taconite Federal Implementation PlanPDF
80 FR 78143 - Extension of Pesticide Residue Tolerances for Emergency Exemptions (Multiple Chemicals)PDF
80 FR 78289 - Proposed Information Collection (Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT): Helping Veterans Manage Chronic Pain, Engaging Caregivers Veterans With Dementia, Patient Centered Medical Home Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Bridging Primary and Behavioral Health Care (BP-BHC))PDF
80 FR 78461 - Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis; Update of General ProvisionsPDF
80 FR 78146 - Choline Chloride; Exemption From the Requirement of a TolerancePDF
80 FR 78141 - Bacillus Amyloliquefaciens MBI600 (Antecedent Bacillus Subtilis MBI600); Amendment to an Exemption From the Requirement of a TolerancePDF
80 FR 78150 - National Organic Program (NOP); Sunset 2016 Amendments to the National ListPDF
80 FR 78291 - Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting DocumentsPDF
80 FR 78521 - New Car Assessment ProgramPDF
80 FR 78417 - Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact ProtectionPDF

Issue

80 241 Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Contents Administrative Administrative Conference of the United States NOTICES Adoption of Recommendations, 78161-78166 2015-31575 Agency Toxic Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78234-78236 2015-31581 Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service PROPOSED RULES National Organic Program: Sunset 2016 Amendments to the National List, 78150-78154 2015-31380 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

See

Commodity Credit Corporation

See

Food and Nutrition Service

See

Food Safety and Inspection Service

Animal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service PROPOSED RULES General Provisions: Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis, 78462-78520 2015-31510 Army Army Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Army Sex Offender Information, 78199-78200 2015-31531 Broadcasting Broadcasting Board of Governors NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 78169-78170 2015-31780 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78234-78236 2015-31581 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

Commodity Credit Commodity Credit Corporation RULES Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility; Actively Engaged in Farming, 78119-78130 2015-31532 Comptroller Comptroller of the Currency NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool, 78285-78289 2015-31583 Copyright Royalty Board Copyright Royalty Board NOTICES Distribution of Cable and Satellite Royalty Funds, 78252-78253 2015-31629 Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

See

Engineers Corps

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Drug-Free Workplace, 78232-78233 2015-31561 Notice of Radioactive Materials, 78233-78234 2015-31562 Qualification Requirements, 78233 2015-31560
Disability Disability Employment Policy Office NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, 78251-78252 2015-31615 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan and Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan Master Promissory Note, 78206 2015-31571 TEACH Grant—Study of Institutional Practices and Grant Recipient Outcomes and Experiences, 78207-78208 2015-31570 William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note and Endorser Addendum, 78206-78207 2015-31580 Energy Department Energy Department See

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office

See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

See

Western Area Power Administration

NOTICES Presidential Permit Amendment Applications: Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc., Highgate Project, 78208 2015-31622
Energy Efficiency Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office NOTICES Clothes Washer Test Procedures Waiver Approvals: Whirlpool Corp., 78208-78215 2015-31623 Guidance and Application for Hydroelectric Incentive Payments, 78215-78216 2015-31618 Engineers Engineers Corps NOTICES Guidelines for Carrying Out Section 221(a) (4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as Amended, 78200-78206 2015-31654 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: New Hampshire; Air Plan Approval; Infrastructure State Implementation Plan Requirements for Ozone, Lead, and Nitrogen Dioxide, 78135-78141 2015-31525 Exemptions from the Requirements of a Tolerance: Bacillus amyloliquefaciens MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis MBI600), 78141-78143 2015-31462 Choline Chloride, 78146-78149 2015-31464 Pesticide Tolerances; Exemptions: Emergency Exemptions; Extension, 78143-78146 2015-31518 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Minnesota and Michigan; Revision to Taconite Federal Implementation Plan, 78159-78160 2015-31523 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Categorical Non-Waste Determination for Selected Non Hazardous Secondary Materials—Construction and Demolition Wood, Paper Recycling Process Residuals, and Creosote-Treated Railroad Ties, 78225-78226 2015-31541 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts, Chemical and Radionuclides Rules, 78224-78225 2015-31540 EPA Worker Protection Standards for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, 78226-78227 2015-31539 Generic Clearance for Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Projects, 78227 2015-31542 Water Quality Standards Regulation, 78227-78228 2015-31538 Export Import Export-Import Bank NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78228-78229 2015-31530 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft, 78594-78648 2015-31750 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Airport Grant Program, 78284 2015-31602 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission PROPOSED RULES Petitions for Reconsideration, 78160 2015-31574 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78229-78230 2015-31573 2015-31638 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation NOTICES Termination of Receivership: Champion Bank, Creve Coeur, MO, 78230 2015-31543 Federal Election Federal Election Commission NOTICES Filing Dates for the Ohio Special Elections in the 8th Congressional District, 78230-78231 2015-31545 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications: Advanced Hydropower, Inc., 78218 2015-31612 Combined Filings, 78217-78221 2015-31606 2015-31607 2015-31608 2015-31617 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; Proposed Line WB2VA Integrity Project, 78216-78217 2015-31609 Petitons for Declaratory Orders: Grid Assurance LLC, 78219 2015-31610 Staff Attendances, 78221-78222 2015-31611 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration RULES Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents, 78292-78416 2015-31336 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 78231 2015-31601 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 78232 2015-31600 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Endangered and Threatened Species: Application for an Incidental Take Permit; Availability of Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Associated Documents; Highlands County, FL, 78246-78247 2015-31595 Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plans, Brevard and Putnam Counties, FL, 78247-78248 2015-31590 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Summer Food Service Program, 78167-78169 2015-31614 Foods for Fiscal Year 2016; Availability: Emergency Food Assistance Program, 78169 2015-31616 Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service NOTICES Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry, 78166-78167 2015-31628 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 78289 2015-31569 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Drug-Free Workplace, 78232-78233 2015-31561 Notice of Radioactive Materials, 78233-78234 2015-31562 Qualification Requirements, 78233 2015-31560 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

RULES Guidance: Waivers for State Innovation, 78131-78135 2015-31563 NOTICES Guidance for Industry and Staff: Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; Extension of Comment Period, 78238-78239 2015-31593
Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78236-78237 2015-31642 Statement of Organization, Functions and Delegations of Authority, 78237-78238 2015-31594 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Glycine from the People's Republic of China, 78170 2015-31630 Limitation of Duty-Free Imports: Apparel Articles Assembled in Haiti, 78172 2015-31598 Missions: U.S. Education Mission to Africa, 78170-78172 2015-31584 Labor Department Labor Department See

Disability Employment Policy Office

Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Powder River Regional Coal Team Activities, 78248-78249 2015-31596 Library Library of Congress See

Copyright Royalty Board

NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Drug-Free Workplace, 78232-78233 2015-31561 Notice of Radioactive Materials, 78233-78234 2015-31562 Qualification Requirements, 78233 2015-31560 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration PROPOSED RULES Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection, 78418-78460 2015-31228 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78285 2015-31633 New Car Assessment Program, 78522-78591 2015-31323 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: CareerTrac, 78243-78244 2015-31632 Meetings: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, 78239-78240 2015-31547 National Human Genome Research Institute, 78243 2015-31554 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 78240-78242, 78245-78246 2015-31548 2015-31549 2015-31550 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 78244 2015-31546 National Institute of Mental Health, 78240-78241 2015-31621 National Institute on Aging, 78242 2015-31555 2015-31556 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 78241-78243 2015-31552 2015-31553 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 78175-78176 2015-31592 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs; Standard Prices and Fee Percentage, 78172-78175 2015-31624 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Test Pile Program, Anchorage, AK, 78176-78198 2015-31620 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Mining Claims and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights, 78250 2015-31613 Meetings: Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, 78251 2015-31643 National Register of Historic Places: Pending Nominations and Related Actions, 78249-78250 2015-31589 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Antarctic Conservation Act Permits, 78253 2015-31591 2015-31637 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Indian Point Nuclear Generating, Unit Nos. 1, 2, and 3, 78258-78259 2015-31634 Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, 78255-78256 2015-31635 Exelon Generation Company, LLC Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, 78256-78257 2015-31652 Exelon Generation Company, LLC, R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, 78253-78255 2015-31653 License Renewals: Northern States Power Company—Minnesota; Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, 78257-78258 2015-31636 Patent Patent and Trademark Office PROPOSED RULES Law School Clinic Certification Program, 78155-78159 2015-31627 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: International Work Sharing, 78198-78199 2015-31585 Patents External Quality Survey, 78199 2015-31586 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Public Inquiry on Commission Jurisdiction over Postal Service Determinations to Close or Consolidate Post Offices, 78260-78262 2015-31572 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents EXECUTIVE ORDERS Government Agencies and Employees: Executive Departments and Agencies; Half-Day Closing on December 24 (EO 13713), 78117-78118 2015-31749 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: New York Stock Exchange, LLC, 78269-78275 2015-31576 NYSE Arca, Inc., 78275-78282 2015-31578 NYSE MKT LLC, 78262-78269 2015-31577 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Maryland, 78282-78283 2015-31587 Texas; Amendment 1, 78282 2015-31588 State Department State Department RULES Temporary Modification of Category XI of the U.S. Munitions List, 78130-78131 2015-31528 NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Kamakura—Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan, 78283 2015-31663 Munch and Expressionism, 78283-78284 2015-31668 Van Dyck—The Anatomy of Portraiture, 78283 2015-31675 Van Gogh's Bedrooms, 78284 2015-31666 Visiting Masterpieces—Pairing Picassos, 78283 2015-31673 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Comptroller of the Currency

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

RULES Guidance: Waivers for State Innovation, 78131-78135 2015-31563
Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Patient Aligned Care Team—Helping Veterans Manage Chronic Pain, Engaging Caregivers, etc., 78289-78290 2015-31512 Western Western Area Power Administration NOTICES General Power Marketing Criteria: Salt Lake City Area Integrated Projects and Colorado River Storage Project 2025, 78222-78224 2015-31619 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Transportation Department, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 78292-78416 2015-31336 Part III Transportation Department, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 78418-78460 2015-31228 Part IV Agriculture Department, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 78462-78520 2015-31510 Part V Transportation Department, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 78522-78591 2015-31323 Part VI Transportation Department, Federal Aviation Administration, 78594-78648 2015-31750 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.

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80 241 Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Commodity Credit Corporation 7 CFR Part 1400 RIN 0560-AI31 Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility; Actively Engaged in Farming AGENCY:

Commodity Credit Corporation, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule changes the requirements for a person to be considered actively engaged in farming for the purpose of payment eligibility for certain Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) programs. Specifically, this rule amends and clarifies the requirements for a significant contribution of active personal management to a farming operation. These changes are required by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). The provisions of this rule do not apply to persons or entities comprised entirely of family members. The rule does not change the existing regulations as they relate to contributions of land, capital, equipment, or labor, or the existing regulations related to landowners with a risk in the crop or to spouses. This rule will apply to eligibility for payments earned for the 2016 crop or program year for farming operations with only 2016 spring planted crops, and to eligibility for payments for the 2017 and subsequent crop or program years for all farming operations (those with either spring or fall planted crops).

DATES:

This rule is effective December 16, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James Baxa; Telephone: (202) 720-7641. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Overview

CCC programs managed by FSA, specifically the Market Loan Gains (MLG) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDP) associated with the Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) Program, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program, and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Program, require that a person or legal entity be “actively engaged in farming” as a condition of eligibility for payments. As specified in 7 CFR part 1400, a person or legal entity must contribute: (1) Land, capital, or equipment; and (2) active personal labor, active personal management, or a combination of active personal labor and active personal management to be considered “actively engaged in farming” for the purposes of payment eligibility.

Section 1604 of the 2014 Farm Bill (Pub. L. 113-79) requires the Secretary of Agriculture to define in regulations what constitutes a “significant contribution of active personal management” for the purpose of payment eligibility. CCC published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on March 26, 2015, (80 FR 15916-15921) to implement the changes required by the 2014 Farm Bill. CCC received 95 comments on the proposed rule. The comments and responses are discussed later in this document. No major changes are being made in response to comments, because FSA has determined that the comments support the definitions and requirements for “actively engaged in farming” specified in the proposed rule and support limiting eligibility for farm payments. Also, there was no consensus amongst the comments for any alternative payment eligibility provisions that would address the 2014 Farm Bill requirements. FSA has made minor changes from the proposed rule in this final rule to respond to commenters' requests for clarifications of certain provisions.

As specified in the proposed rule, this final rule amends 7 CFR part 1400 to define what constitutes a significant contribution of active personal management and to revise the requirements for active personal management contributions. The 2014 Farm Bill also directed the Secretary to consider the establishment of limits on the number of persons per farming operation who may be considered actively engaged in farming based on a significant contribution of active personal management. Based on this directive, a limit was established in the proposed rule and this final rule therefore amends 7 CFR part 1400 to set a limit on the number of persons per farming operation who may qualify as actively engaged in farming based on a significant contribution of active personal management, or a combination of active personal management and active personal labor. The new requirements and definitions are specified in a new subpart G to 7 CFR part 1400.

Exceptions for Entities Comprised Solely of Family Members

As required by the 2014 Farm Bill, the provisions of this rule do not apply to farming operations comprised solely of family members. This rule does not revise the definition of “family member.” As specified in 7 CFR 1400.3, a family member is “a person to whom another member in the farming operation is related as a lineal ancestor, lineal descendant, sibling, spouse, or otherwise by marriage.” This definition is consistent with 7 U.S.C. 1308, which is the authority for the definition. FSA handbooks further clarify that eligible family members include: Great grandparent, grandparent, parent, child, including legally adopted children and stepchildren, grandchild, great grandchild, or a spouse or sibling of family members.

In 7 CFR 1400.208, there are existing provisions for family members to be considered actively engaged in farming by making a significant contribution of active personal labor, or active personal management, or a combination thereof, to a farming operation comprised of a majority of family members, without making a contribution of land, equipment, or capital. The new subpart G does not change these provisions.

Existing Provisions and Exceptions for Actively Engaged Requirements That Are Not Changed

As specified in the current regulations, there are exceptions to the requirement that a person must contribute labor or management to be considered actively engaged in farming. These exceptions for certain landowners and for spouses are not changed with this rule. Specifically, a person or legal entity that is a landowner who makes a significant contribution of owned land to the farming operation and receives rent or income for such use of the land based on the land's production or the operation's operating results, and who therefore shares a financial risk in the crop (profit or loss is based on value of crop and not from a fixed rent amount) is considered to be actively engaged. A landowner who meets that requirement of sharing financial risk in the crop is not required to contribute labor or management to be considered actively engaged in farming. If one spouse, or an estate of a deceased spouse, is considered to be actively engaged in farming the other spouse is considered to be actively engaged without making a separate, additional contribution of management or labor. The spouse exemption as specified in the current regulations applies regardless of whether the other spouse has qualified as actively engaged through a contribution of management or labor or as a landowner sharing risk in the crop.

The final rule specifies how persons and legal entities comprised of nonfamily members may be determined eligible for payments, based on a contribution of active personal management made by persons with a direct or indirect interest in the farming operation. Payments made to persons or legal entities are attributed to persons as specified in 7 CFR 1400.105 and the methods for attribution remain unchanged with this rule.

Additional Requirements for Certain Nonfamily General Partnerships and Joint Ventures

The revised definition of what constitutes a significant contribution of active personal management in this rule apply only to certain nonfamily farming operations seeking to have more than one person qualify as actively engaged in farming by providing a significant contribution of active personal management. Such person is referred to as a “farm manager” for the purposes of this rule. This rule only applies to farming operations structured as general partnerships or joint ventures that seek to qualify more than one farm manager. The existing requirements that farming operations supply information to FSA county committees (COC) on each member's contribution or expected contribution of labor or management related to actively engaged determinations remain unchanged and continue to apply. However, each of the members of farming operations subject to this final rule that are determined to be actively engaged in farming by their contribution of active personal management, or the contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, will also be required to keep and provide a management log.

For most farming operations that are legal entities, such as corporations and limited liability companies, adding an additional member to the entity does not affect the number of payment limits available; it simply increases the number of members that can share a single $125,000 payment limit, should such a limit be reached. But for general partnerships and joint ventures, adding another member to the operation can provide the availability of an additional $125,000 payment limit if the new member meets the other eligibility requirements, including being determined as actively engaged in farming. This potential for a farming operation being able to qualify for multiple payment limits provides an opportunity to add members and to have those members claim actively engaged in farming status, each with an additional and separate payment limitation, especially for farming operations earning annual program payments in an amount close to or in excess of the payment limitation.

For this reason, several additional requirements now apply to nonfamily farming operations seeking to qualify more than one farm manager. Specifically, in addition to the existing requirements that farming operations must provide information to FSA on how each of their members qualify as actively engaged based on a contribution of labor, management, land, capital, and equipment, a limit is placed on the number of members of a farming operation that can be qualified as a farm manager. Also, an additional recordkeeping requirement now applies for each member of such farming operations contributing any active personal management. These additional requirements also apply to individuals requesting to qualify with a combination of labor and management if their farming operation is seeking to have more than one farm manager (combinations of labor and management can qualify as actively engaged in farming).

Number of Farm Managers That May Qualify As Actively Engaged

This rule restricts the number of farm managers to one person per farming operation, with exceptions. Nonfamily farming operations seeking only one member to qualify as actively engaged in farming with only a significant contribution of management or a combination of labor and management (one farm manager) are not subject to the new requirements of 7 CFR part 1400 subpart G. They are still, however, subject to the existing requirements of being actively engaged, as they were prior to this rule. In other words, such operations will continue to be subject to the existing regulations in subparts A and C of 7 CFR part 1400 that specify the requirements to be considered actively engaged in farming.

Any farming operation seeking two or three farm managers must meet the requirements of subpart G for all farm managers in the farming operation, including documenting that each of the two (or three) individuals are actively engaged in farming by their contribution of active personal management (or a combination of labor and management) by the maintenance of the records or logs discussed below for all the members in the farming operation. If one person of the farming operation meets the requirements for being actively engaged in farming by making a contribution of active personal management, and that farming operation seeks to qualify an additional farm manager, the farming operation must meet the requirements that it is a large operation or a complex operation as specified in this rule. To qualify a total of three farm managers, the operation is required to meet the requirements specified in this rule for both size and complexity. In other words, a very large farm operation that is not complex (for example, one growing a single crop) may only qualify for two farm managers, not three. Under no circumstances is a farming operation allowed to qualify more than a total of three persons as farm managers.

The default standard for what constitutes a large farming operation is an operation with crops on more than 2,500 acres (planted or prevented planted) or honey or wool with more than 10,000 hives or 3,500 ewes, respectively. The acreage standard is based on an analysis of responses to the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service. The results of that survey indicate that on average, farms producing eligible commodities that required more than one full time manager equivalent (2,040 hours of management) had a size of 2,527 acres. (See http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/arms-farm-financial-and-crop-production-practices.aspx for more information on the survey.) The size standards for honey and wool did not have comparable survey information available. The honey standard for the number of hives is based on the beekeepers participating in 2011 through 2012 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish that met or exceeded the payment limit. These large operations averaged 10,323 hives. The standard established for sheep was based on industry analysis that showed that operations with 1,500 through 2,000 ewes could be full time. The 3,500 ewes standard is approximately double that threshold. Each State FSA committee (STC) has authority to modify these size standards for their state based on the STC's determination of the relative size of farming operations in the state by up to 15 percent (that is plus or minus 375 acres, 1,500 hives, or 525 ewes). In other words, the standard in a particular state may range from 2,125 acres to 2,875 acres; 8,500 to 11,500 hives; or 2,975 to 4,025 ewes. Any deviation from the State level standards may only be granted on a case by case basis by the FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP).

If a farming operation seeks an additional farm manager based on the complexity of the operation, such operation must make a request to the FSA state committee that demonstrates complexity by addressing the factors established in this rule. The complexity factors specified in this rule take into account the diversity of the operation including the number of agricultural commodities produced; whether irrigation is used; the types of agricultural crops produced such as field, vegetable, or orchard crops; the geographical area in which an operation farms and produces agricultural commodities; alternative marketing channels (that is, fresh, wholesale, farmers market, or organic); and other aspects about the farming operation such as the production of livestock, types of livestock, and the various livestock products produced and marketed annually. The addition of a second or third farm manager to be considered actively engaged in farming must be approved by the STC, and is subject to review by DAFP. The final review and concurrence by DAFP is intended to ensure consistency and fairness on a national level.

Records on the Performance of Management Activities

As specified in this final rule, if a farming operation seeks to qualify more than one farm manager as actively engaged in farming, then all persons that provide any management to the farming operation are required to maintain contemporaneous records or activity logs of their management activities, including the management activities that may not qualify as active personal management under this rule. Specifically, activity logs must include information about the hours of management performed for the farming operation. While the recordkeeping requirements under this rule are similar to the current provisions at 7 CFR 1400.203 and 1400.204 in which contributions must be identifiable and documentable, and separate and distinct from the contributions of other members, these additional records or logs must also include the location of where the management activity was performed (either on-site or remote) and the time expended or duration of the management activity performed. These records and logs must be made available if requested by the appropriate FSA reviewing authority. If a person or member initially determined as actively engaged in farming by a represented contribution of active personal management to the farming operation fails to provide these management activity records within a reasonable amount on time, usually 30 days, the represented contribution of active personal management will be disregarded and the person's eligibility for payments will be re-determined.

Section 1604 of the Farm Bill requires USDA to ensure that any additional paperwork required by this rule be limited only to persons in farming operations who would be subject to this rule. As described above, the additional recording and recordkeeping requirements of this rule only apply to persons in farming operations that seek to qualify more than one farm manager as actively engaged in farming.

New Definition of Significant Contribution of Active Personal Management

The existing definition of a “significant contribution” in 7 CFR 1400.3 specifies that for active personal management, a significant contribution includes “activities that are critical to the profitability of the farming operation,” but that definition does not specify what specific types of activities are included, whether these activities need to be direct actions and not passive activities, and to what level or quantity such activities must be performed to achieve a level of significance.

This final rule specifies a new definition of “significant contribution of active personal management” that applies only to non-family farming operations that seek to qualify more than one person as a farm manager. Similar to the existing requirements in 7 CFR 1400.3 for a substantial amount of active personal labor, the new definition for a significant contribution of active personal management requires an annual contribution of 500 hours of management, or at least 25 percent of the total management required for that operation. This final rule also adds a new, more specific definition for “active personal management” that includes a list of critical management activities that qualify as a significant contribution if such activities are annually performed to either of the minimum levels established (500 hours or 25 percent of the total management hours required for the operation on an annual basis).

The new definition changes what constitutes “active personal management” only for farm managers in nonfamily farming operations seeking to qualify two or three farm managers. The requirements for such farm managers clarify that eligible management activities are critical actions performed under one or more of the following categories:

• Capital, land, and safety-net programs: Arrange financing, manage capital, acquire equipment, negotiate land acquisition and leases, and manage insurance or USDA program participation;

• Labor: Hire and manage labor; and

• Agronomics and Marketing: Decide which crop(s) to plant, purchase inputs, manage crops, price crops, and market crops or futures.

The management activities described place emphasis on actions taken or performed by the person directly for the benefit and success of the farming operation. Passive management activities such as attendance of board meetings or conference calls, or watching commodity markets or input markets (without making trades), are not considered as making a significant contribution of active personal management. Only critical actions as specified in the new definition of “active personal management” are counted towards the required hourly threshold for a significant contribution of active personal management.

As required by the 2014 Farm Bill, the new definition and requirements in the final rule take into account the size and complexity of farming operations across all parts of the country. The final rule also takes into consideration all of the actions of the farming operation associated with the financing; crop selection and planting decisions; land acquisitions and retention of the land assets for an extended period of time; risk management and crop insurance decisions; purchases of inputs and services; utilization of the most efficient field practices; and prudent marketing decisions. Furthermore, this new definition takes into account advancements in farming, communication, and marketing technologies that producers must avail themselves to remain competitive and economically viable operations in today's farming world.

Eligible management activities include the activities required for the farming operation as a whole, not just activities for the programs to which the “actively engaged in farming” requirement applies. For example, if a farming operation is participating in ARC or PLC and using grain produced under those programs to feed dairy cattle, those management activities with respect to the dairy component of the operation can be considered for eligibility purposes to qualify a farm manager. Similarly, if a farming operation receives MLG or LDPs on some crops, but not on others, all the management activities for all the crops are considered for eligibility purposes.

The final rule clarifies that the significant contribution of a person's active management may be used only to qualify one person or legal entity in a farming operation as meeting the requirements of being actively engaged in farming. For example, if members of a joint operation are entities, one person's contribution will only count toward qualifying one of the entities (and not any other entity to which the person belongs), as actively engaged in farming.

Summary of Comments Received and FSA Responses

The 60 day comment period on the proposed rule ended May 26, 2015. CCC received 95 comments on the proposed rule. Comments were received from individual farmers, members of the public, slow food and sustainable agriculture groups, environmental groups, rural advocacy groups, the USDA Office of the Inspector General, an FSA employee, and groups representing farmers and growers. Most of the comments supported the idea of restricting eligibility for farm payments, but many of those supportive comments also suggested additional restrictions on eligibility. The rest of the comments, primarily from groups representing farmers and growers, did not support restricting eligibility for farm payments based on active contribution of management, or suggested that additional persons be made eligible for payment.

Many of the suggestions to further restrict farm program payments were out of scope or exceed FSA's authority. For example, some commenters objected to the family member operation exemption that is required by the 2014 Farm Bill. The suggestion of one payment limit per farm, no exceptions, would eliminate the spouse exemption for actively engaged in farming, which FSA does not have authority to change. Other suggestions were good ideas that are already addressed by existing regulations. For example, the attribution rules already specified in 7 CFR part 1400 prevent one person from earning multiple payment limitations based on their participation in multiple farming enterprises.

The following discussion summarizes the issues raised by commenters, and FSA's responses to those comments as reflected in this rule:

Family Members and Family Farm Exemptions

Comment: The new requirements on the contribution of active personal management should be applied to all farming operations including family operations as a matter of clarity and equity.

Response: Section 1604(c) of the 2014 Farm Bill specifically states that any revisions to the actively engaged in farming provisions will not apply to farming operations comprised entirely of family members. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

Comment: The definition of family member should be extended an additional generation to great great grandchildren.

Response: If such a familial relationship of great great grandparent and great great grandchild is represented between members in the same farming operation, who are both currently members at the same time of such farming operation, this would fall under the existing definition of family member because the great great grandchild is a lineal descendant of the great great grandparent and would therefore be recognized as such by the FSA reviewing authority. No revision to the rule or handbooks is needed to accommodate five generations within the same farming operation in the application of this rule.

Comment: FSA should interpret the definition of family member to include cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles. While not lineal descendants, an extended family relationship exists between such individuals that many times are involved in the same farming operations.

Response: The existing definition of family member in 7 U.S.C. 1308 is centered on the term lineal descendant. FSA does not have authority to revise the current definition of family member in 7 CFR part 1400 and therefore, cousin, niece, nephew, aunt, and uncle will not be included or considered to be included as a family member under the current definition. No change is made to the definition of “family member.”

Comment: The changing legal landscape regarding definitions of marriage, and the effect, if any, it has on the related definitions within the rule, should be considered for this rule.

Response: The text in 7 CFR part 1400 refers only to “spouse” and has no reference to husbands or wives. No revisions to the regulations are necessary to address the issue of marriage equality.

Comment: Given the importance now placed on family members for operations to meet specific payment eligibility requirements, clarification is needed regarding the continuity of a farming operation's eligibility and the immediate consequences of unplanned events such as death, incapacitation, or forced retirement of a family member that otherwise negates this family relationship amongst all members. (For example, a grandparent retires from the operation, and one of the grandchildren remaining is a cousin but not a lineal descendent or sibling of any other remaining members.) Furthermore, FSA should consider a “grandfather clause” for existing members of a family farming operation (non-lineal descendants) that have succeeded former members due to death or retirement of a parent or grandparent.

Response: Current regulation and FSA policy as specified in the handbooks provide that if an individual is determined to be actively engaged in farming and is otherwise eligible to receive program benefits subsequently dies or becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to make contributions to the farming operation, that person is considered to be actively engaged in farming and eligible for the duration of the program year. Consistent with this policy, eligibility determinations for a farming operation and its members for a specific program year, and that are dependent upon the family member exemption, will remain effective for the entire program year regardless of when the death, disability, or incapacitation of a family member occurred during the same program year. Then, for the following program year, new determinations for payment eligibility and payment limitation purposes will be made by FSA based on the representations made by the farming operation, and its members, and applicable rules in effect at that time.

Regarding “grandfathering” existing members of a farming operation, as noted above, the eligibility of a particular person or operation is effective for a program year. No other accommodations for additional years will be adopted or allowed based on the historical relationship of an operation's former members, because we do not have the authority to do so. The definition of “family member” as specified in 7 U.S.C. 1308 specifies that a family member is one to whom “a member in the farming operation is related as lineal ancestor, lineal descendant, sibling, spouse, or otherwise by marriage.” The plain language meaning of the authority is that a family member is one who is currently related to another member of the farming operation, and does not include a historical relationship for one who was related to someone who was formerly in the farming operation. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

Implementation Timing

Comment: If the rule is making the changes in requirements for certain producers' eligibility effective for the 2016 crop year, we will have only a few months to potentially reorganize a farm operation to come into compliance. The effective date for the implementation of all changes to the actively engaged in farming provisions should be postponed until at least the 2017 crop year.

Response: There is no requirement that a farm operation needs to be reorganized to come into compliance with the rule changes; the rule changes how many payment limitations the farming operation may qualify for based on managers' activities and the size and complexity of the farming operation. We have considered the implementation timing and made a change in the in response to this comment and will make the rule effective for the 2016 crop year for producers who only have spring planted covered crops and loan commodity crops and effective for the 2017 crop year for producers who have both spring and fall planted covered crops and loan commodity crops.

Definitions

Comment: Although we are in agreement to FSA's new definition of active person management and the categories of management activities, FSA should include all of the management activities found in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference (commonly referred to as the Managers' Report) on the 2014 Farm Bill.

Response: FSA handbook instructions will be revised to include a list of all eligible management activities. The rule specifies the categories, and the handbook provides more details, so the categories are applied consistently. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

Comment: The phrase “critical to the profitability of a farming operation” used in the description of a significant contribution of active person management should be defined in the final rule.

Response: The proposed rule outlined the three specific categories of management activities that will be considered as a contribution of active personal management and used in determining whether the person or member has made a significant contribution of active personal management. Although not explicitly stated, it must be understood that to be successful in farming, the timing of those management activities is critical and the failure to make a management decision or failing to take a management action, may make a difference in a farming operation remaining viable. So unless those specific management activities are timely completed by the person or member of a farming operation, the person or member will not only be considered to not meet the requirements to be determined actively engaged in farming, but also that such a failure of the person or member to timely perform the specified management activities would adversely affect the viability and continued existence of the farming operation itself. Therefore, we believe that the term critical is being used in the normal dictionary definition and an additional regulatory definition is not necessary.

Comment: Rather than 500 hours or at least 25 percent of the total management needed for the farming operation, the new measurable standard for management should be increased to 1,000 hours or 50 percent, equal to the existing labor contribution requirement.

Response: Various proposals and concepts were considered in the development of this rule, including a minimum level of interest a person must hold in a farming operation before the person could qualify as actively engaged in farming with only an active personal management contribution, a weighted ranking of critical activities performed, Internal Revenue Service tax code requirements for a person to be considered a material participant in a business to claim a percentage of profit or loss from the business for personal income tax purposes, ARMS data of average size farming operations, and a higher hourly threshold, such the current hourly standard for active personal labor. The 500 hour or 25 percent standard was chosen because the ARMS found that generally in a farming operation, at least twice the amount of hours is devoted to labor activities as compared to the performance of actual management activities. Therefore, we are not making a change in the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: A numerical standard is not suitable to be applied at all to the performance of management activities.

Response: The Managers' Report on the 2014 Farm Bill specifically directed the Secretary in implementing Section 1604 to develop clear and objective standards that can easily be measured and accounted for by members of the farming operation. In the absence of a consensus on an alternative standard for measuring a management contribution, the numerical standard from the proposed rule was adopted in the final rule. A numerical standard meets the requirements for being clear and objective, as well as easily measured and accounted for. Therefore, we are not making a change in the regulation.

Comment: An equitable, measurable standard of significance should be one that combines both labor and management contributions due to the difficulty at times of deciding whether an activity or action is labor or management.

Response: We have revised the rule in response to this comment to address the issue of a combined significant contribution of management and labor for farming operations that are subject to the new Subpart G. The existing regulations in 1400.3(b)(4) specify how such a combined significant contribution can meet the requirements of actively engaged in farming for operations that are not subject to new subpart G, where the activity is primarily labor or primarily management. This rule specifies a new measurable standard for a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management to a farming operation that is subject to subpart G that takes into account the reality of most farming operations where a person or member contributes not just labor or just management, but contributes a combination of both.

The new standard for a contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management balances these realities and establishes a minimum hourly requirement based on the existing hourly standard for a significant contribution of active personal labor of 1,000 hours and the new hourly standard adopted for a significant contribution of active personal management of 500 hours. However, the threshold for a significant contribution of combined labor and management is based on the proportionate share of the person's or member's combined contribution of both labor and management activities performed. Accordingly, under a combination of labor and management, the labor contribution is counted towards the existing 1,000 hours threshold for labor, and the management contribution is counted towards the 500 hours threshold for management. Because the rule establishes a combined limit for the combination of both labor and management, the minimum contribution amounts for each component are less than their individual limits if such determination would be made based on their sole contribution of labor (1000 hours) or management (500 hours) alone and the contributions under the combination are weighted to the activity that is greatest.

There are 5 total hourly thresholds for a significant contribution of the combination of labor and management, based on a prorated combination of each type of contribution. For example, a combined contribution where the majority of the contribution is management is measured against a 550 total hour threshold that is weighted towards the 500 hour standard for management, whereas a combined contribution where the majority of the contribution is labor is measured against a 950 total hour threshold that is weighted toward the 1,000 hours required for a significant contribution of labor.

The following table specifies the hourly thresholds for the combined contribution of active personal labor and active personal management based on the proportionate share of both labor and management activities reported.

Combination of Active Personal Labor and Active Personal Management Minimum Requirement for a Significant Contribution [In hours] Management contribution in hours Labor contribution in hours Meets the minimum
  • threshold for significant
  • contribution, in hours
  • 475 75 550 450 100 550 425 225 650 400 250 650 375 375 750 350 400 750 325 425 750 300 550 850 275 575 850 250 600 850 225 625 850 200 650 850 175 675 850 150 800 950 125 825 950 100 850 950 75 875 950 50 900 950 25 925 950

    Under these weighted thresholds, two contributions of the same total contributed number of hours could have a different result, as it will depend upon how many hours of such total contribution are management and how many are labor. For example, a total combined contribution of 650 hours consisting of 250 hours of management and 400 hours of labor would not qualify as a significant contribution, whereas a total combined contribution of 650 hours consisting of 400 hours of management and 250 hours of labor would qualify as a significant contribution.

    This standard will apply to each person that a farming operation requests to qualify as actively engaged in farming by making a significant contribution of the combination of labor and management, rather than only a significant contribution of management.

    This rule treats a combination of labor and management as a subset of the manager requirements. This new provision to clarify a combined significant contribution does not change the limit of three farm managers. As part of an entity seeking more than one payment limit for management, those farm managers qualifying because of a combination of labor and management are also covered by the new definition and recordkeeping requirements. In no case may more than three persons per farming operation qualify as actively engaged in farming based on a contribution of active personal management or a combination of labor and management activities.

    Comment: Section 1604 of the 2014 Farm Bill prohibits FSA from making changes or revisions to any of the existing regulations other than for the contribution of active personal management.

    Response: That is correct, and this rule does not change the measurable standard for the significant contribution of active personal labor, which remains at 1,000 hours or 50 percent of the labor required for the operation. The statute is clear and this rule changes the regulations only for a contribution of active personal management, including for a significant contribution of combined labor and management. The regulations that apply solely to a contribution of labor have not changed.

    Restrictions on Active Personal Management Contributions

    Comment: No restriction should be placed on the number of persons that a farming operation is allowed to qualify as actively engaged in farming with the significant contribution of management and no labor.

    Response: Section 1604 of the 2014 Farm Bill directs the Secretary to consider placing limits on the number of persons in a farming operation that may qualify as actively engaged in farming by only contributing management. Having no restriction would not address Section 1604. We considered various options while developing the proposed rule. As explained in the proposed rule, one option considered was a strict limit of one farm manager; however, we determined that it was reasonable to provide an option for a second and third farm manager in specific circumstances. The adoption of this restriction or limit addresses the 2014 Farm Bill provision while providing flexibility for large or complex operations. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: There should be only one additional manager, period, the same as included in the House and Senate farm bills. The total payment limit for a farm should be decoupled from the number of managers by setting a strict limit of one manager.

    Related comment: A non-family farm operation should not be allowed to exceed two eligible managers under any scenario.

    Response: Consideration was given to allowing only one manager, or two managers, per non-family farming operation for all circumstances. However, the 2014 Farm Bill contained requirements that consideration be given to other factors such as operation size and operation complexity. The decision was made to allow up to a total of three managers, but only with documentation of the need for the additional managers, based on both operation size and complexity. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to these comments.

    Comment: Restricting the number of managers completely negates the new definition of active personal management, and the removal of this restriction would provide flexibility for operations to adjust to the new management requirements and lessen the impact of implementation.

    Response: The new limit of one farm manager with exceptions for up to three farm managers is flexible and recognizes that many diverse farming operations and farming practices are in existence today and may require multiple persons in farm management roles. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: The standards for the allowance of additional managing members based in the operation's size and complexity are a recipe for abuse, permissiveness, and inconsistent application by COCs and STCs.

    Response: All COC and STC recommendations for variances to the established standards for operation size and complexity, and all approvals of requests for additional managing members in a farming operation, are subject to approval and concurrence by DAFP before implementation. In addition, there will be no instances in which more than three farm managers per operation will be allowed by DAFP. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: The new restriction of one contribution qualifies only one person or member in the farming operation is unreasonable because for liability or other purposes, a non-family manager may need to spread his or her management contributions over more than one entity or member to make all of them eligible for payment.

    Response: In this rule, one person's contribution of active personal management or a combination of management and labor can only qualify only one person or one legal entity as actively engaged. Aside from the spousal provision for actively engaged in farming that allows one spouse's actions to be used to qualify the other spouse as actively engaged, we have no statutory authority to permit the contributions of one person to qualify additional persons and legal entities that represent multiple payment limitations in the same farming operation. Furthermore, without this restriction, the tracking and measurement of actual contributions of labor or management being made to a farming operation would be difficult, if not elusive, to determine to any measurable level or degree of risk. Therefore, we are not making a change in the regulation.

    Recordkeeping Requirements

    Comment: The requirement to keep a written log of the performance of management activities should be eliminated on the premise that such records would be overly burdensome to the members, disruptive to the workflow, and too expensive for an operation to maintain.

    Response: With the implementation of a measurable standard for the contribution of active personal management in hours or percentage of total hours expended in the farming operation, a written record or log of the performance of management activities is required from all members. These records are essential to enable county and State FSA committees to determine whether or not a significant contribution of specific management activities was performed to at least the minimum level necessary to qualify as a significant contribution as defined. Furthermore, the implementation of a measurable standard is meaningless in the absence of actual documentation to verify that the minimum level of the standard established has been met by the person who represents as meeting the standard. The new recordkeeping requirements apply only to joint operations and legal entities comprised of non-family members that are seeking to qualify more than one farm manager. Therefore, we are not making a change in the regulation.

    Comment: The 2014 Farm Bill had a provision that FSA develop and implement a plan to monitor compliance reviews to ensure producers' compliance to the provisions of part 1400. Why was that not specifically in the rule?

    Response: This requirement was already met prior to the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. FSA implemented an automated tracking system to record compliance review results and to monitor completion of compliance reviews in 2012. Review results and progress on the completion of compliance reviews for the 2009 through 2013 program years are currently being tracked. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) used FSA's tracking system in completion of the most recent audit of payment eligibility and payment limitation provisions (GAO 13-781, “Farm Programs: Changes Are Needed to Eligibility Requirements for Being Actively Involved in Farming,” September 2013). The current regulations in 7 CFR 1400.2(h) already specify that compliance reviews of farming operations and corresponding documentation may be conducted at any time.

    To address this comment and further clarify the compliance review process, this final rule adds a new provision to 7 CFR 1400.2 to specify that the Deputy Administrator will periodically monitor the status of completion of the assigned compliance reviews, and take any actions deemed appropriate to ensure the timely completion of the reviews for payment eligibility and payment limitation compliance purposes.

    General Comments

    Comment: This rule removes certain flexibilities to where many farm families will become less sustainable to the point that they may lose their ability to participate in farm programs.

    Response: It is unclear how limiting the number of persons who may qualify for payment based solely on management will in any way reduce the sustainability of family farms. Furthermore, family farming operations are exempt from this rule. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: Farm policy must seriously address the aging farmer crisis and effective payment caps are one tool USDA has to address this issue.

    Response: Payment limits have been in place since the 1970s, and are not changed with this rule. The eligibility requirements for the receipt of farm program payments have been made more restrictive with each successive legislation to date. FSA does not have authority to modify the current payment limitations below what is specified in the 2014 Farm Bill. We have outreach programs that target beginning farmers, and many of our programs have special provisions, such as fee waivers, to encourage beginning farmers.

    Comment: Lax payment limits allow big farms to outbid beginning farmers for land and leases. Limit or restrict the issuance of program payments to new and small farm operators only.

    Response: FSA does not have authority to implement such a restriction. However, the average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) provisions first implemented under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-171, generally referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill) and that remain, as amended by subsequent legislation, do restrict the payment eligibility of recipients with incomes above the specified AGI levels. As specified in 7 CFR 1400, persons with an AGI above the limit are not eligible for payments or benefits under ARC and PLC, price support programs including MAL and LDP, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, most FSA disaster assistance programs, and some conservation programs operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: Require any operation that reorganizes to qualify for the family farm exemption to wait 5 years following the effective date of this rule to qualify for the exemption.

    Response: The 2014 Farm Bill does not authorize such a provision. The 2014 Farm Bill requires that this rule not apply to any farming operation comprised entirely of family members, and with no such waiting period. Therefore, no change to the rule is made in response to this comment.

    Comment: FSA's failure to evaluate the effects of this proposal on the environment would violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), current FSA regulations, and would be arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to the law under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553).

    Response: FSA has evaluated the effects of this proposal and determined that this final rule does not constitute a major Federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment, individually or cumulatively. Therefore, FSA will not prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement for this regulatory action.

    Effective Date

    The Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) provides generally that before rules are issued by Government agencies, the rule is required to be published in the Federal Register, and the required publication of a substantive rule is to be not less than 30 days before its effective date. One of the exceptions is when the agency finds good cause for not delaying the effective date. Subsection 1601(c)(2) of the 2014 Farm Bill makes this final rule exempt from notice and comment. Therefore, using the administrative procedure provisions in 5 U.S.C. 553, FSA finds that there is good cause for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. This rule allows FSA to make the changes to the actively engaged regulations in time for the new 2016 program year. Therefore, this final rule is effective when published in the Federal Register.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

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

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designated this rule as significant under Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review,” and therefore, OMB has reviewed this rule. The costs and benefits of this final rule are summarized below. The full cost benefit analysis is available on regulations.gov.

    Summary of Economic Impacts

    About 3,200 joint operations could lose eligibility for around $106 million in total crop year 2016 to 2018 benefits from the PLC, ARC, and MAL Programs. The largest savings, around $38 million, are projected for both the 2016 and 2017 crops (note that the exemption for operations with fall plantings ends with the 2016 crops). Savings are projected to decline to around $29 million for the 2018 crop if prices improve, and in that case, producers would be eligible for lower benefits from the MAL, LDP, ARC, and PLC Programs, independent of the requirements of this rule. These savings can also be viewed as a cost of this rule for producers. This rule does not change the payment limit per person, which is a joint $125,000 for the applicable programs. As specified in the current regulations, the payment limits apply to general partnerships and joint ventures (collectively referred to as joint operations) based on the number of eligible partners in the joint operation; each partner may qualify the joint operation for a payment of up to $125,000. In other words, each person in the joint operation who loses eligibility due to this rule will lose eligibility for up to $125,000 in payments for the joint operation.

    Other types of entities (such as corporations and limited liability companies) that share a single payment limit of $125,000, regardless of their number of owners, would not have their payments reduced by this rule. Each owner must contribute management or labor to the operation to qualify the operation to receive the member's share of the single payment limit.

    No entities comprised solely of family members will be impacted by this rule.

    If commodity prices are sufficiently high that few producers are eligible for any benefits, the costs of this rule to producers (and savings to USDA) would be less, possibly even zero. That is, if very few joint operations were to earn farm program payments due to high commodity prices, limiting eligibility on the basis of management contributions would not have much impact. Government costs for implementing this rule are expected to be minimal ($0.4 million). The applicable joint operations' opportunity costs associated with keeping management logs over the course of each year are expected to be about $7 million, but that amount could decline over time as managers standardize their recordkeeping.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory analysis of any rule whenever an agency is required by APA or any other law to publish a rule, unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This final rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The farming operations of small entities generally do not have multiple members that contribute only active personal management to meet the requirements of actively engaged in farming.

    Environmental Review

    The environmental impacts of this final rule have been considered in a manner consistent with the provisions of NEPA, the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and the FSA regulations for compliance with NEPA (7 CFR part 799). The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) requires that USDA publish a regulation to specifically define a “significant contribution of active personal management” for the purposes of determining payment eligibility. This regulation clarifies the activities that qualify as active personal management and the recordkeeping requirements to document eligible management activities. This rule is making a mandatory administrative clarification. As such, FSA has determined that this final rule does not constitute a major Federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment, individually or cumulatively. Therefore, FSA will not prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement for this regulatory action.

    Executive Order 12372

    Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” requires consultation with State and local officials that would be directly affected by proposed Federal financial assistance. The objectives of the Executive Order are to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened Federalism, by relying on State and local processes for State and local government coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance and direct Federal development. For reasons specified in the final rule related notice regarding 7 CFR part 3015, subpart V (48 FR 29115, June 24, 1983), the programs and activities in this rule are excluded from the scope of Executive Order 12372.

    Executive Order 12988

    This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, “Civil Justice Reform.” This rule will not preempt State or local laws, regulations, or policies unless they represent an irreconcilable conflict with this rule. This rule will not have retroactive effect. Before any judicial actions may be brought regarding the provisions of this rule, the administrative appeal provisions of 7 CFR parts 11 and 780 are to be exhausted.

    Executive Order 13132

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

    Executive Order 13175

    This final rule has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.” Executive Order 13175 requires Federal agencies to consult and coordinate with tribes on a government-to-government basis on policies that have tribal implications, including regulations, legislative comments or proposed legislation, and other policy statements or actions that have substantial direct effects 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.

    FSA has assessed the impact of this final rule on Indian tribes and determined that this rule would not, to our knowledge, have tribal implications that require tribal consultation under Executive Order 13175. If a Tribe requests consultation, FSA will work with the USDA Office of Tribal Relations to ensure meaningful consultation is provided where changes, additions, and modifications identified in this rule are not expressly mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill.

    Unfunded Mandates

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

    Federal Domestic Assistance Programs

    The title and number of the programs in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance to which this rules applies are: 10.051 Commodity Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments; 10.112 Price Loss Coverage; and 10.113 Agriculture Risk Coverage.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The regulations in this final rule are exempt from requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), as specified in Section 1601(c)(2)(B) of the 2014 Farm Bill, which provides that these regulations be promulgated and administered without regard to the Paperwork Reduction Act. Section 1604 of the Farm Bill requires us to ensure that any additional paperwork required by this rule be limited only to persons who are subject to this rule. The additional recording and recordkeeping requirements of this final rule will only apply to persons who are claiming eligibility for payments based on a significant contribution of active personal management or a combination of labor and management to the farming operation.

    E-Government Act Compliance

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

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1400

    Agriculture, Loan programs-agriculture, Conservation, Price support programs.

    For the reasons discussed above, CCC amends 7 CFR part 1400 as follows:

    PART 1400—PAYMENT LIMITATION AND PAYMENT ELIGIBILITY 1. The authority citation for part 1400 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 1308, 1308-1, 1308-2, 1308-3, 1308-3a, 1308-4, and 1308-5.

    § 1400.1 [Amended]
    2. In § 1400.1(a)(8), remove the words “C and D” and add the words “C, D, and G” in their place. 3. Amend § 1400.2 by adding paragraph (i) to read as follows:
    § 1400.2 Administration

    (i) The Deputy Administrator will periodically monitor the status of completion of assigned compliance reviews and take any actions deemed appropriate to ensure timely completion of reviews for payment eligibility and payment limitation compliance purposes.

    4. Add subpart G to read as follows: Subpart G—Additional Payment Eligibility Provisions for Joint Operations and Legal Entities Comprised of Non-Family Members or Partners, Stockholders, or Persons With an Ownership Interest in the Farming Operation Sec. 1400.600 Applicability. 1400.601 Definitions. 1400.602 Restrictions on active personal management contributions. 1400.603 Recordkeeping requirements. Subpart G—Additional Payment Eligibility Provisions for Joint Operations and Legal Entities Comprised of Non-Family Members or Partners, Stockholders, or Persons With an Ownership Interest in the Farming Operation
    § 1400.600 Applicability.

    (a) This subpart is applicable to all of the programs as specified in § 1400.1 and any other programs as specified in individual program regulations.

    (b) The requirements of this subpart will apply to farming operations for FSA program payment eligibility and limitation purposes as specified in subparts B and C of this part.

    (c) The requirements of this subpart do not apply to farming operations specified in paragraph (b) of this section if either:

    (1) All persons who are partners, stockholders, or persons with an ownership interest in the farming operation or of any entity that is a member of the farming operation are family members as defined in § 1400.3; or

    (2) The farming operation is seeking to qualify only one person as making a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, for the purposes of qualifying only one person or entity as actively engaged in farming.

    § 1400.601 Definitions.

    (a) The terms defined in § 1400.3 are applicable to this subpart and all documents issued in accordance with this part, except as otherwise provided in this section.

    (b) The following definitions are also applicable to this subpart:

    Active personal management means personally providing and participating in management activities considered critical to the profitability of the farming operation and performed under one or more of the following categories:

    (i) Capital, which includes:

    (A) Arranging financing and managing capital;

    (B) Acquiring equipment;

    (C) Acquiring land and negotiating leases;

    (D) Managing insurance; and

    (E) Managing participation in USDA programs;

    (ii) Labor, which includes hiring and managing of hired labor; and

    (iii) Agronomics and marketing, which includes:

    (A) Selecting crops and making planting decisions;

    (B) Acquiring and purchasing crop inputs;

    (C) Managing crops (that is, whatever managerial decisions are needed with respect to keeping the growing crops living and healthy—soil fertility and fertilization, weed control, insect control, irrigation if applicable) and making harvest decisions; and

    (D) Pricing and marketing of crop production.

    Significant contribution of active personal management means active personal management activities performed by a person, with a direct or indirect ownership interest in the farming operation, on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis to the farming operation, and meets at least one of the following to be considered significant:

    (i) Performs at least 25 percent of the total management hours required for the farming operation on an annual basis; or

    (ii) Performs at least 500 hours of management annually for the farming operation.

    Significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management means a contribution of a combination of active personal labor and active personal management that:

    (i) Is critical to the profitability of the farming operation;

    (ii) Is performed on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis; and

    (iii) Meets the following required number of hours:

    Combination of Active Personal Labor and Active Personal Management Minimum Requirement for a Significant Contribution [In hours] Management contribution in hours Labor contribution in hours Meets the minimum threshold for significant contribution, in hours 475 75 550 450 100 550 425 225 650 400 250 650 375 375 750 350 400 750 325 425 750 300 550 850 275 575 850 250 600 850 225 625 850 200 650 850 175 675 850 150 800 950 125 825 950 100 850 950 75 875 950 50 900 950 25 925 950
    § 1400.602 Restrictions on active personal management contributions.

    (a) If a farming operation includes any nonfamily members as specified under the provisions of § 1400.201(b)(2) and (3) and the farming operation is seeking to qualify more than one person as providing a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, then:

    (1) Each such person must maintain contemporaneous records or logs as specified in § 1400.603; and

    (2) Subject to paragraph (b) of this section, if the farming operation seeks not more than one additional person to qualify as providing a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, because the operation is large, then the operation may qualify for one such additional person if the farming operation:

    (i) Produces and markets crops on 2,500 acres or more of cropland;

    (ii) Produces honey with more than 10,000 hives; or

    (iii) Produces wool with more than 3,500 ewes; and

    (3) If the farming operation seeks not more than one additional person to qualify as providing a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, because the operation is complex, then the operation may qualify for one such additional person if the farming operation is determined by the FSA state committee as complex after considering the factors described in paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (ii) of this section. Any determination that a farming operation is complex by an FSA state committee must be reviewed and DAFP must concur with such determination for it to be implemented. To demonstrate complexity, the farming operation will be required to provide information to the FSA state committee on the following:

    (i) Number and type of livestock, crops, or other agricultural products produced and marketing channels used; and

    (ii) Geographical area covered.

    (b) FSA state committees may adjust the limitations described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section up or down by not more than 15 percent if the FSA state committee determines that the relative size of farming operations in the state justify making a modification of either or both of these limitations. If the FSA state committee seeks to make a larger adjustment, then DAFP will review and may approve such request.

    (c) If a farming operation seeks to qualify a total of three persons as providing a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, then the farming operation must demonstrate both size and complexity as specified in paragraph (a) of this section.

    (d) In no case may more than three persons in the same farming operation qualify as providing a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, as defined by this subpart.

    (e) A person's contribution of active personal management, or the contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, to a farming operation specified in § 1400.601(b) will only qualify one member of that farming operation as actively engaged in farming as defined in this part. Other individual persons in the same farming operation are not precluded from making management contributions, except that such contributions will not be recognized as meeting the requirements of being a significant contribution of active personal management.

    § 1400.603 Recordkeeping requirements.

    (a) Any farming operation requesting that more than one person qualify as making a significant contribution of active personal management, or a significant contribution of the combination of active personal labor and active personal management, must maintain contemporaneous records or activity logs for all persons that make any contribution of any management to a farming operation under this subpart that must include, but are not limited to, the following:

    (1) Location where the management activity was performed; and

    (2) Time expended and duration of the management activity performed.

    (b) To qualify as providing a significant contribution of active personal management each person covered by this subpart must:

    (1) Maintain these records and supporting business documentation; and

    (2) If requested, timely make these records available for review by the appropriate FSA reviewing authority.

    (c) If a person fails to meet the requirement of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, then both of the following will apply:

    (1) The person's contribution of active personal management as represented to the farming operation for payment eligibility purposes will be disregarded; and

    (2) The person's payment eligibility will be re-determined for the applicable program year.

    Val Dolcini, Executive Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation, and Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31532 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF STATE 22 CFR Part 121 [Public Notice: 9378] RIN 1400-AD74 Temporary Modification of Category XI of the United States Munitions List AGENCY:

    Department of State.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; notice of temporary modification.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of State, pursuant to its regulations and in the interest of the security of the United States, temporarily modifies Category XI of the United States Munitions List (USML).

    DATES:

    Amendatory instructions 1 and 2 are effective December 29, 2015. Amendatory instruction No. 3 is effective August 30, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. C. Edward Peartree, Director, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy, Department of State, telephone (202) 663-2792; email [email protected] ATTN: Temporary Modification of Category XI.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 1, 2014, the Department published a final rule revising Category XI of the USML, 79 FR 37536, effective December 30, 2014. This final rule, consistent with the two prior proposed rules for USML Category XI (78 FR 45018, July 25, 2013 and 77 FR 70958, November 28, 2012), revised paragraph (b) of Category XI to clarify the extent of control and maintain the existing scope of control on items described in paragraph (b) and the directly related software described in paragraph (d). The Department has determined that exporters may read the revised control language to exclude certain intelligence analytics software that has been and remains controlled on the USML. Therefore, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade Controls determined that it is in the interest of the security of the United States to temporarily revise USML Category XI paragraph (b), pursuant to the provisions of 22 CFR 126.2, while a long term solution is developed. The Department will publish any permanent revision to USML Category XI paragraph (b) addressing this issue as a proposed rule for public comment.

    This temporary revision clarifies that the scope of control in existence prior to December 30, 2014 for USML paragraph (b) and directly related software in paragraph (d) remains in effect. This clarification is achieved by reinserting the words “analyze and produce information from” and by adding software to the description of items controlled.

    The Department previously published a final rule on July 2, 2015 (80 FR 37974) that temporarily modified USML Category XI(b) until December 29, 2015. This rule will extend the July 2, 2015 modification to allow the U.S. government to consider the controls in USML Category XI(b). Due to the current status of the review an extension until August 30, 2017 is appropriate.

    Regulatory Findings Administrative Procedure Act

    The Department is publishing this rule as a final rule based upon good cause, and its determination that delaying the effect of this rule during a period of public comment would be impractical, unnecessary and contrary to public interest. 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B). In addition, the Department is of the opinion that controlling the import and export of defense articles and services is a foreign affairs function of the United States Government and that rules implementing this function are exempt from sections 553 (rulemaking) and 554 (adjudications) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Since the Department is of the opinion that this rule is exempt from the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 553, there is no requirement for an analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rulemaking does not involve a mandate that will result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any 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

    The Department does not believe this rulemaking is a major rule under the criteria of 5 U.S.C. 804.

    Executive Orders 12372 and 13132

    This rulemaking does not have sufficient federalism implications to require consultations or warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities do not apply to this rulemaking.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    The Department believes that benefits of the rulemaking outweigh any costs, which are estimated to be insignificant. It is the Department's position that this rulemaking is not a significant rule under the criteria of Executive Order 12866, and is consistent with the provisions of Executive Order 13563.

    Executive Order 12988

    The Department of State has reviewed this rulemaking in light of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988 to eliminate ambiguity, minimize litigation, establish clear legal standards, and reduce burden.

    Executive Order 13175

    The Department of State has determined that this rulemaking will not have tribal implications, will not impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments, and will not preempt tribal law. Accordingly, the requirements of Executive Order 13175 do not apply to this rulemaking.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rulemaking does not impose or revise any information collections subject to 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35.

    List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 121

    Arms and munitions, Classified information, Exports.

    For reasons stated in the preamble, the State Department amends 22 CFR part 121 as follows:

    PART 121—THE UNITED STATES MUNITIONS LIST 1. The authority citation for part 121 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Secs. 2, 38, and 71, Pub. L. 90-629, 90 Stat. 744 (22 U.S.C. 2752, 2778, 2797); 22 U.S.C. 2651a; Pub. L. 105-261, 112 Stat. 1920; Section 1261, Pub. L. 112-239; E.O. 13637, 78 FR 16129.

    2. In § 121.1, under Category XI, revise paragraph (b), effective December 29, 2015 to read as follows:
    § 121.1 The United States Munitions List. Category XI—Military Electronics

    *(b) Electronic systems, equipment or software, not elsewhere enumerated in this sub-chapter, specially designed for intelligence purposes that collect, survey, monitor, or exploit, or analyze and produce information from, the electromagnetic spectrum (regardless of transmission medium), or for counteracting such activities.

    3. In § 121.1, under Category XI, revise paragraph (b), effective August 30, 2017, to read as follows:
    § 121.1 The United States Munitions List. Category XI—Military Electronics

    *(b) Electronic systems or equipment, not elsewhere enumerated in this sub-chapter, specially designed for intelligence purposes that collect, survey, monitor, or exploit the electromagnetic spectrum (regardless of transmission medium), or for counteracting such activities.

    Brian H. Nilsson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Trade Controls, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31528 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4710-25-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 31 CFR Part 33 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 45 CFR Part 155 [CMS-9936-N] Waivers for State Innovation AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS; Department of the Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Guidance.

    SUMMARY:

    This guidance relates to Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its implementing regulations. Section 1332 provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of the Treasury with the discretion to approve a state's proposal to waive specific provisions of the ACA (a State Innovation Waiver), provided the proposal meets certain requirements. In particular, the Secretaries can only exercise their discretion to approve a waiver if they find that the waiver would provide coverage to a comparable number of residents of the state as would be provided coverage absent the waiver, would provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive and affordable as would be provided absent the waiver, and would not increase the Federal deficit. If the waiver is approved, the state may receive funding equal to the amount of forgone Federal financial assistance that would have been provided to its residents pursuant to specified ACA programs, known as pass-through funding. State Innovation Waivers are available for effective dates beginning on or after January 1, 2017. They may be approved for periods up to 5 years and can be renewed. The Departments promulgated implementing regulations in 2012. This document provides additional information about the requirements that must be met, the Secretaries' application review procedures, the amount of pass-through funding, certain analytical requirements, and operational considerations.

    DATES:

    Comment Date: Comments may be submitted at any time.

    ADDRESSES:

    In commenting, please refer to file code CMS-9936-N. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this document to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-9936-N, P.O. Box 8016, Baltimore, MD 21244-8016.

    3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-9936-N, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments ONLY to the following addresses:

    a. For delivery in Washington, DC—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without Federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)

    b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-9994 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members. Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed.

    For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Tricia Beckmann, 301-492-4328, or Robert Yates, 301-492-5151.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Inspection of Public Comments: All comments received are available for viewing by the public, including any personally identifiable or confidential business information that is included in a comment. We post all comments received on the following Web site as soon as possible after they have been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search instructions on that Web site to view public comments.

    Comments received will also be available for public inspection as they are received, generally beginning approximately 3 weeks after publication of a document, at the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244, Monday through Friday of each week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment to view public comments, phone 1-800-743-3951.

    I. Statutory Requirements

    Under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury as appropriate may exercise their discretion to approve a request for a State Innovation Waiver only if the Secretaries determine that the proposal meets the following four requirements: (1) The proposal will provide coverage to at least a comparable number of the state's residents as would be provided absent the waiver; (2) the proposal will provide coverage and cost-sharing protections against excessive out-of-pocket spending that are at least as affordable for the state's residents as would be provided absent the waiver; (3) the proposal will provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive for the state's residents as would be provided absent the waiver; and, (4) the proposal will not increase the Federal deficit. The Secretaries retain their discretionary authority under Section 1332 to deny waivers when appropriate given consideration of the application as whole, including the four requirements. As under similar waiver authorities, the Secretaries reserve the right to suspend or terminate a waiver, in whole or in part, any time before the date of expiration, if the Secretaries determine that the state materially failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the waiver, including any of the requirements discussed in this guidance.

    Final regulations at 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N require a state to provide actuarial analyses and actuarial certifications, economic analyses, data and assumptions, targets, an implementation timeline, and other necessary information to support the state's estimates that the proposed waiver will comply with these requirements.1

    1 “Application, Review, and Reporting Process for Waivers for State Innovation Final Rule.” February 27, 2012. Available at: http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-27/pdf/2012-4395.pdf.

    A. Coverage

    To meet the coverage requirement, a comparable number of state residents must be forecast to have coverage under the waiver as would have coverage absent the waiver.

    Coverage refers to minimum essential coverage (or, if the individual shared responsibility provision is waived under a State Innovation Waiver, to something that would qualify as minimum essential coverage but for the waiver). For this purpose, “comparable” means that the forecast of the number of covered individuals is no less than the forecast of the number of covered individuals absent the waiver. This condition generally must be forecast to be met in each year that the waiver would be in effect.

    The impact on all state residents is considered, regardless of the type of coverage they would have absent the waiver. (For example, while a State Innovation Waiver may not change the terms of a state's Medicaid coverage or change existing Medicaid demonstration authority, changes in Medicaid enrollment that result from a State Innovation Waiver, holding the state's Medicaid policies constant, are considered in evaluating the number of residents with coverage under a waiver.)

    Assessment of whether the proposal covers a comparable number of individuals also takes into account the effects across different groups of state residents, and, in particular, vulnerable residents, including low-income individuals, elderly individuals, and those with serious health issues or who have a greater risk of developing serious health issues. Reducing coverage for these types of vulnerable groups would cause a waiver application to fail this requirement, even if the waiver would provide coverage to a comparable number of residents overall. Finally, analysis under the coverage requirement takes into account whether the proposal sufficiently prevents gaps in or discontinuations of coverage.

    As provided in 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N, the waiver application must include analysis and supporting data that establishes that the waiver satisfies this requirement, including information on the number of individuals covered by income, health status, and age groups, under current law and under the waiver, including year-by-year estimates. The application should identify any types of individuals who are less likely to be covered under the waiver than under current law.

    The state should also provide a description of the model used to produce these estimates, including data sources and quality, key assumptions, and parameters. The state may be required to provide micro data and other information to inform the Secretaries' analysis.

    B. Affordability

    To meet the affordability requirement, health care coverage under the waiver must be forecast to be as affordable overall for state residents as coverage absent the waiver.

    Affordability refers to state residents' ability to pay for health care and may generally be measured by comparing residents' net out-of-pocket spending for health coverage and services to their incomes. Out-of-pocket expenses include both premium contributions (or equivalent costs for enrolling in coverage), and any cost sharing, such as deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance, associated with the coverage. Spending on health care services that are not covered by a plan may also be taken into account if they are affected by the waiver proposal. The impact on all state residents is considered, regardless of the type of coverage they would have absent the waiver. This condition generally must be forecast to be met in each year that the waiver would be in effect.

    Waivers are evaluated not only based on how they affect affordability on average, but also on how they affect the number of individuals with large health care spending burdens relative to their incomes. Increasing the number of state residents with large health care spending burdens would cause a waiver to fail the affordability requirement, even if the waiver would increase affordability for many other state residents. Assessment of whether the proposal meets the affordability requirement also takes into account the effects across different groups of state residents, and, in particular, vulnerable residents, including low-income individuals, elderly individuals, and those with serious health issues or who have a greater risk of developing serious health issues. Reducing affordability for these types of vulnerable groups would cause a waiver to fail this requirement, even if the waiver maintained affordability in the aggregate.

    In addition, a waiver would fail the affordability requirement if it would reduce the number of individuals with coverage that provides a minimal level of protection against excessive cost sharing. In particular, waivers that reduce the number of people with insurance coverage that provides both an actuarial value equal to or greater than 60 percent and an out-of-pocket maximum that complies with section 1302(c)(1) of the ACA, would fail this requirement. So too would waivers that reduce the number of people with coverage that meets the affordability requirements set forth in sections 1916 and 1916A of the Social Security Act, as codified in 42 CFR part 447, subpart A, while holding the state's Medicaid policies constant.

    As provided in 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N, the waiver application must include analysis and supporting data that establishes that the waiver satisfies this requirement. This includes information on estimated individual out-of-pocket costs by income, health status, and age groups, absent the waiver and with the waiver. The expected changes in premium contributions and other out-of-pocket costs and the combined impact of changes in these components should be identified separately. The application should also describe any changes in employer contributions to health coverage or in wages expected under the waiver. The application should identify any types of individuals for whom affordability of coverage would be reduced by the waiver.

    The state should also provide a description of the model used to produce these estimates, including data sources and quality, key assumptions, and parameters. The state may be required to provide micro data and other information to inform the Secretaries' analysis.

    C. Comprehensiveness

    To meet the comprehensiveness requirement, health care coverage under the waiver must be forecast to be at least as comprehensive overall for residents of the state as coverage absent the waiver.

    Comprehensiveness refers to the scope of benefits provided by the coverage as measured by the extent to which coverage meets the requirements for essential health benefits (EHBs) as defined in section 1302(b) of the ACA, or, as appropriate, Medicaid and/or CHIP standards. The impact on all state residents is considered, regardless of the type of coverage they would have absent the waiver.

    Comprehensiveness is evaluated by comparing coverage under the waiver to the state's EHB benchmark, selected by the state (or if the state does not select a benchmark, the default base-benchmark plan) pursuant to 45 CFR 156.100, as well as to, in certain cases, the coverage provided under the state's Medicaid and/or CHIP programs. A waiver cannot satisfy the comprehensiveness requirement if the waiver decreases: (1) The number of residents with coverage that is at least as comprehensive as the benchmark in all ten EHB categories; (2) for any of the ten EHB categories, the number of residents with coverage that is at least as comprehensive as the benchmark in that category; or (3) the number of residents whose coverage includes the full set of services that would be covered under the state's Medicaid and/or CHIP programs, holding the state's Medicaid and CHIP policies constant. That is, the waiver must not decrease the number of individuals with coverage that satisfies EHB requirements, the number of individuals with coverage of any particular category of EHB, or the number of individuals with coverage that includes the services covered under the state's Medicaid and/or CHIP programs.

    Assessment of whether the proposal meets the comprehensiveness requirement also takes into account the effects across different groups of state residents, and, in particular, vulnerable residents, including low-income individuals, elderly individuals, and those with serious health issues or who have a greater risk of developing serious health issues. A waiver would fail the comprehensiveness requirement if it would reduce the comprehensiveness of coverage provided to these types of vulnerable groups, even if the waiver maintained comprehensiveness in the aggregate. This condition generally must be forecast to be met in each year that the waiver would be in effect.

    As provided in the final regulations at 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N, the waiver application must include analysis and supporting data that establishes that the waiver satisfies this requirement. This includes an explanation of how the benefits offered under the waiver differ from the benefits provided absent the waiver (if the benefits differ at all) and how the state determined the benefits to be as comprehensive.

    The state should also provide a description of the model used to produce these estimates, including data sources and quality, key assumptions, and parameters. The state may be required to provide micro data and other information to inform the Secretaries' analysis.

    D. Deficit Neutrality

    Under the deficit neutrality requirement, the projected Federal spending net of Federal revenues under the State Innovation Waiver must be equal to or lower than projected Federal spending net of Federal revenues in the absence of the waiver.

    The estimated effect on Federal revenue includes all changes in income, payroll, or excise tax revenue, as well as any other forms of revenue (including user fees), that would result from the proposed waiver. Estimated effects would include, for example, changes in: The premium tax credit and health coverage tax credit, individual shared responsibility payments, employer shared responsibility payments, the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored plans, the credit for small businesses offering health insurance, and changes in income and payroll taxes resulting from changes in tax exclusions for employer-sponsored insurance and in deductions for medical expenses.

    The effect on Federal spending includes all changes in Exchange financial assistance and other direct spending, such as changes in Medicaid spending (while holding the state's Medicaid policies constant) that result from the changes made through the State Innovation Waiver. Projected Federal spending under the waiver proposal also includes all administrative costs to the Federal government, including any changes in Internal Revenue Service administrative costs, Federal Exchange administrative costs, or other administrative costs associated with the waiver.

    Waivers must not increase the Federal deficit over the period of the waiver (which may not exceed 5 years unless renewed) or in total over the ten-year budget plan submitted by the state as part of the State Innovation Waiver application. The ten-year budget plan must describe for both the period of the waiver and for the ten-year budget the projected Federal spending net of Federal revenues under the State Innovation Waiver and the projected Federal spending net of Federal revenues in the absence of the waiver.

    The ten-year budget plan should assume the waiver would continue permanently, but should not include Federal spending or savings attributable to any period outside of the ten-year budget window. A variety of factors, including the likelihood and accuracy of projected spending and revenue effects and the timing of these effects, are considered when evaluating the effect of the waiver on the Federal deficit. A waiver that increases the deficit in any given year is less likely to meet the deficit neutrality requirement.

    The state should also provide a description of the model used to produce these estimates, including data sources and quality, key assumptions, and parameters. The state may be required to provide micro data and other information to inform the Secretaries' analysis.

    As provided in 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N, a state must submit evidence to demonstrate deficit neutrality, including a description of the analysis used to produce its estimate of the impact of the waiver on the Federal deficit. The description must include detailed information about the model, data sources and quality, key assumptions, and parameters. The state may be required to provide micro data and other information to support actuarial and economic analyses, so that the Secretaries can independently verify that the waiver meets the deficit neutrality requirement.

    II. Impact of Other Program Changes on Assessment of a Waiver Proposal

    The assessment of whether a State Innovation Waiver proposal satisfies the statutory criteria set forth in Section 1332 takes into consideration the impact of changes to ACA provisions made pursuant to the State Innovation Waiver. The assessment also considers related changes to the state's health care system that, under state law, are contingent only on the approval of the State Innovation Waiver. For example, the assessment would take into account the impact of a new state-run health benefits program that, under legislation enacted by the state, would be implemented if the State Innovation Waiver were approved.

    The assessment does not consider the impact of policy changes that are contingent on further state action, such as state legislation that is proposed but not yet enacted. It also does not include the impact of changes contingent on other Federal determinations, including approval of Federal waivers pursuant to statutory provisions other than Section 1332. Therefore, the assessment would not take into account changes to Medicaid or CHIP that require separate Federal approval, such as changes in coverage or Federal Medicaid or CHIP spending that would result from a proposed Section 1115 demonstration, regardless of whether the Section 1115 demonstration proposal is submitted as part of a coordinated waiver application with a State Innovation Waiver. Savings accrued under either proposed or current Section 1115 Medicaid or CHIP demonstrations are not factored into the assessment of whether a proposed State Innovation Waiver meets the deficit neutrality requirement. The assessment also does not take into account any changes to the Medicaid or CHIP state plan that are subject to Federal approval.

    The assessment does take into account changes in Medicaid and/or CHIP coverage or in Federal spending on Medicaid and/or CHIP that would result directly from the proposed waiver of provisions pursuant to Section 1332, holding state Medicaid and CHIP policies constant.

    As the Departments receive and review waiver proposals, we will continue to examine the types of changes that will be considered in assessing State Innovation Waivers.

    Nothing in this guidance alters a state's authority to make changes to its Medicaid and CHIP policies consistent with applicable law. This guidance does not alter the Secretary of Health and Human Services' authority or CMS' policy regarding review and approval of Section 1115 demonstrations, and states should continue to work with CMS' Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services on issues relating to Section 1115 demonstrations. A state may submit a coordinated waiver application as provided in 31 CFR 33.102 and 45 CFR 155.1302; in such a case, each waiver will be evaluated independently according to applicable Federal laws.

    III. Federal Pass-Through Funding

    The amount of Federal pass-through funding equals the Secretaries' annual estimate of the Federal cost (including outlays and forgone revenue) for Exchange financial assistance provided pursuant to the ACA that would be claimed by participants in the Exchange in the state in the calendar year in the absence of the waiver, but will not be claimed as a result of the waiver. The calculation of the amount of pass-through funding does not account for any other changes in Federal spending or revenues as a result of the waiver, including Federal administrative expenses for making the payments (note, however that changes to Federal spending on administrative expenses is considered in determining whether a waiver proposal meets the deficit neutrality requirement). The estimates take into account experience in the relevant state and similar states. The amount is calculated annually.

    The waiver application must provide analysis and supporting data to inform the estimate of the pass-through funding amount. For states that do not utilize a Federally-facilitated or state Partnership Exchange this includes information about enrollment, premiums, and Exchange financial assistance in the state's Exchange by age, income, and type of policy, and other information as may be required by the Secretaries.

    For further information on the demographic and economic assumptions to be used in determining the pass-through amount, see Section IV below.

    IV. Economic Assumptions and Methodological Guidelines

    The determination of whether a waiver meets the requirements under Section 1332 and the calculation of the pass-through funding amount are made using generally accepted actuarial and economic analytic methods such as micro-simulation. The analysis relies on assumptions and methodologies that are similar to those used to produce the baseline and policy projections included in the most recent President's Budget (or Mid-Session Review), but adapted as appropriate to reflect state-specific conditions.

    The analysis is based on state-specific estimates of the current level and distribution of population by the relevant economic and demographic characteristics, including income and source of health coverage. It generally uses Federal estimates of population growth, economic growth as published in the Analytical Perspectives volume released as part of the President's Budget (https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Analytical_Perspectives) and health care cost growth (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/index.html?redirect=/NationalHealthExpendData/.) to project the initial state variables through the ten-year Budget plan window. However, in limited circumstances where it is expected that a state will experience substantially different trends than the nation as a whole in the absence of a waiver, the Secretaries may determine that state-specific assumptions will be used.

    Estimates of the effect of the waiver assume, in accordance with standard estimating conventions, that macroeconomic variables like population, output, and labor supply are not affected by the waiver. However, estimates take into account, as appropriate, other changes in the behavior of individuals, employers, and other relevant entities induced by the waiver, including employer decisions regarding what coverage (and other compensation) they offer and individual decisions regarding whether to take up coverage. The same state-specific and Federal data, assumptions, and model are used to calculate comprehensiveness, affordability, and coverage, and relevant state components of Federal taxes and spending under the waiver and under current law.

    The analysis and information submitted by the state as part of the application must conform to these standards. The application must describe all modeling assumptions used, sources of state-specific data, and the rationale for any deviation from Federal forecasts. A state may be required to provide to the Secretaries copies of any data used for their waiver analyses that are not publicly available so that the Secretaries can independently verify the analysis produced by the state.

    V. Operational Considerations A. Federally-Facilitated Exchanges

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) operates the Federally-facilitated Exchange (FFE) platform. Certain changes that affect FFE processes may make a waiver proposal not feasible to implement at this time. Until further guidance is issued, the Federal platform cannot accommodate different rules for different states. For example, waivers that would require changes to the calculation of Exchange financial assistance, non-standard enrollment period determinations, customized plan management review options, or changes to the design used to display plan options are generally not feasible at this time due to operational limitations. In addition, the Federal platform cannot accommodate changes to its plan management templates in the near term. States contemplating a waiver that requires such changes may consider establishing their own platform administered by the state.

    As noted in Section I.D. of this guidance, costs associated with changes to Federal administrative processes are taken into account in determining whether a waiver application satisfies the deficit neutrality requirement. Regulations at 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N require that such costs be included in the 10-year budget plan submitted by the state.

    B. Internal Revenue Service

    Certain changes that affect Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administrative processes may make a waiver proposal not feasible to implement. At this time, the IRS is not generally able to administer different sets of rules in different states. As a result, while a state may propose to entirely waive the application of one or more of the tax provisions listed in Section 1332 to taxpayers in the state, it is generally not feasible to design a waiver that would require the IRS to administer an alteration to these provisions for taxpayers in the state. For example, it is generally not feasible to have the IRS administer a different set of eligibility rules for the premium tax credit for residents of a particular state. States contemplating a waiver proposal that includes a modified version of a Federal tax provision may consider waiving the provision entirely and relying on a tax program administered by the state.

    In addition, a waiver proposal that completely waives one or more tax provisions in a state may create administrative costs for the IRS. As noted in Section I.D. above, costs associated with changes to Federal administrative processes are taken into account in determining whether a waiver application satisfies the deficit neutrality requirement. Regulations at 31 CFR part 33 and 45 CFR part 155, subpart N require that such costs be included in the 10-year budget plan submitted by the state.

    VI. Public Input on Waiver Proposals

    Consistent with the statutory provisions of Section 1332, regulations at 31 CFR 33.112 and 45 CFR 155.1312 require states to provide a public notice and comment period for a waiver application sufficient to ensure a meaningful level of public input prior to submitting an application. As part of the public notice and comment period, a state with one or more Federally-recognized tribes must conduct a separate process for meaningful consultation with such tribes. Because State Innovation Waiver applications may vary significantly in their complexity and breadth, the regulations provide states with flexibility in determining the length of the comment period required to allow for meaningful and robust public engagement. The comment period must be sufficient to ensure a meaningful level of public input and in no case can be less than 30 days.

    Consistent with HHS regulations, waiver applications must be posted online in a manner that meets national standards to assure access to individuals with disabilities. Such standards are issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, and are referred to as “section 508” standards. Alternatively, the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standards would also be considered as acceptable national standard for Web site accessibility. For more information, see the WCAG Web site at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/.

    Section 1332 and its implementing regulations also require the Federal Government to provide a public notice and comment period, once the Secretaries receive an application. The period must be sufficient to ensure a meaningful level of public input and must not impose requirements that are in addition to, or duplicative of, requirements imposed under the Administrative Procedures Act, or requirements that are unreasonable or unnecessarily burdensome with respect to state compliance. As with the comment period described above, the length of the comment period should reflect the complexity of the proposal and in no case can be less than 30 days.

    Dated: December 8, 2015. Andrew M. Slavitt, Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dated: December 11, 2015. Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. Approved: December 10, 2015. Mark J. Mazur, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Tax Policy).
    [FR Doc. 2015-31563 Filed 12-11-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4150-28-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2012-0950; A-1-FRL-9940-15-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; NH; Infrastructure State Implementation Plan Requirements for Ozone, Lead, and Nitrogen Dioxide AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving elements of State Implementation Plan (SIP) submissions from New Hampshire regarding the infrastructure requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) for the 2008 lead, 2008 ozone, and 2010 nitrogen dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). EPA is also converting conditional approvals for several infrastructure requirements for the 1997 and 2006 fine particle (PM2.5) NAAQS to full approval under the CAA. Furthermore, we are updating the classification for one of New Hampshire's air quality control regions for ozone based on recent air quality monitoring data collected by the state, and are granting the state's request for an exemption from the infrastructure SIP contingency plan obligation for ozone. Last, we are conditionally approving certain elements of New Hampshire's submittal relating to prevention of significant deterioration requirements.

    The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket Identification No. EPA-R01-OAR-2012-0950. All documents in the docket are listed on the http://www.regulations.gov Web site, although some information, such as confidential business information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute is not publically available. 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 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Air Quality Planning Unit, 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. Copies of the documents relevant to this action are also available for public inspection during normal business hours, by appointment at: Air Resources Division, Department of Environmental Services, 6 Hazen Drive, P.O. Box 95, Concord, NH 03302-0095.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bob McConnell, Environmental Engineer, Air Quality Planning Unit, Air Programs Branch (Mail Code OEP05-02), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100, Boston, Massachusetts, 02109-3912; (617) 918-1046; [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. Public Comments III. Final Action IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background and Purpose

    This rulemaking addresses infrastructure SIP submissions from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH-DES) for the 2008 ozone, 2008 lead (Pb), and 2010 nitrogen dioxide (NO2) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The state submitted these infrastructure SIPs on the following dates: 2008 lead NAAQS—November 7, 2011; 2008 ozone NAAQS—December 31, 2012; and 2010 NO2 NAAQS—January 28, 2013.

    This rulemaking also addresses certain infrastructure SIP elements for the 1997 and 2006 fine particle (PM2.5) 1 NAAQS for which EPA previously issued a conditional approval. See 77 FR 63228, October 16, 2012. The state submitted these infrastructure SIPs on April 3, 2008, and September 18, 2009, respectively. Additionally, in this final rulemaking we are updating the classification for one of New Hampshire's air quality control regions for ozone based on recent air quality monitoring data collected by the state, and are granting the state's request for an exemption from the infrastructure SIP contingency plan obligation for ozone. Last, we are conditionally approving certain elements of New Hampshire's submittal relating to prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) requirements.

    1 PM2.5 refers to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter, oftentimes referred to as “fine” particles.

    II. Public Comments

    EPA received just one set of comments in response to the NPR. Those comments—the full set of which are included in the docket for this final rulemaking—were submitted by the Sierra Club and focused overwhelmingly on our proposed approval of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS, which is not addressed in this final rulemaking. Relevant to this action, one aspect of the comments touched glancingly on the infrastructure submittals for the 2008 ozone and 2010 NO2 NAAQS. EPA received no public comments on our proposed approval of New Hampshire's infrastructure submittals for the 2008 lead NAAQS.

    Comment: The commenter argued, among other things, that EPA must disapprove the SIP submittal for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS, because New Hampshire did not include a submittal to satisfy section 110(D)(i)(I) (the so-called “Good Neighbor” provision). In a footnote, the commenter contended that New Hampshire had similarly not included a submittal to satisfy the same provision for the 2008 ozone or 2010 NO2 NAAQS. The commenter argued that these omissions, coming as they did more than three years after EPA's promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS, are in violation of the Act and the Supreme Court's ruling in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, LP. 2 Accordingly, the commenter contended that “EPA must take immediate action here to disapprove the SO2 I-SIP Certification (as well as the 2008 ozone and 2010 NO2 I-SIPs, for that matter) and initiate the FIP [Federal Implementation Plan] process with regard to the I-SIP's “ ‘Good Neighbor' provisions.”

    2 134 S. Ct. 1584 (2014).

    Response: To be clear, EPA reiterates that this final rulemaking does not address New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittal for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. EPA will take final action on that submittal in a future final action, which will include a response to the Sierra Club's comments as to that submittal.

    Section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) addresses emissions that significantly contribute to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance of the NAAQS in another state. However, although EPA is acting on New Hampshire's submittals for the 2008 ozone and 2010 NO2 NAAQS in this rulemaking, EPA is not taking any action with respect to section 110(D)(i)(I). As the commenter notes, New Hampshire did not include any provisions to address the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) in its December 31, 2012 and January 28, 2013 infrastructure SIP submittals for the 2008 ozone and 2010 NO2 NAAQS, respectively. In the NPR, EPA did not propose to take any action with respect to New Hampshire's obligations pursuant to section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the December 31, 2012 and January 28, 2013 infrastructure SIP submittals.

    Because New Hampshire did not make a submission in its December 31, 2012 and January 28, 2013 SIP submittals to address the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), EPA is not required to have proposed or to take final SIP approval or disapproval action on this element under section 110(k) of the CAA. In this case, there has been no substantive submission for EPA to evaluate under section 110(k). Nor does the lack of a submission addressing section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) require EPA to disapprove New Hampshire's December 31, 2012 and January 28, 2013 SIP submittals as to the other elements of section 110(a)(2). EPA interprets its authority under section 110(k)(3) of the CAA as affording EPA the discretion to approve, or conditionally approve, individual elements of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submissions, separate and apart from any action with respect to the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). EPA views discrete infrastructure SIP requirements in section 110(a)(2), such as the requirements of 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), as severable from the other infrastructure elements and interprets section 110(k)(3) as allowing it to act on individual severable measures in a plan submission.

    On August 21, 2012, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA holding, among other things, that states had no obligation to submit good neighbor SIPs until the EPA had first quantified each state's good neighbor obligation.3 Accordingly, under that decision the submission deadline for good neighbor SIPs under the CAA would not necessarily be tied to the promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS. While the EPA sought review first with the D.C. Circuit en banc and then with the United States Supreme Court, the EPA complied with the D.C. Circuit's ruling during the pendency of its appeal. The D.C. Circuit declined to consider EPA's appeal en banc, but, on April 29, 2014, the Supreme Court reversed the D.C. Circuit's EME Homer City opinion and held, among other things, that under the plain language of the CAA, states must submit SIPs addressing the good neighbor requirement in CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) within three years of promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS, regardless of whether the EPA first provides guidance, technical data or rulemaking to quantify the state's obligation.

    3 696 F.3d 7, 31 (D.C. Cir. 2012).

    With respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS, on November 18, 2014, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking an order to compel the EPA to make findings of failure to submit good neighbor SIPs for over twenty states, including New Hampshire. On May 15, 2015, the court entered judgment ordering the EPA to sign a notice issuing its findings of failure to submit with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS interstate transport SIPs for states addressed in the case. Effective August 12, 2015, EPA found that 24 states, including New Hampshire, had not made a complete good neighbor SIP submittal for the 2008 ozone NAAQS to meet the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). See 80 FR 39961 (July 13, 2015). Pursuant to CAA section 110(c)(1), EPA is authorized and obligated to promulgate a FIP, if EPA takes any of the following actions: (1) Finds that a state has failed to make a required SIP submission; (2) finds that a required submission was incomplete; or (3) disapproves a required SIP submission in whole or in part. Accordingly, EPA must issue a relevant FIP with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS within two years, if New Hampshire has not submitted, and EPA has not approved, a plan revision appropriately addressing the good neighbor provision requirements. Thus, EPA is not required to issue a FIP at this time but will take appropriate action at a future date.

    With respect to the 2010 NO2 NAAQS, EPA has not issued a similar finding of failure to submit and, consequently, the two-year FIP clock has not yet begun to run. EPA agrees in general that sections 110(a)(1) and (a)(2) of the CAA require states to submit, within three years of promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS, a plan that addresses cross-state air pollution under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). In this rulemaking, however, EPA is only approving portions of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submissions for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS, which did not include provisions for interstate transport under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). A finding of failure to submit a SIP submission for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS addressing section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) could occur in a separate rulemaking. As that issue was not addressed in the July 17, 2015 NPR,4 and is thus not pertinent to this rulemaking, EPA provides no further response. In sum, New Hampshire's obligations regarding interstate transport of pollution for the 2008 ozone and 2010 NO2 NAAQS will be addressed in later rulemakings.

    4See 80 FR 42446, 42452 (July 17, 2015) (“In today's rulemaking, EPA is not proposing to approve or disapprove New Hampshire's compliance with section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) with respect to the 2008 ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2 NAAQS, since New Hampshire's infrastructure SIPs for these NAAQS do not include a submittal with respect to transport for sub-element 1, prongs 1 and 2.”).

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving SIP submissions from New Hampshire certifying that the state's current SIP is sufficient to meet the required infrastructure elements under sections 110(a)(1) and (2) for the 2008 Pb, 2008 ozone, and 2010 NO2 NAAQS, with the exception of certain aspects relating to the state's PSD program which we are conditionally approving. On September 25, 2015, we conditionally approved the portion of New Hampshire's PSD program that pertains to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting actions in New Hampshire. See 80 FR 57722. Therefore, we are conditionally approving herein the related portions of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittals affected by our September 25, 2015 conditional approval. A summary of EPA's actions regarding these infrastructure SIP requirements are contained in Table 1 below.

    Table 1—Action Taken on NH Infrastructure SIP Submittals for Listed NAAQS Element 2008 Pb 2008 Ozone 2010 NO2 (A): Emission limits and other control measures A A A (B): Ambient air quality monitoring and data system A A A (C)(i): Enforcement of SIP measures A A A (C)(ii): PSD program for major sources and major modifications A* A* A* (C)(iii): Permitting program for minor sources and minor modifications A A A (D)(i)(I): Contribute to nonattainment/interfere with maintenance of NAAQS (prongs 1 and 2) A NS NS (D)(i)(II): PSD (prong 3) A* A* A* (D)(i)(II): Visibility Protection (prong 4) A A A (D)(ii): Interstate Pollution Abatement A* A* A* (D)(ii): International Pollution Abatement A A A (E)(i): Adequate resources A A A (E)(ii): State boards A A A (E)(iii): Necessary assurances with respect to local agencies NA NA NA (F): Stationary source monitoring system A A A (G): Emergency power A A A (H): Future SIP revisions A A A (I): Nonattainment area plan or plan revisions under part D + + + (J)(i): Consultation with government officials A A A (J)(ii): Public notification A A A (J)(iii): PSD A* A* A* (J)(iv): Visibility protection + + + (K): Air quality modeling and data A A A (L): Permitting fees A A A (M): Consultation and participation by affected local entities A A A

    In the above table, the key is as follows:

    A Approve. A* Approve, but conditionally approve aspect of PSD program relating to notification to neighboring states. + Not germane to infrastructure SIPs. NS No Submittal. NA Not applicable.

    Also, with respect to the 1997 and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, EPA is approving New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittals requirements pertaining to elements (A) and (E)(ii), and the PSD elements (C)(ii), (D)(i)(II) (prong 3), and (J)(iii) for which a conditional approval was previously issued. See 77 FR 63228, October 16, 2012. As discussed in our July 17, 2015 notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPR”) (see 80 FR 42446), New Hampshire has since met the conditions outlined in our October 16, 2012 action. However, in keeping with the conditional approval we are issuing today for the 2008 lead, 2008 ozone, and 2010 NO2 NAAQS with respect to the notification to neighboring states aspect of the state's PSD program, we are also newly conditionally approving New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittals for elements (C)(ii), (D)(i)(II) (prong 3), (D)(ii), and (J)(iii) for the 1997 and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS.

    In addition, we are incorporating into the New Hampshire SIP the following New Hampshire statutes which were included for approval in New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittals:

    Title I, The State and Its Government, Chapter 21-O: Department of Environmental Services, Section 21-O:11, Air Resources Council.

    Title X Public Health, Chapter 125-C Air Pollution Control, Section 125-C:1—Declaration of Policy and Purpose; Section 125-C:2—Definitions; Section 125-C:4—Rulemaking Authority; Subpoena Power; Section 125-C:6—Powers and Duties of the Commissioner; Section 125-C:8—Administration of Chapter; Delegation of Duties; Section 125-C:9—Authority of the Commissioner in Cases of Emergency; Section 125-C:10—Devices Contributing to Air Pollution; Section 125-C:10a—Municipal Waste Combustion Units; Section 125-C:11—Permit Required; Section 125-C:12—Administrative Requirements; Section 125-C:13—Criteria for Denial; Suspension or Revocation; Modification; Section 125-C:14—Rehearings and Appeals; Section 125-C:18—Existing Remedies Unimpaired; Section 125-C:19—Protection of Powers; and Section 125-C:21—Severability.

    Title X Public Health, Chapter 125-O: Multiple Pollutant Reduction Program, Section 125-O:1—Findings and Purpose; and Section 125-O:3—Integrated Power Plant Strategy.

    Additionally, we are updating the classification at 40 CFR 52.1521 for the Merrimack Valley—Southern New Hampshire air quality control region for ozone based on recent air quality monitoring data collected by the state, and are granting, pursuant to 40 CFR 51.152(d)(1), the state's request for an exemption from the infrastructure SIP contingency plan obligation for ozone.

    EPA is conditionally approving an aspect of New Hampshire's SIP revision submittals pertaining to the state's PSD program. The outstanding issue with the PSD program concerns the lack of a requirement that neighboring states be notified of the issuance of a PSD permit by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. On September 25, 2015, we conditionally approved New Hampshire's PSD program for this reason. See 80 FR 57722. Accordingly, we are also conditionally approving this aspect of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP revisions for the 2008 lead, 2008 ozone, 2010 NO2, 1997 PM2.5, and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. New Hampshire must submit to EPA a SIP submittal addressing the above mentioned deficiency in the state's PSD program within the timeframe provided by our September 25, 2015 action. If the State fails to do so, the elements we are conditionally approving in this rulemaking will be disapproved on that date. EPA will notify the State by letter that this action has occurred. At that time, this commitment will no longer be a part of the approved New Hampshire SIP. EPA subsequently will publish a document in the Federal Register notifying the public that the conditional approval automatically converted to a disapproval. If the State meets its commitment within the applicable timeframe, the conditionally approved submission will remain a part of the SIP until EPA takes final action approving or disapproving the new submittal. If EPA disapproves the new submittal, the conditionally approved aspect of New Hampshire's PSD program will also be disapproved at that time. If EPA approves the revised PSD program submittal, then the portions of New Hampshire's infrastructure SIP submittals that were conditionally approved will be fully approved in their entirety and replace the conditional approval in the SIP. In addition, final disapproval of an infrastructure SIP submittal triggers the Federal implementation plan (FIP) requirement under section 110(c).

    Other specific requirements of infrastructure SIPs and the rationale for EPA's final action on New Hampshire's submittals are explained in the NPR and will not be restated here.

    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 (Public Law 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 February 16, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: December 2, 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 EE—New Hampshire 2. Section 52.1519 is amended by removing and reserving paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) and adding paragraphs (a)(6) through (10) to read as follows:
    § 52.1519 Identification of plan—conditional approval.

    (a) * * *

    (6) 2008 Ozone NAAQS: The 110(a)(2) infrastructure SIP submitted on December 31, 2012, is conditionally approved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C)(ii), (D)(i)(II), D(ii), and (J)(iii) only as it relates to the aspect of the PSD program pertaining to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting activity being considered by New Hampshire. This conditional approval is contingent upon New Hampshire taking actions to address these requirements as detailed within a final conditional approval dated September 25, 2015.

    (7) 2008 Lead NAAQ: The 110(a)(2) infrastructure SIP submitted on November 7, 2011, is conditionally approved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C)(ii), (D)(i)(II), D(ii), and (J)(iii) only as it relates to the aspect of the PSD program pertaining to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting activity being considered by New Hampshire. This conditional approval is contingent upon New Hampshire taking actions to address these requirements as detailed within a final conditional approval dated September 25, 2015.

    (8) 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide NAAQS: The 110(a)(2) infrastructure SIP submitted on January 28, 2013, is conditionally approved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C)(ii), (D)(i)(II), D(ii), and (J)(iii) only as it relates to the aspect of the PSD program pertaining to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting activity being considered by New Hampshire. This conditional approval is contingent upon New Hampshire taking actions to address these requirements as detailed within a final conditional approval dated September 25, 2015.

    (9) 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS: The 110(a)(2) infrastructure SIP submitted on April 3, 2008, is conditionally approved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C)(ii), (D)(i)(II), D(ii), and (J)(iii) only as it relates to the aspect of the PSD program pertaining to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting activity being considered by New Hampshire. This conditional approval is contingent upon New Hampshire taking actions to address these requirements as detailed within a final conditional approval dated September 25, 2015.

    (10) 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS: The 110(a)(2) infrastructure SIP submitted on September 18, 2009, is conditionally approved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C)(ii), (D)(i)(II), D(ii), and (J)(iii) only as it relates to the aspect of the PSD program pertaining to providing notification to neighboring states of certain permitting activity being considered by New Hampshire. This conditional approval is contingent upon New Hampshire taking actions to address these requirements as detailed within a final conditional approval dated September 25, 2015.

    3. Section 52.1520 is amended by: a. In the table in paragraph (c), adding three entries at the end of the table; and b. In the table in paragraph (e), adding six entries at the end of the table.

    The additions read as follows:

    § 52.1520 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA-Approved New Hampshire Regulations State citation Title/subject State effective date EPA approved date 1 Explanations *         *         *         *         *         *         * Title 1 of the New Hampshire Statues: The State and Its Government, Chapter 21-O Department of Environmental Services 7/1/86 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Section 21-O:11, Air Resources Council. Title X of the New Hampshire Statutes: Public Health, Chapter 125-C Air Pollution Control 7/1/79 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Section 125-C:1—Declaration of Policy and Purpose; Section 125-C:2—Definitions; Section 125-C:4—Rulemaking Authority; Subpoena Power; Section 125-C:6—Powers and Duties of the Commissioner; Section 125-C:8—Administration of Chapter; Delegation of Duties; Section 125-C:9—Authority of the Commissioner in Cases of Emergency; Section 125-C:10—Devices Contributing to Air Pollution; Section 125-C:10a—Municipal Waste Combustion Units; Section 125-C:11—Permit Required; Section 125-C:12—Administrative Requirements; Section 125-C:13—Criteria for Denial; Suspension or Revocation; Modification; Section 125-C:14—Rehearings and Appeals; Section 125-C:18—Existing Remedies Unimpaired; Section 125-C:19—Protection of Powers; and Section 125-C:21—Severability. Title X of the New Hampshire Statutes: Public Health, Chapter 125-O Multiple Pollutant Reduction Program 7/1/2002 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Section 125-O:1—Findings and Purpose; Section 125—O:3—Integrated Power Plant Strategy. 1 In order to determine the EPA effective date for a specific provision listed in this table, consult the Federal Register notice cited in this column for the particular provision.

    (e) * * *

    New Hampshire NonRegulatory Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable geographic or nonattainment area State submittal date/effective date EPA approved date 3 Explanations *         *         *         *         *         *         * Infrastructure SIP for 2008 ozone NAAQS Statewide 12/31/2012 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Approved submittal, except for certain aspects relating to PSD which were conditionally approved. See 52.1519. Infrastructure SIP for the 2008 Lead NAAQS Statewide 11/7/2011 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Approved submittal, except for certain aspects relating to PSD which were conditionally approved. See 52.1519. Infrastructure SIP for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS Statewide 1/28/2013 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Approved submittal, except for certain aspects relating to PSD which were conditionally approved. See 52.1519. Infrastructure SIP for the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 7/3/2012 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Items that were previously conditionally approved on 10/16/12 now fully approved. Infrastructure SIP for 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 9/18/2009 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Items that were previously conditionally approved on 10/16/12 now fully approved. Request for exemption from contingency plan obligation Merrimack Valley—Southern New Hampshire AQCR 12/31/2012 12/16/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] State's request for exemption from contingency plan obligation, made pursuant to 40 CFR 51.122(d), is granted in light of the area's designation as unclassifiable/attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. 3 In order to determine the EPA effective date for a specific provision listed in this table, consult the Federal Register notice cited in this column for the particular provision.
    4. In § 52.1521, revise the table to read as follows:
    § 52.1521 Classification of regions. Air quality control region Pollutant Particulate matter Sulfur oxides Nitrogen
  • dioxide
  • Carbon
  • monoxide
  • Ozone
    Androscoggin Valley Interstate IA IA III III III Central New Hampshire Intrastate III III III III III Merrimack Valley—Southern New Hampshire Interstate I I III III I
    [FR Doc. 2015-31525 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0762; FRL-9939-54] Bacillus Amyloliquefaciens MBI600 (Antecedent Bacillus Subtilis MBI600); Amendment to an Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation amends the existing exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of the microbial pesticide Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600 to change the name to Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600) in or on all food commodities, including residues resulting from post-harvest uses, when applied or used in accordance with good agricultural practices. BASF Corporation submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), requesting an amendment to the existing exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 16, 2015. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 16, 2016, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0762, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert McNally, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (7511P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

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

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

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0762 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 16, 2016. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0762, by one of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

    II. Background

    In the Federal Register of April 6, 2015 (80 FR 18327) (FRL-9924-00), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide tolerance petition (PP 4F8336) by BASF Corporation, 26 Davis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. The petition requested that 40 CFR 180.1128 be amended to change the species name of the pesticide chemical substance covered by the existing exemption, i.e., from the microbial pesticide “Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600” to “Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600).” The remaining terms of the exemption would remain the same, i.e., residues of the pesticide would be exempted from the requirement of a tolerance in or on all food commodities, including residues resulting from post-harvest uses, when applied or used in accordance with good agricultural practices. That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by the petitioner BASF Corporation, which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    III. Final Rule A. EPA's Safety Determination

    Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the exemption is “safe.” Section 408(c)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Pursuant to FFDCA section 408(c)(2)(B), in establishing or maintaining in effect an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance, EPA must take into account the factors set forth in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C), which require EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue. . . . ” Additionally, FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D) requires that the Agency consider “available information concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues” and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    EPA evaluated the available identity, toxicity and exposure data on Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600) and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability, as well as the relationship of this information to human risk. A full explanation of the data upon which EPA relied and its risk assessment based on that data can be found within the October 5, 2015, document entitled “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) Considerations Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600.” This document, as well as other relevant information, is available in the docket for this action as described under ADDRESSES. Based upon its evaluation, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600. Therefore, the existing tolerance exemption for Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600 is amended by establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of the biofungicide Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis strain MBI600) in or on all food commodities, including residues resulting from post-harvest uses, when applied or used in accordance with good agricultural practices.

    B. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    An analytical method is not required for enforcement purposes since the Agency is amending an existing exemption from the requirement of a tolerance without any numerical limitation for the reasons contained in the October 5, 2015 document entitled “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) Considerations for Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain MBI600.”

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

    V. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

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

    Dated: December 3, 2015. Robert McNally, Director, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

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

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

    2. Revise § 180.1128 to read as follows:
    § 180.1128 Bacillus amyloliquefaciens MBI600; exemption from the requirement of a tolerance.

    An exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established for residues of the biofungicide Bacillus amyloliquefaciens MBI600 (antecedent Bacillus subtilis MBI600) in or on all food commodities, including residues resulting from post-harvest uses, when applied or used in accordance with good agricultural practices.

    [FR Doc. 2015-31462 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0766; FRL-9939-95] Extension of Pesticide Residue Tolerances for Emergency Exemptions (Multiple Chemicals) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation extends existing time-limited tolerances for residues of the pesticides bifenthrin in or on apple, peach and nectarine; dinotefuran in or on pome fruit and stone fruit; imidacloprid in or on sugarcane, cane and sugarcane molasses; and streptomycin in or on grapefruit and grapefruit, dried pulp. These actions are in response to EPA's granting of emergency exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorizing use of these pesticides. In addition, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires EPA to establish a time-limited tolerance or exemption from the requirement for a tolerance for pesticide chemical residues in food that will result from the use of a pesticide under an emergency exemption granted by EPA.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 16, 2015. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 16, 2016, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0766, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

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

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

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0766 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All requests must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 16, 2016. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0766 by one of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

    II. Background and Statutory Findings

    EPA published final rules in the Federal Register for each chemical listed. The initial issuance of these final rules announced that EPA, on its own initiative, under FFDCA section 408, 21 U.S.C. 346a, was establishing time-limited tolerances for residues of a pesticide in or on one or more food commodities.

    EPA established the tolerances because FFDCA section 408(l)(6) requires EPA to establish a time-limited tolerance, or exemption from the requirement for a tolerance, for pesticide chemical residues in food that will result from the use of a pesticide under an emergency exemption granted by EPA under FIFRA section 18. Such tolerances can be established without providing notice or time for public comment.

    EPA received requests to extend the emergency use of these chemicals for this year's growing season. After having reviewed these submissions, EPA concurs that emergency conditions continue to exist. EPA assessed the potential risks presented by residues for each chemical. In doing so, EPA considered the safety standard in FFDCA section 408(b)(2), and decided that the necessary tolerance under FFDCA section 408(l)(6) would be consistent with the safety standard and with FIFRA section 18.

    The data and other relevant material have been evaluated and discussed in the final rules originally published to support these uses. Based on that data and information considered, the Agency reaffirms that extension of these time-limited tolerances will continue to meet the requirements of FFDCA section 408(l)(6). Therefore, each of the time-limited tolerances is extended until the date listed, when they will expire and become revoked. EPA intends to publish a document in the Federal Register to remove the revoked tolerances from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Although these tolerances will expire and are revoked on the dates listed, under FFDCA section 408(l)(5), residues of a pesticide not in excess of the amount specified in the tolerance remaining in or on a commodity after that date will not be unlawful, provided the residues are present as a result of an application or use of the pesticide at a time and in a manner that was lawful under FIFRA, a tolerance was in place at the time of the application, and the residues do not exceed the level that was authorized by the tolerance. EPA will take action to revoke these tolerances earlier if any experience with, scientific data on, or other relevant information on these pesticides indicates that the residues are not safe.

    Tolerances for the use of the following pesticide chemicals on specific commodities are being extended:

    Bifenthrin. EPA has authorized under FIFRA section 18 the use of bifenthrin on apple, peach, and nectarine for control of the brown marmorated stinkbug in multiple states. This regulation extends existing time-limited tolerances for residues of the insecticide bifenthrin, including its metabolites and degradates, in or on apple, peach, and nectarine at 0.5 part per million (ppm) for an additional 3-year period. These tolerances will expire and are revoked on December 31, 2018. The time-limited tolerances were originally published in the Federal Register of September 14, 2012 (77 FR 56782) (FRL-9361-6).

    Dinotefuran. EPA has authorized under FIFRA section 18 the use of dinotefuran on pome fruit and stone fruit for control of the brown marmorated stinkbug in multiple states. This regulation extends existing time-limited tolerances for residues of the insecticide dinotefuran, including its metabolites and degradates, in or on fruit, pome, group 11 and fruit, stone, group 12 at 2.0 ppm for an additional three-year period. These tolerances will expire and are revoked on December 31, 2018. The time-limited tolerances were originally published in the Federal Register of November 9, 2012 (77 FR 67282) (FRL-9366-3), and revised in the Federal Register of January 22, 2014 (79 FR 3508) (FRL-9402-8).

    Imidacloprid. EPA has authorized under FIFRA section 18 the use of imidacloprid on sugarcane for control of the West Indian cane fly in Louisiana. This regulation extends existing time-limited tolerances for residues of the insecticide imidacloprid, including its metabolites and degradates, in or on sugarcane, cane at 6.0 ppm and sugarcane, molasses at 50 ppm for an additional 3-year period. These tolerances will expire and are revoked on December 31, 2018. The time-limited tolerances were originally published in the Federal Register of June 5, 2013 (78 FR 33736) (FRL-9387-9).

    Streptomycin. EPA has authorized under FIFRA section 18 the use of streptomycin on grapefruit for control of citrus canker in Florida. This regulation extends existing time-limited tolerances for residues of the pesticide streptomycin, including its metabolites and degradates, in or on grapefruit at 0.15 ppm and grapefruit, dried pulp at 0.40 ppm for an additional 3-year period. These tolerances will expire and are revoked on December 31, 2018. The time-limited tolerances were originally published in the Federal Register of May 17, 2013 (78 FR 29049) (FRL-9385-3).

    III. International Residue Limits

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

    The Codex has not established MRLs for bifenthrin in/on apple, peach, or nectarine; dinotefuran in/on pome fruit or stone fruit; imidacloprid in/on sugarcane, cane or sugarcane molasses; nor streptomycin in/on grapefruit or grapefruit, dried pulp.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes tolerances under FFDCA sections 408(e) and 408(l)(6). The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established under FFDCA sections 408(e) and 408(l)(6), such as the tolerances in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply.

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

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

    V. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

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

    Dated: December 8, 2015. Daniel J. Rosenblatt, Acting Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

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

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

    2. In § 180.245, revise the table in paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 180.245 Streptomycin; tolerances for residues.

    (b) * * *

    Commodity Parts per million Expiration/
  • revocation date
  • Grapefruit 0.15 12/31/2018 Grapefruit, dried pulp 0.40 12/31/2018
    3. In § 180.442, revise the table in paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 180.442 Bifenthrin; tolerances for residues.

    (b) * * *

    Commodity Parts per million Expiration/
  • revocation date
  • Apple 0.5 12/31/2018 Nectarine 0.5 12/31/2018 Peach 0.5 12/31/2018
    4. In § 180.472, revise the table in paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 180.472 Imidacloprid; tolerances for residues.

    (b) * * *

    Commodity Parts per million Expiration/
  • revocation date
  • Sugarcane, cane 6.0 12/31/2018 Sugarcane, molasses 50 12/31/2018
    5. In § 180.603, revise the table in paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 180.603 Dinotefuran; tolerances for residues.

    (b) * * *

    Commodity Parts per million Expiration/
  • revocation date
  • Fruit, pome, Group 11 2.0 12/31/2018 Fruit, stone, Group 12 2.0 12/31/2018
    [FR Doc. 2015-31518 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0023; FRL-9935-81] Choline Chloride; Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of the Choline Chloride (Acetyl Choline) in or on all food commodities when applied/used pre-harvest and used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices. CP Bio, Inc., submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), requesting an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of Choline Chloride.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 16, 2015. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 16, 2016, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0023, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert McNally, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (7511P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

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

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

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0023 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 16, 2016. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0023, by one of the following methods:

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

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

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html. Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Background and Statutory Findings

    In the Federal Register of March 4, 2015 (80 FR 11611) (FRL-9922-68), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide tolerance petition (PP 4F8287) by CP Bio, Inc., 4802 Murrieta Street, Chino, CA 91710. The petition requested that 40 CFR part 180 be amended by establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of Choline Chloride in or on all food commodities (when applied pre-harvest). That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by the petitioner CP Bio, Inc., which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no substantive comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the exemption is “safe.” Section 408(c)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Pursuant to FFDCA section 408(c)(2)(B), in establishing or maintaining in effect an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance, EPA must take into account the factors set forth in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C), which require EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue.-. . . ” Additionally, FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D) requires that the Agency consider “available information concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues” and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    EPA performs a number of analyses to determine the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide residues. First, EPA determines the toxicity of pesticides. Second, EPA examines exposure to the pesticide through food, drinking water, and through other exposures that occur as a result of pesticide use in residential settings.

    III. Toxicological Profile

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action and considered its validity, completeness and reliability, and the relationship of this information to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children.

    A. Overview of Choline Chloride

    Choline Chloride is an ammonium salt that readily dissociates into two constituents—Choline and Chloride. It presents as a white crystalline solid that is odorless. Each constituent is ubiquitous in the environment, constitutes a regular part of the human diet, and serves many critical functions in the human body. Choline is found in such foods as egg yolk, vegetables and animal fat. It is a precursor of a vital neurotransmitter; and it is critical for the structural integrity of cell membranes and various metabolic functions. Chloride is also a regular part of the human diet, particularly as a constituent of edible salt, and serves many functions in human biology. Chiefly, Chloride is an essential electrolyte responsible for maintaining acid/base balance, transmitting nerve impulses and regulating fluid in and out of cells.

    Choline Chloride is already approved for use by EPA as an inert ingredient in pesticide products without numerical limitation for pre-harvest use (40 CFR 180.920). Additionally, Choline Chloride is designated as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a human nutrient under 21 CFR 182.8252 and as a nutrient in animal feeds under 21 CFR 582.5252.

    As a biopesticide, Choline Chloride is considered a plant growth regulator (PGR) intended for use to increase growth and decrease stress in growing crops. It has a non-toxic mode of action; and as with most PGRs, it is applied at low concentrations because use at high concentrations result in detrimental effects to the plant.

    B. Biochemical Pesticide Toxicology Data Requirements

    All applicable mammalian toxicology data requirements supporting the petition to establish an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for the use of Choline Chloride as an active ingredient for use as a PGR on food crops have been fulfilled. All acute toxicology data requirements were fulfilled through guideline studies. The Acute Oral Toxicity Category is III; all other categories are IV. Additionally, the information submitted in support of the application indicate that Choline Chloride is non-mutagenic and that it is not subchronically or developmentally toxic. Subchronic oral toxicity, mutagenicity and developmental toxicity data requirements were satisfied through scientific literature. Subchronic dermal and inhalation requirements were waived for lack of exposure. (A complete assessment of the toxicology submission for Choline Chloride can be found in the docket.)

    C. EPA's Safety Determination

    EPA evaluated the available toxicity and exposure data on Choline Chloride and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability, as well as the relationship of this information to human risk. A full explanation of the data upon which EPA relied and its risk assessment based on that data can be found within the August 11, 2015, document entitled “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) Considerations for Choline Chloride.” This document, as well as other relevant information, is available in the docket for this action as described under ADDRESSES. Based upon its evaluation, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of Choline Chloride. Therefore, an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established for residues of Choline Chloride in or on all food commodities when applied pre-harvest and used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.

    IV. Aggregate Exposures

    In examining aggregate exposure, FFDCA section 408 directs EPA to consider available information concerning exposures from the pesticide residue in food and all other non-occupational exposures, including drinking water from ground water or surface water and exposure through pesticide use in gardens, lawns, or buildings (residential and other indoor uses).

    A. Dietary Exposure

    Food Exposure. Dietary exposure to the pesticidal residues of Choline Chloride is expected to be negligible. (1) Choline Chloride is a PGR and is necessarily applied at low concentrations. (High concentrations result in detrimental effects to the plant). (2) Choline Chloride biodegrades rapidly. A MITI-I test demonstrated that Choline Chloride is 93% degraded within 14 days. (3) As a salt, Choline Chloride dissociates readily when in contact with water, making its persistence as a residue even more unlikely.

    Should exposure occur, however, minimal to no risk is expected for the general population, including infants and children. Notably, humans are already dietarily exposed to Choline Chloride. It is produced endogenously, and is found naturally in foods in the human diet. Indeed, it is considered an essential human dietary component, serving critical functions in nerve transmission, cell membrane integrity and lipid metabolism.

    Drinking Water Exposure. No significant residues of Choline Chloride are expected in drinking water when products are used according to label instructions. The active ingredient is applied terrestrially at low concentrations; it is very soluble in water; and it biodegrades rapidly, once applied. As such, any residues of Choline Chloride in drinking water are anticipated to be negligible.

    It should be additionally noted that both Choline and Chloride, the constituents of Choline Chloride, are ubiquitous in the environment; and there is a long history of incidental, but minor, exposure through drinking water.

    B. Other Non-Occupational Exposure

    Non-occupational exposure to Choline Chloride residues are not expected. Choline Chloride is not intended for use in residential settings; it is intended for agricultural use only. Nonetheless, even in the event of incidental exposure, minimal to no risk is expected due to the low toxicity of the chemical as explained in the risk assessment found in the docket.

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

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

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

    VI. Determination of Safety for U.S. Population, Infants and Children

    FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C) provides that, in considering the establishment of a tolerance or tolerance exemption for a pesticide chemical residue, the EPA shall assess the available information about consumption patterns among infants and children, special susceptibility of infants and children to pesticide chemical residues, and the cumulative effects on infants and children of the residues and other substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. In addition, FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C) provides that the EPA shall apply an additional tenfold (10X) margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the database on toxicity and exposure, unless the EPA determines that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. This additional margin of safety is commonly referred to as the Food Quality Protection Act Safety Factor. In applying this provision, the EPA either retains the default value of 10X, or uses a different additional or no safety factor when reliable data are available to support a different additional or no safety factor.

    Because there are no threshold effects associated with this biochemical, an additional margin of safety for infants and children is not necessary.

    EPA has determined that there are no foreseeable dietary risks to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from the pesticidal use of Choline Chloride. Exposure to the residues of Choline Chloride is expected to be negligible due to the low concentrations associated with its use as a PGR, its high solubility and its rapid biodegradability. Moreover, any exposure to Choline Chloride residues are not expected to pose a risk. No toxic endpoints have been identified for Choline Chloride. There has been a long history of significant human dietary and endogenous exposure without documented incident. And the constituents of Choline Chloride are known to be readily metabolized.

    VII. Other Considerations A. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

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

    B. International Residue Limits

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

    The Codex has not established a MRL for Choline Chloride.

    VIII. Conclusions

    Based on its assessment of Choline Chloride, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, or to infants and children, from aggregate exposure to Choline Chloride. EPA is therefore establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of Choline Chloride in or on all food commodities when applied pre-harvest in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.

    IX. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

    X. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

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

    Dated: December 1, 2015. Jack E. Housenger, Director, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

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

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

    2. Add § 180.1334 to subpart D to read as follows:
    § 180.1334 Choline Chloride; Exemption from the Requirement of a Tolerance.

    An exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established for residues of Choline Chloride in or on all food commodities when Choline Chloride is applied pre-harvest and used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.

    [FR Doc. 2015-31464 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    80 241 Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 205 [Document Number AMS-NOP-15-0052; NOP-15-12] RIN 0581-AD39 National Organic Program (NOP); Sunset 2016 Amendments to the National List AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This proposed rule would address recommendations submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) following their April 2015 meeting. These recommendations pertain to the 2016 Sunset Review of substances on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List). Consistent with the recommendations from the NOSB, this proposed rule would remove five non-organic nonagricultural substances from the National List for use in organic handling: Egg white lysozyme, cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, octadecylamine, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested persons may comment on the proposed rule using the following procedures:

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

    Mail: Robert Pooler, Standards Division, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the docket number AMS-NOP-15-0052; NOP-15-12, and/or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 0581-AD39 for this rulemaking. You should clearly indicate the topic and section number of this proposed rule to which your comment refers. You should clearly indicate whether you support the action being proposed for the substances in this proposed rule. You should clearly indicate the reason(s) for your position. You should also supply information on alternative management practices, where applicable, that support alternatives to the proposed action. You should also offer any recommended language change(s) that would be appropriate to your position. Please include relevant information and data to support your position (e.g. scientific, environmental, manufacturing, industry, impact information, etc.). Only relevant material supporting your position should be submitted. All comments received and any relevant background documents will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov.

    Document: For access to the document and to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Comments submitted in response to this proposed rule will also be available for viewing in person at USDA-AMS, National Organic Program, Room 2642-South Building, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except official Federal holidays). Persons wanting to visit the USDA South Building to view comments received in response to this proposed rule are requested to make an appointment in advance by calling (202) 720-3252.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Pooler, Standards Division, email: [email protected], Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax: (202) 205-7808.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The National Organic Program (NOP) is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522). The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the NOP. Final regulations implementing the NOP, also referred to as the USDA organic regulations, were published December 21, 2000 (65 FR 80548), and became effective on October 21, 2002. Through these regulations, the AMS oversees national standards for the production, handling, and labeling of organically produced agricultural products. Since becoming effective, the USDA organic regulations have been frequently amended, mostly for changes to the National List in 7 CFR 205.601-205.606.

    This National List identifies the synthetic substances that may be used and the nonsynthetic substances that may not be used in organic production. The National List also identifies synthetic, nonsynthetic nonagricultural, and nonorganic agricultural substances that may be used in organic handling. The OFPA and the USDA organic regulations, as indicated in § 205.105, specifically prohibit the use of any synthetic substance in organic production and handling unless the synthetic substance is on the National List. Section 205.105 also requires that any nonorganic agricultural substance and any nonsynthetic nonagricultural substance used in organic handling appear on the National List.

    As stipulated by the OFPA, recommendations to propose amendment of the National List are developed by the NOSB, operating in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2 et seq.), to assist in the evaluation of substances to be used or not used in organic production and handling, and to advise the Secretary on the USDA organic regulations. The OFPA also requires a sunset review of all substances included on the National List within five years of their addition to or renewal on the list. If a listed substance is not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the USDA within the five year period, its allowance or prohibition on the National List is no longer in effect. Under the authority of the OFPA, the Secretary can amend the National List through rulemaking based upon proposed amendments recommended by the NOSB.

    The NOSB's recommendations to continue existing exemptions and prohibitions include consideration of public comments and applicable supporting evidence that express a continued need for the use or prohibition of the substance(s) as required by the OFPA. Recommendations to either continue or discontinue an authorized exempted synthetic substance (7 U.S.C. 6517(c)(1)) are determined by the NOSB's evaluation of technical information, public comments, and supporting evidence that demonstrate that the substance is: (a) Harmful to human health or the environment; (b) no longer necessary for organic production due to the availability of alternative wholly nonsynthetic substitute products or practices; or (c) inconsistent with organic farming and handling practices.

    In accordance with the sunset review process published in the Federal Register on September 16, 2013 (78 FR 61154), this proposed rule would amend the National List to reflect recommendations submitted to the Secretary by the NOSB on April 30, 2015, to amend the National List to remove five substances allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic.” The exemptions of each substance appearing on the National List for use in organic production and handling are evaluated by the NOSB using the evaluation criteria specified on the OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6517-6518).

    II. Overview of Proposed Amendments Nonrenewals

    After considering public comments and supporting documents, the NOSB determined that one substance exemption on § 205.605(a) and four substance exemptions on § 205.605(b) of the National List are no longer necessary for organic handling. AMS has reviewed and proposes to accept the five NOSB recommendations for removal. Based upon these NOSB recommendations, this action proposes to amend the National List to remove the exemptions for egg white lysozyme, cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, octadecylamine, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate.

    Egg White Lysozyme

    The USDA organic regulations include an exemption on the National List for egg white lysozyme as an ingredient for use in organic processed products at § 205.605(a) as follows: Egg white lysozyme (CAS # 9001-63-2). In 2004, egg white lysozyme was petitioned for addition to § 205.605 because it was considered to be an essential processing aid/preservative for controlling bacteria that survived the pasteurization process of milk that is used for cheese manufacture. As recommended by the NOSB, egg white lysozyme was added to the National List on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53299). As required by OFPA, the NOSB recommended the renewal of egg white lysozyme during their 2011 sunset review which was renewed by the Secretary on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 46595). The NOSB completed their most recent sunset review of the exemption of egg white lysozyme at their April 2015 meeting. Two notices of the public meetings on the 2016 sunset review with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975). Their purpose was to notify the public that the egg white lysozyme exemption discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary. During their sunset review deliberation, the NOSB considered written comments received prior to and during the public meetings on all substance exemptions included in the 2016 sunset review. These written comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the document ID numbers: AMS-NOP-14-0063 (October 2014 public meeting) and AMS-NOP-15-0002 (April 2015 public meeting). The NOSB also considered oral comments received during these public meetings which are included in the meeting transcripts available on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. During their sunset review of egg white lysozyme the NOSB considered two technical reports on enzymes that were requested by and developed for the NOSB in 2011 and 2003, which are also available for review in the petitioned substance database on the NOP Web site.

    The NOSB received no public comments supporting the continued need for the use of egg white lysozyme in organic processed products. Based upon the lack of public comments requesting the continued use of egg white lysozyme and supportive documents, the NOSB determined that the exemption for egg white lysozyme on the National List in § 205.605(a) is no longer necessary or essential for organic processed products. Subsequently, the NOSB recommended removal of egg white lysozyme from the National List at their April 2015 public meeting.

    AMS accepts the NOSB's recommendation on removing egg white lysozyme from the National List. This proposed rule would amend § 205.605(a) by removing the substance exemption for egg white lysozyme. This amendment is proposed to be effective on egg white lysozyme's current sunset date, September 12, 2016.

    Cyclohexylamine

    The USDA organic regulations include an exemption on the National List for cyclohexylamine as a processing aid for use in processed products at § 205.605(b) as follows: Cyclohexylamine (CAS # 108-91-8)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization. In December 2000, cyclohexylamine was petitioned for addition to § 205.605 for use as a boiler water additive in steam production for food processing facilities. As recommended by the NOSB, cyclohexylamine was added to the National List on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53299). As required by OFPA, the NOSB recommended the renewal of cyclohexylamine during their 2011 sunset review. The Secretary accepted the NOSB's recommendation and published a notice renewing the cyclohexylamine exemption on the National List on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 46595). Subsequently, the exemption for cyclohexylamine as included on the National List was considered during the NOSB's 2016 sunset review. Two notices of the NOSB's public meetings with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975). They notified the public that the cyclohexylamine exemption discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary. During their 2016 sunset review deliberation, the NOSB considered written comments received prior to and during the public meetings on all substance exemptions included in the 2016 sunset review. These written comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the document ID numbers: AMS-NOP-14-0063 (October 2014 public meeting) and AMS-NOP-15-0002 (April 2015 public meeting). The NOSB also considered oral comments received during these public meetings which are included in the meeting transcripts available on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. During their 2016 sunset review, the NOSB considered a technical report on cyclohexylamine that was requested by and developed for the NOSB in 2001, which is available for review in the petitioned substance database on the NOP Web site.

    Within the September 2014 and April 2015 meeting notices, the NOSB requested information on the continued use of cyclohexylamine as a boiler water additive. Public comment in response to these requests provided the NOSB with limited information in support of the continued need for the use of cyclohexylamine as a boiler water additive in the production of organic processed products. As a result of the lack of support for the continued use of cyclohexylamine and the NOSB determination that the exemption for cyclohexylamine on § 205.605(b) is no longer necessary or essential for organic processed products, the NOSB recommended cyclohexylamine be removed from the National List at their April 2015 public meeting.

    AMS accepts the NOSB's recommendation on removing cyclohexylamine from the National List. This proposed rule would amend § 205.605(b) by removing the substance exemption for cyclohexylamine. This amendment is proposed to be effective on cyclohexylamine's current sunset date, September 12, 2016.

    Diethylaminoethanol

    The USDA organic regulations include an exemption on the National List for diethylaminoethanol as a processing aid for use in organic processed products at § 205.605(b) as follows: Diethylaminoethanol (CAS # 100-37-8)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization. In December 2000, diethylaminoethanol was petitioned for addition onto § 205.605 for use as a boiler water additive in steam production for food processing facilities. As recommended by the NOSB, diethylaminoethanol was added to the National List on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53299). As required by OFPA, the NOSB recommended the renewal of diethylaminoethanol during their 2011 sunset review. The Secretary accepted the NOSB's recommendation and published a notice renewing the diethylaminoethanol exemption on the National List on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 46595). Subsequently, the exemption for diethylaminoethanol was considered during the NOSB's 2016 sunset review. For the 2016 sunset review, two notices of the public meetings with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975). Their purpose was to notify the public that the diethylaminoethanol exemption discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary. During their 2016 sunset review deliberation, the NOSB considered written comments received prior to and during the public meetings on all substance exemptions included in the 2016 sunset review. These written comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the document ID numbers: AMS-NOP-14-0063 (October 2014 public meeting) and AMS-NOP-15-0002 (April 2015 public meeting). The NOSB also considered oral comments received during these public meetings which are included in the meeting transcripts available on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. In addition, during their 2016 sunset review, the NOSB considered a technical report on diethylaminoethanol that was requested by and developed for the NOSB in 2001, which is available for review in the petitioned substance database on the NOP Web site.

    Within the September 2014 and April 2015 public meeting notices, the NOSB requested information on the continued use of diethylaminoethanol as a boiler water additive. Public comment in response to these requests provided the NOSB with limited information in support of the continued need for the use of diethylaminoethanol as a boiler water additive in the production of organic processed products. As a result of the lack of support for the continued use of diethylaminoethanol and the NOSB determination that the exemption for diethylaminoethanol on § 205.605(b) is no longer necessary or essential for organic processed products, the NOSB recommended diethylaminoethanol be removed from the National List at their April 2015 meeting.

    AMS accepts the NOSB's recommendation on removing diethylaminoethanol's exemption from the National List. This proposed rule would amend § 205.605(b) by removing the substance exemption for diethylaminoethanol. This amendment is proposed to be effective on diethylaminoethanol's current sunset date, September 12, 2016.

    Octadecylamine

    The USDA organic regulations include an exemption on the National List for octadecylamine as a processing aid for use in organic processed products at § 205.605(b) as follows: Octadecylamine (CAS # 124-30-1)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization. In December 2000, octadecylamine was petitioned for addition onto § 205.605 for use as a boiler water additive in the steam production for food processing facilities. As recommended by the NOSB, octadecylamine was added to the National List on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53299). As required by OFPA, the NOSB recommended the renewal of octadecylamine during their 2011 sunset review. The Secretary accepted the NOSB's recommendation and published a notice renewing the octadecylamine exemption on the National List on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 46595). Subsequently, the exemption for octadecylamine was considered during the NOSB's 2016 sunset review. For the 2016 sunset review, two notices of the public meetings with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975). Their purpose was to notify the public that the octadecylamine exemption discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary. During their 2016 sunset review deliberation, the NOSB considered written comments received prior to and during the public meetings on all substance exemptions included in the 2016 sunset review. These written comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the document ID numbers: AMS-NOP-14-0063 (October 2014 public meeting) and AMS-NOP-15-0002 (April 2015 public meeting). The NOSB also considered oral comments received during these public meetings which are included in the meeting transcripts available on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. In addition, during their 2016 sunset review, the NOSB considered a technical report on octadecylamine that was requested by and developed for the NOSB in 2001, which is available for review in the petitioned substance database on the NOP Web site.

    Within the September 2014 and April 2015 public meeting notices, the NOSB requested information on the continued use of octadecylamine as a boiler water additive. Public comment in response to these requests provided the NOSB with limited information in support of the continued need for the use of octadecylamine as a boiler water additive in the production of organic processed products. As a result of the lack of support for the continued use of octadecylamine and the NOSB determination that the exemption for octadecylamine on § 205.605(b) is no longer necessary or essential for organic processed products, the NOSB recommended octadecylamine be removed from the National List.

    AMS accepts the NOSB's recommendation on removing octadecylamine from the National List. This proposed rule would amend § 205.605(b) by removing the substance exemption for octadecylamine. This amendment is proposed to be effective on egg white lysozyme's current sunset date, September 12, 2016.

    Tetrasodium pyrophosphate

    The USDA organic regulations include an exemption on the National List for tetrasodium pyrophosphate as an ingredient for use in organic processed products at § 205.605(b) as follows: Tetrasodium pyrophosphate (CAS # 7722-88-5)—for use only in meat analog products. In December 2001, tetrasodium pyrophosphate was petitioned for addition onto § 205.605 for use as an ingredient in organic food processing facilities. As recommended by the NOSB, tetrasodium pyrophosphate was added to the National List on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53299). To implement OFPA requirements under the sunset process, the NOSB recommended the renewal of tetrasodium pyrophosphate during their 2011 sunset review. The Secretary accepted the NOSB's recommendation and published a notice renewing the tetrasodium pyrophosphate exemption on the National List on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 46595). Subsequently, the exemption for tetrasodium pyrophosphate was considered during the NOSB's 2016 sunset review. For the 2016 sunset review, two notices of the public meetings with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975). Their purpose was to notify the public that the tetrasodium pyrophosphate exemption discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary. During their 2016 sunset review deliberation, the NOSB considered written comments received prior to and during the public meetings on all substance exemptions included in the 2016 sunset review. These written comments can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for the document ID numbers: AMS-NOP-14-0063 (October 2014 public meeting) and AMS-NOP-15-0002 (April 2015 public meeting). The NOSB also considered oral comments received during these public meetings which are included in the meeting transcripts available on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. In addition, during their 2016 sunset review, the NOSB considered two technical reports on tetrasodium pyrophosphate that were requested by and developed for the NOSB in 2014 and 2002, which are available for review in the petitioned substance database on the NOP Web site.

    Within the September 2014 and April 2015 meeting notices, the NOSB requested information on the continued use of tetrasodium pyrophosphate as an ingredient necessary for use in organic food processing. The NOSB review of public comment in response to these requests indicated a lack of support for the continued need for tetrasodium pyrophosphate used as an ingredient in the production of organic processed products. In addition, based upon information from the 2014 technical report, the NOSB also determined there are several alternatives to tetrasodium pyrophosphate that maybe more compatible with organic production. Since the received comments indicated a lack of support for the continued use of tetrasodium pyrophosphate and the NOSB's determination of more suitable alternatives, the NOSB determined that the exemption for tetrasodium pyrophosphate on § 205.605(b) is no longer necessary or essential for organic processed products and recommended that tetrasodium pyrophosphate be removed from the National List.

    AMS accepts the NOSB's recommendation on removing tetrasodium pyrophosphate from the National List. This proposed rule would amend § 205.605(b) by removing the substance exemption for tetrasodium pyrophosphate. This amendment is proposed to be effective on tetrasodium pyrophosphate's current sunset date, September 12, 2016.

    III. Related Documents

    Two notices of public meetings with request for comments were published in Federal Register on September 8, 2014 (79 FR 53162) and on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 12975) in order to notify the public that the 2016 sunset review listings discussed in this proposed rule would expire on September 12, 2016, if not reviewed by the NOSB and renewed by the Secretary.

    IV. Statutory and Regulatory Authority

    OFPA, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522), authorizes the Secretary to make amendments to the National List based on proposed recommendations developed by the NOSB. Sections 6518(k)(2) and 6518(n) of OFPA authorize the NOSB to develop proposed amendments to the National List for submission to the Secretary and establish a petition process by which persons may petition the NOSB for the purpose of having substances evaluated for inclusion on or deletion from the National List. The National List petition process is implemented under § 205.607 of the USDA organic regulations. The current petition process was published on January 18, 2007 (72 FR 2167) and can be accessed through the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. AMS published a revised sunset review process in the Federal Register on September 16, 2013 (78 FR 56811).

    A. Executive Order 12866

    This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866, and therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    B. Executive Order 12988

    Executive Order 12988 instructs each executive agency to adhere to certain requirements in the development of new and revised regulations in order to avoid unduly burdening the court system. This proposed rule is not intended to have a retroactive effect.

    States and local jurisdictions are preempted under OFPA from creating programs of accreditation for private persons or State officials who want to become certifying agents of organic farms or handling operations. A governing State official would have to apply to USDA to be accredited as a certifying agent, as described in section 2115(b) of OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6514(b)). States are also preempted under section 2104 through 2108 of OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6503 through 6507) from creating certification programs to certify organic farms or handling operations unless the State programs have been submitted to, and approved by, the Secretary as meeting the requirements of OFPA.

    Pursuant to section 2108(b)(2) of OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6507(b)(2)), a State organic certification program may contain additional requirements for the production and handling of organically produced agricultural products that are produced in the State and for the certification of organic farm and handling operations located within the State under certain circumstances. Such additional requirements must: (a) Further the purposes of OFPA, (b) not be inconsistent with OFPA, (c) not be discriminatory toward agricultural commodities organically produced in other States, and (d) not be effective until approved by the Secretary.

    Pursuant to section 2120(f) of OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6519(f)), this proposed rule would not alter the authority of the Secretary under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 601-624), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 451-471), or the Egg Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 1031-1056), concerning meat, poultry, and egg products, nor any of the authorities of the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301-399), nor the authority of the Administrator of EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136-136(y)).

    Section 2121 of OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6520) provides for the Secretary to establish an expedited administrative appeals procedure under which persons may appeal an action of the Secretary, the applicable governing State official, or a certifying agent under this title that adversely affects such person or is inconsistent with the organic certification program established under this title. OFPA also provides that the U.S. District Court for the district in which a person is located has jurisdiction to review the Secretary's decision.

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612) requires agencies to consider the economic impact of each rule on small entities and evaluate alternatives that would accomplish the objectives of the rule without unduly burdening small entities or erecting barriers that would restrict their ability to compete in the market. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to the action. Section 605 of the RFA allows an agency to certify a rule, in lieu of preparing an analysis, if the rulemaking is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the RFA, AMS performed an economic impact analysis on small entities in the final rule published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2000 (65 FR 80548). AMS has also considered the economic impact of this action on small entities. The impact on entities affected by this proposed rule would not be significant. The effect of this proposed rule would be to prohibit the use of five non-organic non-agricultural substances that have limited public support and may no longer be used since non-organic non-agricultural alternatives to these substances may have been developed and implemented by food processors. AMS concludes that the economic impact of removing the nonorganic nonagricultural substance, egg white lysozyme, cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, octadecylamine, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate would be minimal to small agricultural firms since alternative non-agricultural products may be commercially available. As such, these substances are proposed to be removed from the National List under this rule. Accordingly, AMS certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Small agricultural service firms, which include producers, handlers, and accredited certifying agents, have been defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) as those having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000 and small agricultural producers are defined as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000.

    According to USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), certified organic acreage exceeded 3.5 million acres in 2011.1 According to NOP's Accreditation and International Activities Division, the number of certified U.S. organic crop and livestock operations totaled over 19,470 in 2014. The list of certified operations is available on the NOP Web site at http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/. AMS believes that most of these entities would be considered small entities under the criteria established by the SBA. U.S. sales of organic food and non-food have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $39.1 billion in 2014, an 11.3 percent growth over 2013 sales.2 In addition, the USDA has 80 accredited certifying agents who provide certification services to producers and handlers. A complete list of names and addresses of accredited certifying agents may be found on the AMS NOP Web site, at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. AMS believes that most of these accredited certifying agents would be considered small entities under the criteria established by the SBA. Certifying agents reported 27,810 certified operations worldwide in 2014.

    1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. October 2012. 2011 Certified Organic Productions Survey.

    2 Organic Trade Association. 2014. Organic Industry Survey. www.ota.com.

    D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    No additional collection or recordkeeping requirements are imposed on the public by this proposed rule. Accordingly, OMB clearance is not required by section 350(h) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501, Chapter 35, or OMB's implementing regulations at 5 CFR part 1320.

    E. Executive Order 13175

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

    F. General Notice of Public Rulemaking

    This proposed rule reflects recommendations submitted to the Secretary by the NOSB for substances on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances that, under the Sunset review provisions of OFPA, would otherwise expire on September 12, 2016. A 60-day period for interested persons to comment on this rule is provided. Sixty days is deemed appropriate because the review of these listings was widely publicized through two NOSB meeting notices; the use or prohibition of these substances, as applicable, are critical to organic production and handling; and this rulemaking must be completed before the sunset date of September 12, 2016.

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 205

    Administrative practice and procedure, Agriculture, Animals, Archives and records, Imports, Labeling, Organically produced products, Plants, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Seals and insignia, Soil conservation.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 205 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 205 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.

    § 205.605 [Amended]
    2. In § 205.605: a. Paragraph (a) is amended by removing the following substance: Egg white lysozyme (CAS # 9001-63-2). b. Paragraph (b) is amended by removing the following four substances: Cyclohexylamine (CAS # 108-91-8)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization; Diethylaminoethanol (CAS # 100-37-8)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization; Octadecylamine (CAS # 124-30-1)—for use only as a boiler water additive for packaging sterilization; and Tetrasodium pyrophosphate (CAS # 7722-88-5)—for use only in meat analog products. Dated: December 8, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31380 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office 37 CFR Part 11 [Docket No.: PTO-C-2015-0018] RIN 0651-AC99 USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    This rulemaking is required by a Public Law enacted on December 16, 2014. This law requires the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“Office” or “USPTO”) Director to establish regulations and procedures for application to and participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. This law removed the “pilot” status of the USPTO's existing law school clinic certification program. The program allows students enrolled in a participating law school's clinic to practice patent and trademark law before the USPTO under the direct supervision of a faculty clinic supervisor by drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent or trademark applications, or both, on a pro bono basis for clients who qualify for assistance from the law school's clinic. In this way, these student practitioners gain valuable experience drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent and trademark applications that would otherwise be unavailable to students while in law school. The program also facilitates the provision of pro bono services to trademark and patent applicants who lack the financial resources to pay for legal representation. The proposed rules incorporate the requirements and procedures developed and implemented during the pilot phase of the program.

    DATES:

    To be ensured of consideration, written comments must be received on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to: [email protected] Comments may also be submitted by mail addressed to: Mail Stop OED—Law School Rules, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450, marked to the attention of William R. Covey, Deputy General Counsel for Enrollment and Discipline and Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline.

    Comments may also be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site (http://www.regulations.gov) for additional instructions on providing comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

    Although comments may be submitted by postal mail, the Office prefers to receive comments by electronic mail message over the Internet because sharing comments with the public is more easily accomplished. Electronic comments are preferred to be submitted in plain text, but also may be submitted in ADOBE® portable document format or MICROSOFT WORD® format. Comments not submitted electronically should be submitted on paper in a format that facilitates convenient digital scanning into ADOBE® portable document format.

    Comments will be made available for public inspection at the Office of Enrollment and Discipline, located on the 8th Floor of the Madison West Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia. Comments also will be available for viewing via the Office's Internet Web site (http://www.uspto.gov). Because comments will be made available for public inspection, information that the submitter does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    William R. Covey, Deputy General Counsel for Enrollment and Discipline and Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline, by telephone at 571-272-4097.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Summary A. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The proposed changes to part 11 aim to comply with the rulemaking requirement imposed by Public Law 113-227 (Dec. 16, 2014). This law requires the USPTO Director to establish regulations and procedures for application to and participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. This law removed the “pilot” status of the USPTO's law school clinic certification program. The program allows students enrolled in a participating law school's clinic to practice patent and trademark law before the USPTO by drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent or trademark applications, or both, on a pro bono basis for clients that qualify for assistance from the law school's clinic. The program provides law students enrolled in a participating clinic the opportunity to practice patent and trademark law before the USPTO under the direct supervision of a faculty clinic supervisor. In this way, these student practitioners gain valuable experience drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent and trademark applications that would otherwise be unavailable to students while in law school. The program also facilitates the provision of pro bono services to trademark and patent applicants that lack the financial resources to pay for legal representation. The proposed rules incorporate the requirements and procedures developed and implemented during the pilot phase of the program.

    B. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action in Question

    This NPRM proposes rules in 37 CFR 11.16 and 11.17 to formalize the process by which law schools, law school faculty, and law school students may participate in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program.

    Discussion of Specific Rules

    The USPTO proposes to amend § 11.1 to clarify the definition of “attorney” or “lawyer” to reflect the current practice of requiring attorneys to be active members, in good standing, of the highest court of any State, and otherwise eligible to practice law. The term “State” is elsewhere defined in § 11.1 to mean any of the 50 states of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, and any Commonwealth or territory of the United States of America.

    The USPTO also proposes to amend the term “practitioner” to specifically include those students allowed to participate in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. The mechanism by which such students are allowed to participate is through a grant of limited recognition. Once granted limited recognition, such students are deemed practitioners and, as such, are subject to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct. By definition, only “practitioners” may represent others before the office. Law school students who are not participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program may not practice before the USPTO, unless otherwise authorized to do so.

    The USPTO proposes to add §§ 11.16 and 11.17, currently reserved, to establish the regulatory framework for the Law School Clinic Certification Program.

    Section 11.16 would establish the criteria for admission to, and continuing participation in, the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program, the qualifications necessary for approval as a Faculty Clinic Supervisor, and the requirements for granting limited recognition to law school students. Schools participating in the program as of the date the final rule is published will not be required to reapply for admission but must apply for renewal at such time as the OED Director establishes. These criteria, deadlines for admission, and any ancillary requirements, will be published in a bulletin on the Office of Enrollment and Discipline's law school clinic Web page.

    Section 11.16(a) would describe the purpose of the program.

    Section 11.16(b) would establish rules regarding applying for, and renewing, admission to the program. Law schools enrolled in the program on the effective date of these rules would be grandfathered into the program and would not be required to submit a new application. Law schools no longer participating in the program on the effective date, however, would be required to reapply for admission. Although not required to reapply for admission, participating law schools seeking to add a practice area (i.e., patents or trademarks) would be required to submit an application for such practice area. This section would establish that all law schools would be required to submit a renewal application on a biennial basis.

    Section 11.16(c) would specify that Faculty Clinic Supervisors are subject to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct, including those governing supervisory practitioners. See e.g., 37 CFR 11.501 and 11.502. As such, Faculty Clinic Supervisors, as well as the respective law school deans, are responsible for ensuring their schools have established a process that identifies conflicts of interest.

    Generally, the OED Director makes a determination regarding a proposed Faculty Clinic Supervisor's eligibility as part of the process of considering a law school's application for admission to the program. The OED Director may also make a determination whether to approve an additional, or a replacement, supervisor for one or more schools that have already been admitted to the program. In determining whether a Faculty Clinic Supervisor candidate possesses the number of years of experience required by paragraphs (c)(1)(ii) and (c)(2)(ii), the OED Director will measure the duration of experience from the date of the candidate's request for approval. Any additional criteria established by the OED Director, as set forth in paragraphs (c)(1)(v) and (c)(2)(v), will be published in a bulletin on the Office of Enrollment and Discipline's law school clinic Web page.

    Each practice area must be led by a fully-qualified, USPTO-approved, Faculty Clinic Supervisor for that practice area. Provided that they are approved by the USPTO, a law school's clinic may include a patent practice, a trademark practice, or both. The USPTO does not have a preference whether a law school includes both practice areas in one clinic or separates each discipline into its own clinic. For law school clinics approved to practice in both the patent and trademark practice areas, the USPTO may approve one individual to serve as a Faculty Clinic Supervisor for both practice areas, provided that the individual satisfies the USPTO's criteria to be both a Patent Faculty Clinic Supervisor and a Trademark Faculty Clinic Supervisor.

    Section 11.16(d) would provide the rules for providing limited recognition to students for the purpose of practicing before the USPTO. It would provide that registered patent agents, and attorneys enrolled in a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) program, who wish to participate in a clinic must abide by the same rules and procedures as other students in the program.

    Section 11.17 would establish rules concerning the continuing obligations of schools participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program and specify those circumstances that may result in inactivation or removal of a school from the program.

    Section 11.17(a) would restate the requirement in Public Law 113-227 that services rendered under the program will be provided on a pro-bono basis.

    Section 11.17(b) would establish procedures for law schools to report their program activities to the USPTO.

    Section 11.17(c) would establish procedures for inactivating a law school clinic. Inactive law schools are still considered by the USPTO to be “participating” in the program.

    Section 11.17(d) would establish procedures for removing a law school from the program and would explain the obligations of student practitioners in such event.

    Rulemaking Considerations

    Administrative Procedure Act: The changes in this proposed rulemaking involve rules of agency practice and procedure, and/or interpretive rules. See Perez v. Mortg. Bankers Ass'n, 135 S. Ct. 1199, 1204 (2015) (interpretive rules “advise the public of the agency's construction of the statutes and rules which it administers”) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); Nat'l Org. of Veterans'Advocates v. Sec'y of Veterans Affairs, 260 F.3d 1365, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (rule that clarifies interpretation of a statute is interpretive); Bachow Commc'ns Inc. v. FCC, 237 F.3d 683, 690 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (rules governing an application process are procedural under the Administrative Procedure Act); Inova Alexandria Hosp. v. Shalala, 244 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2001) (rules for handling appeals were procedural where they did not change the substantive standard for reviewing claims).

    Accordingly, prior notice and opportunity for public comment for the changes in this proposed rulemaking are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b) or (c), or any other law. See Perez, 135 S. Ct. at 1206 (notice-and-comment procedures are required neither when an agency “issue[s] an initial interpretive rule” nor “when it amends or repeals that interpretive rule”); Cooper Techs. Co. v. Dudas, 536 F.3d 1330, 1336-37 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (stating that 5 U.S.C. 553, and thus 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2)(B), does not require notice and comment rulemaking for “interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice,” quoting 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A)). The USPTO, however, is publishing these proposed rule changes for comment as it seeks the benefit of the public's views.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act: The Deputy General Counsel, United States Patent and Trademark Office, has certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration, that the proposed changes in this rulemaking will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b)). The USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program is voluntary. Law schools, clinics, and clients may elect whether to participate in the program, and receive the benefits thereof. The primary effect of this rulemaking is not economic, but simply to formalize the requirements and procedures developed and implemented during the pilot phase of the program. The rulemaking proposes certain basic quarterly reporting requirements by participating law school clinics in order to provide information to the Office pertaining to the quality and use of their pro bono services. The information required for the report should be readily available to participating law school clinics and present a minimal administrative burden. Additionally, the Office currently has 47 participating law school clinics, and it is expected that this number may increase slightly. Accordingly, this reporting requirement and the rulemaking will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review): This rulemaking has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866 (September 30, 1993).

    Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review): The Office has complied with Executive Order 13563. Specifically, the Office has, to the extent feasible and applicable: (1) Made a reasoned determination that the benefits justify the costs of the rule; (2) tailored the rule to impose the least burden on society consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives; (3) selected a regulatory approach that maximizes net benefits; (4) specified performance objectives; (5) identified and assessed available alternatives; (6) involved the public in an open exchange of information and perspectives among experts in relevant disciplines, affected stakeholders in the private sector and the public as a whole, and provided on-line access to the rulemaking docket; (7) attempted to promote coordination, simplification, and harmonization across government agencies and identified goals designed to promote innovation; (8) considered approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public; and (9) ensured the objectivity of scientific and technological information and processes.

    Executive Order 13132: This rulemaking does not contain policies with federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a Federalism Assessment under Executive Order 13132 (August 4, 1999).

    Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation): This rulemaking will not: (1) have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes; (2) impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments; or (3) preempt tribal law. Therefore, a tribal summary impact statement is not required under Executive Order 13175 (Nov. 6, 2000).

    Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects): This rulemaking is not a significant energy action under Executive Order 13211 because this rulemaking is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. Therefore, a Statement of Energy Effects is not required under Executive Order 13211 (May 18, 2001).

    Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform): This rulemaking meets applicable standards to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden as set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988 (Feb. 5, 1996).

    Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children): This rulemaking does not concern an environmental risk to health or safety that may disproportionately affect children under Executive Order 13045 (Apr. 21, 1997).

    Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property): This rulemaking will not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630 (Mar. 15, 1988).

    Congressional Review Act: Under the Congressional Review Act provisions of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), prior to issuing any final rule, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will submit a report containing the final rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office. The changes in this notice are not expected to result in an annual effect on the economy of 100 million dollars or more, a major increase in costs or prices, or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets. Therefore, this notice is not expected to result in a “major rule” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995: The changes in this rulemaking do not involve a Federal intergovernmental mandate that will result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, of 100 million dollars (as adjusted) or more in any one year, or a Federal private sector mandate that will result in the expenditure by the private sector of 100 million dollars (as adjusted) or more in any one year, and will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions are necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. See 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.

    National Environmental Policy Act: This rulemaking will not have any effect on the quality of environment and is thus categorically excluded from review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. See 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.

    National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act: The requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) are not applicable because this rulemaking does not contain provisions which involve the use of technical standards.

    Paperwork Reduction Act: The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) requires that the Office consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. This rulemaking involves information collection requirements which are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3549). New information will be collected and a new information collection request to authorize the collection of new information involved in this notice is being submitted to OMB under the title “Law School Clinic Certification Program.” The proposed collection will be available at the OMB's Information Collection Review Web site (www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain).

    In addition to the new items, this rulemaking action also seeks to associate the following item currently in a different OMB approved collection (0651-0012 Admission to Practice) with this proposed collection: Application by Student to Become a Participant in the Program (PTO-158LS). This transfer will consolidate all information collections relating to law student involvement in the Law School Clinic Certification Program into a single collection.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty, for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 11

    Administrative practice and procedure, Inventions and patents, Lawyers, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the United States Patent and Trademark Office proposes to amend 37 CFR part 11 as follows:

    PART 11—REPRESENTATION OF OTHERS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE 1. The authority citation for part 11 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 500; 15 U.S.C. 1123; 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2), 32, 41; Sec. 1, Pub. L. 113-227, 128 Stat. 2114.

    2. In § 11.1, the definitions of “Attorney or lawyer” and “Practitioner” are revised to read as follows:
    § 11.1 Definitions.

    Attorney or lawyer means an individual who is an active member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any State. A non-lawyer means a person who is not an attorney or lawyer.

    Practitioner means:

    (1) An attorney or agent registered to practice before the Office in patent matters;

    (2) An individual authorized under 5 U.S.C. 500(b), or otherwise as provided by § 11.14(a), (b), and (c), to practice before the Office in trademark matters or other non-patent matters;

    (3) An individual authorized to practice before the Office in a patent case or matters under § 11.9(a) or (b); or

    (4) An individual authorized to practice before the Office under § 11.16(d).

    3. Add § 11.16 to read as follows:
    § 11.16 Requirements for admission to the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program.

    (a) The USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program allows students enrolled in a participating law school's clinic to practice before the Office in patent or trademark matters by drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent or trademark applications on a pro bono basis for clients that qualify for assistance from the law school's clinic. All law schools accredited by the American Bar Association are eligible for participation in the program, and shall be examined for acceptance using identical criteria.

    (b) Application for admission and renewal. (1) Application for admission. Non-participating law schools seeking admission to the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program, and participating law schools seeking to add a practice area, shall submit an application for admission for such practice area to the Office of Enrollment and Discipline in accordance with criteria and time periods set forth by the OED Director.

    (2) Renewal application. Each participating law school desiring to continue in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program shall, biennially from a date assigned to the law school by the OED Director, submit a renewal application to the Office of Enrollment and Discipline in accordance with criteria set forth by the OED Director.

    (3) The OED Director may refuse admission or renewal of a law school to the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program if the OED Director determines that admission, or renewal, of the law school would fail to provide significant benefit to the public or the law students participating in the law school's clinic.

    (c) Faculty Clinic Supervisor. Any law school seeking admission to or participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program must have at least one Faculty Clinic Supervisor for the patent practice area, if the clinic includes patent practice; and at least one Faculty Clinic Supervisor for the trademark practice area, if the clinic includes trademark practice.

    (1) Patent Faculty Clinic Supervisor. A Faculty Clinic Supervisor for a law school clinic's patent practice must:

    (i) Be a registered patent practitioner in active status and good standing with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline;

    (ii) Demonstrate at least 3 years experience in prosecuting patent applications before the Office within the 5 years immediately prior to the request for approval as a Faculty Clinic Supervisor;

    (iii) Assume full responsibility for the instruction and guidance of law students participating in the law school clinic's patent practice;

    (iv) Assume full responsibility for all patent applications and legal services, including filings with the Office, produced by the clinic; and

    (v) Comply with all additional criteria established by the OED Director.

    (2) Trademark Faculty Clinic Supervisor. A Faculty Clinic Supervisor for a law school clinic's trademark practice must:

    (i) Be an attorney as defined in § 11.1;

    (ii) Demonstrate at least 3 years experience in prosecuting trademark applications before the Office within the 5 years immediately prior to the date of the request for approval as a Faculty Clinic Supervisor;

    (iii) Assume full responsibility for the instruction, guidance, and supervision of law students participating in the law school clinic's trademark practice;

    (iv) Assume full responsibility for all trademark applications and legal services, including filings with the Office, produced by the clinic; and

    (v) Comply with all additional criteria established by the OED Director.

    (3) A Faculty Clinic Supervisor under paragraph (c) of this section must submit a statement:

    (i) Assuming responsibility for performing conflicts checks for each law student and client in the relevant clinic practice area;

    (ii) Assuming responsibility for student instruction and work, including instructing, mentoring, overseeing, and supervising all participating law school students in the clinic's relevant practice area;

    (iii) Assuming responsibility for content and timeliness of all applications and documents submitted to the Office through the relevant practice area of the clinic;

    (iv) Assuming responsibility for all communications by clinic students to clinic clients in the relevant clinic practice area;

    (v) Assuming responsibility for ensuring that there is no gap in representation of clinic clients in the relevant practice area during student turnover, school schedule variations, inter-semester transitions, or other disruptions;

    (vi) Attesting to meeting the criteria of paragraph (c)(1) or (2) of this section based on relevant practice area of the clinic; and

    (vii) Attesting to all other criteria as established by the OED Director.

    (d) Limited recognition for law students participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. (1) The OED Director may grant limited recognition to practice before the Office in patent or trademark matters, or both, to law school students enrolled in a clinic of a law school that is participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program upon submission and approval of an application by a law student to the Office of Enrollment and Discipline in accordance with criteria established by the OED Director.

    (2) In order to be granted limited recognition to practice before the Office in patent matters under the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program, a law student must:

    (i) Be enrolled in a law school that is an active participant in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program;

    (ii) Be enrolled in the patent practice area of a clinic of the participating law school;

    (iii) Have successfully completed at least one year of law school or the equivalent;

    (iv) Have read the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct and the relevant rules of practice and procedure for patent matters;

    (v) Be supervised by an approved Faculty Clinic Supervisor pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section;

    (vi) Be certified by the dean of the participating law school, or one authorized to act for the dean, as: having completed the first year of law school or the equivalent, being in compliance with the law school's ethics code, and being of good moral character and reputation;

    (vii) Neither ask for nor receive any fee or compensation of any kind for legal services from a clinic client on whose behalf service is rendered;

    (viii) Have proved to the satisfaction of the OED Director that he or she possesses the scientific and technical qualifications necessary for him or her to render patent applicants valuable service; and

    (ix) Comply with all additional criteria established by the OED Director.

    (3) In order to be granted limited recognition to practice before the Office in trademark matters under the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program, a law student must:

    (i) Be enrolled in a law school that is an active participant in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program;

    (ii) Be enrolled in the trademark practice area of a clinic of the participating law school;

    (iii) Have successfully completed at least one year of law school or the equivalent;

    (iv) Have read the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct and the relevant USPTO rules of practice and procedure for trademark matters;

    (v) Be supervised by an approved Faculty Clinic Supervisor pursuant to paragraph (c)(2) of this section;

    (vi) Be certified by the dean of the participating law school, or one authorized to act for the dean, as: having completed the first year of law school or the equivalent, being in compliance with the law school's ethics code, and being of good moral character and reputation;

    (vii) Neither ask for nor receive any fee or compensation of any kind for legal services from a clinic client on whose behalf service is rendered; and

    (viii) Comply with all additional criteria established by the OED Director.

    (4) Students registered to practice before the Office in patent matters as a patent agent, or authorized to practice before the Office in trademark matters under § 11.14, must complete and submit a student application pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) of this section and meet the criteria of paragraph (d)(2) or (3) of this section, as applicable, in order to participate in the program.

    4. Add § 11.17 to read as follows:
    § 11.17 Requirements for participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program.

    (a) Each law school participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program must provide its patent and/or trademark services on a pro bono basis for clients that qualify for assistance from the law school's clinic.

    (b) Each law school participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program shall, on a quarterly basis, provide the Office of Enrollment and Discipline with a report regarding its clinic activity, which shall include:

    (1) The number of law students participating in each of the patent and trademark practice areas of the school's clinic in the preceding quarter;

    (2) The number of faculty participating in each of the patent and trademark practice areas of the school's clinic in the preceding quarter;

    (3) The number of consultations provided to persons who requested assistance from the law school clinic in the preceding quarter;

    (4) The number of client representations undertaken for each of the patent and trademark practice areas of the school's clinic in the preceding quarter;

    (5) The identity and number of applications and responses filed in each of the patent and/or trademark practice areas of the school's clinic in the preceding quarter;

    (6) The number of patents issued, or trademarks registered, to clients of the clinic in the preceding quarter; and

    (7) All other information specified by the OED Director.

    (c) Inactivation of law schools participating in the USPTO Law School Certification Program.

    (1) The OED Director may inactivate a patent and/or trademark practice area of a participating law school:

    (i) If the participating law school does not have an approved Faculty Clinic Supervisor for the relevant practice area, as described in § 11.16(c);

    (ii) If the participating law school does not meet each of the requirements and criteria for participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program as set forth in § 11.16, this section, or as otherwise established by the OED Director; or

    (iii) For other good cause as determined by the OED Director.

    (2) In the event that a practice area of a participating school is inactivated, the participating law school students must:

    (i) Immediately cease all student practice before the Office in the relevant practice area and notify each client of such; and

    (ii) Disassociate themselves from all client matters relating to practice before the Office in the relevant practice area, including complying with Office and State rules for withdrawal from representation.

    (3) A patent or trademark practice area of a law school clinic that has been inactivated may be restored to active status, upon application to and approval by the OED Director.

    (d) Removal of law schools participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. (1) The OED Director may remove a patent and/or trademark practice area of the clinic of a law school participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program:

    (i) Upon request from the law school;

    (ii) If the participating law school does not meet each of the requirements and criteria for participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program as set forth in § 11.16, this section, or as otherwise established by the OED Director; or

    (iii) For other good cause as determined by the OED Director.

    (2) In the event that a practice area of a participating school is removed by the OED Director, the participating law school students must:

    (i) Immediately cease all student practice before the Office in the relevant practice area and notify the client of such; and

    (ii) Disassociate themselves from all client matters relating to practice before the Office in the relevant practice area, including complying with Office and State rules for withdrawal from representation.

    (3) A school that has been removed from participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program under this section may reapply to the program in compliance with § 11.16.

    Dated: December 8, 2015. Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31627 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2015-0196; FRL-9940-11-Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Minnesota and Michigan; Revision to Taconite Federal Implementation Plan AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reopening the public comment period for a proposed rule published October 22, 2015. On November 23, 2015, EPA received a request from the National Tribal Air Association to extend the public comment period an additional 120 days from the closing date of November 23, 2015 and from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for an unspecified period of time. EPA is, therefore, reopening the comment period for an additional 30 days after November 23, 2015.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule published on October 22, 2015 (80 FR 64160), is reopened. Comments must be received on or before December 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R05-OAR-2015-0196, to: Douglas Aburano, Chief, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 353-6960, [email protected]. Additional instructions on how to comment can be found in the notice of proposed rulemaking published October 22, 2015 (80 FR 64160).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steven Rosenthal, Environmental Engineer, Attainment Planning & Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6052, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On October 22, 2015, EPA proposed revisions to a Federal implementation plan (FIP) addressing the requirement for best available retrofit technology (BART) for taconite plants in Minnesota and Michigan. In response to petitions for reconsideration, we proposed to revise the nitrogen oxides (NOX) limits for taconite furnaces at facilities owned and operated by Cliffs Natural Resources (Cliffs) and ArcelorMittal USA LLC (ArcelorMittal). We also proposed to revise the sulfur dioxide (SO2) requirements at two of Cliffs' facilities. We proposed these changes because new information had come to light that was not available when we originally promulgated the FIP on February 6, 2013.

    Dated: December 4, 2015. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, Region 5.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31523 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 12 [PS Docket No. 14-174; Report No. 3034] Petition for Reconsideration of Action in a Rulemaking Proceeding AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Petition for reconsideration.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, a Petition for Reconsideration (Petition) has been filed in the Commission's Rulemaking Proceeding by David C. Bergmann, on behalf of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

    DATES:

    Oppositions to the Petition must be filed on or before December 31, 2015. Replies to an opposition must be filed on or before January 11, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Linda Pintro, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, 202-418-7490, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of Commission's document, Report No. 3034, released December 2, 2015. The full text of Report No. 3034 is available for viewing and copying at the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257 Washington, DC 20554, or may be accessed online via the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/. The Commission will not send a copy of the document pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A), because this document does not have an impact on any rules of particular applicability.

    Subject: Ensuring Continuity of 911 Communications Report and Order, published at 80 FR 62470, October 16, 2015, in PS Docket No. 14-174. This document is published pursuant to 47 CFR 1.429(e). See also 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1).

    Number of Petitions Filed: 1

    Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31574 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    80 241 Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Notices ADMINISTRATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Adoption of Recommendations AGENCY:

    Administrative Conference of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Administrative Conference of the United States adopted three recommendations at its Sixty-fourth Plenary Session. The appended recommendations address: Technical Assistance by Federal Agencies in the Legislative Process; Declaratory Orders; and Designing Federal Permitting Programs.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For Recommendation 2015-2, Alissa Ardito; for Recommendation 2015-3, Amber Williams; and for Recommendation 2015-4, Connie Vogelmann. For all three of these actions the address and telephone number are: Administrative Conference of the United States, Suite 706 South, 1120 20th Street NW., Washington, DC 20036; Telephone 202-480-2080.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Administrative Conference Act, 5 U.S.C. 591-596, established the Administrative Conference of the United States. The Conference studies the efficiency, adequacy, and fairness of the administrative procedures used by Federal agencies and makes recommendations to agencies, the President, Congress, and the Judicial Conference of the United States for procedural improvements (5 U.S.C. 594(1)). For further information about the Conference and its activities, see www.acus.gov. At its Sixty-fourth Plenary Session, held December 4, 2015, the Assembly of the Conference adopted three recommendations.

    Recommendation 2015-2, Technical Assistance by Federal Agencies in the Legislative Process. This recommendation offers best practices for agencies when providing Congress with technical drafting assistance. It is intended to apply to situations in which Congress originates the draft legislation and asks an agency to review and provide expert technical feedback on the draft without necessarily taking an official substantive position. The recommendation urges agencies and Congress to engage proactively in mutually beneficial outreach and education. It highlights the practice of providing congressional requesters with redline drafts showing how proposed bills would affect existing law; suggests that agencies consider ways to involve appropriate agency experts in the process; and urges agencies to maintain a strong working relationship between legislative affairs and legislative counsel offices.

    Recommendation 2015-3, Declaratory Orders. This recommendation identifies contexts in which agencies should consider the use of declaratory orders in administrative adjudications. It also highlights best practices relating to the use of declaratory orders, including explaining the agency's procedures for issuing declaratory orders, ensuring adequate opportunities for public participation in the proceedings, responding to petitions for declaratory orders in a timely manner, and making declaratory orders and other dispositions of petitions readily available to the public.

    Recommendation 2015-4, Designing Federal Permitting Programs. This recommendation describes different types of permitting systems and provides factors for agencies to consider when designing or reviewing permitting programs. The recommendation discusses both “general” permits (which are granted so long as certain requirements are met) and “specific” permits (which involve fact-intensive, case-by-case determinations), as well as intermediate or hybrid permitting programs. It encourages agencies that adopt permitting systems to design them so as to minimize burdens on the agency and regulated entities while maintaining required regulatory protections.

    The Appendix below sets forth the full texts of these three recommendations. The Conference will transmit them to affected agencies, Congress, and the Judicial Conference of the United States. The recommendations are not binding, so the entities to which they are addressed will make decisions on their implementation.

    The Conference based these recommendations on research reports that are posted at: http://www.acus.gov/64th. A video of the Plenary Session is available at: new.livestream.com/ACUS/64thPlenarySession, and a transcript of the Plenary Session will be posted when it is available.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Shawne C. McGibbon, General Counsel. APPENDIX—RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Administrative Conference Recommendation 2015-2 Technical Assistance by Federal Agencies in the Legislative Process Adopted December 4, 2015

    Federal agencies play a significant role in the legislative process.1 While agencies can be the primary drafters of the statutes they administer, it is more common for agencies to respond to Congressional requests to provide technical assistance in statutory drafting. Despite the extent of agency involvement in drafting legislation, the precise nature of the interactions between agencies and Congress in the drafting process remains obscure.

    1See Christopher J. Walker, Federal Agencies in the Legislative Process: Technical Assistance in Statutory Drafting 1-4 (November 2015), available at https://www.acus.gov/report/technical-assistance-draft-report [hereinafter Walker Report].

    Generally speaking, federal agencies engage in two kinds of legislative drafting activities: substantive and technical. Legislative activities considered “substantive” are subject to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) coordination and preclearance process governed by OMB Circular A-19, which does not explicitly define substantive legislative activities or technical legislative assistance.2 Substantive legislative activities include the submission of agencies' annual legislative programs, proposed legislation such as draft bills and supporting documents an agency may present to Congress, any endorsement of federal legislation, and the submission of agency views on pending bills before Congress as well as official agency testimony before a Congressional committee.3

    2 Office of Management and Budget, Circular A-19 (revised Sept. 20, 1979), https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a019/ [hereinafter OMB Circular A-19].

    3Id. sections (6)(a) and (7)(a).

    Agencies also provide Congress with technical drafting assistance. Rather than originating with the agency or the Administration, in the case of technical assistance, Congress originates the draft legislation and asks an agency to review and provide feedback on the draft. Circular A-19 advises agencies to keep OMB informed of their activities and to clarify that agency feedback does not reflect the views or policies of the agency or Administration.4 No other standard procedures or requirements apply when agencies respond to Congressional requests—from committee staff, staff of individual Members of Congress, or Members themselves—for technical assistance. In consequence, agency procedures and practices appear multifarious.

    4Id. section 7(i). Independent agencies routinely provide technical assistance, outside of the OMB Circular A-19 process, in line with their enabling statutes.

    Congress frequently requests technical assistance from agencies on proposed legislation. Congressional requests for technical assistance in statutory drafting can range from review of draft legislation to requests for the agency to draft legislation based on specifications provided by the Congressional requester. Despite the fact that technical assistance does not require OMB preclearance, there is some consistency in the assistance process across agencies. Agencies often provide technical drafting assistance on legislation that directly affects those agencies and respond to Congressional requests regardless of factors such as the likelihood of the legislation being enacted, its effect on the agency, or the party affiliation of the requesting Member. Agency actors involved in the process include the agency's legislative affairs office, program and policy experts, and legislative counsel.5 In some agencies, regulatory counsel also participate routinely. Moreover, agency responses range from oral discussions of general feedback to written memoranda to suggested legislative language or redlined suggestions on the draft legislation.

    5 While this recommendation uses the term “legislative affairs office,” some agencies may have different offices or individuals responsible for legislative affairs, and this recommendation encompasses such arrangements.

    A well-run program to provide Congress with technical assistance on draft legislation yields important benefits to the agency. Responding to such Congressional requests assists the agency in maintaining a healthy and productive relationship with Congress, ensures the proposed legislation is consonant with the existing statutory and regulatory scheme, helps educate Congressional staff about the agency's statutory and regulatory framework, and keeps the agency informed of potential legislative action that could affect the agency.

    Although agencies, as a rule, strive to respond to all requests, they continue to face challenges in providing technical assistance. Congressional staff may be unfamiliar with an agency's enabling legislation and governing statutes. Technical assistance provided informally does not always involve the offices of legislative counsel or legislative affairs, although both offices should be kept informed and involved. The distinction between substantive and technical drafting assistance is not always self-evident, and Congressional requesters of technical drafting assistance often are actually seeking substantive feedback from the agency experts on the proposed legislation. The provision of technical assistance on appropriations legislation presents unique demands on both agency legislative counsel and budget offices.

    Various agencies have developed distinct practices and procedures to address the provision of technical assistance that the Conference believes should be considered best practices. For example, many agencies have established internal guidelines governing the agency procedures for providing technical assistance. Memorializing agency procedures ensures that the provision of technical assistance is consistent throughout the agency. By stating in written guidance that legislative counsel and legislative affairs offices must be involved, for instance, agencies can help diminish the prospect of substantive assistance being provided under the guise of technical assistance. Although agencies should have flexibility to adopt procedures that are tailored to their agency-specific structures, norms, and internal processes, memorializing their legislative drafting processes, as the Departments of Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor have done, can ensure that all agency officials involved understand the processes and can help educate personnel new to the agency.

    Some agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development among them, utilize a practice of providing Congressional requesters with a Ramseyer/Cordon draft as part of the technical assistance response. A Ramseyer/Cordon draft is a redline of the existing law that shows how the proposed legislation would affect current law by underscoring proposed additions to existing law and bracketing the text of proposed deletions. Providing such drafts, when feasible, helps Congressional staffers unfamiliar with the agency's governing statutes to better comprehend the ramifications of the contemplated legislation.

    Maintaining separate roles for legislative affairs and legislative counsel offices also has proven beneficial. Legislative affairs staff engage Congress directly and must often make politically sensitive decisions when communicating with Congress. By contrast, legislative counsel offices, by providing expert drafting assistance regardless of the Administration's official policy stance on the legislation, maintain the non-partisan status of the agency in the legislative process. These offices play important yet distinct roles in an agency's legislative activities that help maintain a healthy working relationship with Congress and enhance the recognition of the agency's expertise in legislative drafting and in the relevant subject matter. This division, especially when both offices communicate regularly, can help agencies monitor the line between legislative assistance that is purely technical and assistance that merges into an agency's official views on pending legislation.

    Appropriations legislation presents agencies with potential coordination problems as substantive provisions or “riders” may require technical drafting assistance, but agency processes for reviewing appropriations legislation are channeled through agency budget or finance offices. It is crucial for the budget office to communicate with an agency's legislative counsel office to anticipate and later address requests for technical assistance related to appropriations bills. Agencies have taken a variety of approaches to address this issue, ranging from tasking a staffer in an agency legislative counsel office with tracking appropriations bills; to holding weekly meetings with budget, legislative affairs, and legislative counsel staff; to emphasizing less informally that the offices establish a strong working relationship.

    Educational outreach on the part of both agencies and Congress, by further developing expertise on both sides and by cultivating professional working relationships, has the potential to enhance the provision of technical assistance over time. In-person educational efforts may include briefings of Members and their staff on an agency's statutory and regulatory scheme as well as its programs and initiatives, face-to-face meetings with legislative counsel and Congressional staff, and training in statutory drafting for both Congressional staff and agency legislative counsel attorneys.

    The following recommendations derive from the best practices that certain agencies have developed to navigate these challenges and focus on both external practices that may strengthen agencies' relationship with Congress in the legislative process and internal agency practices to improve the technical drafting assistance process and external practices that may strengthen agencies' relationship with Congress in the legislative process.

    Recommendation Congress-Agency Relationship in the Legislative Process

    1. Congressional committees and individual Members should aim to reach out to agencies for technical assistance early in the legislative drafting process.

    2. Federal agencies should endeavor to provide Congress with technical drafting assistance when asked. A specific Administration directive or policy may make the provision of technical assistance inappropriate in some instances. Agencies should recognize that they need not expend the same amount of time and resources on each request.

    3. To improve the quality of proposed legislation and strengthen their relations with Congress, agencies should be actively engaged in educational efforts, including in-person briefings and interactions, to educate Congressional staff about the agencies' respective statutory and regulatory frameworks and agency technical drafting expertise.

    Agency Technical Drafting Assistance

    4. To improve intra-agency coordination and processing of Congressional requests for drafting assistance, agencies should consider memorializing their agency-specific procedures for responding to technical assistance requests. These procedures should provide that requests for technical assistance be referred to the agency's office with responsibility for legislative affairs.

    5. Similarly, agencies should consider ways to better identify and involve the appropriate agency experts—in particular, the relevant agency policy and program personnel in addition to the legislative drafting experts—in the technical drafting assistance process. These efforts may involve, for example, establishing an internal agency distribution list for technical drafting assistance requests and maintaining an internal list of appropriate agency policy and program contacts.

    6. When feasible and appropriate, agencies should provide the Congressional requester with a redline draft showing how the bill would modify existing law (known as a Ramseyer/Cordon draft) as part of the technical assistance response.

    7. Agencies should maintain the distinct roles of, and strong working relationships among, their legislative affairs personnel, policy and program experts, and legislative counsel.

    8. Agencies also should strive to ensure that the budget office and legislative counsel communicate so that legislative counsel will be able to provide appropriate advice on technical drafting of substantive provisions in appropriations legislation.

    Administrative Conference Recommendation 2015-3 Declaratory Orders Adopted December 4, 2015

    Providing clarity and certainty is an enduring challenge of administrative governance, particularly in the regulatory context. Sometimes statutes and regulations fail to provide sufficient clarity with regard to their applicability to a particular project or transaction. In such instances, businesses and individuals may be unable or unwilling to act, and the consequences for the economy, society, and technological progress can be significant and harmful. The predominant way agencies address this problem is by providing guidance to regulated parties.1 Although the many forms of agency guidance—such as interpretive rules and policy statements—do much to dispel regulatory uncertainty, they cannot eliminate it entirely. This is because they are generally informal and not legally binding on the agency that issues them. Regulated parties may usually be able to rely upon them, but if an agency changes its position after a transaction is completed, the consequences for the affected party can be severe. As the potential costs of misplaced reliance rise, even a small chance that an agency will not adhere to a position offered in guidance can become intolerable.

    1 The Administrative Conference has adopted a number of recommendations on agency guidance. See Recommendation 2014-3, Guidance in the Rulemaking Process, 79 FR 35992 (June 25, 2014), available at https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/guidance-rulemaking-process; Recommendation 92-2, Agency Policy Statements, 57 FR 30103 (July 8, 1992), available at https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/agency-policy-statements; Recommendation 76-5, Interpretive Rules of General Applicability and Statements of General Policy, 41 FR 56769 (Dec. 30, 1976), available at https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/interpretive-rules-general-applicability-and-statements-general-policy; Recommendation 75-9, Internal Revenue Service Procedures: Taxpayer Services and Complaints, 41 FR 3986 (Jan. 27, 1976), available at https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/ internal-revenue-service-procedures-taxpayer-services-and-complaints; Recommendation 71-3, Articulation of Agency Policies, 38 FR 19788 (July 23, 1973), available at https://www.acus.gov/recommendation/articulation-agency-policies.

    When it enacted the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946, Congress included a provision designed to address this difficult problem. In 5 U.S.C. 554(e), it provided that an “agency, with like effect as in the case of other orders, and in its sound discretion, may issue a declaratory order to terminate a controversy or remove uncertainty.” 2 The declaratory order is a type of adjudication that serves an important advice-giving function. It may be issued in response to a petition filed with the agency 3 (as is usually the case) or on the agency's own motion. It is well tailored to provide a level of certainty that may not be achievable using more informal kinds of guidance. This is because it is non-coercive and yet legally binds the agency and the named party, but only on the facts assumed in the order. The agency remains free to change its position with adequate explanation in a subsequent proceeding. It is a device that affords substantial administrative discretion—the agency may decline a request to institute a declaratory proceeding or to issue a declaratory order. An agency's decision, be it a denial of a petition or the issuance of a declaratory order, is judicially reviewable. But the scope of review is limited, and the position an agency takes in a declaratory order is typically afforded deference,4 both on judicial review and when relevant to matters at issue in subsequent or parallel litigation.

    2 5 U.S.C. 554(e) (2012); see generally Administrative Procedure in Government Agencies, Final Report of the Attorney General's Committee on Administrative Procedure, S. Doc. No. 77-8, at 30-34 (1941) (urging Congress to include the declaratory order provision in the APA).

    3 An agency so authorized may assess a filing fee to help defray the cost of issuing declaratory orders in response to petitions.

    4 The level of deference may depend on the formality of the procedure used, see United States v. Mead Corp., 553 U.S. 218 (2001), though “[c]ourts have afforded Chevron deference to declaratory orders issued through both formal and informal adjudication.” Emily S. Bremer, Declaratory Orders 25 (Oct. 30, 2015) available at https://www.acus.gov/report/declaratory-orders-final-report [hereinafter Bremer] (citing City of Arlington v. FCC, 133 S. Ct. 1863 (2013) (giving Chevron deference to a declaratory ruling issued by the FCC through informal adjudication)).

    An agency may properly use a declaratory order for a wide variety of purposes, including to: (1) Interpret the agency's governing statute or own regulations; (2) define terms of art; (3) clarify whether a matter falls within federal regulatory authority; or (4) address questions of preemption.5 One occasion for doing so is in response to a court's request for a ruling when the court has found that the agency has primary jurisdiction over a matter being litigated. By presenting the agency's views through a document of easily ascertainable legal effect, declaratory orders may reduce or eliminate litigation.6 By using declaratory orders to address narrow questions raised by specific and uncontested facts, an agency can precisely define the legal issues it addresses and reserve related issues for future resolution, thereby facilitating an incremental approach to the provision of guidance. The resulting body of agency precedent will not only be useful to regulated and other interested parties, but may also prove invaluable to the agency when it later decides to conduct a rulemaking or other proceeding for formulating policy on a broader scale. Other uses may be possible as well. For example, an agency that conducts mass adjudication could use the declaratory order to promote uniformity by choosing to give practical and detailed guidance while also making decisional law binding on the parties to the proceeding regarding the proper application of the law to commonly encountered factual circumstances.

    5See generally Ill. Terminal R.R. v. ICC, 671 F.2d 1214 (8th Cir. 1992); N.Y. State Comm'n on Cable Television v. FCC, 669 F.2d 58 (2d Cir. 1982); N.C. Utils. Comm'n, 537 F.2d 787 (4th Cir. 1976); Ashland Oil & Ref. Co. v. FPC, 421 F.2d 17 (6th Cir. 1970).

    6Cf. Mitchell Rogovin & Donald L. Korb, The Four R's Revisited: Regulations, Rulings, Reliance, and Retroativity in the 21st Century: A View from Within, 46 Duq. L. Rev. 323,331 (2008).

    There are several benefits to an agency when it uses declaratory orders. First, declaratory orders promote voluntary compliance, which saves agency resources that would otherwise be spent on enforcement. Second, declaratory orders promote uniformity and fairness in treatment among the agency's regulated parties. Third, declaratory orders facilitate communication between the agency and its regulated parties, which can help highlight issues before they become problems. Finally, declaratory orders help the agency stay current by allowing regulated parties to communicate how they are doing business so that agency officials can understand and address emerging issues.

    Despite the apparent usefulness of the declaratory order as a tool of administrative governance, agencies have demonstrated a persistent reluctance to use it. Several developments may encourage agencies to overcome this traditional reluctance to use declaratory orders. First, it is now reasonably clear that agencies may issue declaratory orders in informal adjudication.7 This development expands the availability of the device and also reduces the cost and procedural burden of using declaratory orders.8 Second, courts today are often willing to review guidance documents and to question an agency's characterization of its action as non-binding. Agencies may be able to enhance their chances of prevailing in court by using declaratory orders—a binding, but targeted form of instruction—in lieu of non-binding, legislative guidance. Agencies may also be able to use declaratory orders to provide requisite notice to regulated parties of the agency's intention to enforce in the future a rule or principle that has previously been communicated only via non-binding guidance. Finally, new programs and new challenges facing old programs may create opportunities to beneficially expand the use of declaratory orders.

    The Administrative Conference recognizes the declaratory order as a useful device to be used in appropriate circumstances. To that end, this recommendation provides guidance and best practices to agencies as they consider implementing or improving their use of declaratory orders.

    Recommendation

    1. Agencies should consider issuing declaratory orders as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 554(e), either sua sponte or by petition. A declaratory order can provide a legally binding decision to the parties to the proceeding, without imposing a penalty, sanction, or other liability, in order to terminate an actual or emerging controversy or to remove uncertainty in the application of existing legal requirements. With respect to entities other than the parties to the proceeding, it can provide non-binding guidance.

    2. Any filing fees for issuing declaratory orders should be reasonable within the fee structure of the agency and contain appropriate exemptions and waivers.

    Potential Uses of Declaratory Orders

    3. An agency should consider issuing declaratory orders in several ways, including, but not limited, to:

    (a) Communicating the agency's considered views regarding the meaning of its governing statute, regulations, or other legal documents (such as permits, licenses, certificates, or other authorizations the agency has issued);

    (b) Explaining how existing legal requirements apply to proposed or contemplated transactions or other activities;

    (c) Defining terms of art that are used within the agency's regulatory scheme;

    (d) Clarifying whether a matter falls within the agency's regulatory authority;

    (e) Clarifying a division of jurisdiction between or among federal agencies that operate in a shared regulatory space; and

    (f) Addressing questions of preemption.

    4. Agencies should look for opportunities to experiment with innovative uses of declaratory orders to improve regulatory programs.

    Determining Minimal Procedural Requirements for Declaratory Orders

    5. Each agency that uses declaratory orders should have written and publicly available procedures explaining how the agency initiates, conducts, and terminates declaratory proceedings. An agency should also communicate in a written and publicly available way its preferred uses of declaratory orders.

    6. When designing the procedures for its declaratory proceedings, an agency should begin by determining whether or not the matter is one that must be adjudicated according to the formal adjudication provisions of the APA. If the matter is not required by statute to be conducted under the APA's formal adjudication provisions, an agency has substantial procedural discretion, but at a minimum should provide a basic form of notice and opportunity for comment, although it need not be equivalent to the notice-and-comment process used in rulemaking.

    7. Agency procedures should provide guidance regarding the information that petitioners should include in a petition for declaratory order.

    Giving Notice and Collecting Information

    8. Each agency should provide a way for petitioners and other interested parties to learn when the agency has received a petition for declaratory order or intends to issue a declaratory order on its own motion. The agency should tailor this communication according to the nature of the proceeding and the needs of potential commenters.

    9. Each agency should provide a way for interested parties to participate in declaratory order proceedings.

    (a) If the matter is one of broad interest or general policy, the agency should allow broad public participation.

    (b) If the declaratory proceeding involves a narrow question of how existing regulations would apply to an individual party's proposed actions, the agency may choose to manage the submission of comments via an intervention process.

    Timeliness and Availability of Declaratory Orders

    10. Agencies that receive a petition for declaratory order should respond to that petition within a reasonable period of time. If an agency declines to act on the petition, it should give prompt notice of its decision, accompanied by a brief explanation of its reasons.

    11. Agencies should make their declaratory orders and other dispositions on petitions available to the public in a centralized and easy-to-find location on their Web sites.

    Administrative Conference Recommendation 2015-4 Designing Federal Permitting Programs

    7 See Am. Airlines, Inc. v. DOT, 202 F.3d 788, 796-97 (5th Cir. 2000); Wilson v. A.H. Belo Corp., 87 F.3d 393, 397 (9th Cir. 1996); Texas v. United States, 866 F.2d 1546, 1555-56 (5th Cir. 1989); Bremer, supra note 4 at 12-13, 32-33, 36-37. For example, courts have affirmed the sufficiency of basic notice-and-comment procedures when agencies issue a declaratory order in informal adjudication. See City of Arlington v. FCC, 668 F.3d 229, 243-45 (5th Cir. 2012), aff'd 133 S. Ct. 1863 (2013).

    8 Even if the matter is one subject by statute to formal adjudication under the APA, an agency may be able to streamline the process of issuing a declaratory order. Cf. Administrative Conference of the United States, Recommendation 70-3, Summary Decision in Agency Adjudication, 38 FR 19785 (July 23, 1973). See generally Weinberger v. Hynson, Westcott & Dunning, 412 U.S. 625 (1973).

    Adopted December 4, 2015

    Regulatory permits are ubiquitous in modern society, and each year dozens of federal agencies administering their regulatory permit authority issue tens of thousands of permits covering a broad and diverse range of actions.1 The APA includes the term “permit” in its definition of “license.” In addition to agency permits, the APA defines licenses to include “the whole or part of an agency . . . certificate, approval, registration, charter, membership, statutory exemption or other form of permission.” 2 Otherwise, the APA provides little elaboration on the definition of a permit.3 For purposes of this recommendation, a regulatory permit is defined as any administrative agency's statutorily authorized, discretionary, judicially reviewable granting of permission to do something that would otherwise be statutorily prohibited. This recommendation treats any agency action that meets this definition as a permit, regardless of how it is styled by the agency (e.g., “license,” “conditional exemption”).

    1 Eric Biber & J.B. Ruhl, Designing Regulatory Permits 2 (2015), https://www.acus.gov/report/licensing-and-permitting-final-report. For a more complete discussion of different types of permits and permitting systems, see Eric Biber & J.B. Ruhl, The Permit Power Revisited: The Theory and Practice of Regulatory Permits in the Administrative State, 64 Duke L.J. 133 (2014).

    2 5 U.S.C. 551(8).

    3See Biber & Ruhl, supra note 1, at 3-4 (discussing lack of APA definition).

    Permits exist on a continuum of agency regulation, falling between exemptions (in which an activity is not regulated at all) and prohibitions. Broadly speaking, there are two contrasting approaches to permitting.4 In specific permitting, upon receiving an application, an agency engages in extensive fact gathering and deliberation particular to the individual circumstances of the applicant's proposed action, after which the agency issues a detailed permit tailored to the applicant's situation. In their strictest form, specific permits can demand so much of the permit applicant in terms of cost, information, and time that they closely resemble prohibitions. However, some specific permits can be lenient, with relatively few conditions placed on regulated entities.

    4Id. at 2-6.

    In general permitting, an agency issues a permit that defines and approves a category of activity on its own initiative, and allows entities engaging in that activity to readily take advantage of the permit. Agency review of specific facts in any particular case is generally limited unless the agency finds good cause to condition or withdraw the general approval. In their most flexible form, general permits can resemble exemptions in form and effect, with few requirements on regulated entities and relatively little agency oversight. On the other hand, general permits may place requirements on regulated entities that aid agency oversight and enforcement. Some permits toward the more general end of the spectrum require the regulated entity to provide notice to the regulator and others do not.

    Between general and specific permits lie many possible intermediate forms of permitting that can exhibit traits of both general and specific permitting.5 These permits, referred to in this recommendation interchangeably as “intermediate” or “hybrid” permits, may call for intermediate levels of agency review or intermediate requirements to be met by regulated parties, or may contain a mix of features from both general and specific permitting. Intermediate permits provide agencies with significant flexibility, allowing them to tailor permitting to the regulated activity.

    5Id. at 8-10 (discussing possible hybrid permitting and providing an example). For instance, some of the nationwide permits utilized by the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate the fill of wetlands pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act require permittees to provide notice to the agency before proceeding with development activities. The notice may require substantial amounts of information (including detailed mitigation plans), and the permittee may not be able to proceed with development until directly authorized by the agency. These nationwide permits have elements of both a general permit (they apply to a category of activities, do not require the full range of applicant information that individual permits under Section 404, require and do not require the agency to do the full amount of environmental review associated with individual permits) and a specific permit (they still require substantial information to be submitted by the applicant and may require prior approval by the agency before permitted activities can be initiated).

    This recommendation focuses on the distinction between general and specific permits, and considers intermediate permits as well. It does not specify situations in which exemptions are appropriate or evaluate the extent to which general permits may be preferable to exemptions. Marketable permits, in which permits are bought and traded by regulated entities, may also prove beneficial to agencies, the regulated community, and the public in many circumstances.6

    6 Permit marketability lies outside the continuum of general permits to specific permits.

    General and specific permitting differ in both the system used to issue the permit and in the way permits are issued under the system.7 In specific permitting, the agency issues a rule outlining the process and standards for obtaining permits, after which regulated entities apply for permits and the agency reviews the submissions, often with public input and judicial review. In general permitting, the agency often promulgates a rule outlining the precise conditions under which regulated entities may take advantage of the permit. This approach imposes significant burdens on the agency upfront; however, once in place, the process of permitting is relatively streamlined and sometimes provides fewer opportunities for public input and judicial review. Although some agencies have traditionally relied primarily on specific permits, general permits may offer agencies advantages in efficiency or resource use.

    7Id. at 6-7.

    Most statutes delegate considerable discretion to agencies to decide at what point on the spectrum from general to specific to implement a permitting system.8 Whether an agency adopts a general or specific permitting system, or an intermediate system, can have significant impacts on the agency, the regulated entities, and third parties affected by the permitting action. If Congress decides to specify which type of permitting system an agency should adopt, Congress may want to consider the guidance provided in this recommendation.

    8 For example, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act provides almost no guidance as to the use of general versus specific permits. See 16 U.S.C. 703 and 704. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act lays out specific factors that must be met in order to use general permits. See 33 U.S.C. 1344(e)(1) and (2). Both of these programs are described in case studies accompanying the report.

    In recent years, there has been increasing public concern over the extent to which inefficiencies in the permitting process delay necessary infrastructure reform.9 As an initial step, in 2012, Executive Order 13604 established a steering committee to “facilitate improvements in Federal permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects.” 10 The order also established an online permit-tracking tool, the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard. The Steering Committee and Dashboard serve to enhance interagency coordination and provide permit tracking to improve agency timeliness.11 Congress has also been considering modifying the permitting process in various ways.12 In seeking to reform existing permitting systems or establish a new permitting system, Congress and agencies should also be aware of the comparative advantages of general and specific permits and design or modify such systems accordingly.

    9See, e.g., Philip K. Howard, Common Good, Two Years Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals (2015), http://commongood.3cdn.net/c613b4cfda258a5fcb_e8m6b5t3x.pdf.

    10 Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects, 77 FR 18885, 18888 (Mar. 28, 2012) (to be codified at 3 CFR part 100).

    11Id. at 18,887-8. The reforms promoted by E.O. 13604 are largely in accord with the Administrative Conference's Recommendation 1984-1, Public Regulation of Siting of Industrial Development Projects, 49 FR 29938 (July 25, 1984). Specifically, Recommendation 1984-1 encouraged interagency coordination of permitting, the establishment of permitting deadlines, and timely processing of permit applications.

    12See, e.g., H.R. 348, 114th Cong. (2015); H.R. 351, 114th Cong. (2015); H.R. 89, 114th Cong. (2015); S. 33, 114th Cong. (2015); H.R. 161, 114th Cong. (2015). These bills are cited merely as indications of Congressional interest in the permitting process, and the Conference has not reviewed and does not endorse any of their provisions.

    Although each permitting system is different, and an agency must tailor its procedures to meet both its statutory mandate and the needs of the particular program at issue, agencies face a number of common considerations when designing or reviewing a permitting system. There are many circumstances in which general permits may save agencies time or resources over specific permits without compromising the goals and standards of the regulatory program, and this recommendation provides guidance on when an agency might benefit most from using a general permitting system. This recommendation identifies a number of elements that should be considered in determining whether an agency should adopt a general permitting system, a specific permitting system, or an intermediate or hybrid system somewhere between the two.

    Recommendation Congressional Delegation of Permitting Power

    1. When Congress delegates permitting power to an agency, it should consider whether to specify which type(s) of permitting system(s) on the spectrum from general to specific permitting systems an agency may adopt.

    2. If Congress decides to limit an agency's permitting power to a certain type of permit, it should consider the factors discussed in recommendations 3-4 when determining the preferred type of permitting system to mandate. If Congress decides to give agencies discretion on which system to adopt, Congress should consider requiring that agencies make specific findings about the factors discussed in recommendations 3-4 in order to ensure agencies use general or specific permitting authority appropriately.

    Agency Establishment of Permitting Systems

    3. When an agency designs a permitting system, the agency should be cognizant of the resources, both present and future, that are required to develop and operate the system. In particular, the agency should consider that a general permitting system may require significant resources during the design phase (especially if system design triggers additional procedural or environmental review requirements), but relatively fewer resources once the system is in place. A specific permitting system may require fewer resources upfront but significant resources in its application. The agency should balance resource constraints with competing priorities and opportunity costs.

    4. An agency should consider the following additional factors when deciding what type of permitting system, if any, to adopt.

    (a) The following conditions weigh in favor of designing a permitting system toward the general end of the spectrum:

    i. The effects of the regulated activity are small in magnitude, both in individual instances and from the cumulative impact of the activity;

    ii. The variability of effects expected across instances of the regulated activity is low;

    iii. The agency is able to expend the upfront resources to design a general permitting system and can subsequently benefit from the reduced administration costs a general permitting system requires to enforce;

    iv. The agency wishes to encourage the regulated activity or desires to keep barriers to entry low;

    v. The agency does not need to collect detailed information about the regulated activity or regulated parties;

    vi. The agency does not need to tailor permits to context-specific instances of the activity;

    vii. The agency does not need to monitor the regulated activity closely and does not believe that the information that might be provided by specific permits is needed to facilitate enforcement; or

    viii. The agency does not need to exercise significant enforcement discretion to readily enforce the permitting system.

    (b) The following conditions weigh in favor of designing a permitting system toward the specific end of the spectrum:

    i. The effects of the regulated activity are large in magnitude, either in individual instances or from the cumulative impact of the activity;

    ii. The variability of effects expected across instances of the regulated activity is high;

    iii. The agency is unable to expend the upfront resources necessary to design a general permitting system or the agency can absorb the higher administration costs necessary to enforce a specific permitting system;

    iv. The agency believes that specific controls on particular regulated activities are desirable to reduce, control, or mitigate the negative effects of the regulated activity, or is less concerned about relatively high barriers to entry;

    v. The agency needs detailed information about the regulated activity or regulated parties;

    vi. The agency needs to tailor permits to context-specific instances of the activity;

    vii. The agency needs to monitor the regulated activity closely, and concludes the information provided in specific permits will facilitate enforcement; or

    viii. The agency needs to have discretion in enforcing the permitting system against individual entities.

    (c) An agency should weigh all the factors and consider implementing a hybrid permitting system that has features of both general and specific permits if the factors described above do not weigh strongly in favor of either general or specific permits or cut against each other.

    Agency Review of Existing Permitting Structures

    5. Subject to budgetary constraints and other priorities, agencies are encouraged to conduct periodic reviews of their existing permitting structures, consistent with the Administrative Conference's Recommendation 2014-5, Retrospective Review of Agency Rules.

    6. In reviewing existing permitting structures, agencies should consider the factors in recommendations 3-4 and, where appropriate and consistent with statutory mandates, consider reforming existing permitting systems to align more closely with the goals the agency seeks to accomplish.

    7. Subject to budgetary and legal constraints, including the Paperwork Reduction Act and other statutory restrictions on data collection and dissemination, agencies should consider incorporating data-collection into new and existing permitting systems to aid analysis and review.

    [FR Doc. 2015-31575 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6110-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service [Docket No. FSIS-2014-0034] Availability of FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry AGENCY:

    Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability and opportunity for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing the availability of and requesting comment on the revised guideline to assist poultry establishments in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw poultry. The Agency has revised its guideline to provide updated information for establishments to use to control pathogens in raw poultry products with the goal of reducing human illnesses associated with consuming poultry contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter. The guideline represents the best practice recommendations of FSIS based on scientific and practical considerations. This document does not represent regulatory requirements. By following this guideline, poultry establishments should be able to produce raw poultry products that have less contamination with pathogens, including Salmonella and Campylobacter, than would otherwise be the case.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    A downloadable version of the compliance guideline is available to view and print at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/Compliance_Guides_Index/index.asp. No hard copies of the compliance guideline have been published.

    FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this notice. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this Web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the on-line instructions at that site for submitting comments.

    Mail, including CD-ROMs: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW., Room 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2014-0034. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

    Docket: For access to background documents or to comments received, go to the FSIS Docket Room at Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E. Street SW., Room 164-A, Washington, DC 20250-3700 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Daniel L. Engeljohn, Ph.D., Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development; Telephone: (202) 205-0495, or by Fax: (202) 720-2025.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    FSIS is responsible for verifying that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled and packaged.

    Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are among the most frequent causes of foodborne illness. These bacteria can reside in the intestinal tract of animals, including birds. Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination of raw poultry products occurs during slaughter operations as well as during the live-animal rearing process (e.g., on-farm contamination can coat the exterior of the bird and remain attached to the skin). Contamination with pathogens on poultry can be minimized through the use of preventative pre-harvest practices, with the use of proper sanitary dressing procedures, by maintaining sanitary conditions before and during production, and by the application of antimicrobial interventions during slaughter and thereafter during fabrication of the carcasses into parts and comminuted product.

    In 2010, FSIS issued a guideline (third edition) for poultry establishments with recommendations on how to identify hazards of public health concern when conducting their hazard analysis and how to prevent and control these hazards through Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Plans (HACCP), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures, or other prerequisite programs. FSIS has revised its guideline (fourth edition) to provide updated information for establishments to use to control pathogens in raw poultry products. FSIS has also revised the guideline to include recommendations for establishments regarding lotting and sanitary dressing procedures, pre-harvest interventions and management practices, antimicrobial interventions during slaughter and thereafter during fabrication, and the use of establishment sampling results to inform decision making. In addition, FSIS revised the guideline to include information on prerequisite programs, including how they can fit into the HACCP system.

    Furthermore, since issuance of the most recent version of the guideline in 2010, there have been several outbreaks associated with consumption of raw poultry products, including chicken parts and comminuted (including ground) turkey products. In 2011, there were two Salmonella outbreaks associated with ground turkey products (specifically, turkey burgers and ground turkey) that resulted in a total of 148 illnesses and 40 hospitalizations. In 2012 and 2013-2014, there were two Salmonella outbreaks associated with consumption of chicken parts that together resulted in over 700 illnesses and over 270 hospitalizations. Also in 2013, a Salmonella outbreak resulted from consumption of mechanically separated turkey that was sent to an institutional facility. This outbreak resulted in 9 illnesses and 2 hospitalizations.

    In addition, in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated two separate outbreaks of Salmonella enteritidis infections attributed to raw, heat treated, stuffed chicken products resulted in 20 illnesses (15 from one outbreak, and five from the other outbreak). The implicated products were labeled with instructions identifying that the product was uncooked (raw) and included cooking instructions for preparation. Some case-patients reported following the cooking instructions on the label and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature was achieved.

    FSIS analyzed practices of establishments that manufactured product associated with these outbreaks and found problems with sanitation, intervention use, and the validation of cooking instructions at some or all of these establishments. FSIS considered these problems and is providing recommendations in the revised guideline specific to these issues.

    Pre-harvest contamination can affect the level of Salmonella and Campylobacter on FSIS-regulated products. FSIS has updated the pre-harvest information in the guideline based on recently published information. In addition, in response to a recommendation made by the U.S. Government Accountability Office,1 FSIS updated the guideline to include known information on the effectiveness of pre-harvest practices. To further inform best practice guidance and to inform other Agency activities, FSIS requests comments and data from industry and other interested parties regarding pre-harvest pathogen control strategies, including information on the effectiveness of pre-harvest strategies in reducing pathogen levels in poultry presented for slaughter.

    1 Available at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-744.

    The recently proposed pathogen reduction performance standards 2 for raw chicken parts and NRTE comminuted chicken and turkey are based on meeting certain Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) goals—specifically, the HP2020 goal to reduce human illnesses from Salmonella by 25 percent and Campylobacter by 33 percent 3 by the year 2020. This guideline can assist establishments in meeting these (and existing poultry carcass) performance standards, thereby resulting in a reduction in human illnesses.

    2 80 FR 3940; Jan. 16, 2015.

    3 Because the prevalence for NRTE comminuted turkey is especially low, the highest practical reduction for this product was estimated to be 19 percent. Therefore, for this one pathogen-product pair, NRTE comminuted turkey and Campylobacter, FSIS proposed a reduction less than its stated goal.

    FSIS encourages establishments to follow this guideline. This guideline represents FSIS's current thinking, and FSIS will update it as necessary to reflect comments received and any additional information that becomes available.

    USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

    No agency, officer, or employee of the USDA shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, or political beliefs, exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject to discrimination any person in the United States under any program or activity conducted by the USDA.

    To file a complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which may be accessed online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Complain_combined_6_8_12.pdf, or write a letter signed by you or your authorized representative.

    Send your completed complaint form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email:

    Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410.

    Fax: (202) 690-7442.

    Email: [email protected]

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Additional Public Notification

    FSIS will announce this notice online through the FSIS Web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

    FSIS will also make copies of this Federal Register publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, consumer interest groups, health professionals, and other individuals who have asked to be included. The Update is also available on the FSIS Web page. In addition, FSIS offers an electronic mail subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information to regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

    Done at Washington, DC, on December 11, 2015. Alfred V. Almanza, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31628 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Summer Food Service Program AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on the Agency's proposed information collection for the Summer Food Service Program. This collection is a revision of a currently approved information collection.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the Agency's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the proposed information collection burden, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments may be sent to Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman, Program Monitoring Branch, Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division, Child Nutrition Programs, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collection should be directed to Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman, Program Monitoring Branch, Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division, Child Nutrition Programs, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, VA 22302.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Information Collection for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

    OMB Number: 0584-0280.

    Expiration Date: March 31, 2016.

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Abstract: SFSP is authorized under section 13 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) (42 U.S.C. 1761). The SFSP is directed toward children in low-income areas when school is not in session and is operated locally by approved sponsors. Local sponsors may include public or private non-profit school food authorities (SFAs), public or private non-profit residential summer camps, units of local, municipal, county or State governments, or other private non-profit organizations that develop a special summer program and provide meal service similar to that available to children during the school year under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

    This is a revision of a currently approved collection. It revises reporting burden as a result of an increase in participating sponsors. Current OMB inventory for this collection includes Reporting and Recordkeeping burden and that consists of 175,391 hours. The reporting burden was slightly increased from 139,989 to 150,646 and Record keeping burden was increased from 35,402 to 43,758. This collection is requesting a total increase of 19, 012 burden hours. FNS 418 is no longer a part of this collection as it has been listed under a separate collection (0584-0594). The average burden per response and the annual burden hours for reporting and recordkeeping are explained below and summarized in the charts which follow.

    Affected Public: State Agencies, Camps and Other Sites and Households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 106,621.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 7.35195.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 783,872.

    Estimate Time per Response: 0.248005.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden: 194,403.

    Current OMB Inventory: 175,391.

    Difference (Burden Revisions Requested): 19,012.

    Refer to the table below for estimated total annual burden for each type of respondent.

    Affected public Est. number
  • of respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Total
  • annual
  • responses
  • Est. total
  • hours per
  • response
  • Est. total
  • burden
  • Reporting State Agencies 53 418 22,154 0.704 15,595 Sponsors 5,317 3 14,726 4.037 59,444 Camps and Other Sites 662 1 662 .25 166 Households 100,589 2 201,178 .375 75,442 Total Estimated Reporting Burden 106,621 2.23895 238,720 .631058 150,646 Recordkeeping State Agencies 53 141 7,473 .080 598 Sponsors 5,317 101 537,017 .08 42,961 Camps and Other Sites 662 1 662 .300 199 Total Estimated Record keeping Burden 6,032 90.37666 545,152 0.080267 43,758 Total of Reporting and Recordkeeping Reporting 106,621 2.238959 238,720 .631058 150,646 Recordkeeping 6,032 90.37666 545,152 .0802672 43,758 Total 106,621 7.35195 783,872 .248005 194,403
    Dated: December 8, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31614 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Emergency Food Assistance Program; Availability of Foods for Fiscal Year 2016 AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces the surplus and purchased foods that the Department expects to make available for donation to States for use in providing nutrition assistance to the needy under The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. The foods made available under this notice must, at the discretion of the State, be distributed to eligible recipient agencies (ERAs) for use in preparing meals and/or for distribution to households for home consumption.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 1, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeramia Garcia, Policy Branch, Food Distribution Division, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302-1594; or telephone (703) 305-2662.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In accordance with the provisions set forth in the Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 (EFAA), 7 U.S.C. 7501, et seq., and Section 27 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. 2036, the Department makes foods available to States for use in providing nutrition assistance to those in need through TEFAP. In accordance with section 214 of the EFAA, 7 U.S.C. 7515, 60 percent of each State's share of TEFAP foods is based on the number of people with incomes below the poverty level within the State and 40 percent on the number of unemployed persons within the State. State officials are responsible for establishing the network through which the foods will be used by ERAs in providing nutrition assistance to those in need, and for allocating foods among those ERAs. States have full discretion in determining the amount of foods that will be made available to ERAs for use in preparing meals and/or for distribution to households for home consumption.

    The types of foods the Department expects to make available to States for distribution through TEFAP in FY 2016 are described below.

    Surplus Foods

    Surplus foods donated for distribution under TEFAP are Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) foods purchased under the authority of section 416 of the Agricultural Act of 1949, 7 U.S.C. 1431 (section 416) and foods purchased under the surplus removal authority of section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, 7 U.S.C. 612c (section 32). The types of foods typically purchased under section 416 include dairy, grains, oils, and peanut products. The types of foods purchased under section 32 include meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, dry beans, juices, and fruits.

    Approximately $195.7 million in surplus foods acquired in FY 2015 are being delivered to States in FY 2016. These foods include applesauce, cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, cranberry juice, orange juice, apple juice, apples, cherries, raisins, chicken leg quarters, lamb, and salmon. Other surplus foods may be made available to TEFAP throughout the year. The Department would like to point out that food acquisitions are based on changing agricultural market conditions; therefore, the availability of foods is subject to change.

    Purchased Foods

    In accordance with section 27 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. 2036, the Secretary is directed to purchase an estimated $319.75 million worth of foods in FY 2016 for distribution through TEFAP. These foods are made available to States in addition to those surplus foods which otherwise might be provided to States for distribution under TEFAP.

    For FY 2016, the Department anticipates purchasing the following foods for distribution through TEFAP: Fresh and dehydrated potatoes, fresh apples, fresh pears, frozen apple slices, unsweetened applesauce, dried plums, raisins, frozen ground beef, frozen whole chicken, frozen ham, frozen catfish, frozen turkey roast, lima beans, black-eye beans, garbanzo beans, great northern beans, light red kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, egg mix, shell eggs, peanut butter, roasted peanuts, low-fat cheese, one percent ultra high temperature fluid milk, vegetable oil, low-fat bakery flour mix, egg noodles, white and yellow corn grits, whole grain oats, macaroni, spaghetti, whole grain rotini, whole grain spaghetti, whole grain macaroni, white and brown rice, corn flakes, wheat bran flakes, oat cereal, rice cereal, corn cereal, corn and rice cereal, and shredded whole wheat cereal; the following canned items: Low sodium blackeye beans, low sodium green beans, low sodium light red kidney beans, low sodium refried beans, low sodium vegetarian beans, low sodium carrots, low sodium cream corn, no salt added whole kernel corn, low sodium peas, low sodium sliced potatoes, no salt added pumpkin, reduced sodium cream of chicken soup, reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup, low sodium tomato soup, low sodium vegetable soup, low sodium spaghetti sauce, low sodium spinach, sweet potatoes with extra light syrup, no salt added diced tomatoes, low sodium tomato sauce, kosher and halal tomato sauce, low sodium mixed vegetables, unsweetened applesauce, apricots with extra light syrup, mixed fruit with extra light syrup, cling peaches with extra light syrup, pears with extra light syrup, beef, beef stew, chicken, pork, salmon and kosher salmon, and tuna; and the following bottled juices: Unsweetened apple juice, unsweetened cherry apple juice, unsweetened cran-apple juice, unsweetened grape juice, unsweetened grapefruit juice, unsweetened orange juice, and unsweetened tomato juice.

    The amounts of each item purchased will depend on the prices the Department must pay, as well as the quantity of each item requested by the States. Changes in agricultural market conditions may result in the availability of additional types of foods or the non-availability of one or more types listed above.

    Dated: December 8, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31616 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting Change Notice DATE AND TIME:

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 9:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m. EST.

    PLACE:

    Cohen Building, Room 3321, 330 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20237.

    SUBJECT:

    Notice of Meeting Change of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

    SUMMARY:

    The Broadcasting Board of Governors (Board) previously announced that it will be meeting at the time and location listed above. The subject matter of the meeting has been changed to add the discussion and consideration of Internet Freedom framework and governance documents.

    The prompt and orderly conduct of business required this change and no earlier announcement was possible.

    This meeting will be available for public observation via streamed webcast, both live and on-demand, on the agency's public Web site at www.bbg.gov. Information regarding this meeting, including any updates or adjustments to its starting time, can also be found on the agency's public Web site.

    The public may also attend this meeting in person at the address listed above as seating capacity permits. Members of the public seeking to attend the meeting in person must register at http://bbgboardmeetingdecember2015.eventbrite.com by 12:00 p.m. (EST) on December 15. For more information, please contact BBG Public Affairs at (202) 203-4400 or by email at [email protected]

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Persons interested in obtaining more information should contact Oanh Tran at (202) 203-4545.

    Oanh Tran, Director of Board Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31780 Filed 12-14-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 8610-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-836] Glycine From the People's Republic of China: Notice of Amended Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review Pursuant to Settlement; 2012-2013 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is amending the final results of the 2012-2013 antidumping administrative review of glycine from the People's Republic of China (PRC) with respect to Evonik Rexim (Nanning) Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Evonik Rexim S.A.S. (collectively, Evonik) pursuant to an agreement that settles the related litigation.

    DATES:

    Effective date: December 16, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Edythe Artman or Brian Davis, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-3931 or (202) 482-7924, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On March 29, 1995, the Department published the antidumping duty order on glycine from the PRC.1 On October 31, 2014, the Department published the final results of its administrative review of the Order.2 The period of review (POR) is March 1, 2012, through February 28, 2013. In the Final Results, the Department assigned Evonik, an exporter of the subject merchandise from the PRC to the United States, the rate assigned to the PRC-wide entity of 453.79 percent for the POR.

    1See Glycine from the People's Republic of China: Antidumping Duty Order, 60 FR 16116 (March 29, 1995) (Order).

    2See Glycine from the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2013, 79 FR 64746 (October 31, 2014) (Final Results).

    Following the publication of the Final Results, Evonik filed a lawsuit with the CIT challenging the Department's final results of administrative review. The United States and Evonik have now entered into an agreement to settle this dispute. The Court issued its Order of Judgment by Stipulation on November 16, 2015.3

    3See Evonik Rexim (Nanning) Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. et al v. United States, Court No. 14-00296, Order of Judgment by Stipulation (November 16, 2015).

    Assessment of Duties

    Pursuant to the Court's Order of Judgment by Stipulation, the Department shall instruct Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess antidumping duties on all shipments of glycine from the PRC, which were entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption during the period March 1, 2012, through February 28, 2013, and that were exported by Evonik at a rate of 155.89 percent. The Department intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP within 15 days after the date of publication of these amended final results of the review in the Federal Register.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    As stipulated in the Court's Order of Judgement by Stipulation, the order has no effect on entries not made during the POR and does not establish a revised cash deposit rate for Evonik.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Secretary's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred, and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    We are issuing this determination and publishing these amended final results of antidumping duty administrative review pursuant to the Court's Order of Judgment by Stipulation.

    Dated: December 9, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31630 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration U.S. Education Mission to Africa: South Africa and Ghana (Optional Stop to Cote d'Ivoire); March 6-12, 2016 AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, is organizing an education mission to South Africa and Ghana with an optional stop in the Côte d'Ivoire. Department of Commerce is partnering with the Department of State's EducationUSA Advising Centers in each location. This trade mission will be led by a senior Department of Commerce official and the emphasis will be on higher education programs, community college programs and summer, undergraduate and graduate programs, or consortia/associations of U.S. educational institutions offering said programs.

    This mission will seek to connect U.S. higher education institutions to potential students and university/institution partners in these three African countries. The mission will include student fairs organized by Education USA, embassy briefings, site visits, and networking events in our target cities of Johannesburg, Accra, and Abidjan. Participation in the Education Mission to these nations, rather than traveling independently to each market, will enhance the ability of participants to secure appropriate meetings with productive contacts in the target markets.

    This mission is intended to include representatives from a variety of accredited U.S. education institutions and consortia/associations representing groupings of U.S. accredited education institutions.

    Summer programs seeking to participate should be appropriately accredited by an accreditation body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Community colleges, undergraduate and graduate programs seeking to participate should be accredited by a recognized accreditation body listed in Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or Accrediting Council for Education and Training (ACCET), in the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA), or any accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    The delegation will include representatives from approximately 25 different educational institutions or consortia/associations.

    Schedule Sunday March 6, 2016 • Arrive in Johannesburg
  • • Check into hotel
  • Monday March 7, 2016 • Welcome and Briefing from the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service • Meeting with South African Government Education Leaders • Visit to Schools • Networking Reception Tuesday March 8, 2016 • Education Fair Wednesday March 9, 2016 • Visit to Africa Leadership Academy
  • • Additional Meetings with Schools
  • • Travel to Accra Thursday March 10, 2016 • Travel Recovery
  • • Welcome and Briefing from the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
  • • Education Fair • Reception at U.S. Ambassador's Residence Friday March 11, 2016 • Visit to Schools (Accra)
  • • Depart for Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire for optional stop or return to United States on own itinerary
  • • Arrive in Abidjan in afternoon • Evening Reception Saturday March 12, 2016 • Welcome and Briefing from the U.S. Department of State (EducationUSA) • Brunch with Local Schools and University Directors • Education Fair: 12:30-6:00 PM • Reception with Dinner and Cultural Show Monday March 13, 2016 • Optional cultural excursion for those who can stay • Departure to the United States (most flights depart in the afternoon or evening)

    Web site: Please visit our official mission Web site for more information: http://www.export.gov/trademissions/.

    Participation Requirements

    All parties interested in participating in the Education Trade Mission to Africa must complete and submit an application package for consideration by the Department of Commerce. All applicants will be evaluated on their ability to meet certain conditions and best satisfy the selection criteria as outlined below. The mission will open on a rolling basis to a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 25 appropriately accredited U.S. educational institutions. U.S. educational institutions (or associations/consortia thereof) already recruiting in Africa, as well as U.S. education institutions seeking to enter the African market for the first time, may apply.

    Fees and Expenses

    After an institution has been selected to participate on the mission, a payment to the Department of Commerce in the form of a participation fee is required. The participation fee is $2,800 for one principal representative from each non-profit educational institution or educational institution with fewer than 500 employees and $3,300 for for-profit universities with over 500 employees. An institution can choose to participate in the optional stop in Cote d'Ivoire for an additional $1,800 for one principal representative from each non-profit educational institution or educational institution with fewer than 500 employees and $1,900 for for-profit universities with over 500 employees. The fee for each additional representative is $600. Expenses for lodging, some meals, incidentals, and all travel (except for transportation to and from airports in-country, previously noted) will be the responsibility of each mission participant. The U.S. Department of Commerce can facilitate government rates in some hotels.

    Application

    All interested firms and associations may register via the following link: http://emenuapps.ita.doc.gov/ePublic/TM/6R0R.

    Exclusions

    The mission fee does not include any personal travel expenses such as lodging, most meals, local ground transportation, except as stated in the proposed agenda, and air transportation from the United States to the mission site and return to the United States.

    Timeline for Recruitment and Applications

    Mission recruitment will be conducted in an open and public manner, including publication in the Federal Register, posting on the Commerce Department trade mission calendar (http://export.gov/industry/education/) and other Internet Web sites, press releases to general and trade media, direct mail, notices by industry trade associations and other multiplier groups, and publicity at industry meetings, symposia, conferences, and trade shows. Recruitment for the mission will begin immediately and conclude no later than January 15, 2016. Applications for the mission will be accepted on a rolling basis. Applications received after January 15, 2016, will be considered only if space and scheduling constraints permit.

    Conditions for Participation

    An applicant must submit a timely, completed and signed mission application and supplemental application materials, including adequate information on course offerings, primary market objectives, and goals for participation. The institution or institutional members of consortia/associations must have appropriate accreditation as specified per paragraph one above.

    The institution/consortium/association must be represented at the student fair by an employee of an accredited U.S. educational institution or association/consortium. No agents will be allowed to represent a school on the mission or participate at the student fair. Agents will also not be allowed into the fairs to solicit new partnerships. If the Department of Commerce receives an incomplete application, the Department may reject the application, request additional information, or take the lack of information into account when evaluating the applications.

    Participants must travel to both stops in South Africa and Ghana on the mission. Côte d'Ivoire is the only optional stop.

    Each applicant must certify that the services it seeks to export through the mission are either produced in the United States, or, if not, marketed under the name of a U.S. firm and have at least 51 percent U.S. content of the value of the service.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Woods, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S Commercial Service, Portland, Oregon, Tel: (503) 326-5290, Email: [email protected]

    Jeffrey Goldberg, Industry & Analysis, Office of Trade Promotion Programs, Washington, DC, Tel: (202) 482-1706, Email: [email protected]

    Frank Spector, Acting Director, Trade Missions Program.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31584 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Limitation of Duty-Free Imports of Apparel Articles Assembled in Haiti Under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), as Amended by the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE) AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notification of Annual Quantitative Limit on Imports of Certain Apparel from Haiti.

    SUMMARY:

    CBERA, as amended, provides duty-free treatment for certain apparel articles imported directly from Haiti. One of the preferences is known as the “value-added” provision, which requires that apparel meet a minimum threshold percentage of value added in Haiti, the United States, and/or certain beneficiary countries. The provision is subject to a quantitative limitation, which is calculated as a percentage of total apparel imports into the United States for each 12-month annual period. For the annual period from December 20, 2015 through December 19, 2016, the quantity of imports eligible for preferential treatment under the value- added provision is 350,962,661 square meters equivalent.

    DATED:

    Effective Date: December 20, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Laurie Mease, International Trade Specialist, Office of Textiles and Apparel, U.S. Department of Commerce, (202) 482-3400.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority:

    Section 213A of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (19 U.S.C. 2703a)

    (“CBERA”), as amended by the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006 (“HOPE”) (Title V of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006), the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (“HOPE II”) (Subtitle D of Title XV of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010 (“HELP”), and the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015; and as implemented by Presidential Proc. No. 8114, 72 FR 13655 (March 22, 2007), and No. 8596, 75 FR 68153 (November 4, 2010).

    Background: Section 213A(b)(1)(B) of CBERA, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2703a(b)(1)(B)), outlines the requirements for certain apparel articles imported directly from Haiti to qualify for duty-free treatment under a “value-added” provision. In order to qualify for duty-free treatment, apparel articles must be wholly assembled, or knit-to-shape, in Haiti from any combination of fabrics, fabric components, components knit-to-shape, and yarns, as long as the sum of the cost or value of materials produced in Haiti or one or more beneficiary countries, as described in CBERA, as amended, or any combination thereof, plus the direct costs of processing operations performed in Haiti or one or more beneficiary countries, as described in CBERA, as amended, or any combination thereof, is not less than an applicable percentage of the declared customs value of such apparel articles. Pursuant to CBERA, as amended, the applicable percentage for the period December 20, 2015 through December 19, 2016 is 55 percent. For every 12-month period following the effective date of CBERA, as amended, duty-free treatment under the value-added provision is subject to a quantitative limitation. CBERA, as amended, provides that the quantitative limitation will be recalculated for each subsequent 12- month period. Section 213A (b)(1)(C) of CBERA, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2703a(b)(1)(C)), requires that, for the 12-month period beginning on December 20, 2015, the quantitative limitation for qualifying apparel imported from Haiti under the value-added provision will be an amount equivalent to 1.25 percent of the aggregate square meter equivalent of all apparel articles imported into the United States in the most recent 12-month period for which data are available. The aggregate square meters equivalent of all apparel articles imported into the United States is derived from the set of Harmonized System lines listed in the Annex to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (“ATC”), and the conversion factors for units of measure into square meter equivalents used by the United States in implementing the ATC. For purposes of this notice, the most recent 12-month period for which data are available as of December 20, 2015 is the 12-month period ending on October 31, 2015.

    Therefore, for the one-year period beginning on December 20, 2015 and extending through December 19, 2016, the quantity of imports eligible for preferential treatment under the value- added provision is 350,962,661 square meters equivalent. Apparel articles entered in excess of these quantities will be subject to otherwise applicable tariffs.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Joshua Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods and Materials.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31598 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE339 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of standard prices and fee percentage.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS publishes individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for cost recovery for the IFQ Program for the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific (IFQ Program). The fee percentage for 2015 is 3.0 percent. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2015 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2016.

    DATES:

    Effective December 16, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kristie Balovich, Fee Coordinator, 907-586-7105.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    NMFS Alaska Region administers the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) program in the North Pacific. The IFQ Program is a limited access system authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. Fishing under the IFQ Program began in March 1995. Regulations implementing the IFQ Program are set forth at 50 CFR part 679.

    In 1996, the Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended to, among other purposes, require the Secretary of Commerce to “collect a fee to recover the actual costs directly related to the management and enforcement of any . . . individual quota program.” This requirement was further amended in 2006 to include collection of the actual costs of data collection, and to replace the reference to “individual quota program” with a more general reference to “limited access privilege program” at section 304(d)(2)(A). Section 304(d)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act also specifies an upper limit on these fees, when the fees must be collected, and where the fees must be deposited.

    On March 20, 2000, NMFS published regulations in § 679.45 implementing cost recovery for the IFQ Program (65 FR 14919). Under the regulations, an IFQ permit holder incurs a cost recovery fee liability for every pound of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish that is landed on his or her IFQ permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is responsible for self-collecting the fee liability for all IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings on his or her permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is also responsible for submitting IFQ fee liability payment(s) to NMFS on or before the due date of January 31 of the year following the year in which the IFQ landings were made. The total dollar amount of the fee due is determined by multiplying the NMFS published fee percentage by the ex-vessel value of all IFQ landings made on the permit(s) during the IFQ fishing year. As required by regulations at § 679.45(d)(1) and (d)(3)(i), NMFS publishes this notice of the fee percentage for the halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries in the Federal Register during or before the last quarter of each year.

    Standard Prices

    The fee liability is based on the sum of all payments made to fishermen for the sale of the fish during the year. This includes any retro-payments (e.g., bonuses, delayed partial payments, post-season payments) made to the IFQ permit holder for previously landed IFQ halibut or sablefish.

    For purposes of calculating IFQ cost recovery fees, NMFS distinguishes between two types of ex-vessel value: actual and standard. Actual ex-vessel value is the amount of all compensation, monetary or non-monetary, that an IFQ permit holder received as payment for his or her IFQ fish sold. Standard ex-vessel value is the default value used to calculate the fee liability. IFQ permit holders have the option of using actual ex-vessel value if they can satisfactorily document it; otherwise, the standard ex-vessel value is used.

    The regulation at § 679.45(b)(3)(iii) requires the Regional Administrator to publish IFQ standard prices during the last quarter of each calendar year. These standard prices are used, along with estimates of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings, to calculate standard ex-vessel values. The standard prices are described in U.S. dollars per IFQ equivalent pound for IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings made during the year. According to § 679.2, IFQ equivalent pound(s) means the weight amount, recorded in pounds, and calculated as round weight for sablefish and headed and gutted weight for halibut, for an IFQ landing. The weight of halibut in pounds landed as guided angler fish (GAF) is converted to IFQ equivalent pound(s) as specified in § 300.65(c) of this title. NMFS calculates the standard prices to closely reflect the variations in the actual ex-vessel values of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings by month and port or port-group. The standard prices for IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish are listed in the tables that follow the next section. Data from ports are combined as necessary to protect confidentiality.

    Fee Percentage

    NMFS calculates the fee percentage each year according to the factors and methods described in Federal regulations at § 679.45(d)(2). NMFS determines the fee percentage that applies to landings made in the previous year by dividing the total costs directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of the IFQ Program (management costs) during the previous year by the total standard ex-vessel value of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings made during the previous year (fishery value). NMFS captures the actual management costs associated with certain management, data collection, and enforcement functions through an established accounting system that allows staff to track labor, travel, contracts, rent, and procurement. NMFS calculates the fishery value as described under the section, Standard Prices.

    Using the fee percentage formula described above, the estimated percentage of management costs to fishery value for the 2015 calendar year is 3.0 percent of the standard ex-vessel value. An IFQ permit holder is to use the fee liability percentage of 3.0 percent to calculate his or her fee for IFQ equivalent pound(s) landed during the 2015 halibut and sablefish IFQ fishing season. An IFQ permit holder is responsible for submitting the 2015 IFQ fee liability payment to NMFS on or before January 31, 2016. Payment must be made in accordance with the payment methods set forth in 679.45(a)(4). NMFS will no longer accept credit card information by phone or in-person for fee payments. NMFS has determined that the practice of accepting credit card information by phone or in-person no longer meets agency standards for protection of personal financial information.

    The 2015 fee liability percentage of 3.0 percent is an increase of 0.4 percent from the 2014 fee liability of 2.6 percent (79 FR 73045, December 9, 2014). The change in the fee percentage between 2014 and 2015 can be attributed to a 23.5 percent increase in management costs. NMFS, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) incurred higher costs in 2015 due to addition of staff (NOAA Office of Law Enforcement), additional costs to maintain the interagency Internet-based landings system used for the IFQ Program (NMFS and ADF&G), and increased costs for the port sampling program (IPHC). The value of halibut and sablefish harvests under the IFQ Program also increased by 4 percent from 2014 to 2015. This increase in value of the fishery offset some of the increase in management costs, which limited the change in the fee percentage between 2014 and 2015.

    Table 1—Registered Buyer Standard Ex-Vessel Prices by Landing Location for the 2015 IFQ Season 1 Landing location Period ending Halibut
  • standard
  • ex-vessel price
  • Sablefish Standard
  • Ex-vessel
  • price
  • CORDOVA March 31 April 30 6.26 May 31 6.30 June 30 July 31 7.22 August 31 6.80 September 30 October 31 November 30 HOMER March 31 April 30 6.58 May 31 6.56 3.67 June 30 6.63 3.59 July 31 6.85 August 31 6.86 4.14 September 30 6.79 3.71 October 31 6.79 3.71 November 30 6.79 3.71 KETCHIKAN March 31 April 30 6.48 May 31 6.45 June 30 6.46 July 31 6.50 August 31 6.57 September 30 7.04 October 31 7.04 November 30 7.04 KODIAK March 31 6.24 April 30 6.19 3.58 May 31 6.35 3.56 June 30 6.46 3.50 July 31 6.55 3.98 August 31 6.57 3.92 September 30 6.54 3.81 October 31 6.54 3.81 November 30 6.54 3.81 PETERSBURG March 31 April 30 May 31 6.49 June 30 6.58 July 31 6.54 August 31 6.79 September 30 6.84 October 31 6.84 November 30 6.84 PORT GROUP BERING SEA 2 March 31 April 30 4.91 May 31 5.79 2.75 June 30 5.39 3.68 July 31 5.59 2.87 August 31 6.00 3.10 September 30 5.75 3.28 October 31 5.75 3.28 November 30 5.75 3.28 PORT GROUP CENTRAL GULF 3 March 31 6.27 3.68 April 30 6.37 3.73 May 31 6.42 3.64 June 30 6.53 3.57 July 31 6.83 3.89 August 31 6.72 3.90 September 30 6.65 3.85 October 31 6.65 3.85 November 30 6.65 3.85 PORT GROUP SOUTHEAST 4 March 31 6.46 3.62 April 30 6.50 3.71 May 31 6.50 4.07 June 30 6.59 4.17 July 31 6.58 4.19 August 31 6.80 4.41 September 30 6.77 4.13 October 31 6.77 4.13 November 30 6.77 4.13 ALL 5 March 31 6.41 3.63 April 30 6.37 3.72 May 31 6.38 3.77 June 30 6.33 3.77 July 31 6.55 3.79 August 31 6.54 3.89 September 30 6.52 3.91 October 31 6.52 3.91 November 30 6.52 3.91 1 Note: In many instances prices have not been reported to comply with confidentiality guidelines that prevent price reports when there are fewer than three processors operating in a location during a month. 2Landing locations Within Port Group—Bering Sea: Adak, Akutan, Akutan Bay, Atka, Bristol Bay, Chefornak, Dillingham, Captains Bay, Dutch Harbor, Egegik, Ikatan Bay, Hooper Bay, King Cove, King Salmon, Kipnuk, Mekoryuk, Naknek, Nome, Quinhagak, Savoonga, St. George, St. Lawrence, St. Paul, Togiak, Toksook Bay, Tununak, Beaver Inlet, Ugadaga Bay, Unalaska. 3Landing Locations Within Port Group—Central Gulf of Alaska: Anchor Point, Anchorage, Alitak, Chignik, Cordova, Eagle River, False Pass, West Anchor Cove, Girdwood, Chinitna Bay, Halibut Cove, Homer, Kasilof, Kenai, Kenai River, Alitak, Kodiak, Port Bailey, Nikiski, Ninilchik, Old Harbor, Palmer, Sand Point, Seldovia, Resurrection Bay, Seward, Valdez, Whittier. 4Landing Locations Within Port Group—Southeast Alaska: Angoon, Baranof Warm Springs, Craig, Edna Bay, Elfin Cove, Excursion Inlet, Gustavus, Haines, Hollis, Hoonah, Hyder, Auke Bay, Douglas, Tee Harbor, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Klawock, Metlakatla, Pelican, Petersburg, Portage Bay, Port Alexander, Port Graham, Port Protection, Point Baker, Sitka, Skagway, Tenakee Springs, Thorne Bay, Wrangell, Yakutat. 5Landing Locations Within Port Group—All: For Alaska: All landing locations included in 2, 3, and 4. For California: Eureka, Fort Bragg, Other California. For Oregon: Astoria, Aurora, Lincoln City, Newport, Warrenton, Other Oregon. For Washington: Anacortes, Bellevue, Bellingham, Nagai Island, Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Ilwaco, La Conner, Port Angeles, Port Orchard, Port Townsend, Ranier, Fox Island, Mercer Island, Seattle, Standwood, Other Washington. For Canada: Port Hardy, Port Edward, Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Haines Junction, Other Canada.
    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 11, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31624 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title:

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0314.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 146.

    Average Hours per Response: 1 hour to designate a principal state fishery official(s) or for a request to reinstate authority; 80 hours for a nomination for a Council appointment; 16 hours for background documentation for nominees.

    Burden Hours: 4,607.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for an extension of a currently approved information collection.

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), as amended in 1996, provides for the nomination for members of Fishery Management Councils by state governors and Indian treaty tribes, for the designation of a principal state fishery official who will perform duties under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and for a request by a state for reinstatement of state authority over a managed fishery. Nominees for council membership must provide the governor or tribe with background documentation, which is then submitted to NOAA with the nomination. The information submitted with these actions will be used to ensure that the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are being met.

    Affected Public: State, local and tribal governments.

    Frequency: Annually.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31592 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE251 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Test Pile Program AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received a request from the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), through its Port of Anchorage (POA) department, for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to implementation of a Test Pile Program, including geotechnical characterization of pile driving sites, near its existing facility in Anchorage, Alaska. The POA requests that the IHA be valid for 1 year from April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to POA to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B Harassment only, during the specified activity.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to [email protected].

    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to the Internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability

    An electronic copy of POA's application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].

    Summary of Request

    On February 15, 2015, NMFS received an application from POA for the taking of marine mammals incidental to conducting a Test Pile Program as part of the Anchorage Port Modernization Project (APMP). POA submitted a revised application on November 23, 2015. NMFS determined that the application was adequate and complete on November 30, 2015. POA proposes to install a total of 10 test piles as part of a Test Pile Program to support the design of the Anchorage Port Modernization Project (APMP) in Anchorage, Alaska. The Test Pile Program will also be integrated with a hydroacoustic monitoring program to obtain data that can be used to evaluate potential environmental impacts and meet permit requirements. All pile driving is expected to be completed by July 1, 2016. However, to accommodate unexpected project delays and other unforeseeable circumstances, the requested and proposed IHA period for the Test Pile Program is for the 1-year period from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017. Subsequent incidental take authorizations will be required to cover pile driving under actual construction associated with the APMP. Construction is anticipated to last five years.

    The use of vibratory and impact pile driving is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Species with the expected potential to be present during the project timeframe include harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), Cook Inlet beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), and harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Species that may be encountered infrequently or rarely within the project area are killer whales (Orcinus orca) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    The POA is modernizing its facilities through the APMP. Located within the MOA on Knik Arm in upper Cook Inlet (See Figure 1-1 in the Application), the existing 129-acre Port facility is currently operating at or above sustainable practicable capacity for the various types of cargo handled at the facility. The existing infrastructure and support facilities were largely constructed in the 1960s. They are substantially past their design life, have degraded to levels of marginal safety, and are in many cases functionally obsolete, especially in regards to seismic design criteria and condition. The APMP will include construction of new pile-supported wharves and trestles to the south and west of the existing terminals, with a planned design life of 75 years.

    An initial step in the APMP is implementation of a Test Pile Program, the proposed action for this IHA application. The POA proposes to install a total of 10 test piles at the POA as part of a Test Pile Program to support the design of the APMP. The Test Pile Program will also be integrated with a hydroacoustic monitoring program to obtain data that can be used to evaluate potential environmental impacts and meet permit requirements. Proposed activities included as part of the Test Pile Program with potential to affect marine mammals within the waterways adjacent to the POA include vibratory and impact pile-driving operations in the project area.

    Dates and Duration

    In-water work associated with the APMP Test Pile Program will begin no sooner than April 1, 2016, and will be completed no later than March 31, 2017 (1 year following IHA issuance), but is expected to be completed by July 1, 2016. Pile driving is expected to take place over 25 days and include 5 hours of vibratory driving and 17 hours of impact driving as is shown in Table 1. A 25 percent contingency has been added to account for delays due to weather or marine mammal shutdowns resulting in an estimated 6 hours of vibratory driving and 21 hours of impact driving over 31 days of installation. Restriking of some of the piles will occur two to three weeks following installation. Approximately 25 percent of pile driving will be conducted via vibratory installation, while the remaining 75 percent of pile driving will be conducted with impact hammers. Although each indicator pile test can be conducted in less than 2 hours, mobilization and setup of the barge at the test site will require 1 to 2 days per location and could be longer depending on terminal use. Additional time will be required for installation of sound attenuation measures, and for subsequent noise-mitigation monitoring. Hydroacoustic monitoring and installation of resonance-based systems or bubble curtains will likely increase the time required to install specific indicator pile from a few hours to a day or more.

    Within any day, the number of hours of pile driving will vary, but will generally be low. The number of hours required to set a pile initially using vibratory methods is about 30 minutes per pile, and the number of hours of impact driving per pile is about 1.5 hours. Vibratory driving for each test pile will occur on ten separate days. Impact driving could occur on any of the 31 days depending on a number of factors including weather delays and unanticipated scheduling issues. On some days, pile driving may occur only for an hour or less as bubble curtains and the containment frames are set up and implemented, resonance-based systems are installed, hydrophones are placed, pipe segments are welded, and other logistical requirements are handled.

    Table 1—Conceptual Project Schedule for Test Pile Driving, Including Estimated Number of Hours and Days for Pile Driving Month Pile type Pile diameter Number of piles Number of hours,
  • vibratory
  • driving
  • Number of hours, impact driving Number of days of pile driving Number of days of
  • restrikes
  • Total number of days of pile driving
    April-July 2016 Steel pipe 48″ OD 10 5 17 21 4 25 + 25% contingency = 6 21 26 5 31 Notes: OD—outside diameter.
    Specified Geographic Region

    The Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) is located in the lower reaches of Knik Arm of upper Cook Inlet. The POA sits in the industrial waterfront of Anchorage, just south of Cairn Point and north of Ship Creek (Latitude 61°15′ N., Longitude 149°52′ W.; Seward Meridian). Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm are the two branches of upper Cook Inlet, and Anchorage is located where the two Arms join (Figure 2-1 in the Application).

    Detailed Description of Activities Pile Driving Operations

    The POA will drive ten 48-inch steel pipe indicator piles as part of the Test Pile Program. Installation of the piles will involve driving each pile with a combination of a vibratory hammer and an impact hammer, or with only an impact pile hammer. It is estimated that vibratory installation of each pile will require approximately 30 minutes. For impact pile driving, pile installation is estimated to require between 80 to 100 minutes per pile, requiring 3,200 to 4,375 pile strikes. Pile driving will be halted during installation of each pile as additional pile sections are added. These shutdown periods will range from a few hours to a day in length to accommodate welding and inspections.

    During the Test Pile Program, the contractor is expected to mobilize cranes, tugs, and floating barges, including one derrick barge up to 70 feet wide x 200 feet long. These barges will be moved into location with a tugboat. The barge will not be grounded at any time, but rather anchored in position using a combination of anchor lines and spuds (two to four, depending on the barge). Cranes will be used to conduct overwater work from barges, which are anticipated to remain on-site for the duration of the Test Pile Program.

    Indicator pile-load testing involves monitoring installation of prototype piles as they are driven into the ground. Ten 48-inch piles will be driven for this test. The objective of the indicator pile tests is to obtain representative pile installation and capacity data near the area of the future pier-head line. The indicator piles will be vibrated and impact-driven to depths of 175 feet or more from a large derrick barge.

    Indicator piles will be driven adjacent to or shoreward of the existing wharf face. The selected locations (Figure 1-3 in the Application) provide representative driving conditions, and enable hydroacoustic measurements in water depths and locations that closely approximate future pile production locations.

    Each indicator pile will take approximately 1 to 2 hours to install. However, indicator test pile locations may be as much as 500 feet apart. Therefore, the time required to mobilize equipment to drive each indicator pile will likely limit the number of piles driven to one, or perhaps two, per day.

    Indicator piles 1 and 2, which will be placed outside of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's dredging prism, will be cut off at or below the mudline immediately after being driven to their final depth. All other piles will remain in place throughout the APMP, with the intention of incorporating them into the new design if possible. If it is determined that the former indicator piles cannot be accommodated as APMP construction nears completion, the piles will be removed by cutting the piles at or below the existing mudline. These measures will ensure that the piles do not interfere with dredging and POA operations. The eight remaining indicator piles will be allowed to settle for two to three weeks and then will be subjected to a maximum of 10 restrikes each, for a total of 80 combined restrikes. No sound attenuation measures will be used during the restrikes, as the actual time spent re-striking piles will be minimal (approximately five minutes per pile).

    Geotechnical Characterization and Schedule

    The POA proposes to complete geotechnical sampling at five overwater locations (Figure 1-4 in the Application) to support the design and construction of the APMP. Exploration equipment comprised of either a rotary drill rig or Cone Penetrometer Test (CPT) system will be used to perform the geotechnical sampling. This equipment will be located on the barge or wharf during the explorations. Methods used to conduct the sampling are described in Section 1.3.2 of the Application. In-water noise associated with these geotechnical sampling techniques is expected to be below harassment levels and will not be considered under this Authorization.

    Hydroacoustic Monitoring

    Sound attenuation measures will be used to test for achieved attenuation during pile-driving operations. The POA plans to test attenuation associated with the use of pile cushions, resonance-based systems, and bubble curtains (encapsulated or confined); however, the currents in the project area may preclude bubble curtain use if curtain frames cannot be stabilized during testing. The resonance-based sound attenuation system is a type of system that uses noise-canceling resonating slats around the pile being driven to reduce noise levels from pile driving. The sound attenuation measures will be applied during specific testing periods, and then intentionally removed to allow comparison of sound levels during the driving of an individual pile. In this way, the sound signature of an individual pile can be compared with and without an attenuation device, avoiding the confounding factor of differences among piles. If sound attenuation measures cannot easily be added and removed, then different piles with and without sound attenuation measures will be compared. Data collected from sound attenuation testing will inform future construction of the APMP, which is planned as a multi-project. Details of the hydroacoustic monitoring plan are provided in the Application.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Marine mammals most likely to be observed within the upper Cook Inlet Project area include harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), and harbor seals (Phocoena phocoena; NMFS 2003). Species that may be encountered infrequently or rarely within the project area are killer whales (Orcinus orca) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus;).

    Table 2—Marine Mammals in the Project Area Species or DPS* Abundance Comments Cook Inlet beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) 312 a Occurs in the project area. Listed as Depleted under the MMPA, Endangered under ESA. Killer (Orca) whale (Orcinus orca) 2,347 Resident 587 Transient b Occurs rarely in the project area. No special status or ESA listing. Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) 31,046 c Occurs occasionally in the project area. No special status or ESA listing. Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) 27,386 d Occurs in the project area. No special status or ESA listing. Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) 49,497 e Occurs rarely within the project area. Listed as Depleted under the MMPA, Endangered under ESA. * DPS refers to distinct population segment under the ESA, and is treated as a species. a Abundance estimate for the Cook Inlet stock. b Abundance estimate for the Eastern North Pacific Alaska Resident stock; the estimate for the transient population is for the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea stock. c Abundance estimate for the Gulf of Alaska stock. d Abundance estimate for the Cook Inlet/Shelikof stock. e Abundance estimate for the Western U.S. Stock. Sources for populations estimates: Allen and Angliss 2013, 2014, 2015.

    We have reviewed POA's detailed species descriptions, including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Section 4 of POA's application instead of reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts.

    In the species accounts provided here, we offer a brief introduction to the species and relevant stocks found near POA. Table 2 presents the species and stocks of marine mammals that occur in Cook Inlet along with abundance estimates and likely occurrence in the project area.

    Pinnipeds Harbor Seal

    Harbor seals range from Baja California north along the west coasts of Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska; west through the Gulf of Alaska, Prince William Sound, and the Aleutian Islands; and north in the Bering Sea to Cape Newenhamand the Pribilof Islands. There are 12 recognized stocks in Alaska. Distribution of the Cook Inlet/Shelikof stock extends from Seal Cape (Coal Bay) through all of upper and lower Cook Inlet. The Cook Inlet/Shelikof stock is estimated at 27,386 individuals (Allen and Angliss 2014).

    Harbor seals haul out on rocks, reefs, beaches, and drifting glacial ice (Allen and Angliss 2013). They are non-migratory; their local movements are associated with tides, weather, season, food availability, and reproduction, as well as sex and age class (Allen and Angliss 2013; Boveng et al. 2012; Lowry et al. 2001; Small et al. 2003).

    Harbor seals inhabit the coastal and estuarine waters of Cook Inlet and are observed in both upper and lower Cook Inlet throughout most of the year (Boveng et al. 2012; Shelden et al. 2013). Recent research on satellite-tagged harbor seals observed several movement patterns within Cook Inlet (Boveng et al. 2012). In the fall, a portion of the harbor seals appeared to move out of Cook Inlet and into Shelikof Strait, Northern Kodiak Island, and coastal habitats of the Alaska Peninsula. The western coast of Cook Inlet had a higher usage than the eastern coast habitats, and seals generally remained south of the Forelands if captured in lower Cook Inlet (Boveng et al. 2012).

    The presence of harbor seals in upper Cook Inlet is seasonal. Harbor seals are commonly observed along the Susitna River and other tributaries within upper Cook Inlet during eulachon and salmon migrations (NMFS 2003). The major haul-out sites for harbor seals are located in lower Cook Inlet; however, there are a few in upper Cook Inlet and none in the vicinity of the project site (Montgomery et al. 2007).

    Harbor seals are occasionally observed in Knik Arm and in the vicinity of the POA, primarily near the mouth of Ship Creek (Cornick et al. 2011; Shelden et al. 2013). During annual marine mammal surveys conducted by NMFS since 1994, harbor seals have been observed in Knik Arm and in the vicinity of the POA, however, there are no haulouts in the immediate area (Shelden et al. 2013).

    During construction monitoring conducted at the POA from 2005 through 2011, harbor seals were observed from 2008 through 2011; data were unpublished for years 2005 through 2007 (Table 4-1 in Application) (Cornick et al. 2011; Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2008, 2009, 2010; Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006). Monitoring took place at different times during different years. The months of March through December were covered during one or more of these survey years. Harbor seals were documented during construction monitoring efforts in 2008. One harbor seal was sighted in Knik Arm on 13 September 2008, traveling north in the vicinity of the POA. In 2009, harbor seals were observed in the months of May through October, with the highest number of sightings being eight in September (Cornick et al. 2010; ICRC 2010a). There were no harbor seals reported in 2010 from scientific monitoring efforts; however, 13 were reported from construction monitoring. In 2011, 32 sightings of harbor seals were reported during scientific monitoring, with a total of 57 individual harbor seals sighted. Harbor seals were observed in groups of one to seven individuals (Cornick et al. 2011). There were only two sightings of harbor seals during construction monitoring in 2011 (ICRC 2012).

    Steller Sea Lion

    Two Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of Steller sea lions occur in Alaska: The western and eastern DPS. The western DPS includes animals that occur west of Cape Suckling, Alaska, and therefore includes individuals within the project area. The western DPS was listed under the ESA as threatened in 1990, and continued population decline resulted in a change in listing status to endangered in 1997. Since 2000, studies have documented a continued decline in the population in the central and western Aleutian Islands; however, the population east of Samalga Pass has increased and potentially is stable (Allen and Angliss 2014). This includes the population that inhabits Cook Inlet.

    It is rare for Steller sea lions to be encountered in upper Cook Inlet. Steller sea lions have not been documented in upper Cook Inlet during beluga whale aerial surveys conducted annually in June from 1994 through 2012 (Shelden et al. 2013). During construction monitoring in June of 2009, a Steller sea lion was documented three times (within the same day) at the POA and was believed to be the same individual each time (ICRC 2009a).

    Cetaceans Harbor Porpoise

    In Alaska, harbor porpoises are divided into three stocks: The Bering Sea stock, the Southeast Alaska stock, and, relevant to this proposed IHA, the Gulf of Alaska stock. The Gulf of Alaska stock is currently estimated at 31,046 individuals (Allen and Angliss 2014). NMFS suggests that a finer division of stocks is likely in Alaska (Allen and Angliss 2014). Dahlheim et al. (2000) estimated abundance and density of harbor porpoises in Cook Inlet from surveys conducted in the early 1990s. The estimated density of animals in Cook Inlet was 7.2 per 1,000 (km2), with an abundance estimate of 136 (Dahlheim et al., 2000), indicating that only a small number use Cook Inlet. Hobbs and Waite (2010) estimated a harbor porpoise density in Cook Inlet of 13 per 1,000 km2 from aerial beluga whale surveys in the late 1990s.

    Harbor porpoises occur in both upper and lower Cook Inlet. Small numbers of harbor porpoises have been consistently reported in the upper Cook Inlet between April and October. Several recent studies document monthly counts of harbor porpoises. Across these studies, the largest number of porpoises observed per month ranged from 12 to 129 animals, although the latter count is considered atypical. Highest monthly counts include 17 harbor porpoises reported for spring through fall 2006 by Prevel-Ramos et al. (2008), 14 for spring of 2007 by Brueggeman et al. (2007), 12 for fall of 2007 by Brueggeman et al. (2008a), and 129 for spring through fall in 2007 by Prevel-Ramos et al. (2008) between Granite Point and the Susitna River during 2006 and 2007; the reason for the spike in numbers (129) of harbor porpoises in the upper Cook Inlet is unclear and quite disparate with results of past surveys, suggesting it may be an anomaly. In the 2006 survey only three harbor porpoises were sighted during that month. The spike occurred in July, which was followed by sightings of 79 harbor porpoises in August, 78 in September, and 59 in October in 2007. The number of porpoises counted more than once was unknown, suggesting the actual numbers are likely smaller than reported.

    Harbor porpoises have been detected during passive acoustic monitoring efforts throughout Cook Inlet, with detection rates being especially prevalent in lower Cook Inlet. In 2009, harbor porpoises were documented by using passive acoustic monitoring in upper Cook Inlet at the Beluga River and Cairn Point (Small 2009, 2010).

    Harbor porpoises have been observed within Knik Arm during monitoring efforts since 2005. During POA construction from 2005 through 2011, harbor porpoises were reported in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2008, 2009, 2010; Cornick et al. 2011; Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006). In 2009, a total of 20 harbor porpoises were observed during construction monitoring with sightings occurring in June, July, August, October, and November. Harbor porpoises were observed twice in 2010, once in July and again in August. In 2011, POA monitoring efforts documented harbor porpoises five times with a total of six individuals in August, October, and November at the POA (Cornick et al. 2011). During other monitoring efforts conducted in Knik Arm, there were four sightings of harbor porpoises in Knik Arm in 2005 (Shelden et al. 2014) and a single harbor porpoise was observed within the vicinity of the POA in October 2007 (URS 2008).

    Killer Whale

    The population of the Eastern North Pacific Alaska Resident stock of killer whales contains an estimated 2,347 animals and the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient Stock includes 587 animals (Allen and Angliss, 2014). Numbers of killer whales in Cook Inlet are small compared to the overall population, and most are recorded in lower Cook Inlet.

    Resident killer whales are primarily fish-eaters, while transients consume marine mammals. Both are occasionally found in Cook Inlet, where transient killer whales are known to feed on beluga whales, and resident killer whales are known to feed on anadromous fish (Shelden et al. 2003).

    Killer whales are rare in upper Cook Inlet, and the availability of prey species largely determines the likeliest times for killer whales to be in the area. Killer whales have been sighted in lower Cook Inlet 17 times, with a total of 70 animals between 1993 and 2012 during beluga whale aerial surveys (Shelden et al. 2013); no killer whales were observed in upper Cook Inlet. Surveys over 20 years by Shelden et al. (2003) documented an increase in sightings and strandings in upper Cook Inlet beginning in the early 1990s. Several of these sightings and strandings report killer whale predation on beluga whales. Passive acoustic monitoring efforts throughout Cook Inlet documented killer whales at Beluga River, Kenai River, and Homer Spit. They were not encountered at any mooring within the Knik Arm. These detections were likely resident (fish-eating) killer whales. Transient killer whales (marine-mammal eating) were not believed to have been detected due to their propensity to move quietly through waters to track prey (Lammers et al. 2013; Small 2010).

    No killer whales were spotted during surveys in 2004 and 2005 by Funk et al. (2005), or Ireland et al. (2005). Similarly, none were sighted in 2007 or 2008 by Brueggeman et al. (2007, 2008a, 2008b). Killer whales have also not been documented during any POA construction or scientific monitoring (Cornick and Pinney 2011; Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2008; Cornick et al. 2010, 2011; ICRC 2009a, 2010a, 2011a, 2012; Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006). Very few killer whales, if any, are expected to approach or be in the vicinity of the project area.

    Beluga Whale

    Beluga whales appear seasonally throughout much of Alaska, except in the Southeast region and the Aleutian Islands. Five stocks are recognized in Alaska: Beaufort Sea stock, eastern Chukchi Sea stock, eastern Bering Sea stock, Bristol Bay stock, and Cook Inlet stock (Allen and Angliss 2014). The Cook Inlet stock is the most isolated of the five stocks, since it is separated from the others by the Alaska Peninsula and resides year round in Cook Inlet (Laidre et al. 2000). Only the Cook Inlet stock inhabits the project area.

    The Cook Inlet beluga whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS) is genetically (mtDNA) distinct from other Alaska populations suggesting the Peninsula is an effective barrier to genetic exchange (O'Corry-Crowe et al. 1997) and that these whales may have been separated from other stocks at least since the last ice age. Laidre et al. (2000) examined data from more than 20 marine mammal surveys conducted in the northern Gulf of Alaska and found that sightings of belugas outside Cook Inlet were exceedingly rare, and these were composed of a few stragglers from the Cook Inlet DPS observed at Kodiak Island, Prince William Sound, and Yakutat Bay. Several marine mammal surveys specific to Cook Inlet (Laidre et al. 2000, Speckman and Piatt 2000), including those that concentrated on beluga whales (Rugh et al. 2000, 2005a), clearly indicate that this stock largely confines itself to Cook Inlet. There is no indication that these whales make forays into the Bering Sea where they might intermix with other Alaskan stocks.

    The Cook Inlet beluga DPS was originally estimated at 1,300 whales in 1979 (Calkins 1989) and has been the focus of management concerns since experiencing a dramatic decline in the 1990s. Between 1994 and 1998 the stock declined 47 percent which was attributed to overharvesting by subsistence hunting. Subsistence hunting was estimated to annually remove 10 to 15 percent of the population during this period. Only five belugas have been harvested since 1999, yet the population has continued to decline, with the most recent estimate at only 312 animals (Allen and Angliss 2014). NMFS listed the population as “depleted” in 2000 as a consequence of the decline, and as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2008 after the population failed to show signs of recovery following a moratorium on subsistence harvest.

    In April 2011, NMFS designated critical habitat for the beluga under the ESA (Figure 4-7 in the Application). NMFS designated two areas of critical habitat for beluga whales in Inlet. The designation includes 7,800 km2 (3,013 mi2) of marine and estuarine habitat within Cook Inlet, encompassing approximately 1,909 km2 (738 mi2) in Area 1 and 5,891 km2 (2,275 mi2) in Area 2. From spring through fall, Area 1critical habitat has the highest concentration of beluga whales with important foraging and calving habitat. Area 2 critical habitat has a lower concentration of beluga whales in the spring and summer, but is used by belugas in the fall and winter. Critical habitat does not include two areas of military usage, the Eagle River Flats Range on Fort Richardson and military lands of JBER between Mean Higher High Water and Mean High Water. Additionally, the POA, the adjacent navigation channel, and the turning basin were excluded from critical habitat designation due to national security reasons (76 FR 20180).

    NMFS' Final Conservation Plan for the Cook Inlet beluga whale characterized the relative value of four habitats as part of the management and recovery strategy (NMFS 2008a). These are sites where beluga whales are most consistently observed, where feeding behavior has been documented, and where dense numbers of whales occur within a relatively confined area of the inlet. Type 1 Habitat is termed “High Value/High Sensitivity” and includes what NMFS believes to be the most important and sensitive areas of the Cook Inlet for beluga whales. Type 2 Habitat is termed “High Value” and includes summer feeding areas and winter habitats in waters where whales typically occur in lesser densities or in deeper waters. Type 3 Habitat occurs in the offshore areas of the mid and upper inlet and also includes wintering habitat. Type 4 Habitat describes the remaining portions of the range of these whales within Cook Inlet.

    The habitat that will be directly impacted from Test Pile activities at the POA is considered Type 1 Habitat, although it lies within the zone that was excluded from any critical habitat designation.

    A number of studies have been conducted on the distribution of beluga whales in upper Cook Inlet including NMFS aerial surveys; NMFS data from satellite-tagged belugas (Hobbs et al. 2005); opportunistic sightings; baseline studies of beluga whale occurrence in Knik Arm conducted for the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA) (Funk et al. 2005); baseline studies of beluga whale occurrence in Turnagain Arm conducted in preparation for Seward Highway improvements (Markowitz et al. 2007); marine mammal surveys conducted at Ladd Landing to assess a coal shipping project (Prevel-Ramos et al. 2008); marine mammal surveys off Granite Point, the Beluga River, and farther south in the inlet at North Ninilchik (Brueggeman et al. 2007, 2008a, 2008b); passive acoustic monitoring surveys throughout Cook Inlet (Lammers et al. 2013); JBER observations conducted within Eagle Bay and Eagle River (U.S. Army Garrison Fort Richardson 2009); and the scientific and construction monitoring program at the POA (Cornick and Pinney 2011, Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2007, 2008; Cornick et al. 2010, Cornick et al. 2011; ICRC 2009a, 2010a, 2011a, 2012; Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006). These data have provided a relatively good picture of the distribution and occurrence of beluga whales in upper Cook Inlet, particularly in lower Knik Arm and the project area. Findings of these studies are presented in detail in Section 4.5 in the Application.

    The POA conducted a NMFS-approved monitoring program for beluga whales and other marine mammals focused on the POA area from 2005 to 2011 as part of their permitting requirements for the Marine Terminal Redevelopment Project (MTRP) (Table 4-6 in Application). Scientific monitoring was initiated in 2005 and was conducted by LGL Limited (LGL) in 2005 and 2006 (Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006). Alaska Pacific University (APU) resumed scientific monitoring in 2007 (Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2008) and continued monitoring each year through 2011. Additionally, construction monitoring occurred during in-water construction work.

    Data on beluga whale sighting rates, grouping, behavior, and movement indicate that the POA is a relatively low-use area, occasionally visited by lone whales or small groups of whales. They are observed most often at low tide in the fall, peaking in late August to early September. Although groups with calves have been observed to enter the POA area, data do not suggest that the area is an important nursery area.

    Although the POA scientific monitoring studies indicate that the area is not used frequently by many beluga whales, it is apparently used for foraging habitat by whales traveling between lower and upper Knik Arm, as individuals and groups of beluga whales have been observed passing through the area each year during monitoring efforts (Table 4-7 in Application). In all years, diving and traveling were the most common behaviors observed, with many instances of confirmed feeding. Sighting rates at the POA ranged from 0.05 to 0.4 whales per hour (Cornick and Saxon-Kendall 2008; Cornick et al. 2011; Markowitz and McGuire 2007; Prevel-Ramos et al. 2006), as compared to three to five whales per hour at Eklutna, 20 to 30 whales per hour at Birchwood, and three to eight whales per hour at Cairn Point (Funk et al. 2005), indicating that these areas are of higher use than the POA.

    Data collected annually during monitoring efforts demonstrated that few beluga whales were observed in July and early August; numbers of sightings increased in mid- August, with the highest numbers observed late August to mid-September. In all years, beluga whales have been observed to enter the project footprint while construction activities were taking place, including pile driving and dredging. The most commonly observed behaviors were traveling, diving, and suspected feeding. No apparent behavioral changes or reactions to in-water construction activities were observed by either the construction or scientific observers (Cornick et al. 2011).

    Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that stressors, (e.g. pile driving,) and potential mitigation activities, associated with the proposed POA Test Pile Program may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis” section will include the analysis of how this specific activity will impact marine mammals and will consider the content of this section, the “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section, and the “Proposed Mitigation” section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In the following discussion, we provide general background information on sound and marine mammal hearing before considering potential effects to marine mammals from sound produced by pile driving.

    Description of Sound Sources

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds and attenuate (decrease) more rapidly in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the `loudness' of a sound and is typically measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels (SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal (μPa). One pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 μPa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's position. Note that all underwater sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 1 μPa and all airborne sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 μPa.

    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures.

    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound receptors such as hydrophones.

    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following (Richardson et al., 1995):

    • Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band during heavy surf conditions.

    • Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the water surface can become an important component of total noise at frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet times.

    • Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz.

    • Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to ambient sound.

    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which comprise “ambient” or “background” sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals.

    Table 3—Representative Sound Levels of Anthropogenic Sources Sound source Frequency range
  • (Hz)
  • Underwater sound level Reference
    Small vessels 250-1,000 151 dB rms at 1 m Richardson et al., 1995. Tug docking gravel barge 200-1,000 149 dB rms at 100 m Blackwell and Greene, 2002. Vibratory driving of 72-in steel pipe pile 10-1,500 180 dB rms at 10 m Reyff, 2007. Impact driving of 36-in steel pipe pile 10-1,500 195 dB rms at 10 m Laughlin, 2007. Impact driving of 66-in cast-in-steel-shell (CISS) pile 10-1,500 195 dB rms at 10 m Reviewed in Hastings and Popper, 2005.

    There are two general categories of sound types: Impulse and non-pulse. Vibratory pile driving is considered to be continuous or non-pulsed while impact pile driving is considered to be an impulse or pulsed sound type. The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.

    Pulsed sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003; ANSI, 2005) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Pulsed sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features.

    Non-pulsed sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief or prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI, 1995; NIOSH, 1998). Some of these non-pulsed sounds can be transient signals of short duration but without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-pulsed sounds include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar systems (such as those used by the U.S. Navy). The duration of such sounds, as received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant environment.

    The likely or possible impacts of the proposed Test Pile Program on marine mammals could involve both non-acoustic and acoustic stressors. Potential non-acoustic stressors could result from the physical presence of the equipment and personnel. Any impacts to marine mammals, however, are expected to primarily be acoustic in nature.

    Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007). The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below (note that these frequency ranges do not necessarily correspond to the range of best hearing, which varies by species):

    • Low-frequency cetaceans (mysticetes): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 25 kHz (extended from 22 kHz; Watkins, 1986; Au et al., 2006; Lucifredi and Stein, 2007; Ketten and Mountain, 2009; Tubelli et al., 2012);

    • Mid-frequency cetaceans (larger toothed whales, beaked whales, and most delphinids): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz;

    • High-frequency cetaceans (porpoises, river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and Cephalorhynchus; now considered to include two members of the genus Lagenorhynchus on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic data [May-Collado and Agnarsson, 2006; Kyhn et al. 2009, 2010; Tougaard et al. 2010]): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz; and

    • Pinnipeds in water: Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 75 Hz to 100 kHz for Phocidae (true seals) and between 100 Hz and 48 kHz for Otariidae (eared seals), with the greatest sensitivity between approximately 700 Hz and 20 kHz. The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range (Hemilä et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth et al., 2013).

    Of the three cetacean species likely to occur in the proposed project area and for which take is requested, two are classified as mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., killer whale, beluga whale), and one is classified as a high-frequency cetacean (i.e., harbor porpoise) (Southall et al., 2007). Additionally, harbor seals are classified as members of the phocid pinnipeds in-water functional hearing group while Steller sea lions are grouped under the Otariid pinnipeds in-water functional hearing group.

    Acoustic Impacts

    Potential Effects of Pile Driving Sound—The effects of sounds from pile driving might result in one or more of the following: Temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007). The effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the depth, intensity, and duration of the pile driving sound; the depth of the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance between the pile and the animal; and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Impacts to marine mammals from pile driving activities are expected to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As such, the degree of effect is intrinsically related to the received level and duration of the sound exposure, which are in turn influenced by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The substrate and depth of the habitat affect the sound propagation properties of the environment. Shallow environments are typically more structurally complex, which leads to rapid sound attenuation. In addition, substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or attenuate the sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) which may reflect the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also likely require less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful equipment, which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the acoustic source.

    In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species would be expected to result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to document due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of impulse sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulse sound sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton et al., 1973).

    Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects—Marine mammals exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not recoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold would recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Marine mammals depend on acoustic cues for vital biological functions, (e.g., orientation, communication, finding prey, avoiding predators); thus, TTS may result in reduced fitness in survival and reproduction. However, this depends on the frequency and duration of TTS, as well as the biological context in which it occurs. TTS of limited duration, occurring in a frequency range that does not coincide with that used for recognition of important acoustic cues, would have little to no effect on an animal's fitness. Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. PTS constitutes injury, but TTS does not (Southall et al., 2007). The following subsections discuss in somewhat more detail the possibilities of TTS, PTS, and non-auditory physical effects.

    Temporary Threshold Shift—TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a strong sound (Kryter, 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must be stronger in order to be heard. In terrestrial mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). For sound exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the published data concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound. Available data on TTS in marine mammals are summarized in Southall et al. (2007).

    Given the available data, the received level of a single pulse (with no frequency weighting) might need to be approximately 186 dB re 1 μPa2-s (i.e., 186 dB sound exposure level [SEL] or approximately 221-226 dB p-p [peak]) in order to produce brief, mild TTS. Exposure to several strong pulses that each have received levels near 190 dB rms (175-180 dB SEL) might result in cumulative exposure of approximately 186 dB SEL and thus slight TTS in a small odontocete, assuming the TTS threshold is (to a first approximation) a function of the total received pulse energy.

    The above TTS information for odontocetes is derived from studies on the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and beluga whale. There is no published TTS information for other species of cetaceans. However, preliminary evidence from a harbor porpoise exposed to pulsed sound suggests that its TTS threshold may have been lower (Lucke et al., 2009). As summarized above, data that are now available imply that TTS is unlikely to occur unless odontocetes are exposed to pile driving pulses stronger than 180 dB re 1 μPa rms.

    Permanent Threshold Shift—When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter, 1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound can cause PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that mammals close to a sound source can incur TTS, it is possible that some individuals might incur PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of permanent auditory damage, but repeated or (in some cases) single exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit PTS.

    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals, based on anatomical similarities. PTS might occur at a received sound level at least several decibels above that inducing mild TTS if the animal were exposed to strong sound pulses with rapid rise time. Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that the PTS threshold for impulse sounds (such as pile driving pulses as received close to the source) is at least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and probably greater than 6 dB (Southall et al., 2007). On an SEL basis, Southall et al. (2007) estimated that received levels would need to exceed the TTS threshold by at least 15 dB for there to be risk of PTS. Thus, for cetaceans, Southall et al. (2007) estimate that the PTS threshold might be an M-weighted SEL (for the sequence of received pulses) of approximately 198 dB re 1 μPa2-s (15 dB higher than the TTS threshold for an impulse). Given the higher level of sound necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS could occur.

    Although no marine mammals have been shown to experience TTS or PTS as a result of being exposed to pile driving activities, captive bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales exhibited changes in behavior when exposed to strong pulsed sounds (Finneran et al., 2000, 2002, 2005). The animals tolerated high received levels of sound before exhibiting aversive behaviors. Experiments on a beluga whale showed that exposure to a single watergun impulse at a received level of 207 kPa (30 psi) p-p, which is equivalent to 228 dB p-p, resulted in a 7 and 6 dB TTS in the beluga whale at 0.4 and 30 kHz, respectively. Thresholds returned to within 2 dB of the pre-exposure level within four minutes of the exposure (Finneran et al., 2002). Although the source level of pile driving from one hammer strike is expected to be much lower than the single watergun impulse cited here, animals being exposed for a prolonged period to repeated hammer strikes could receive more sound exposure in terms of SEL than from the single watergun impulse (estimated at 188 dB re 1 μPa2-s) in the aforementioned experiment (Finneran et al., 2002). However, in order for marine mammals to experience TTS or PTS, the animals have to be close enough to be exposed to high intensity sound levels for a prolonged period of time. Based on the best scientific information available, these SPLs are far below the thresholds that could cause TTS or the onset of PTS.

    Non-auditory Physiological Effects—Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a prolonged period. The available data do not allow identification of a specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that might be affected in those ways. Marine mammals that show behavioral avoidance of pile driving, including some odontocetes and some pinnipeds, are especially unlikely to incur auditory impairment or non-auditory physical effects.

    Disturbance Reactions

    Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and reactions, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007).

    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003).

    Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices, but also including pile driving) have been varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007). Responses to continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, have not been documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds.

    With both types of pile driving, it is likely that the onset of pile driving could result in temporary, short term changes in an animal's typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where sound sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haul-outs or rookeries). Pinnipeds may increase their haul-out time, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and Reyff, 2006).

    The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on growth, survival, or reproduction include:

    • Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to military mid-frequency tactical sonar);

    • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and

    • Cessation of feeding or social interaction.

    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007).

    Auditory Masking—Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or interfering with, a marine mammal's ability to hear other sounds. Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher levels. Chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-intensity, sound could cause masking at particular frequencies for marine mammals that utilize sound for vital biological functions. Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. If the coincident (masking) sound were anthropogenic, it could be potentially harassing if it disrupted hearing-related behavior. It is important to distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which occurs only during the sound exposure. Because masking (without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral effect.

    Masking occurs at the frequency band which the animals utilize so the frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound generated from in-water vibratory pile driving is mostly concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency echolocation sounds made by porpoises. However, lower frequency man-made sounds are more likely to affect detection of communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey sound. It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the sound band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et al., 2009).

    Masking affects both senders and receivers of the signals and can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent research suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial periods, and that most of these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand, 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, such as those from vessel traffic, pile driving, and dredging activities, contribute to the elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking.

    Vibratory pile driving is relatively short-term, with rapid oscillations occurring for 10 to 30 minutes per installed pile. It is possible that vibratory pile driving resulting from this proposed action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and limited affected area would result in insignificant impacts from masking.

    Impacts of geotechnical Investigations—Limited data exist regarding underwater noise levels associated with Standard Penetration Test (SPT) or Cone Penetrometer Test (CPT) investigations, and no data exist for SPT or CPT geotechnical investigations in Cook Inlet or Knik Arm. Geotechnical drilling for the POA, which includes SPT or CPT sampling, will be of smaller size and scale than the full-scale drilling operations described below. Hydroacoustic tests conducted by Illingworth & Rodkin (2014a) in May 2013 revealed that underwater noise levels from large drilling operations were below ambient noise levels. On two different occasions, Sound Source Verification (SSV) measurements were made of conductor pipe drilling, with and without other noise-generating activities occurring simultaneously. Drilling sounds could not be measured or heard above the other sounds emanating from the rig. The highest sound levels measured that were emanating from the rig during drilling were 128 dB rms, and they were attributed to a different sound source (Illingworth & Rodkin 2014a). Therefore, NMFS will assume that sound impacts from geotechnical investigations will not rise to Level B harassment thresholds.

    Acoustic Effects, Airborne—Marine mammals that occur in the project area could be exposed to airborne sounds associated with pile driving that have the potential to cause harassment, depending on their distance from pile driving activities. Airborne pile driving sound would not impact cetaceans because sound from atmospheric sources does not transmit well underwater (Richardson et al., 1995); thus, airborne sound may only be an issue for pinnipeds either hauled-out or looking with heads above water in the project area. Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral responses similar to those discussed above in relation to underwater sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound could cause hauled-out pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to temporarily abandon their habitat and move further from the source. Studies by Blackwell et al. (2004) and Moulton et al. (2005) indicate a tolerance or lack of response to unweighted airborne sounds as high as 112 dB peak and 96 dB rms.

    Vessel Interaction

    Besides being susceptible to vessel strikes, cetacean and pinniped responses to vessels may result in behavioral changes, including greater variability in the dive, surfacing, and respiration patterns; changes in vocalizations; and changes in swimming speed or direction (NRC 2003). There will be a temporary and localized increase in vessel traffic during construction. A maximum of three work barges will be present at any time during the in-water and over water work. The barges will be located near each other where construction is occurring. Additionally, the floating pier will be tugged into position prior to installation.

    Potential Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat are associated with elevated sound levels produced by impact and vibratory pile driving in the area. However, other potential impacts to the surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible.

    Potential Pile Driving Effects on Prey—Test Pile activities would produce continuous (i.e., vibratory pile driving) sounds and pulsed (i.e. impact driving) sounds. Fish react to sounds that are especially strong and/or intermittent low-frequency sounds. Short duration, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes in fish behavior and local distribution. Hastings and Popper (2005) identified several studies that suggest fish may relocate to avoid certain areas of sound energy. Additional studies have documented effects of pile driving on fish, although several are based on studies in support of large, multiyear bridge construction projects (e.g., Scholik and Yan, 2001, 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009). Sound pulses at received levels of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in fish behavior. SPLs of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior (Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient strength have been known to cause injury to fish and fish mortality.

    The area likely impacted by the proposed Test Pile Program is relatively small compared to the available habitat in Knik Arm. Due to the lack of definitive studies on how the proposed Test Pile Program might affect prey availability for marine mammals there is uncertainty to the impact analysis. However, this uncertainty will be mitigated due to the low quality and quantity of marine habitat, low abundance and seasonality of salmonids and other prey, and mitigation measures already in place to reduce impacts to fish. The most likely impact to fish from the proposed Test Pile Program will be temporary behavioral avoidance of the immediate area. In general, the nearer the animal is to the source the higher the likelihood of high energy and a resultant effect (such as mild, moderate, mortal injury). Affected fish would represent only a small portion of food available to marine mammals in the area. The duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, distribution, and behavior is anticipated. Any behavioral avoidance by fish of the disturbed area will still leave significantly large areas of fish and marine mammal foraging habitat in Knik Arm. Therefore, the impacts on marine mammal prey during the proposed Test Pile Program are expected to be minor.

    Effects to Foraging Habitat

    The Cook Inlet beluga whale is the only marine mammal species in the project area that has critical habitat designated in Cook Inlet. NMFS designated critical habitat in portions of Cook Inlet, including Knik Arm. NMFS noted that Knik Arm is Type 1 habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga whale, which means it is the most valuable, used intensively by beluga whales from spring through fall for foraging and nursery habitat. However, the area in the immediate vicinity of POA has been excluded from critical habitat designation. The waters around POA are subject to heavy vessel traffic and the shoreline is built up and industrialized, resulting in habitat of marginal quality.

    The proposed Test Pile Program will not result in permanent impacts to habitats used by marine mammals. Pile installation may temporarily increase turbidity resulting from suspended sediments. Any increases would be temporary, localized, and minimal. POA must comply with state water quality standards during these operations by limiting the extent of turbidity to the immediate project area. In general, turbidity associated with pile installation is localized to about a 25-foot radius around the pile (Everitt et al. 1980). Cetaceans are not expected to be close enough to the project site driving areas to experience effects of turbidity, and any pinnipeds will be transiting the terminal area and could avoid localized areas of turbidity. Therefore, the impact from increased turbidity levels is expected to be discountable to marine mammals. The proposed Test Pile Program will result in temporary changes in the acoustic environment. Marine mammals may experience a temporary loss of habitat because of temporarily elevated noise levels. The most likely impact to marine mammal habitat would be from pile-driving effects on marine mammal prey at and near the POA and minor impacts to the immediate substrate during installation of piles during the proposed Test Pile Program. Long-term effects of any prey displacements are not expected to affect the overall fitness of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population or its recovery; effects will be minor and will terminate after cessation of the proposed Test Pile Program.

    Proposed Mitigation Measures

    In order to issue an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, “and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking” for certain subsistence uses. NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks, their habitat. 50 CFR 216.104(a)(11). For the proposed project, POA worked with NMFS and proposed the following mitigation measures to minimize the potential impacts to marine mammals in the project vicinity. The primary purposes of these mitigation measures are to minimize sound levels from the activities, and to monitor marine mammals within designated zones of influence corresponding to NMFS' current Level A and B harassment thresholds which are depicted in Table 5 found later in the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section.

    In addition to the measures described later in this section, POA would employ the following standard mitigation measures:

    (a) Conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and POA staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

    (b) For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (using, e.g., standard barges, tug boats, barge-mounted excavators, or clamshell equipment used to place or remove material), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m, operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. This type of work could include the following activities: (1) Movement of the barge to the pile location or (2) positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane (i.e., stabbing the pile).

    Time Restrictions—Work would occur only during daylight hours, when visual monitoring of marine mammals can be conducted.

    Establishment of Disturbance Zone or Zone of Influence—Disturbance zones or zones of influence (ZOI) are the areas in which SPLs equal or exceed 160 dB rms for impact driving and 125 dB rms for vibratory driving. Note that 125 dB has been established as the Level B harassment zone isopleth for vibratory driving since ambient noise levels near the POA are likely to be above 120 dB RMS and this value has been used previously as a threshold in this area. Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see “Proposed Monitoring and Reporting”). Nominal radial distances for disturbance zones are shown in Table 5. Given the size of the disturbance zone for vibratory pile driving, it is impossible to guarantee that all animals would be observed or to make comprehensive observations of fine-scale behavioral reactions to sound. We discuss monitoring objectives and protocols in greater depth in “Proposed Monitoring and Reporting.”

    In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from the pile and the ZOIs for relevant activities (i.e., pile installation). This information may then be used to extrapolate observed takes to reach an approximate understanding of actual total takes.

    Soft Start—The use of a soft start procedure is believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer for 15 seconds at reduced energy followed by a waiting period. This procedure is repeated two additional times. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy for any given hammer because of variation across drivers and, for impact hammers, the actual number of strikes at reduced energy will vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in “bouncing” of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in multiple “strikes.” The project will utilize soft start techniques for both impact and vibratory pile driving. POA will initiate sound from vibratory hammers for fifteen seconds at reduced energy followed by a 1 minute waiting period, with the procedure repeated two additional times. For impact driving, we require an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. Soft start will be required at the beginning of each day's pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of pile driving of 20 minutes or longer (specific to either vibratory or impact driving).

    Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures would apply to POA's mitigation through shutdown and disturbance zones:

    Shutdown Zone—For all pile driving activities, POA will establish a shutdown zone. Shutdown zones are intended to contain the area in which SPLs equal or exceed the 180/90 dB rms acoustic injury criteria, with the purpose being to define an area within which shutdown of activity would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing injury of marine mammals. POA, however, will implement a minimum shutdown zone of 100 m radius for all marine mammals around all vibratory and impact pile activity. These precautionary measures would also further reduce the possibility of auditory injury and behavioral impacts as well as limit the unlikely possibility of injury from direct physical interaction with construction operations.

    Shutdown for Large Groups—To reduce the chance of POA reaching or exceeding authorized take, and to minimize harassment to beluga whales, in-water pile driving operations will be shut down if a group of five or more beluga whales is sighted within or approaching the Level B harassment 160 dB and 125 dB disturbance zones, as appropriate. If the group is not re-sighted within 20 minutes, pile driving will resume.

    Shutdown for Beluga Whale Calves—Beluga whale calves are likely more susceptible to loud anthropogenic noise than juveniles or adults. If a calf is sighted within or approaching a harassment zone, in-water pile driving will cease and will not be resumed until the calf is confirmed to be out of the harassment zone and on a path away from the pile driving. If a calf or the group with a calf is not re-sighted within 20 minutes, pile driving will resume.

    Visual Marine Mammal Observation—POA will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of activity during the period of activity. All observers will be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. POA will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. Based on our requirements, the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan would implement the following procedures for pile driving:

    • Four MMOs will work concurrently in rotating shifts to provide full coverage for marine mammal monitoring during in-water pile installation activities for the Test Pile Program. MMOs will work in four-person teams to increase the probability of detecting marine mammals and to confirm sightings. Three MMOs will scan the Level A and Level B harassment zones surrounding pile-driving activities for marine mammals by using big eye binoculars (25X), hand-held binoculars (7X), and the naked eye. One MMO will focus on the Level A harassment zone and two others will scan the Level B zone. Four MMOs will rotate through these three active positions every 30 minutes to reduce eye strain and increase observer alertness. The fourth MMO will record data on the computer, a less-strenuous activity that will provide the opportunity for some rest. A theodolite will also be available for use.

    • In order to more effectively monitor the larger Level B harassment zone for vibratory pile driving, one or more MMOs shall be placed on one of the vessels used for hydroacoustic monitoring, which will be stationed offshore.

    • Before the Test Pile Program commences, MMOs and POA authorities will meet to determine the most appropriate observation platform(s) for monitoring during pile driving. Considerations will include:

    ○ Height of the observation platform, to maximize field of view and distance

    ○ Ability to see the shoreline, along which beluga whales commonly travel

    ○ Safety of the MMOs, construction crews, and other people present at the POA

    ○ Minimizing interference with POA activities

    Height and location of an observation platform are critical to ensuring that MMOs can adequately observe the harassment zone during pile installation. The platform should be mobile and able to be relocated to maintain maximal viewing conditions as the construction site shifts along the waterfront. Past monitoring efforts at the POA took place from a platform built on top of a cargo container or a platform raised by an industrial scissor lift. A similar shore-based, raised, mobile observation platform will likely be used for the Test Pile Program.

    • POA will monitor a 100-meter “shutdown” zone during all pile-driving operations (vibratory and impact) to prevent Level A take by injury. If a marine mammal passes the 100-meter shutdown zone prior to the cessation of in-water pile installation but does not reach the Level A harassment zone, which is 14 m for pinnipeds 63 m for cetaceans, there is no Level A take.

    • MMOs will begin observing for marine mammals within the Level A and Level B harassment zones for 20 minutes before “the soft start” begins. If a marine mammal(s) is present within the 100-meter shutdown zone prior to the “soft start” or if marine mammal occurs during “soft start” pile driving will be delayed until the animal(s) leaves the 100-meter shutdown zone. Pile driving will resume only after the MMOs have determined, through sighting or by waiting 20 minutes, that the animal(s) has moved outside the 100-meter shutdown zone. After 20 minutes, when the MMOs are certain that the 100-meter shutdown zone is clear of marine mammals, they will authorize the soft start to begin.

    • If a marine mammal is traveling along a trajectory that could take it into the Level B harassment zone, the MMO will record the marine mammal(s) as a “take” upon entering the Level B harassment zone. While the animal remains within the Level B harassment zone, that pile segment will be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches the 100-meter shutdown zone, at which point the MMO will authorize the immediate shutdown of in-water pile driving before the marine mammal enters the 100- meter shutdown zone. Pile driving will resume only once the animal has left the 100-meter shutdown zone on its own or has not been resighted for a period of 20 minutes.

    • Beluga whale calves are likely more susceptible to loud anthropogenic noise than juveniles or adults. If a calf is sighted approaching a harassment zone, in-water pile driving will cease and not resume until the calf is confirmed to be out of the harassment zone and on a path away from the pile driving. If a calf or the group with a calf is not re-sighted within 20 minutes, pile driving may resume.

    • If waters exceed a sea-state which restricts the observers' ability to make observations within the marine mammal shutdown zone (the 100 meter radius) (e.g. excessive wind or fog), impact pile installation will cease until conditions allow the resumption of monitoring.

    • The waters will be scanned 20 minutes prior to commencing pile driving at the beginning of each day, and prior to commencing pile driving after any stoppage of 20 minutes or greater. If marine mammals enter or are observed within the designated marine mammal buffer zone (the 100m radius) during or 20 minutes prior to pile driving, the monitors will notify the on-site construction manager to not begin until the animal has moved outside the designated radius.

    • The waters will continue to be scanned for at least 20 minutes after pile driving has completed each day.

    Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the applicant's proposed mitigation measures and considered a range of other measures in the context of ensuring that NMFS prescribes the means of affecting the least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:

    • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals

    • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned

    • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation,

    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed below:

    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).

    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to received levels of pile driving, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to received levels of pile driving, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to received levels of pile driving, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time.

    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation.

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, our preliminarily determination is that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammals species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

    Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. POA submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan as part of the IHA application. It can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm.

    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals:

    1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both within the mitigation zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned below;

    2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals are likely to be exposed to levels of pile driving that we associate with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, TTS, or PTS;

    3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond to stimuli expected to result in take and how anticipated adverse effects on individuals (in different ways and to varying degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any of the following methods:

    Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

    Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

    Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli;

    4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; and

    5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures.

    Acoustic Monitoring

    The POA will conduct acoustic monitoring for impact pile driving to determine the actual distances to the 190 dB re 1μPa rms, 180 dB re 1μPa rms, and 160 dB re 1μPa rms isopleths, which are used by NMFS to define the Level A injury and Level B harassment zones for pinnipeds and cetaceans for impact pile driving. Encapsulated bubble curtains and resonance-based attenuation systems will be tested during installation of some piles to determine their relative effectiveness at attenuating underwater noise. The POA will also conduct acoustic monitoring for vibratory pile driving to determine the actual distance to the 120 dB re 1μPa rms isopleth for behavioral harassment relative to background levels (estimated to be 125 dB re 1μPa in the project area).

    A typical daily sequence of operations for an acoustic monitoring day will include the following activities:

    • Discussion of the day's pile-driving plans with the crew chief or appropriate contact and determination of setup locations for the fixed positions. Considerations include the piles to be driven and anticipated barge movements during the day.

    • Calibration of hydrophones.

    • Setup of the near (10-meter) system either on the barge or the existing dock.

    • Deployment of an autonomous or cabled hydrophone at one of the distant locations.

    • Recording pile driving operational conditions throughout the day.

    • Upon conclusion of the day's pile driving, retrieve the remote systems, post-calibrate all the systems, and download all systems.

    • A stationary hydrophone recording system will be suspended either from the pile driving barge or existing docks at approximately 10 meters from the pile being driven, for each pile driven. These data will be monitored in real-time.

    • Prior to monitoring, a standard depth sounder will record depth before pile driving commences. The sounder will be turned off prior to pile driving to avoid interference with acoustic monitoring. Once the monitoring has been completed, the water depth will be recorded.

    • A second stationary hydrophone will be deployed across the Knik Arm near Port MacKenzie, approximately 2,800-3,200 meters from the pile, from either an anchored floating raft or an autonomous hydrophone recorder package (Figure 13-2 and Figure 13-3 in Application). At 3,000 meters, the hydrophone will be located in the water approximately three-quarters of the way across Knik Arm. The autonomous hydrophone is a self-contained system that is anchored and suspended from a float. Data collected using this system will not be in real-time; the distant hydrophones will collect a continuous recording of the noise produced by the piles being driven.

    Vessel-based Hydrophones (One to Two Locations):

    • An acoustic vessel with a single-channel hydrophone will be in the Knik Arm open water environment to monitor near-field and real-time isopleths for marine mammals (Figure 13-1, Figure 13-4 in Application).

    • Continuous measurements will be made using a sound level meter.

    • One or two acoustic vessels are proposed to deploy hydrophones that will be used to collect data to estimate the distance to far-field sound levels (i.e., the 120-125-dB zone for vibratory and 160-dB zone for impact driving).

    • During the vessel-based recordings, the engine and any depth finders must be turned off. The vessel must be silent and drifting during spot recordings.

    • Either a weighted tape measure or an electronic depth finder will be used to determine the depth of the water before measurement and upon completion of measurements. A GPS unit or range finder will be used to determine the distance of the measurement site to the piles being driven.

    • Prior to and during the pile-driving activity, environmental data will be gathered, such as water depth and tidal level, wave height, and other factors, that could contribute to influencing the underwater sound levels (e.g., aircraft, boats, etc.). Start and stop time of each pile-driving event and the time at which the bubble curtain is turned on and off will be logged.

    • The construction contractor will provide relevant information, in writing, to the hydroacoustic monitoring contractor for inclusion in the final monitoring report:

    Data Collection

    MMOs will use approved data forms. Among other pieces of information, POA will record detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, POA will attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidents of take. At a minimum, the following information would be collected on the sighting forms:

    • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;

    • Construction activities occurring during each observation period;

    • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);

    • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);

    • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals;

    • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from pile driving activity;

    • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;

    • Locations of all marine mammal observations; and

    • Other human activity in the area.

    Reporting Measures

    POA would provide NMFS with a draft monitoring report within 90 days of the conclusion of the proposed construction work or 60 days prior to any subsequent authorization, whichever is sooner. A monitoring report is required before another authorization can be issued to POA. This report will detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may have been harassed. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA (if issued), such as an injury, serious injury or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), POA would immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report would include the following information:

    • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    • Name and type of vessel involved;

    • Vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;

    • Description of the incident;

    • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Water depth;

    • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Fate of the animal(s); and

    • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with POA to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. POA would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    In the event that POA discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), POA would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with POA to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that POA discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), POA would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators, within 24 hours of the discovery. POA would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines “harassment” as: “Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].”

    All anticipated takes would be by Level B harassment resulting from vibratory pile driving and impact pile driving and are likely to involve temporary changes in behavior. Physical injury or lethal takes are not expected due to the expected source levels and sound source characteristics associated with the activity, and the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to further minimize the possibility of such take.

    Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound, where NMFS believes take is likely.

    Upland work can generate airborne sound and create visual disturbance that could potentially result in disturbance to marine mammals (specifically, pinnipeds) that are hauled out or at the water's surface with heads above the water. However, because there are no regular haul-outs in the vicinity of the site of the proposed project area, we believe that incidents of incidental take resulting from airborne sound or visual disturbance are unlikely.

    POA has requested authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of Steller sea lion, harbor seal, harbor porpoise, killer whale and beluga whale near the project area that may result from vibratory and impact pile driving during activities associated with a Test Pile Program.

    In order to estimate the potential incidents of take that may occur incidental to the specified activity, we must first estimate the extent of the sound field that may be produced by the activity and then consider in combination with information about marine mammal density or abundance in the project area. We first provide information on applicable sound thresholds for determining effects to marine mammals before describing the information used in estimating the sound fields, the available marine mammal density or abundance information, and the method of estimating potential incidences of take.

    Sound Thresholds

    We use generic sound exposure thresholds to determine when an activity that produces sound might result in impacts to a marine mammal such that a take by harassment might occur. To date, no studies have been conducted that explicitly examine impacts to marine mammals from pile driving sounds or from which empirical sound thresholds have been established. These thresholds (Table 4) are used to estimate when harassment may occur (i.e., when an animal is exposed to levels equal to or exceeding the relevant criterion) in specific contexts; however, useful contextual information that may inform our assessment of effects is typically lacking and we consider these thresholds as step functions. NMFS is working to revise these acoustic guidelines; for more information on that process, please visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm.

    Table 4—Underwater Injury and Disturbance Threshold Decibel Levels for Marine Mammals Criterion Criterion definition Threshold * Level A harassment PTS (injury) ** 190 dB RMS for pinnipeds. 180 dB RMS for cetaceans. Level B harassment Behavioral disruption for impulse noise (e.g., impact pile driving) 160 dB RMS. Level B harassment Behavioral disruption for non-pulse noise (e.g., vibratory pile driving, drilling) 125 dB RMS ***. * All decibel levels referenced to 1 micropascal (re: 1 μPa). Note all thresholds are based off root mean square (RMS) levels ** PTS=Permanent Threshold Shift conservatively based on TTS (Temporary Threshold Shift) *** Assuming ambient background noise of 125 dB RMS. Usually 120 dB RMS Distance to Sound Thresholds

    Underwater Sound Propagation Formula—Pile driving generates underwater noise that can potentially result in disturbance to marine mammals in the project area. Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and bottom composition and topography. This formula neglects loss due to scattering and absorption, which is assumed to be zero here. The degree to which underwater sound propagates away from a sound source is dependent on a variety of factors, most notably the water bathymetry and presence or absence of reflective or absorptive conditions including in-water structures and sediments. Spherical spreading occurs in a perfectly unobstructed (free-field) environment not limited by depth or water surface, resulting in a 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source (20*log[range]). Cylindrical spreading occurs in an environment in which sound propagation is bounded by the water surface and sea bottom, resulting in a reduction of 3 dB in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source (10*log[range]). A practical spreading value of fifteen is often used in the absence of reliable data and under conditions where water increases with depth as the receiver moves away from the shoreline, resulting in an expected propagation environment that would lie between spherical and cylindrical spreading loss conditions. Practical spreading loss (4.5 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance) is assumed here.

    A review of underwater sound measurements for similar projects was undertaken to estimate the near-source sound levels for vibratory and impact pile driving at POA. Sounds from similar-sized steel shell piles have been measured in water for several projects. Measurements conducted for the US Navy Explosive Handling Wharf in the Hood Canal, in the Puget Sound at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington, are most representative due to the similar pile size and depth of water at the site. Underwater sound levels at 10 m for 48-inch-diameter pile installation was measured at 164 dB RMS for vibratory driving and 192 dB RMS for impact driving (Illingsworth & Rodkin 2012, 2013). This data was used to calculate distances to Level A and Level B thresholds.

    The formula for transmission loss is TL = X log10 (R/10), where R is the distance from the source assuming the near source levels are measured at 10 meters (33 feet) and X is the practical spreading loss value. This TL model, based on the default practical spreading loss assumption, was used to predict distances to isopleths for Level A injury and Level B harassment (Table 5). Pile-driving sound measurements recorded during the Test Pile Program will further refine the rate of sound propagation or TL and help inform the APMP marine mammal monitoring strategy.

    Table 5—Distances in Meters to NMFS' Level A (Injury) and Level B Harassment Thresholds (Isopleths) for a 48-Inch-Diameter Pile, Assuming a 125-dB Background Noise Level Pile diameter
  • (inches)
  • Impact Pinniped, level A injury
  • 190 dB
  • Cetacean, level A injury
  • 180 dB
  • Level B
  • harassment
  • 160 dB
  • Vibratory Pinniped, level A injury
  • 190 dB
  • Cetacean, level A injury
  • 180 dB
  • Level B
  • harassment
  • 125 dB
  • 48, unattenuated 14 m 63 m 1,359 km <10 m <10 m 3,981 m

    The distances to the Level B harassment and Level A injury isopleths were used to estimate the areas of the Level B harassment and Level A injury zones for an unattenuated a 48-inch pile. Note that 125 dB was used as the Level B harassment zone isopleth since ambient noise is likely elevated in that area. Distances and areas were calculated for both vibratory and impact pile driving, and for cetaceans and pinnipeds. Geographic information system software was used to map the Level B harassment and Level A injury isopleths from each of the six indicator test pile locations. Land masses near the POA, including Cairn Point, the North Extension, and Port MacKenzie, act as barriers to underwater noise and prevent further spread of sound pressure waves. As such, the harassment zones for each threshold were truncated and modified with consideration of these impediments to sound transmission (See Figures 6-1—6-6 in the Application). The measured areas (Table 6) were then used in take calculations for beluga whales. Although sound attenuation methods will be used during pile installation, it is unknown how effective they will be and for how many hours they will be utilized. Therefore, to estimate potential exposure of beluga whales, the areas of the harassment zones for impact and vibratory pile driving with no sound attenuation were used.

    Table 6—Areas of the Level A Injury Zones and Level B Harassment Zones * Impact Pinniped, level A injury Cetacean, level A injury Level B harassment Indicator test piles 190 dB 180 dB 160 dB Vibratory Pinniped, level A injury Cetacean, level A injury Level B harassment 190 dB 180 dB 125 dB Piles 3 and 4 <0.01 km2 <0.01 km2 2.24 km2 0 km2 0 km2 15.54 km2 Pile 1 2.71 km2 19.54 km2 Pile 2 2.76 km2 20.08 km2 Pile 5 and 6 2.79 km2 20.90 km2 Pile 7 2.80 km2 20.95 km2 Piles 8, 9, 10 3.03 km2 22.14 km2 * Based on the distances to sound isopleths for a 48-inch-diameter pile, assuming a 125-dB background noise level.

    Incidental take is estimated for each species by estimating the likelihood of a marine mammal being present within a ZOI, described earlier in the mitigation section, during active pile driving. Monitoring data recorded for the MTRP were used to estimate daily sighting rates for harbor seals and harbor porpoises in the project area (See Table 4-1 and 4-2 in Application). Sighting rates of harbor seals and harbor porpoises were highly variable, and there was some indication that reported sighting rates may have increased during the years of MTRP monitoring. It is unknown whether any increase, if real, were due to local population increases or habituation to on-going construction activities. Shelden et al. (2014) reported evidence of increased abundance of harbor porpoise in upper Cook Inlet, which may have contributed to this pattern. As a conservative measure, the highest monthly individual sighting rate for any recorded year was used to quantify take of harbor seals and harbor porpoises for pile driving associated with the Test Pile Program.

    The pile driving take calculation for all harbor seal and harbor porpoise exposures is: Exposure estimate = (N) * # days of pile driving per site, where:

    N = highest daily abundance estimate for each species in project area

    Take for Steller sea lions was estimated based on three sightings of what was likely a single individual. Take for killer whales was estimated based on their known occasional presence in the project area, even though no killer whales were observed during past MTRP monitoring efforts.

    Beluga Whale

    Aerial surveys for beluga whales in Cook Inlet were completed in June and July from 1993 through 2008 (Goetz et al. 2012). Data from these aerial surveys were used along with depth soundings, coastal substrate type, an environmental sensitivity index, an index of anthropogenic disturbance, and information on anadromous fish streams to develop a predictive beluga whale habitat model (Goetz et al. 2012). Three different beluga distribution maps were produced from the habitat model based on sightings of beluga whales during aerial surveys. First, the probability of beluga whale presence was mapped using a binomial (i.e., yes or no) distribution and the results ranged from 0.00 to 0.01. Second, the expected group size was mapped. Group size followed a Poisson distribution, which ranged from 1 to 232 individuals in a group. Third, the product (i.e., multiplication) of these predictive models produced an expected density model, with beluga whale densities ranging from 0 to 1.12 beluga whales/km2. From this model Goetz et al. (2012) developed a raster GIS dataset which provides a predicted density of beluga whales throughout Cook Inlet at a scale of one square kilometer (See Figure 6-7 in the Application). Habitat maps for beluga whale presence, group size, and density (beluga whales/km2) were produced from these data and resulting model, including a raster Geographic Information System data set, which provides a predicted density of beluga whales throughout Cook Inlet at a 1-km2 scale grid.

    The numbers of beluga whales potentially exposed to noise levels above the Level B harassment thresholds for impact (160 dB) and vibratory (125 dB) pile driving were estimated using the following formula:

    Beluga Exposure Estimate = N * Area * # days of pile driving where:

    N = maximum predicted # of beluga whales/km2

    Area = Area of Isopleth (area in km2 within the 160-dB isopleth for impact pile driving, or area in km2 within the 125-dB isopleth for vibratory pile driving); (Table 6)

    The beluga whale exposure estimate was calculated for each of the six indicator test pile locations separately, because the area of each isopleth was different for each location. The predicted beluga whale density raster (developed by Goetz et al. 2012) was overlaid with the isopleth areas for each of the indicator test pile locations. The maximum predicted beluga whale density within each area of isopleth was then used to calculate the beluga whale exposure estimate for each of the indicator test pile locations. The maximum density values ranged from 0.031 to 0.063 beluga whale/km2.

    The area values from Table 6 were multiplied by these maximum predicted densities. The final step in the equation is to account for the number of days of exposure. As discussed in Section 1.2, the maximum number of days of impact pile driving, plus a 25 percent contingency, is 31 days. As such, the predicted exposure estimate for each of the 10 indicator test piles was multiplied by 3.1 to account for the number of days of exposure. The maximum number of days of vibratory pile driving (10), plus a 25 percent contingency, is 12.5 days. As such, the predicted exposure estimate for each indicator test pile was multiplied by 1.25 to account for the number of days of exposure. The total estimated exposure of beluga whales to Level B harassment from impact pile driving (160 dB) is 3.884. The total estimated exposure of beluga whales to Level B harassment from vibratory pile driving (125 dB) is 15.361. The expected number of beluga whale exposures for each indicator test pile and total exposure estimates is shown in Table 7.

    Table 7—Maximum Predicted Beluga Whale Densities and Exposure Estimates Within Each of the Six Unique Isopleth Areas Indicator test pile Impact driving
  • (160 dB)
  • maximum
  • density
  • (whales/km2)
  • Vibratory
  • driving
  • (125dB)
  • maximum
  • density
  • (whales/km2)
  • Impact driving
  • exposure
  • estimate
  • Vibratory
  • driving
  • exposure
  • estimate
  • 3,4 0.031 0.056 0.428 2.191 1 0.042 0.063 0.350 1.541 2 0.038 0.062 0.329 1.550 5,6 0.062 0.062 1.066 3.225 7 0.062 0.062 0.536 1.617 8,9,19 0.042 0.063 1.175 5.238 Total Exposure Estimates 3.884 15.361

    Based on predicted beluga whale density in the vicinity of the POA, an estimated total of 19.245 beluga whales could be exposed to noise levels at the Level B harassment level during vibratory and impact pile driving (Table 7).

    Beluga whale distribution in Cook Inlet is much more clumped than is portrayed by the estimated density model (See Figure 6-7 in Application). Beluga whales are highly mobile animals that move based on tidal fluctuations, prey abundance, season, and other factors. Generally, beluga whales pass through the vicinity of the POA to reach high-quality feeding areas in upper Knik Arm or at the mouth of the Susitna River. Although beluga whales may occasionally linger in the vicinity of the POA, they typically transit through the area. It is important to note that the instantaneous probability of observing a beluga whale at any given time is extremely low (0.0 to 0.01) based on the Goetz et al. (2012) model; however, the probability of observing a beluga whale can change drastically and increase well above predicted values based on season, prey abundance, tide stage, and other variables. The Goetz et al. (2012) density model is the best available information for upper Cook Inlet and for the estimation of beluga whale density across large areas. However, in order to account for the clumped and highly variable distribution of beluga whales, we have accounted for large groups to improve our estimate of exposure.

    During previous POA monitoring, large groups of beluga whales were seen swimming through the POA vicinity. Based on reported takes in monitoring reports from 2008 through 2011, groups of beluga whales were occasionally taken by Level B harassment during previous POA activities (See Table 6-9 in Application).

    During past monitoring efforts, an occasional group of animals was observed, and on three occasions, groups of five beluga whales or more were observed (See Table 6-9 in Application). Therefore, the use of the beluga exposure estimate formula alone does not account for larger groups of beluga whales that could be taken, and does not work well for calculating relatively minor, short-term construction events involving small population densities or infrequent occurrences of marine mammals.

    The beluga density estimate used for estimating potential beluga exposures does not accurately reflect the reality that beluga whales can travel in large groups. As a contingency that a large group of beluga whales could occur in the project area, NMFS buffered the exposure estimate detailed in the preceding by adding the estimated size of a notional large group of beluga whales. Incorporation of large groups into the beluga whale exposure estimate is intended to reduce risk to the Test Pile Program of the unintentional take of a larger number of belugas than would be authorized by using the density method alone. A common convention in statistics and other fields is use of the 95th percentile to evaluate risk. Use of the 95th percentile of group size to define a large group of beluga whales, which can be added to the estimate of exposure, calculated by the density method, provides a conservative value that reduces the risk to the POA of taking a large group of beluga whales and exceeding authorized take levels. A single large group has been added to the estimate of exposure for beluga whales based on the density method, in the anticipation that the entry of a large group of beluga whales into a Level B harassment zone would take place, at most, one time during the project. To determine the most appropriate size of a large group, two sets of data were examined: (1) Beluga whale sightings collected opportunistically by POA employees since 2008 (See Table 6-10 in Application), and (2) Alaska Pacific University (APU) scientific monitoring that occurred from 2007 through 2011 (See Table 6-11, Figure 1-1 in Application). It is important to understand how data were collected for each data set to assess how the data can be used to determine the size of a large group.

    POA employees are encouraged to document opportunistic sightings of beluga whales in a logbook. This has resulted in a data set of beluga sightings that spans all months over many years, and includes estimates of group size. Observations were not conducted systematically or from the same location, and this data set is likely to be biased in that smaller groups or individual whales are less likely to be sighted than larger groups. However, the data set contains good information on relative frequency of sightings and maximum group sizes. The APU data were collected systematically by dedicated observers, and bias against small groups is likely less than for the POA opportunistic sightings. However, the APU data were collected over a more limited range of dates, and sampling effort was less in April and May, when the Test Pile Program is scheduled. Both data sets are useful for assessing beluga group size in the POA area.

    The APU scientific monitoring data set documents 390 beluga whale sightings. Group size exhibits a mode of 1 and a median of 2, indicating that over half of the beluga groups observed over the 5-year span of the monitoring program were of individual beluga whales or groups of 2. As expected, the opportunistic sighting data from the POA do not reflect this preponderance of small groups. The POA opportunistic data do indicate, however, that large groups of belugas were regularly seen in the area over the past 7 years, and that group sizes ranged as high as 100 whales. Of the 131 sightings documented in the POA opportunistic data set, 48 groups were of 15 or more beluga whales.

    The 95th percentile of group size for the APU scientific monitoring data is 11.1 beluga whales (rounded up to 12 beluga whales). This means that, of the 390 documented beluga whale groups in this data set, 95 percent consisted of fewer than 11.1 whales; 5 percent of the groups consisted of more than 11.1 whales. Therefore, it is improbable that a group of more than 12 beluga whales would occur during the Test Pile Program. This number balances reduced risk to the POA with protection of beluga whales. POA opportunistic observations indicate that many groups of greater than 12 beluga whales commonly transit through the project area. APU scientific monitoring data indicate that 5 percent of their documented groups consisted of greater than 12 beluga whales. To reduce the chance of the POA reaching or exceeding authorized take, and to minimize harassment to beluga whales, in-water pile driving operations will be shut down if a group of 5 or more beluga whales is sighted approaching the Level B harassment 160 dB and 125 dB isopleths. Although POA would shut down for groups of 5 or more belugas, NMFS assumes here that a large group occurring in the far reaches of the ZOI may not be observed by the MMOs.

    The total number of proposed takes of Cook Inlet beluga whales is, therefore, 19.245 (density method) plus 12 (large group method) rounded up to a conservative 32 total incidents of take. No Level A harassment is expected or proposed.

    Harbor Seal

    Airborne noise was not considered in this analysis since no known harbor seal haul-out or pupping sites occur in the vicinity of the POA. With the exception of newborn pups, all ages and sexes of harbor seals could occur in the project area for the duration of the Test Pile Program. However, harbor seals are not known to regularly reside in the POA area. For these reasons, any harassment to harbor seals during test pile driving will primarily involve a limited number of individuals that may potentially swim through the project area. Harbor seals that are disturbed by noise may change their behavior and be temporarily displaced from the project area for the short duration of test pile driving.

    The maximum number of harbor seals observed during POA construction monitoring conducted from 2005 through 2011 was 57 individuals, recorded over 104 days of monitoring, from June-November 2011. Based on these observations, sighting rates during the 2011 POA construction monitoring period were 0.55 harbor seal/day. Take by Level B harassment during 31 days of impact and vibratory pile driving for the Test Pile Program is anticipated to be less than 1 harbor seal per day. With in water pile driving occurring for only about 27 hours over those 31 days, the potential for exposure within the 160-dB and 125-dB isopleths is anticipated to be low. Level B take is conservatively estimated at a total of 31 harbor seals (31 days x 1 harbor seal/day) for the duration of the Test Pile Program. Few harbor seals are expected to approach the project area, and this small number of takes is expected to have no more than a negligible effect on individual animals, and no effect on the population as a whole. Level B harassment has the most potential to occur during the mid-summer and fall when anadromous prey fish return to Knik Arm, in particular near Ship Creek south of the POA area. Because the unattenuated 190-dB isopleth is estimated to extend only 14 meters from the source, no Level A harassment take is anticipated or proposed under this authorization.

    Steller Sea Lion

    Steller sea lions are expected to be encountered in low numbers, if at all, within the project area. Based on the three sightings of what was likely a single individual in the project area in 2009, NMFS proposes an encounter rate of 1 individual every 5 pile driving days. The proposed Test Pile Program will drive piles for up to 31 days and, therefore, NMFS proposes the take of up to 6 individuals over the duration of test pile driving activities. Because the unattenuated 190-dB isopleth is estimated to extend only 14 meters from the source, no Level A harassment take is anticipated or proposed.

    Harbor Porpoises

    Aerial surveys designed specifically to estimate population size for the three management stocks of harbor porpoises in Alaska were conducted in 1997, 1998, and 1999 (Hobbs and Waite 2010). As part of the overall effort, Cook Inlet harbor porpoises were surveyed 9-15 June 1998 by NMFS as part of their annual beluga whale survey effort (Hobbs and Waite 2010; Rugh et al. 2000). The survey yielded an average harbor porpoise density in Cook Inlet of 0.013 harbor porpoise/km2, with a coefficient of variation of 13.2 percent. Although the survey transited both upper and lower Cook Inlet, harbor porpoise sightings were limited to 8, all of which were south of Tuxedni Bay, in lower Cook Inlet; no harbor porpoises were sighted during this survey in upper Cook Inlet. Given the summer timing of this survey effort and lack of upper Cook Inlet sightings, NMFS determined that use of this density for estimating take of harbor porpoises in association with the Test Pile Program, which is planned for the fall season, will not be appropriate.

    Harbor porpoise sighting rates during the POA pre-construction monitoring period in 2007 were rare, and only four sightings were reported in 2005 (Table 4-2). Harbor porpoise sighting rates in the project area from 2008-2011 during pile driving and other port activities ranged from 0-0.09 harbor porpoise/day. We have rounded this up to 1 harbor porpoise per day. Take by Level B harassment during the Test Pile Program over 31 days of pile driving activity is estimated to be no more than 31 harbor porpoises (31 days × 1 harbor porpoise/day). Harbor porpoises sometimes travel in small groups, so as a contingency, an additional 6 harbor porpoise takes are estimated, for a total of 37 Level B takes. With in-water pile driving occurring for only about 27 hours over those 31 days, the potential for exposure within the 160-dB and 125-dB isopleths is anticipated to be low. Because the unattenuated 190-dB isopleth is estimated to extend only 63 meters from the source, no Level A take is anticipated, nor requested under this authorization.

    Killer Whales

    No killer whales were sighted during previous monitoring programs for the Knik Arm Crossing and POA construction projects, based on a review of monitoring reports. The infrequent sightings of killer whales that are reported in upper Cook Inlet tend to occur when their primary prey (anadromous fish for resident killer whales and beluga whales for transient killer whales) are also in the area (Shelden et al. 2003).

    With in-water pile driving occurring for only about 27 hours over 31 days, the potential for exposure within the Level B harassment isopleths is anticipated to be extremely low. Level B take is conservatively estimated at no more than 8 killer whales, or two small pods, for the duration of the Test Pile Program. Few killer whales are expected to approach the project area, and this small potential exposure is expected to have no more than a nominal effect on individual animals. Because the unattenuated 180-dB isopleth is estimated to extend only 63 meters from the source, no Level A harassment take is anticipated or proposed.

    Analysis and Preliminary Determinations Negligible Impact

    Negligible impact is “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival” (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through behavioral harassment, NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.

    To avoid repetition, the discussion of our analyses applies to all the species listed in Table 2, given that the anticipated effects of this pile driving project on marine mammals are expected to be relatively similar in nature. Except for beluga whales, where we provide additional discussion, there is no information about the size, status, or structure of any species or stock that would lead to a different analysis for this activity, else species-specific factors would be identified and analyzed.

    Pile driving activities associated with the Test Pile Program, as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may result in take, in the form of Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) only, from underwater sounds generated from pile driving. Harassment takes could occur if individuals of these species are present in the ensonified zone when pile driving is happening.

    No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated given the nature of the activity and measures designed to minimize the possibility of injury to marine mammals. The potential for these outcomes is minimized through the implementation of the following planned mitigation measures. POA will employ a “soft start” when initiating driving activities. Given sufficient “notice” through use of soft start, marine mammals are expected to move away from a pile driving source. The likelihood of marine mammal detection ability by trained observers is high under the environmental conditions described for waters around the project area. This further enables the implementation of shutdowns if animals come within 100 meters of operational activity to avoid injury, serious injury, or mortality. POA's proposed activities are localized and of relatively short duration. The total amount of time spent pile driving, including a 25% contingency, will be 27 hours over approximately 31 days.

    These localized and short-term noise exposures may cause brief startle reactions or short-term behavioral modification by the animals. These reactions and behavioral changes are expected to subside quickly when the exposures cease.

    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammals' habitat, as analyzed in detail in the “Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat” section. No important feeding and/or reproductive areas for marine mammals other than beluga whales are known to be near the proposed project area. Project-related activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences.

    Beluga whales have been observed transiting past the POA project by both scientific and opportunistic surveys. During the spring and summer when the Test Pile Program is scheduled belugas are generally concentrated near warmer river mouths where prey availability is high and predator occurrence is low (Moore et al. 2000). Data on beluga whale sighting rates, grouping, behavior, and movement indicate that the POA is a relatively low-use area, occasionally visited by lone whales or small groups of whales. They are observed most often at low tide in the fall, peaking in late August to early September. Groups with calves have been observed to enter the POA area, but data do not suggest that the area is an important nursery area. Although POA scientific monitoring studies indicate that the area is not used frequently by many beluga whales, it is apparently used for foraging habitat by whales traveling between lower and upper Knik Arm, as individuals and groups of beluga whales have been observed passing through the area each year during monitoring efforts. Data collected annually during monitoring efforts demonstrated that few beluga whales were observed in July and early August; numbers of sightings increased in mid-August, with the highest numbers observed late August to mid-September. In all years, beluga whales have been observed to enter the project footprint while construction activities were taking place, including pile driving and dredging. The most commonly observed behaviors were traveling, diving, and suspected feeding. No apparent behavioral changes or reactions to in-water construction activities were observed by either the construction or scientific observers (Cornick et al. 2011).

    Critical habitat for Beluga whales has been identified in the area. However, habitat in the immediate vicinity of the project has been excluded from critical habitat designation. Furthermore the project activities would not modify existing marine mammal habitat. NMFS concludes that both the short-term adverse effects and the long-term effects on Beluga whale prey quantity and quality will be insignificant. The sound from pile driving may interfere with whale passage between lower upper Knik Arm. However, POA is an industrialized area with significant noise from vessel traffic and beluga whales pass through the area unimpeded. Given the low use of the area, lack of observed behavioral changes associated with past construction operations, and nominal impact on critical habitat, NMFS believes that the proposed activity is not expected to impact rates of recruitment or survival for belugas whales and therefore will have a negligible impact on the species.

    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other similar activities, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff, 2006; Lerma, 2014). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact pile driving. The pile removal activities analyzed here are similar to, or less impactful than, numerous construction activities conducted in other similar locations, which have taken place with no reported injuries or mortality to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment here are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the species is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of mitigation measures described herein. Finally, if sound produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply avoid the project area while the activity is occurring.

    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the following factors for beluga whales: (1) The seasonal distribution and habitat use patterns of Cook Inlet beluga whales, which suggest that for much of the time only a small portion of the population would be in the vicinity of the Test Pile Program; (2) the proposed mitigation requirements, including shutdowns for groups of 5 or more belugas as well as for or calves approaching the Level B harassment area to avoid impacts to large numbers of belugas or to calves who may be more susceptible to acoustic impacts; (3) the proposed monitoring requirements and mitigation measures described earlier in this document for all marine mammal species that will further reduce the amount and intensity of takes; and (4) monitoring results from previous activities that indicated low numbers of beluga whale sightings within the Level B disturbance exclusion zone and low levels of Level B harassment takes of other marine mammals.

    For marine mammals other than beluga whales the negligible impact analysis is based on the following: (1) The possibility of injury, serious injury, or mortality may reasonably be considered discountable; (2) the anticipated incidents of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior; (3) the absence of any significant habitat within the project area, including rookeries, significant haul-outs, or known areas or features of special significance for foraging or reproduction; (4) the anticipated efficacy of the proposed mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only short-term effects on individuals. The specified activity is not expected to impact rates of recruitment or survival and will therefore have a negligible impact on those species.

    Therefore, based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from POA's Test Pile Program will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    Table 8 indicates the numbers of animals that could be exposed to received noise levels that could cause Level B behavioral harassment from work associated with the proposed Test Pile Program. The analyses provided represents between <0.01% to 10.2% of the populations of these stocks that could be affected by Level B behavioral harassment. These are small numbers of marine mammals relative to the sizes of the affected species and population stocks under consideration.

    Table 8—Summary of the Estimated Numbers and Percentages of Marine Mammals Potentially Exposed to Level B Harassment Noise Levels Species Level B
  • harassment
  • (160 or 125 dB)
  • Population Percentage of population
    Harbor Seal 31 27,836 0.11. Steller sea lion 6 49,497 <0.01. Harbor porpoise 37 31,046 0.12. Killer whale 8 2,347 Resident *
  • 587 Transient
  • 0.34 Resident.
  • 1.36 Transient.
  • Beluga whale 32 312 10.2. Total 114 * Percentage of population being requested for take is calculated out for the maximum of each killer stock. Eight takes are being requested total for both stocks.

    Based on the methods used to estimate take, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, we preliminarily find that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks.

    Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses

    Under section 101(a)(5)(D), NMFS must find that the taking will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected species for taking for subsistence uses. NMFS' implementing regulations define “unmitigable adverse impact” as an impact resulting from the specified activity:

    (1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by:

    (i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas;

    (ii) Directly displacing subsistence users; or

    (iii) Placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and

    (2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met. (50 CFR 216.103).

    The primary concern is the disturbance of marine mammals through the introduction of anthropogenic sound into the marine environment during the proposed Test Pile Program. Marine mammals could be behaviorally harassed and either become more difficult to hunt or temporarily abandon traditional hunting grounds. However, the proposed Test Pile Program will not have any impacts to beluga harvests as none currently occur in Cook Inlet. Additionally, subsistence harvests of other marine mammal species in the proposed project area are limited.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    The Beluga whale is a marine mammal species listed as endangered under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the study area. NMFS' Permits and Conservation Division has initiated consultation with NMFS' Protected Resources Division under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA to POA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on the issuance of an IHA.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS is also preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and will consider comments submitted in response to this notice as part of that process. The EA will be posted at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm once it is finalized.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to POA for the POA Test Pile Program in Anchorage, Alaska, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is provided next.

    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017.

    2. This Authorization is valid only for in-water construction work associated with the POA Test Pile Program in Anchorage, Alaska.

    3. General Conditions

    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of POA, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA.

    (b) The species authorized for taking are Steller sea lion (Eumatopius jubatus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), killer whale (Orcinus orca), and beluga whale (Delphinapterus Leucas)

    (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the species listed in condition 3(b).

    (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    (e) POA shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and staff prior to the start of all in-water pile driving, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

    4. Mitigation Measures

    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation measures:

    (a) Time Restriction: For all in-water pile driving activities, POA shall operate only during daylight hours.

    (b) Pile Driving Weather Delays: Pile driving shall only take place when the 100 m shutdown zone cannot be can be adequately monitored.

    (c) Establishment of Level A and B Harassment (ZOI)

    (i) For all pile driving, POA shall implement a minimum shutdown zone of 100 m radius around the pile. If a marine mammal comes within or approaches the shutdown zone, such operations will cease. See Table 5 for minimum radial distances required for Level A and Level B disturbance zones.

    (d) Shutdown for Large Groups of Beluga Whales.

    (i) In-water pile driving operations shall be shut down if a group of five or more beluga whales is sighted approaching the Level B harassment 160 dB and 125 dB isopleths. If the group is not re-sighted within 20 minutes, pile driving shall resume.

    (e) Shutdown for Beluga Whale Calves.

    (i) If a calf is sighted approaching a harassment zone, in-water pile driving shall cease and shall not be resumed until the calf is confirmed to be out of the harassment zone and on a path away from the pile driving. If a calf is not re-sighted within 20 minutes, pile driving shall resume.

    (f) Use of Soft-start

    (i) The project shall utilize soft start techniques for both impact and vibratory pile driving. POA shall initiate sound from vibratory hammers for fifteen seconds at reduced energy followed by a 1-minute waiting period, with the procedure repeated two additional times. For impact driving, POA shall conduct an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a 1-minute waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. Soft start shall be required at the beginning of each day's pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of pile driving of twenty minutes or longer (specific to either vibratory or impact driving).

    (ii) Whenever there has been downtime of 20 minutes or more without vibratory or impact driving, the contractor shall initiate the driving with soft-start procedures described above.

    (g) Standard mitigation measures

    (i) For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (using, e.g., standard barges, tug boats), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m, operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions.

    (h) Visual Marine Mammal Monitoring and Observation

    (i) Four MMOs shall work concurrently in rotating shifts to provide full coverage for marine mammal monitoring during in-water pile installation activities for the Test Pile Program. One MMO shall observe the Level A zone and two MMS shall scan the Level B zone. Four MMOs shall rotate through these three active positions every 30 minutes. The fourth MMO shall record data.

    (ii) Before the Test Pile Program commences, MMOs and POA authorities shall meet to determine the most appropriate observation platform(s) for monitoring during pile driving.

    (iii) MMOs shall begin observing for marine mammals within the Level A and Level B harassment zones for 20 minutes before in-water pile driving begins. If a marine mammal(s) is present within the 100-meter shutdown zone prior to pile driving or during the “soft start” the start of pile driving shall be delayed until the animal(s) leaves the 100-meter shutdown zone. Pile driving shall resume only after the MMOs have determined, through sighting or by waiting 20 minutes, that the animal(s) has moved outside the 100-meter shutdown zone.

    (iv) If a marine mammal is traveling along a trajectory that could take it into the Level B harassment zone, the MMO shall record the marine mammal(s) as a “take” upon entering the Level B harassment zone. While the animal remains within the Level B harassment zone, that pile segment shall be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches the 100-meter shutdown zone, at which point the MMO shall authorize the immediate shutdown of in-water pile driving before the marine mammal enters the 100- meter shutdown zone. Pile driving shall resume only once the animal has left the 100-meter shutdown zone on its own or has not been resighted for a period of 20 minutes.

    (v) MMOs shall be placed on one of the vessels used for hydroacoustic monitoring, which will be stationed offshore.

    (vi) The individuals shall scan the waters within each monitoring zone activity using binoculars (25x or equivalent), hand held binoculars (7x) and visual observation.

    (vii) The waters shall be scanned 20 minutes prior to commencing pile driving at the beginning of each day, and prior to commencing pile driving after any stoppage of 20 minutes or greater. If marine mammals enter or are observed within the designated marine mammal buffer zone (the 100m radius) during or 20 minutes prior to impact pile driving, the monitors will notify the on-site construction manager to not begin until the animal has moved outside the designated radius.

    (viii) The waters shall continue to be scanned for at least 20 minutes after pile driving has completed each day.

    5. Monitoring and Reporting

    The holder of this Authorization is required to submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA 90 calendar days after the completion of the marine mammal monitoring or 60 days prior to the issuance of a subsequent authorization, whichever comes first. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within thirty days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, at minimum (see attached), and shall also include:

    (a) Acoustic Monitoring

    (i) POA conduct acoustic monitoring for representative scenarios of pile driving activity, as described in the Monitoring Plan.

    (b) Data Collection

    (i) For all marine mammal and acoustic monitoring, information shall be recorded as described in the Monitoring Plan.

    (c) Reporting Measures

    (i) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), POA shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report would include the following information:

    1. Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    2. Name and type of vessel involved;

    3. Vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;

    4. Description of the incident;

    5. Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    6. Water depth;

    7. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    8. Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    9. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    10. Fate of the animal(s); and

    11. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

    (ii) Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with POA to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. POA would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (iii) In the event that POA discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), POA shall immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report shall include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with POA to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (iv) In the event that POA discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), POA shall report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators, within 24 hours of the discovery. POA would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    6. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

    Request for Public Comments

    NMFS requests comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of the Notice of Proposed IHA for POA's proposed Test Pile Program in Anchorage, Alaska. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on POA's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: December 11, 2015. Perry Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31620 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; “International Work Sharing”

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

    Title: International Work Sharing.

    OMB Control Number: 0651-0079.

    Form Number(s):

    • PTO/SB/437JP

    • PTO/SB/437KR

    • PTO/SB/CSP Survey 1

    Type of Request: Regular.

    Number of Respondents: 900.

    Average Hours per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public between 5 minutes (.08 hours) and 3 hours, depending upon the complexity of the situation, to gather the necessary information, prepare for submission, and submit a single item in this collection.

    Burden Hours: 1533.33.

    Cost Burden: $0.

    Needs and Uses: This information collection is necessary so that applicants that file applications with the USPTO, Japan Patent Office, and Korean Intellectual Property Office may participate in the International Work Sharing Program. The Program enables its participants to engage in the exchange of IP documents between the patent offices of the United States, Japan, and Korea in order to facilitate efficient worldwide patent examinations.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households; businesses or other for-profits; and not-for-profit institutions.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    OMB Desk Officer: Nicholas A. Fraser, email: [email protected]

    Once submitted, the request will be publicly available in electronic format through reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Further information can be obtained by:

    • Email: [email protected] Include “0651-0079 copy request” in the subject line of the message.

    • Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records Management Division Director, Office of the Chief Information Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent on or before January 15, 2016 to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB Desk Officer, via email to [email protected], or by fax to 202-395-5167, marked to the attention of Nicholas A. Fraser.

    Marcie Lovett, Records Management Division Director, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31585 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Patents External Quality Survey

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

    Title: Patents External Quality Survey.

    OMB Control Number: 0651-0057.

    Form Number(s):

    • No forms associated

    Type of Request: Regular.

    Number of Respondents: 3,100.

    Average Minutes per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public 10 minutes (.17 hours) to gather the necessary information, prepare for submission, and submit a single item in this collection.

    Burden Hours: 516.67.

    Cost Burden: $0.

    Needs and Uses: Individuals who work at firms that file more than six patent applications a year use the Patents External Quality Survey to provide their perceptions of examination quality to the USPTO. The USPTO uses the feedback gathered from the survey to assist them in targeting key areas for examination quality improvement and to identify important areas for examiner training.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households; businesses or other for-profits; and not-for-profit institutions.

    Frequency: Semi-annually.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    OMB Desk Officer: Nicholas A. Fraser, email: [email protected] Once submitted, the request will be publicly available in electronic format through reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Further information can be obtained by:

    • Email: [email protected] Include “0651-0057 copy request” in the subject line of the message.

    • Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records Management Division Director, Office of the Chief Information Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent on or before January 15, 2016 to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB Desk Officer, via email to [email protected], or by fax to 202-395-5167, marked to the attention of Nicholas A. Fraser.

    Marcie Lovett, Records Management Division Director, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31586 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID USA-2015-HQ-0037] Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense has submitted to OMB for clearance, the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by January 15, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Fred Licari, 571-372-0493.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title, Associated Form and OMB Number: Army Sex Offender Information; Department of the Army Form 3975; OMB Control Number 0702-0128.

    Type of Request: Reinstatement.

    Number of Respondents: 550.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 550.

    Average Burden per Response: 20 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours: 183.

    Needs and Uses: The information collection requirement is necessary to obtain and record the sex offender registration information of those sex offenders who live, work or go to school on Army installations. Respondents are any convicted sex offender required to register pursuant to any DoD, Army, State government, law, regulation, or policy where they are employed, reside, or are a student. The information collected is used by Army law enforcement to ensure the sex offender is compliant with any court order restrictions.

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit; individuals or households.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain benefits.

    OMB Desk Officer: Ms. Jasmeet Seehra.

    Comments and recommendations on the proposed information collection should be emailed to Ms. Jasmeet Seehra, DoD Desk Officer, at [email protected] Please identify the proposed information collection by DoD Desk Officer and the Docket ID number and title of the information collection.

    You may also submit comments and recommendations, identified by Docket ID number and title, by the following method:

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

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

    DOD Clearance Officer: Mr. Frederick Licari.

    Written requests for copies of the information collection proposal should be sent to Mr. Licari at WHS/ESD Directives Division, 4800 Mark Center Drive, East Tower, Suite 02G09, Alexandria, VA 22350-3100.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31531 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Guidelines for Carrying Out Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as Amended AGENCY:

    United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has updated the existing guidance for providing in-kind credit under Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as further amended by Section 1018 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.

    DATES:

    Effective date: December 16, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314-1000.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Janice E. Rasgus, Planning and Policy Division, Washington, DC at 202-761-7674.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    ER 1165-2-208 will be posted on the Corps Web site in the very near future.

    Response to Comments

    The draft ER was published in the August 28, 2015, issue of the Federal Register (80 FR 52258) for a 30-day comment period. The comment period was extended by 30 days (see 50 FR 60135). The regulations.gov docket number is COE-2015-0013. Sixteen comments were received.

    In response to one commenter, the guidance was expanded to clarify that in-kind contributions can be provided once the feasibility cost sharing agreement is executed and the project management plan is developed.

    Several commenters noted that the non-Federal sponsor's costs of Coordination Team participation and audits are no longer considered in-kind contributions that are included as a study or project cost subject to cost sharing. The guidance was expanded to clarify that likewise the Federal Government's cost of Coordination Team participation and audits are not included in study or project costs for cost sharing purposes although these costs are included in calculating any limit on Federal participation.

    One commenter requested that the guidance be modified to allow the value of in-kind contributions to be accepted as cash payments toward the additional 10 percent payment required for navigation projects. This request cannot be accommodated. The law is explicit that credit for in-kind contributions shall not alter any requirement for the non-Federal sponsor to pay 5 percent cash for flood damage reduction project and pay the additional 10 percent cash for navigation projects. This requirement was also specified in the in-kind contribution authority as enacted in WRDA 2007 and identified in the implementing guidance for that earlier provision.

    Additional minor, non-substantive, edits were made to provide further clarity.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Theodore A. Brown, Chief, Planning and Policy Division, Directorate of Civil Works. ER 1165-2-208

    1. Purpose. This regulation provides guidance on the implementation of the in-kind contribution credit provisions of Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as further amended by Section 1018 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014) (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4)) (hereinafter referred to as “Section 221”). Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as amended, and Section 1018 of WRRDA 2014 are provided in Appendix A.

    2. Distribution Statement. Approved for public release. Distribution is unlimited.

    3. Applicability. This regulation applies to all HQUSACE elements, Major Subordinate Commands (MSCs), and district commands having Civil Works responsibility and is effective immediately.

    a. The Section 221 crediting provisions apply to the study, design, and construction of water resources development projects authorized in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986 or later laws, including projects initiated after November 16, 1986 without specific authorization in law. In addition, the crediting provisions apply to the correction of design deficiencies for projects authorized prior to WRDA of 1986. Finally, these provisions are also applicable to a project under an environmental infrastructure assistance program.

    (1) For a project with a project partnership agreement (PPA) that was executed on or after November 8, 2007, such PPA may be amended to include work by the non-Federal sponsor that has not yet been initiated for credit toward any remaining non-Federal cost share under that agreement.

    (2) Furthermore, in general, the crediting provisions of Section 221 will be used in lieu of Section 104 of WRDA 1986 and Section 215 of the Flood Control Act of 1968. However, any eligibility for credit under Section 104 of WRDA 1986 that was approved previously by the Secretary will be honored.

    b. The authority for credit under Section 221 is in addition to any other authority to provide credit for in-kind contributions. Section 221 credit may be applied in lieu of other crediting provisions if requested by the non-Federal sponsor.

    This regulation supersedes ER 1165-2-208 dated 17 February 2012.

    4. Key Principles.

    a. In General. Section 221 is a comprehensive authority that addresses the affording of credit for the value of in-kind contributions provided by a non-Federal sponsor toward its required cost share (excluding the required 5 percent cash for structural flood damage reduction projects and the additional 10 percent cash payment over 30 years for navigation projects) if those in-kind contributions are determined to be integral to a study or project.

    b. Types of In-Kind Contributions. The types of in-kind contributions eligible for credit include planning activities (including data collection and other services needed for a feasibility study); design related to construction; and construction (including management; mitigation; and construction materials and services).

    c. Compliance with Applicable Federal Laws, Regulations, and Policies. Eligibility for credit is subject to the non-Federal sponsor complying with all applicable Federal laws and implementing regulations, including, but not limited to Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2000d), and Department of Defense Directive 5500.11 issued pursuant thereto; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. 6102); the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794), and Army Regulation 600-7 issued pursuant thereto; and 40 U.S.C. 3141-3148 and 40 U.S.C. 3701-3708 (labor standards originally enacted as the Davis-Bacon Act, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, the Copeland Anti-Kickback Act); and the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347) and other environmental laws and regulations.

    d. In-Kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

    (1) Construction. Section 221 provides that any construction work that has not been carried out as of November 8, 2007 is eligible for credit only if the non-Federal sponsor executes an agreement with the Secretary prior to carrying out such work. For purposes of Section 221 crediting only, “carrying out” construction work means initiation of construction using the non-Federal sponsor's labor force or issuance of the notice to proceed for such construction if undertaken by contract. Therefore, in those cases where there is not yet an executed PPA, the non-Federal sponsor must execute an in-kind MOU with the Corps of Engineers prior to initiating construction or issuing the notice to proceed. Design work associated with that construction is eligible for credit as long as an in-kind MOU or PPA is executed prior to the construction being carried out. In addition, the construction carried out by the non-Federal sponsor is not considered as part of the future without project condition.

    (a) Projects Specifically Authorized. For projects that are or will be specifically authorized for construction, an In-Kind MOU for construction may be executed once there is vertical team concurrence with the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) at the TSP Milestone. The TSP Milestone is the point at which there is vertical team concurrence on the plan that will be released in the draft study report for public and agency review. Given the new SMART Planning Process, the TSP Milestone should occur much earlier in the planning process than what was previously achieved. Requests from non-Federal sponsors to execute an in-kind MOU for construction prior to the TSP Milestone will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). Since each project presents its own unique combination of circumstances, each request will require an individual evaluation that will include consideration of, but not limited to, the following criteria:

    (i) Whether the proposed work is a modification of an existing Federal project;

    (ii) Whether the proposed work will follow an existing levee alignment in the case of a flood risk management project;

    (iii) Whether the proposed work balances and integrates the wise use of the flood plain to ensure public safety;

    (iv) Whether the proposed work significantly reduces flood damage risk to human life, property or critical infrastructure; and

    (iv) Whether the proposed work will likely be included in the final project recommendation.

    (b) Continuing Authority Program. For projects implemented under the Continuing Authority Program or a regional authority that does not require additional authorization to implement the project, an In-Kind MOU for design and implementation may be executed after the MSC Commander approves the decision document for the project.

    (2) Design. For projects that are or will be specifically authorized for construction, an In-Kind MOU for design may be executed after the TSP Milestone.

    (3) Planning.

    (a) Projects Specifically Authorized. For projects that are or will be specifically authorized for construction, Section 1002 of WRRDA 2014 eliminated the full Federal reconnaissance phase that used to be undertaken prior to execution of a feasibility cost sharing agreement (FCSA). In the past, a project management plan (PMP), which established the scope of the planning, including activities needed to carry out the study, was developed during this reconnaissance phase. Under the new single phase study process mandated by WRRDA 2014, the project management plan will not be developed until after execution of FCSA. As the PMP, including a determination of the scope of the study, will not be developed until after execution of the FCSA, no In-Kind MOU for planning is permitted. Following execution of the FCSA and development of the PMP, the provision of in-kind contributions is allowed under the FCSA.

    (b) Continuing Authority Program. For projects implemented under the Continuing Authority Program or a regional authority that does not require additional authorization to implement the project, sections 905(c) and 105(a)(3) of WRDA 1986, as amended, provide that the first $100,000 of these studies is a Federal expense. Therefore, once a PMP has been developed and the MSC Commander has approved initiation of the feasibility study, an In-Kind MOU for planning may be executed.

    (4) Any work undertaken by a non-Federal sponsor pursuant to an In-Kind MOU is at its own risk and responsibility. An In-Kind MOU provides no assurance that the non-Federal sponsor's work will be determined to be integral to the Federal project or that any construction undertaken by the non-Federal sponsor will be included as part of any ultimately recommended Federal project. Execution of an In-Kind MOU in no way obligates the Corps to enter into any future agreement for the project.

    (5) In general, once a FCSA, design agreement, or PPA is executed, further use of In-Kind MOUs is not appropriate for inclusion of additional in-kind contributions under that FCSA, design agreement, or PPA, respectively. Special circumstances requiring expedited review and execution of an amendment to an executed agreement should be coordinated with the HQUSACE RIT.

    (6) MSC Commanders may approve a District Engineer's execution of Model In-Kind MOUs for Construction or for Design, provided that the In-Kind MOUs do not include any deviations. Any proposed deviations must be submitted to HQUSACE for approval prior to execution. Models for the In-Kind MOU for construction, including design work, and for design work only are available at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/ProjectPartnershipAgreements/model_other.aspx.

    e. Integral Determinations.

    (1) Section 221 provides that credit may be afforded only if the Secretary determines that the material or service provided as an in-kind contribution by a non-Federal sponsor is integral to the study or project.1 To be integral to the study or project, the material or service must be part of the work that the Federal Government would otherwise have undertaken for the study or for construction of what is ultimately determined to be the Federal project. See Appendix B for additional guidance on criteria and procedures for processing integral determinations.

    1 The non-Federal Sponsor's costs of Coordination Team participation and audits are not in-kind contributions and are not included in “shared costs” for cost sharing purposes. Likewise, the Federal Government's cost of Coordination Team participation and audits are not included in “shared costs” for cost sharing purposes although these costs are included in calculating any limit on Federal participation. The costs of the non-Federal Sponsor's performance of investigations for hazardous substances are eligible for inclusion as a shared costs and for credit as an in-kind contribution and do not require a separate integral determination.

    (2) The approval of integral determinations is delegated to the MSC Commander. The approval authority delegated to the MSC Commander is subject to the full compliance of each integral determination to law and policy and may not be further delegated within the MSC or to the District Commander. A separate integral determination is not required for planning activities included in the PMP, approved by the MSC Commander, as required for the study effort.

    f. Determining the Amount of Credit.

    (1) The amount of in-kind contributions that may be eligible for inclusion in shared costs for cost sharing purposes under the applicable cost sharing agreement will be subject to an audit by the Government to determine the reasonableness, allocability, and allowability of such amount.

    (2) The creditable amount is the lesser of the costs incurred by the non-Federal sponsor to obtain such materials or services; the market value of such materials or services as of the date that the non-Federal sponsor provides such materials or services for use in the study or project; or the Government's estimate of the cost for such work if it had been accomplished by the Government. This amount is not subject to interest charges or to adjustment to reflect changes in price levels between the time the in-kind contributions were completed and the time the amount is credited.

    (3) Any in-kind contributions performed or paid for by the non-Federal sponsor using funds provided by another Federal agency (as well as any non-Federal matching share or contribution that was required by such Federal agency for such program or grant) are not eligible for credit unless the Federal agency providing the Federal portion of such funds verifies in writing that the funds are authorized to be used to carry out the study or project.

    (4) After execution of the applicable FCSA, Design Agreement (DA), or PPA, the non-Federal sponsor will submit to the Government (not less frequently than every 6 months or as provided in the agreement) credit request(s) for eligible in-kind contributions under that agreement. The credit requests will contain the following: written certification by the non-Federal sponsor of the payments made to contractors, suppliers, or employees for in-kind contributions; copies of all relevant invoices and evidence of such payments; written identification of costs that have been paid with funds or grants provided by a Federal agency as well as any non-Federal matching share or contribution that was required by such Federal agency for such program or grant; and a written request for credit of a specific amount not in excess of such specified payments. Failure to provide sufficient documentation supporting the credit request will result in a denial of credit in accordance with the terms of the applicable cost sharing agreement.

    (5) In-kind contributions are subject to a review (for feasibility level and design activities) or on-site inspection (construction), as applicable, and certification by the Government that the work was accomplished in a satisfactory manner and in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies. The Government will not include in the costs to be shared under the applicable cost sharing agreement or afford credit for any work the Government determines was not accomplished in a satisfactory manner or in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.

    (6) In general, the amount of credit for in-kind contributions that can be afforded under a FCSA or a PPA is limited to the amount of the non-Federal sponsor's cost share under that agreement. As the costs of design under a DA are included in total project costs under a PPA, credit for in-kind contributions under a DA is carried over to the PPA, and the maximum amount of credit for in-kind contributions under a PPA is limited to the non-Federal sponsor's required cost share under the PPA. Credit for in-kind contributions may not be afforded toward the required 5 percent cash payment for structural flood damage reduction projects or the additional 10 percent cash payment for navigation projects.

    (7) Credit for in-kind contributions for planning is limited to credit that can be afforded under a specific FCSA. In other words, excess credit may not be carried over to design or construction of the project. Credit for planning work by the non-Federal sponsor is limited to its 50 percent of planning costs and will be done in accordance with the PMP, under the terms and conditions in the FCSA.

    (8) Credit for in-kind contributions provided by a non-Federal sponsor for the construction of a project, or separable element thereof, that are in excess of the non-Federal cost share for an authorized separable element of a project may be applied toward the non-federal cost share for a different authorized separable element of the same project. Additional Federal appropriations will be required to offset the application of any excess credit to another separable element.

    (9) If the value of eligible in-kind contributions exceeds the amount of credit that can be afforded pursuant to the provisions of a PPA (i.e., exceeds the required non-Federal cost share for all features covered by that PPA), only the amount of credit afforded should be included in total project costs. Recalculation of total project costs will be required to exclude from total project costs the value of in-kind contributions that exceed the amount of credit that can be afforded. In addition, the amount excluded will not be considered part of total costs for the purposes of Section 902 of WRDA 1986 calculations.

    (10) No reimbursements are authorized for in-kind contributions under Section 221 except as provided in paragraph 4 g., below.

    g. Lands, Easements, Relocations, Rights-of-Way, and Areas for Disposal of Dredged Material (LERRDs). Section 221 does not alter any other requirement for the non-Federal sponsor to provide LERRDs for a project, and the non-Federal sponsor should coordinate with the District to ensure that appropriate real estate interests for the project are acquired. Any LERRDs associated with in-kind contributions determined to be integral to the project will be credited to the project as LERRDs except the LERRs needed for fish and wildlife mitigation. (The costs of LERRs needed for fish and wildlife mitigation are assigned to the project purpose(s) causing the need for such mitigation and are subject to construction cost sharing established for that project purpose.) In addition, for a navigation project, LERRs are creditable only toward the requirement for the non-Federal sponsor to pay an additional 10 percent of the cost of the general navigation features.

    (1) Previously, credit for in-kind contributions was afforded only toward the non-Federal sponsor's required cash contribution after consideration of the value of LERRDs provided by the non-Federal sponsor. WRRDA 2014 changes how credit for in-kind contributions is calculated. For projects other than navigation projects, to the extent that credit for LERRDs combined with credit for the value of in-kind contributions exceed the non-Federal share of the cost of a project, WRRDA 2014 provides that the Secretary, subject to the availability of funds, shall enter into a separate reimbursement agreement to reimburse the non-Federal sponsor for the difference between creditable LERRDs and in-kind contributions and the non-Federal cost share. Therefore, at the final accounting for the project, to the extent funds for the project remain available, the Secretary shall execute an agreement with the non-Federal sponsor for reimbursement of the difference.

    (2) If funds remaining on a project are insufficient to provide full reimbursement under paragraph g.(1), the non-Federal sponsor may request reimbursement. The Secretary shall prioritize such requests, and enter into reimbursements agreements, in the order the requests were received, as funds become available for reimbursements.

    5. Design. Design by the non-Federal sponsor must be performed in accordance with the requirements in ER 1110-2-1150, reviewed in accordance with ER 1110-1-12, and subject to the applicable peer review guidance. In accordance with section 105(c) of WRDA 1986, the costs of design shall be shared in the same percentages as the purposes of such project.

    a. If the value of eligible in-kind contributions is less than the non-Federal sponsor's share of design costs, the non-Federal sponsor must contribute sufficient funds to equal its share of total design costs.

    b. If the value of eligible in-kind contributions is greater than the non-Federal sponsor's share of total design costs, then no cash payment from the non-Federal sponsor is required. The value of all of the non-Federal sponsor's eligible in-kind contributions (including those in excess of its share of total design costs) will be included in total project costs in the PPA. The maximum amount of credit that may be afforded pursuant to the PPA is limited to the non-Federal sponsor's cost share under that agreement.

    6. Construction.

    a. To be eligible for credit, in-kind contributions prior to execution of the PPA must have been provided or performed after execution of an In-Kind MOU. Credit for in-kind contributions will not be afforded toward the non-Federal sponsor's requirement to provide in cash 5 percent of the costs for structural flood damage reduction projects (either specifically authorized or implemented pursuant to Continuing Authority Program Sections 14, 205, or 208 projects); the non-Federal sponsor's requirement to pay for betterments or any other work performed by the Government on behalf of the non-Federal sponsor; the non-Federal sponsor's requirement to provide lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocations, or improvements to enable the disposal of dredged or excavated material required for the project or separable element of the project; or the non-Federal sponsor's additional payment of 10 percent of the cost of general navigation features for a navigation project.

    b. The non-Federal sponsor may not initiate construction following execution of a PPA until the designs, detailed plans and specifications, and arrangements for such work have been approved by the Government. In addition, any proposed changes to approved designs and plans and specifications must be approved by the Government in advance of such construction. Upon completion of construction, the non-Federal sponsor will furnish to the Government a copy of all final as-built drawings.

    c. For CAP authorities and regional authorities that are implemented with a single agreement covering design and implementation, if a non-Federal sponsor proposes to provide or perform all or a portion of the design for a project as in-kind contributions, a PPA addressing both design and construction is required.

    FOR THE COMMANDER: Colonel, Corps of Engineers Chief of Staff Enclosures: 2 Appendices Appendix A—Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4) Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as amended, and Section 1018 of WRRDA 2014 Appendix B—Criteria for In-Kind Contribution Integral Determinations Appendix A Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970, as Amended (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4))

    SEC. 221. WRITTEN AGREEMENT REQUIREMENT FOR WATER RESOURCES PROJECTS.

    (a) COOPERATION OF NON-FEDERAL INTEREST.—

    (4) Credit for in-kind contributions.

    (A) In general. A partnership agreement described in paragraph (1) may provide with respect to a project that the Secretary shall credit toward the non-Federal share of the cost of the project, including a project implemented without specific authorization in law or a project under an environmental infrastructure assistance program, the value of in-kind contributions made by the non-Federal interest, including—

    (i) the costs of planning (including data collection), design, management, mitigation, construction, and construction services that are provided by the non-Federal interest for implementation of the project;

    (ii) the value of materials or services provided before execution of the partnership agreement, including efforts on constructed elements incorporated into the project; and

    (iii) the value of materials and services provided after execution of the partnership agreement.

    (B) Condition. The Secretary may credit an in-kind contribution under subparagraph (A) only if the Secretary determines that the material or service provided as an in-kind contribution is integral to the project.

    (C) Work performed before partnership agreement.

    (i) Construction.

    (I) In general. In any case in which the non-Federal interest is to receive credit under subparagraph (A) for the cost of construction carried out by the non-Federal interest before execution of a partnership agreement and that construction has not been carried out as of November 8, 2007, the Secretary and the non-Federal interest shall enter into an agreement under which the non-Federal interest shall carry out such work and shall do so prior to the non-Federal interest initiating construction or issuing a written notice to proceed for the construction.

    (II) Eligibility. Construction that is carried out after the execution of an agreement to carry out work described in subclause (I) and any design activities that are required for that construction, even if the design activity is carried out prior to the execution of the agreement to carry out work, shall be eligible for credit.

    (ii) Planning.

    (I) In general. In any case in which the non-Federal interest is to receive credit under subparagraph (A) for the cost of planning carried out by the non-Federal interest before execution of a feasibility cost-sharing agreement, the Secretary and the non-Federal interest shall enter into an agreement under which the non-Federal interest shall carry out such work and shall do so prior to the non-Federal interest initiating that planning.

    (II) Eligibility. Planning that is carried out by the non-Federal interest after the execution of an agreement to carry out work described in subclause (I) shall be eligible for credit.

    (D) Limitations. Credit authorized under this paragraph for a project—

    (i) shall not exceed the non-Federal share of the cost of the project;

    (ii) shall not alter any other requirement that a non-Federal interest provide lands, easements, relocations, rights-of-way, or areas for disposal of dredged material for the project;

    (iii) shall not alter any requirement that a non-Federal interest pay a portion of the costs of construction of the project under sections 101(a)(2) and 103(a)(1)(A) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2211(a)(2); 33 U.S.C. 2213(a)(1)(A)) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2211; 33 U.S.C. 2213); and

    (iv) shall not exceed the actual and reasonable costs of the materials, services, or other things provided by the non-Federal interest, as determined by the Secretary.

    (E) Analysis of costs and benefits. In the evaluation of the costs and benefits of a project, the Secretary shall not consider construction carried out by a non-Federal interest under this subsection as part of the future without project condition.

    (F) Transfer of credit between separable elements of a project. Credit for in-kind contributions provided by a non-Federal interest that are in excess of the non-Federal cost share for an authorized separable element of a project may be applied toward the non-Federal cost share for a different authorized separable element of the same project.

    (G) Application of credit.

    (i) In general. To the extent that credit for in-kind contributions, as limited by subparagraph (D), and credit for required land, easements, rights-of-way, dredged material disposal areas, and relocations provided by the non-Federal interest exceed the non-Federal share of the cost of construction of a project other than a navigation project, the Secretary, subject to the availability of funds, shall enter into a reimbursement agreement with the non-Federal interest, which shall be in addition to a partnership agreement under subparagraph (A), to reimburse the difference to the non-Federal interest.

    (ii) Priority. If appropriated funds are insufficient to cover the full cost of all requested reimbursement agreements under clause (i), the Secretary shall enter into reimbursement agreements in the order in which requests for such agreements are received.”; and

    (H) Applicability.

    (i) In general. This paragraph shall apply to water resources projects authorized after November 16, 1986, including projects initiated after November 16, 1986, without specific authorization in law, and to water resources projects authorized prior to the date of enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-662) [enacted June 10, 2014], if correction of design deficiencies is necessary.

    (ii) Authorization as addition to other authorizations. The authority of the Secretary to provide credit for in-kind contributions pursuant to this paragraph shall be in addition to any other authorization to provide credit for in-kind contributions and shall not be construed as a limitation on such other authorization. The Secretary shall apply the provisions of this paragraph, in lieu of provisions under other crediting authority, only if so requested by the non-Federal interest.

    Section 1018 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014

    Sec. 1018. CREDIT FOR IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS.

    (a) In General.—Section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4)) is amended—

    (1) in subparagraph (A), in the matter preceding clause (i), by inserting “or a project under an environmental infrastructure assistance program” after “law”;

    (2) in subparagraph (C) by striking “In any case” and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting the following:

    “(i) CONSTRUCTION.—

    “(I) In General.—In any case in which the non-Federal interest is to receive credit under subparagraph (A) for the cost of construction carried out by the non-Federal interest before execution of a partnership agreement and that construction has not been carried out as of November 8, 2007, the Secretary and the non-Federal interest shall enter into an agreement under which the non-Federal interest shall carry out such work and shall do so prior to the non-Federal interest initiating construction or issuing a written notice to proceed for the construction.

    “(II) Eligibility.—Construction that is carried out after the execution of an agreement to carry out work described in subclause (I) and any design activities that are required for that construction, even if the design activity is carried out prior to the execution of the agreement to carry out work, shall be eligible for credit.

    “(ii) PLANNING.—

    “(I) In General.—In any case in which the non-Federal interest is to receive credit under subparagraph (A) for the cost of planning carried out by the non-Federal interest before execution of a feasibility cost-sharing agreement, the Secretary and the non-Federal interest shall enter into an agreement under which the non-Federal interest shall carry out such work and shall do so prior to the non-Federal interest initiating that planning.

    “(II) Eligibility.—Planning that is carried out by the non-Federal interest after the execution of an agreement to carry out work described in subclause (I) shall be eligible for credit.”;

    (3) in subparagraph (D)(iii) by striking “sections 101 and 103” and inserting “sections 101(a)(2) and 103(a)(1)(A) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2211(a)(2); 33 U.S.C. 2213(a)(1)(A))”;

    (4) by redesignating subparagraph (E) as subparagraph (H);

    (5) by inserting after subparagraph (D) the following:

    “(E) Analysis of Costs and Benefits.—In the evaluation of the costs and benefits of a project, the Secretary shall not consider construction carried out by a non-Federal interest under this subsection as part of the future without project condition.

    “(F) Transfer of Credit Between Separable Elements of a Project.—Credit for in-kind contributions provided by a non-Federal interest that are in excess of the non-Federal cost share for an authorized separable element of a project may be applied toward the non-Federal cost share for a different authorized separable element of the same project.

    “(G) APPLICATION OF CREDIT.—

    “(i) In General.—To the extent that credit for in-kind contributions, as limited by subparagraph (D), and credit for required land, easements, rights-of-way, dredged material disposal areas, and relocations provided by the non-Federal interest exceed the non-Federal share of the cost of construction of a project other than a navigation project, the Secretary, subject to the availability of funds, shall enter into a reimbursement agreement with the non-Federal interest, which shall be in addition to a partnership agreement under subparagraph (A), to reimburse the difference to the non-Federal interest.

    “(ii) Priority.—If appropriated funds are insufficient to cover the full cost of all requested reimbursement agreements under clause (i), the Secretary shall enter into reimbursement agreements in the order in which requests for such agreements are received.”; and

    (6) in subparagraph (H) (as redesignated by paragraph (4))—

    (A) in clause (i) by inserting “, and to water resources projects authorized prior to the date of enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-662), if correction of design deficiencies is necessary” before the period at the end; and

    (B) by striking clause (ii) and inserting the following:

    “(ii) Authorization As Addition to Other Authorizations.—The authority of the Secretary to provide credit for in-kind contributions pursuant to this paragraph shall be in addition to any other authorization to provide credit for in-kind contributions and shall not be construed as a limitation on such other authorization. The Secretary shall apply the provisions of this paragraph, in lieu of provisions under other crediting authority, only if so requested by the non-Federal interest.”.

    (b) Applicability.—Section 2003(e) of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b note) is amended—

    (1) by inserting “, or construction of design deficiency corrections on the project,” after “construction on the project”; and

    (2) by inserting “, or under which construction of the project has not been completed and the work to be performed by the non-Federal interests has not been carried out and is creditable only toward any remaining non-Federal cost share,” after “has not been initiated”.

    (c) Effective Date.—The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) take effect on November 8, 2007.

    (d) Guidelines.—

    (1) In General.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall update any guidance or regulations for carrying out section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4)) (as amended by subsection (a)) that are in existence on the date of enactment of this Act or issue new guidelines, as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary.

    (2) Inclusions.—Any guidance, regulations, or guidelines updated or issued under paragraph (1) shall include, at a minimum—

    (A) the milestone for executing an in-kind memorandum of understanding for construction by a non-Federal interest;

    (B) criteria and procedures for evaluating a request to execute an in-kind memorandum of understanding for construction by a non-Federal interest that is earlier than the milestone under subparagraph (A) for that execution; and

    (C) criteria and procedures for determining whether work carried out by a non-Federal interest is integral to a project.

    (3) Public and Stakeholder Participation.—Before issuing any new or revised guidance, regulations, or guidelines or any subsequent updates to those documents, the Secretary shall—

    (A) consult with affected non-Federal interests;

    (B) publish the proposed guidelines developed under this subsection in the Federal Register; and

    (C) provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed guidelines.

    (e) Other Credit.—Nothing in section 221(a)(4) of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 1962d-5b(a)(4)) (as amended by subsection (a)) affects any eligibility for credit under section 104 of the Water Resources Development of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2214) that was approved by the Secretary prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

    Appendix B Criteria and Procedures for In-Kind Contribution Integral Determinations

    B-1. Determining if In-Kind Contributions Are Integral to the Study/Project. Establishing and allowing credit is a two-step process whereby: (1) Eligibility for credit is determined based on whether the in-kind contribution is integral to the study or project, and (2) actual affording of credit is accomplished based on an audit of the non-Federal work by the District Engineer under the terms of the FCSA, DA, or PPA, as appropriate. The level of analysis to determine if work is integral to the project is scalable. For instance, work accomplished by the non-Federal sponsor on its own under an In-Kind MOU must be fully analyzed to determine whether it is integral to the project, i.e., work that the Government otherwise would have performed for the project. In general, for work that will be accomplished after execution of a DA or PPA, it will be clearer what work is required for the project and therefore integral to the project; furthermore, the Government will be approving plans and specifications prior to the work being undertaken by the non-Federal sponsor.

    a. Approval Level of Integral Determinations. Under the terms of Paragraph 4.e. of this regulation, approval of integral determinations is delegated to the MSC Commander. This authority may not be further delegated.

    b. Timing of Integral Determinations.

    (1) In general, the integral determination should be completed immediately prior to review and approval of a DA or PPA, or amendment as applicable, that provides for the affording of credit. The integral determination for planning efforts is accomplished as part of the development of the PMP.

    (2) Include at least 30 days in the project schedule for processing at the MSC of the Integral Determinations by the MSC Commander. These times are recommended for scheduling purposes and should be extended if processing identifies significant issues requiring resolution.

    c. Procedures for Processing.

    (1) For a feasibility study, planning activities, including data collection, must be included in the approved Project Management Plan in order for those contributions to be eligible for credit.

    (2) The District will prepare an Integral Determination Report (IDR) for design and construction work that includes at a minimum the information contained in the following paragraphs. A suggested format for an IDR can be found at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/ProjectPartnershipAgreements/model_other.aspx. The IDR should contain a description of the activities required to perform the design or construction, as applicable, of the Federal project or separable element in sufficient detail to allow a comparison with the description of the proposed in-kind contributions; a detailed description of the work items proposed to be provided or performed as in-kind contributions; a discussion of how each work item proposed to be provided or performed as an in-kind contribution is integral to the project; an estimate of the costs of each work item proposed to be provided or performed as an in-kind contribution; the estimated amount of credit to be afforded for each work item proposed to be provided or performed as an in-kind contribution; and a District Commander recommendation identifying which of the proposed in-kind contributions should be considered integral to the project. If the in-kind contributions were provided or performed prior to execution of the applicable cost sharing agreement, then also include in the IDR the results of the review or inspection, as applicable, and certification by the District Commander on whether the work was accomplished in a satisfactory manner and in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies; and documentation of satisfactory environmental compliance for the construction portion of the in-kind contributions.

    (3) The district will submit the IDR to the MSC District Support Team for action. The MSC District Support Team will perform the MSC review of the IDR. The MSC review team also will include members from the MSC Office of Counsel and from the MSC Planning Community of Practice (CoP), MSC Engineering and Construction CoP, MSC Real Estate CoP, and other CoPs, as needed. In addition, if the proposed in-kind contributions consist of design or construction of dams, levees, or bridges, the MSC review team must include the MSC Dam, Levee, or Bridge Safety Officer. After satisfactory resolution of all comments on the IDR and a determination that the IDR complies with all applicable law and policy, the MSC District Support Team shall prepare an Integral Determination memo for approval and signature by the MSC Commander.

    (4) The Integral Determination approval memo will state whether the work identified in the IDR, or a portion thereof, has been determined to be integral to the project. In addition, the memo should state that the determination of the actual value of the in-kind contributions and affording credit for such amount will be accomplished by the Government in accordance with the limitations, conditions, and terms of the applicable cost sharing agreement.

    B-2. Considerations in determining whether the work is integral and creditable: The proposed in-kind contributions consist of work that the Government would have otherwise provided or performed for the project, except for performance of activities that are inherently governmental responsibilities (see paragraph B-3 below). Examples of activities that are acceptable in-kind contributions: Performance of design of all or a portion of the Federal project, including data collection related to design work; demolition of buildings on lands required for the project; performance of design or construction related studies for historic preservation activities except data recovery; performance of cost shared monitoring and adaptive management; and construction of a portion of the project.

    a. For proposed in-kind contributions performed prior to execution of the applicable cost sharing agreement, the in-kind contributions have been reviewed or inspected, as applicable, and certified by the Government that the work was accomplished in a satisfactory manner and in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.

    b. For any proposed in-kind contributions proposed to be performed after execution of the PPA, the plans and specifications must be approved by the District Commander prior to initiation of the construction work.

    c. For materials provided for use in construction work managed by the Government, the materials must meet the minimum Government requirements for materials and any substitute materials have been determined by the Government to be a functional equivalent in accordance with policies governing contractor substitution of materials.

    d. The non-Federal sponsor should coordinate with the District to ensure that appropriate real estate interests to support the in-kind contributions and project are acquired.

    B-3. The following will not be accepted as in-kind contributions:

    a. The proposed in-kind contributions are not part of the Federal project.

    b. The proposed in-kind contributions consist of performance of activities that are inherently Governmental responsibilities (e.g., management of Government contracts; performance of District Quality Review, Agency Technical Review, Independent External Peer Review, or Policy Compliance Review; determining if Value Engineering evaluations are acceptable; determining the LERRD required for the project or separable element of the project; determining the value of LERRD for crediting purposes; or making determinations as to compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations).

    c. The proposed in-kind contributions are features or obligations that are a 100 percent non-Federal sponsor responsibility (e.g., purposes of land reclamation, local drainage, to protect against land or bank erosion, and/or the removal of hazardous, toxic, or radioactive wastes; local service facilities; betterments; acquisition and performance of LERRD, except for the provision of dredged or excavated material disposal facilities for commercial navigation projects; and performance of operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement (OMRR&R);

    d. The proposed in-kind contributions have or will create a hazard to human life or property.

    e. The proposed in-kind contributions have been determined to be environmentally unacceptable.

    f. For proposed in-kind contributions performed prior to execution of the applicable cost sharing agreement, after review or inspection, as applicable, the Government cannot certify the proposed in-kind contributions were accomplished in a satisfactory manner and in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.

    g. For proposed in-kind contributions performed prior to execution of the applicable cost sharing agreement, the non-Federal sponsor has not performed the necessary OMRR&R, resulting in the work no longer functioning as needed for the project.

    [FR Doc. 2015-31654 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No. ED-2015-ICCD-0140] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan and Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan Master Promissory Note AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before February 16, 2016.

    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-0140. 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 2E115, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Jon Utz, 202-377-4040.

    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: Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan and Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan Master Promissory Note.

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0007.

    Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 5,027,286.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 2,513,643.

    Abstract: The Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan (Direct Subsidized Loan) and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan (Direct Unsubsidized Loan) Master Promissory Note (MPN) serves as the means by which an individual agrees to repay a Direct Subsidized Loan and/or Direct Unsubsidized Loan. An MPN is a promissory note under which a borrower may receive loans for a single or multiple academic years. This revision incorporates changes to information based on regulatory changes, expands repayment plan information, and clarifies information through updated language.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Tomakie Washington, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31571 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No. ED-2015-ICCD-0141] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note and Endorser Addendum AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before February 16, 2016.

    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-0141. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E103, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Jon Utz, 202-377-4040.

    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: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note and Endorser Addendum.

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0068.

    Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 1,380,923.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 690,462.

    Abstract: The Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (Direct PLUS Loan MPN) serves as the means by which an individual applies for and agrees to repay a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. The Direct PLUS Loan MPN also informs the borrower of the terms and conditions of Direct PLUS Loan and includes a statement of borrower's rights and responsibilities. A Direct PLUS Loan borrower must not have an adverse credit history. If an applicant for a Direct PLUS Loan is determined to have an adverse credit history, the applicant may qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. The Endorser Addendum serves as the means by which an endorser agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if the borrower does not repay it. This revision incorporates changes to information based on regulatory changes, expands repayment plan information, and clarifies information through updated language.

    Dated: December 11, 2015. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31580 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No. ED-2015-ICCD-0113] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; TEACH Grant: Study of Institutional Practices and Grant Recipient Outcomes and Experiences AGENCY:

    Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a new information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 15, 2016.

    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-0113. 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 2E115, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Joanne Bogart, 202-205-7855.

    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: TEACH Grant: Study of Institutional Practices and Grant Recipient Outcomes and Experiences

    OMB Control Number: 1875—NEW

    Type of Review: A new information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households, Private Sector

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 243

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 165

    Abstract: The U.S. Department of Education (Department) requests OMB clearance for a survey of a purposively selected sample of 473 institutions of higher education, and a sample of 500 randomly selected grant recipients participating in the TEACH Grant program. The surveys will inform a study addressing issues and challenges regarding the implementation of TEACH Grants, which is being conducted in response to a GAO audit addressing the high grant to loan conversion rate among TEACH grant recipients.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Tomakie Washington, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31570 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [OE Docket No. PP-82-4] Application To Amend Presidential Permit; Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc., as Agent for the Joint Owners of the Highgate Project AGENCY:

    Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Application.

    SUMMARY:

    Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc. (“VELCO”), as operating-and-management agent for the Joint Owners of the Highgate Transmission Interconnection (the “Highgate Joint Owners”) filed an application to amend PP-82, issued on May 14, 1985 and amended on March 1, 1994, on September 3, 2003, and again on February 7, 2005. The application requested that DOE remove certain operating conditions in the Permit that are no longer necessary.

    DATES:

    Comments or motions to intervene must be submitted on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments or motions to intervene should be addressed as follows: Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher Lawrence (Program Office) at 202-586-5260, or by email to [email protected], or Katherine Konieczny (Program Attorney) at 202-586-0503.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The construction, operation, maintenance, and connection of facilities at the international border of the United States for the transmission of electric energy between the United States and a foreign country is prohibited in the absence of a Presidential permit issued pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 10485, as amended by EO 12038.

    On November 4, 2015, VELCO filed an application with DOE requesting DOE amend PP-82-3 by removing the last sentence of Article 3's preamble and paragraphs a through d of that article which establish operating conditions and limitations that are no longer necessary for two reasons. First, VELCO asserts that it has made transmission reinforcements to the Highgate Transmission Interconnection (the “Highgate Facilities”) and other transmission facilities in northern Vermont since 1994. Second, ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”), as the Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) for the six-state New England region, manages real-time operation of these facilities through its operating procedures.

    The international transmission facilities authorized by Presidential Permit No. PP-82, as amended, include a back-to-back converter station in Highgate, VT and a 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line extending approximately 7.5 miles from the converter station to the U.S.-Canada border in Franklin, VT. VELCO does not propose to make any physical changes to the Highgate Facilities but rather asks the Department to amend the permit to reflect the transmission-network reinforcements made since 1994 and the role of ISO-NE., as the Regional Transmission Organization, in managing the real-time operation of the transmission system through its operating procedures. VELCO is also requesting several amendments to the Permit including changes to the ownership of the Highgate Facilities and a language change to Article 3 to better reflect the way energy is scheduled and flows over the Highgate Facilities.1

    1 The amendment would replace the words “maximum instantaneous rate of transmission” with “scheduled rate of transmission.”

    Procedural Matters: Any person may comment on this application by filing such comment at the address provided above. Any person seeking to become a party to this proceeding must file a motion to intervene at the address provided above in accordance with Rule 214 of FERC's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.214). Two copies of each comment or motion to intervene should be filed with DOE on or before the date listed above.

    Additional copies of such motions to intervene also should be filed directly with: Mr. Christopher Root, Chief Operating Officer, Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc., 366 Pinnacle Ridge Road, Rutland, VT 05701, [email protected] AND John H. Marshall, Esq., Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, 90 Prospect Street, P. O. Box 99, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819-0099, [email protected]

    Before a Presidential permit may be granted or amended, DOE must determine that the proposed action will not adversely impact on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system. In addition, DOE must consider the environmental impacts of the proposed action (i.e., granting the Presidential permit or amendment, with any conditions and limitations, or denying the permit) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. DOE also must obtain the concurrences of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense before taking final action on a Presidential permit application.

    Copies of this application will be made available, upon request, for public inspection and copying at the address provided above. In addition, the application may be reviewed or downloaded electronically at http://energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/international-electricity-regulatio-2. Upon reaching the home page, select “Pending Applications.”

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 10, 2015. Christopher A. Lawrence, Electricity Policy Analyst, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31622 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [Case No. CW-026] Notice of Petition for Waiver of Whirlpool Corporation From the Department of Energy Clothes Washer Test Procedure, and Grant of Interim Waiver AGENCY:

    Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of petition for waiver, notice of grant of interim waiver, and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces receipt of a petition for waiver from Whirlpool Corporation (Whirlpool) seeking an exemption from specified portions of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) test procedure for determining the energy consumption of residential clothes washers. Whirlpool seeks to use an alternate test procedure to address certain issues involved in testing certain specific basic clothes washer models identified in its petition that container volumes between 6.0 cubic feet and 8.0 cubic feet that Whirlpool contends cannot be accurately tested using the currently applicable DOE test procedure. DOE solicits comments, data, and information concerning Whirlpool's petition and its suggested alternate test procedure. This notice also grants Whirlpool with an interim waiver from the residential clothes washer test procedure, subject to use of the alternative test procedure set forth in this notice.

    DATES:

    DOE will accept comments, data, and information with respect to the Whirlpool petition until January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Case Number CW-026, by any of the following methods:

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

    Email: [email protected] Include “Case No. CW-026” in the subject line of the message.

    Mail: Ms. Brenda Edwards, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Program, Mailstop EE-5B/1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 586-2945. Please submit one signed original paper copy.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Ms. Brenda Edwards, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Program, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Room 6094, Washington, DC 20024. Please submit one signed original paper copy.

    Docket: For access to the docket to review the background documents relevant to this matter, you may visit the U.S. Department of Energy, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Washington, DC, 20024; (202) 586-2945, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Available documents include the following items: (1) This notice; (2) public comments received; (3) the petition for waiver and application for interim waiver; and (4) prior DOE waivers and rulemakings regarding similar clothes washer products. Please call Ms. Brenda Edwards at the above telephone number for additional information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Bryan Berringer, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Program, Mail Stop EE-5B, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 586-0371. Email: [email protected]

    Ms. Elizabeth Kohl, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, Mail Stop GC-33, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0103. Telephone: (202) 586-7796. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background and Authority

    Title III, Part B of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), Public Law 94-163 (42 U.S.C. 6291-6309, as codified), established the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, a program covering most major household appliances, which includes the clothes washers that are the focus of this notice. Part B includes definitions, test procedures, labeling provisions, energy conservation standards, and the authority to require information and reports from manufacturers. Further, Part B authorizes the Secretary of Energy to prescribe test procedures that are reasonably designed to produce results which measure energy efficiency, energy use, or estimated operating costs, and that are not unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)). Part C of Title III provides for a similar energy efficiency program titled “Certain Industrial Equipment,” which includes commercial clothes washers and other types of commercial equipment.1 (42 U.S.C. 6311-6317) The test procedure for automatic and semi-automatic clothes washers (both residential and commercial) is contained in 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix J2.

    1 For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, Parts B and C were re-designated Parts A and A-1, respectively.

    The regulations set forth in 10 CFR part 430.27 contain provisions that enable a person to seek a waiver from the test procedure requirements for covered products. DOE will grant a waiver if it is determined either that the basic models for which the petition for waiver was requested contains a design characteristics that prevents testing of the basic model according to the prescribed test procedures, or that prescribed test procedures evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy consumption characteristics as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data. 10 CFR 430.27(f)(2). Petitioners must include in their petition any alternate test procedures known to the petitioner to evaluate the basic model in a manner representative of its energy consumption. DOE may grant the waiver subject to conditions, including adherence to alternate test procedures. 10 CFR 430.27(f)(2). Waivers remain in effect pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 430.27(l).

    The waiver process also allows the DOE to grant an interim waiver from test procedure requirements to manufacturers that have petitioned DOE for a waiver of such prescribed test procedures. 10 CFR 430.27(e)(2). Within one year of issuance of an interim waiver, DOE will either: (i) Publish in the Federal Register a determination on the petition for waiver; or (ii) publish in the Federal Register a new or amended test procedure that addresses the issues presented in the waiver. 10 CFR 430.27(h)(1). When DOE amends the test procedure to address the issues presented in a waiver, the waiver will automatically terminate on the date on which use of that test procedure is required to demonstrate compliance. 10 CFR 430.27(h)(2).

    II. Application for Interim Waiver and Petition for Waiver

    On November 9, 2015, Whirlpool submitted a petition for waiver from the DOE test procedure applicable to automatic and semi-automatic clothes washers set forth in 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix J2. Whirlpool requested the waiver because the mass of the test load used in the procedure, which is based on the basket volume of the test unit, is currently not defined for basket sizes greater than 6.0 cubic feet. In its petition, Whirlpool seeks a waiver for the specified basic models with capacities greater than 6.0 cubic feet. Table 5.1 of Appendix J2 defines the test load sizes used in the test procedure as linear functions of the basket volume. Whirlpool requests that DOE grant a waiver for testing and rating based on a revised Table 5.1.

    Whirlpool also requests an interim waiver from the existing DOE test procedure. An interim waiver may be granted if it appears likely that the petition for waiver will be granted, and/or if DOE determines that it would be desirable for public policy reasons to grant immediate relief pending a determination of the petition for waiver. See 10 CFR 430.27(e)(2).

    DOE understands that absent an interim waiver, Whirlpool's products cannot be tested and rated for energy consumption on a basis representative of their true energy consumption characteristics. DOE has reviewed the alternate procedure and concludes that it will allow for the accurate measurement of the energy use of these products, while alleviating the testing problems associated with Whirlpool's implementation of clothes washer containers larger than 6.0 cubic feet. Consequently, DOE has determined that Whirlpool's petition for waiver will likely be granted. Furthermore, as explained below, DOE has granted similar waivers to Whirlpool and other manufacturers, and has determined that it is desirable for public policy reasons to grant Whirlpool immediate relief pending a determination of the petition for waiver.

    DOE granted a waiver to Whirlpool for a similar request under Decision and Order (75 FR 69653, Nov. 15, 2010) to allow for the testing of clothes washers with container volumes between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet. In addition to the previous waiver granted to Whirlpool, DOE granted waivers to LG (CW-016 (76 FR 11233, Mar. 1, 2011), CW-018 (76 FR 21879, Apr. 19, 2011), and CW-021 (76 FR 64330, Oct. 18, 2011); General Electric (75 FR 76968, Dec. 10, 2010), Samsung (76 FR 13169, Mar. 10, 2011); 76 FR 50207, Aug. 12, 2011), and Electrolux (76 FR 11440, Mar. 2, 2011) to allow for the testing of clothes washers with container volumes between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet. DOE concludes it is likely that Whirlpool's petition for waiver will be granted for the similar reasons stated in these past waivers.

    The current DOE test procedure specifies test load sizes only for machines with capacities up to 6.0 cubic feet. (77 FR 13888, Mar. 7, 2012; the “March 2012 Final Rule”) For the reasons set forth in DOE's March 2012 Final Rule, DOE concludes that extending the linear relationship between test load size and container capacity to larger capacities is valid. In addition, testing a basic model with a capacity larger than 6.0 cubic feet using the current procedure could evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy consumption as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data. Based on these considerations, and the waivers granted to LG, GE, Electrolux and Samsung, as well as the previous waivers granted to Whirlpool for similar requests, it appears likely that the petition for waiver will be granted. As a result, DOE grants an interim waiver to Whirlpool for the basic models of clothes washers with container volumes greater than 6.0 cubic feet specified in its petition for waiver. DOE also provides for the use of an alternative test procedure extending the linear relationship between test load size and container capacity, described below.

    Therefore, it is ordered that:

    The application for interim waiver filed by Whirlpool is hereby granted for the specified Whirlpool clothes washer basic models, subject to the specifications and conditions below. Whirlpool shall be required to test and rate the specified clothes washer products according to the alternate test procedure as set forth in section III, “Alternate Test Procedure.”

    The interim waiver applies to the following basic residential model groups: Basic Model V15EAg50(3B), Basic Model V15EBg50(3B), Basic Model V15ECg50(3B).

    DOE makes decisions on waivers and interim waivers for only those models specifically set out in the petition, not future models that may be manufactured by the petitioner. Whirlpool may request that DOE extend the scope of a waiver or an interim waiver to include additional basic models employing the same technology as the basic model(s) set forth in the original petition consistent with 10 CFR 430.27(g). In addition, granting of an interim waiver or waiver does not release a petitioner from the certification requirements set forth at 10 CFR part 429. See also 10 CFR 430.27(a) and (i).

    Further, this interim waiver is conditioned upon the presumed validity of statements, representations, and documents provided by the petitioner. DOE may rescind or modify a waiver or interim waiver at any time upon a determination that the factual basis underlying the petition for waiver or interim waiver is incorrect, or upon a determination that the results from the alternate test procedure are unrepresentative of the basic models' true energy consumption characteristics. See 10 CFR 430.27(k).

    III. Alternate Test Procedure

    EPCA requires that manufacturers use DOE test procedures when making representations about the energy consumption and energy consumption costs of products covered by the statute. (42 U.S.C. 6293(c)) Consistent representations are important for manufacturers to use in making representations about the energy efficiency of their products and to demonstrate compliance with applicable DOE energy conservation standards. Pursuant to its regulations applicable to waivers and interim waivers from applicable test procedures at 10 CFR 430.27, DOE will consider setting an alternate test procedure for Whirlpool in a subsequent Decision and Order.

    The alternate procedure approved today is intended to allow Whirlpool to make valid representations regarding its clothes washers with basket capacities larger than provided for in the current test procedure.

    In the alternate test procedure described below, DOE has corrected two errors in the proposed Whirlpool load size table:

    • For the 7.40-7.50 cubic foot capacity row, the maximum load size should be 30.60 lbs rather than 30.50 lbs, and the corresponding translation to kg should be 13.88 kg rather than 13.83 kg.

    • For the 6.50-6.60 and higher capacities, the average load size was not calculated correctly. The average load size should be the numerical average of the minimum and maximum load sizes. For each of these, the corresponding translation to kg were updated.

    During the period of the interim waiver granted in this notice, Whirlpool shall test its clothes washer basic models according to the provisions of 10 CFR part 430 subpart B, appendix J2, except that the expanded Table 5.1 below shall be substituted for Table 5.1 of appendix J2.

    Table 5.1—Test Load Sizes Container volume cu. ft. ≥ < liter ≥ < Minimum load lb kg Maximum load lb kg Average load lb kg 0-0.80 0-22.7 3.00 1.36 3.00 1.36 3.00 1.36 0.80-0.90 22.7-25.5 3.00 1.36 3.50 1.59 3.25 1.47 0.90-1.00 25.5-28.3 3.00 1.36 3.90 1.77 3.45 1.56 1.00-1.10 28.3-31.1 3.00 1.36 4.30 1.95 3.65 1.66 1.10-1.20 31.1-34.0 3.00 1.36 4.70 2.13 3.85 1.75 1.20-1.30 34.0-36.8 3.00 1.36 5.10 2.31 4.05 1.84 1.30-1.40 36.8-39.6 3.00 1.36 5.50 2.49 4.25 1.93 1.40-1.50 39.6-42.5 3.00 1.36 5.90 2.68 4.45 2.02 1.50-1.60 42.5-45.3 3.00 1.36 6.40 2.90 4.70 2.13 1.60-1.70 45.3-48.1 3.00 1.36 6.80 3.08 4.90 2.22 1.70-1.80 48.1-51.0 3.00 1.36 7.20 3.27 5.10 2.31 1.80-1.90 51.0-53.8 3.00 1.36 7.60 3.45 5.30 2.40 1.90-2.00 53.8-56.6 3.00 1.36 8.00 3.63 5.50 2.49 2.00-2.10 56.6-59.5 3.00 1.36 8.40 3.81 5.70 2.59 2.10-2.20 59.5-62.3 3.00 1.36 8.80 3.99 5.90 2.68 2.20-2.30 62.3-65.1 3.00 1.36 9.20 4.17 6.10 2.77 2.30-2.40 65.1-68.0 3.00 1.36 9.60 4.35 6.30 2.86 2.40-2.50 68.0-70.8 3.00 1.36 10.00 4.54 6.50 2.95 2.50-2.60 70.8-73.6 3.00 1.36 10.50 4.76 6.75 3.06 2.60-2.70 73.6-76.5 3.00 1.36 10.90 4.94 6.95 3.15 2.70-2.80 76.5-79.3 3.00 1.36 11.30 5.13 7.15 3.24 2.80-2.90 79.3-82.1 3.00 1.36 11.70 5.31 7.35 3.33 2.90-3.00 82.1-85.0 3.00 1.36 12.10 5.49 7.55 3.42 3.00-3.10 85.0-87.8 3.00 1.36 12.50 5.67 7.75 3.52 3.10-3.20 87.8-90.6 3.00 1.36 12.90 5.85 7.95 3.61 3.20-3.30 90.6-93.4 3.00 1.36 13.30 6.03 8.15 3.70 3.30-3.40 93.4-96.3 3.00 1.36 13.70 6.21 8.35 3.79 3.40-3.50 96.3-99.1 3.00 1.36 14.10 6.40 8.55 3.88 3.50-3.60 99.1-101.9 3.00 1.36 14.60 6.62 8.80 3.99 3.60-3.70 101.9-104.8 3.00 1.36 15.00 6.80 9.00 4.08 3.70-3.80 104.8-107.6 3.00 1.36 15.40 6.99 9.20 4.17 3.80-3.90 107.6-110.4 3.00 1.36 15.80 7.16 9.40 4.26 3.90-4.00 110.4-113.3 3.00 1.36 16.20 7.34 9.60 4.35 4.00-4.10 113.3-116.1 3.00 1.36 16.60 7.53 9.80 4.45 4.10-4.20 116.1-118.9 3.00 1.36 17.00 7.72 10.00 4.54 4.20-4.30 118.9-121.8 3.00 1.36 17.40 7.90 10.20 4.63 4.30-4.40 121.8-124.6 3.00 1.36 17.80 8.09 10.40 4.72 4.40-4.50 124.6-127.4 3.00 1.36 18.20 8.27 10.60 4.82 4.50-4.60 127.4-130.3 3.00 1.36 18.70 8.46 10.85 4.91 4.60-4.70 130.3-133.1 3.00 1.36 19.10 8.65 11.05 5.00 4.70-4.80 133.1-135.9 3.00 1.36 19.50 8.83 11.25 5.10 4.80-4.90 135.9-138.8 3.00 1.36 19.90 9.02 11.45 5.19 4.90-5.00 138.8-141.6 3.00 1.36 20.30 9.20 11.65 5.28 5.00-5.10 141.6-144.4 3.00 1.36 20.70 9.39 11.85 5.38 5.10-5.20 144.4-147.2 3.00 1.36 21.10 9.58 12.05 5.47 5.20-5.30 147.2-150.1 3.00 1.36 21.50 9.76 12.25 5.56 5.30-5.40 150.1-152.9 3.00 1.36 21.90 9.95 12.45 5.65 5.40-5.50 152.9-155.7 3.00 1.36 22.30 10.13 12.65 5.75 5.50-5.60 155.7-158.6 3.00 1.36 22.80 10.32 12.90 5.84 5.60-5.70 158.6-161.4 3.00 1.36 23.20 10.51 13.10 5.93 5.70-5.80 161.4-164.2 3.00 1.36 23.60 10.69 13.30 6.03 5.80-5.90 164.2-167.1 3.00 1.36 24.00 10.88 13.50 6.12 5.90-6.00 167.1-169.9 3.00 1.36 24.40 11.06 13.70 6.21 6.00-6.10 169.9-172.7 3.00 1.36 24.80 11.25 13.90 6.30 6.10-6.20 172.7-175.6 3.00 1.36 25.20 11.43 14.10 6.40 6.20-6.30 175.6-178.4 3.00 1.36 25.60 11.61 14.30 6.49 6.30-6.40 178.4-181.2 3.00 1.36 26.00 11.79 14.50 6.58 6.40-6.50 181.2-184.1 3.00 1.36 26.40 11.97 14.70 6.67 6.50-6.60 184.1-186.9 3.00 1.36 26.90 12.20 14.95 6.78 6.60-6.70 186.9-189.7 3.00 1.36 27.30 12.38 15.15 6.87 6.70-6.80 189.7-192.6 3.00 1.36 27.70 12.56 15.35 6.96 6.80-6.90 192.6-195.4 3.00 1.36 28.10 12.75 15.55 7.05 6.90-7.00 195.4-198.2 3.00 1.36 28.50 12.93 15.75 7.14 7.00-7.10 198.2-201.0 3.00 1.36 28.90 13.11 15.95 7.23 7.10-7.20 201.0-203.9 3.00 1.36 29.30 13.29 16.15 7.33 7.20-7.30 203.9-206.7 3.00 1.36 29.70 13.47 16.35 7.42 7.30-7.40 206.7-209.5 3.00 1.36 30.10 13.65 16.55 7.51 7.40-7.50 209.5-212.4 3.00 1.36 30.60 13.88 16.80 7.62 7.50-7.60 212.4-215.2 3.00 1.36 31.00 14.06 17.00 7.71 7.60-7.70 215.2-218.0 3.00 1.36 31.40 14.24 17.20 7.80 7.70-7.80 218.0-220.9 3.00 1.36 31.80 14.42 17.40 7.89 7.80-7.90 220.9-223.7 3.00 1.36 32.20 14.61 17.60 7.98 7.90-8.00 223.7-226.5 3.00 1.36 32.60 14.79 17.80 8.07 IV. Summary and Request for Comments

    Through this notice, DOE grants Whirlpool an interim waiver from the specified portions of the test procedure applicable to certain basic models of residential clothes washer with capacities larger than 6.0 cubic feet and announces receipt of Whirlpool's petition for waiver from those same portions of the test procedure. DOE is publishing Whirlpool's petition for waiver pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27(b)(1)(iv). The petition includes a suggested alternate test procedure to determine the energy consumption of Whirlpool's specified basic models of residential clothes washer with capacities larger than 6.0 cubic feet. Whirlpool is required to follow this alternate procedure, as corrected by DOE in Section III of this notice, as a condition of its interim waiver, and DOE is considering including the corrected alternate procedure in its subsequent Decision and Order.

    DOE solicits comments from interested parties on all aspects of the petition, including the suggested alternate test procedure and calculation methodology. Pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27(d), any person submitting written comments to DOE must also send a copy of such comments to the petitioner. The contact information for the petitioner is Sean Southard, Senior Analyst, Regulatory Affairs, Whirlpool Corporation, 2000 N. M63—MD 1604, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. All comment submissions to DOE must include the Case Number CW-026 for this proceeding. Submit electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Portable Document Format (PDF), or text (American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)) file format and avoid the use of special characters or any form of encryption. Wherever possible, include the electronic signature of the author. DOE does not accept telefacsimiles (faxes).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 9, 2015. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Whirlpool Corporation ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER 2000 N. M63—MD 1604 BENTON HARBOR, MI 49022 269.923.7258 November 9, 2015 Via Email: [email protected] Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Program, Test Procedure Waiver 1000 Independence Avenue SW Washington, DC 20585 [email protected] Re: Petition for Waiver & Application for Interim Waiver Regarding Measurement of Energy Consumption of Residential Clothes Washers, Using 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, Appendix J2

    Whirlpool Corporation (“Whirlpool”) is submitting this Petition for Waiver (“Waiver”), and Application for Interim Waiver (“Interim Waiver”), pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27, regarding the Department of Energy (“DOE”) Test Procedures for energy and water consumption of clothes washers.

    Whirlpool requests that DOE grant Whirlpool a Waiver and Interim Waiver from certain parts of the DOE 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix J2 test procedure for determining residential clothes washer energy consumption, and that DOE allow Whirlpool to test its clothes washers pursuant to the modified Appendix J2 table submitted in this Petition. The J2 test procedure does not allow for the testing of clothes washer container volumes beyond 6.0 cubic feet, as indicated in Table 5.1 of the Appendix J2 test procedure, and described in the Final Guidance for “How are large-capacity clothes washers tested, rated, and certified?” issued by DOE on May 29, 2012. Without a DOE grant of a Waiver and Interim Waiver, Whirlpool will not be able to introduce new, innovative large capacity clothes washers to consumers demanding them in the market.

    Whirlpool submits that the proposed modified Appendix J2 table is fully consistent with the approach used in previous (and currently expired) clothes washer waiver petitions that extrapolated existing container volumes and load sizes in a modified Table 5.1 in Appendix J1 to allow for the testing of clothes washers with container volumes between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet. These waivers were granted on several occasions to multiple companies before the May 2012 Final Guidance was issued by DOE to modify Table 5.1 in Appendix J1 to allow for the testing of clothes washers between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet. Whirlpool now proposes to modify Table 5.1 in Appendix J2 to accommodate the testing of clothes washers with measured capacities between 6.0 cubic feet and 8.0 cubic feet. Whirlpool notes that this request is consistent with DOE's authority to grant a Waiver. Whirlpool further submits that it is within the DOE's authority to grant an Interim Waiver to avoid economic hardship and competitive disadvantage for Whirlpool.

    1. Whirlpool Corporation

    Whirlpool Corporation is the number one major appliance manufacturer in the world, with approximately $20 billion in annual sales, 100,000 employees and 70 manufacturing and technology research centers throughout the world in 2014. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, Jenn-Air, Indesit and other major brand names in more than 170 countries. Whirlpool's worldwide headquarters are located at 2000 North M-63, Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA. Additional information about the company can be found at WhirlpoolCorp.com, or find us on Twitter at @WhirlpoolCorp.

    2. Basic Models Subject To The Waiver Request

    This Petition For Waiver and Application For Interim Waiver is for all basic models of residential clothes washers manufactured by Whirlpool Corporation that have a measured Appendix J2 container volume equal to or greater than 6.0 cubic feet and equal to or less than 8.0 cubic feet.

    Specific Basic Models are:

    Basic Model V15EAg50(3B) Basic Model V15EBg50(3B) Basic Model V15ECg50(3B) 3. Requested Waiver

    Whirlpool requests approval to test the energy and water consumption of the above residential clothes washers basic models using the modified table found in Exhibit A for the Appendix J2 clothes washer test procedure.

    Market conditions, including strong consumer demand for large capacity residential washers, have led Whirlpool to design clothes washers with volumes greater than 6.0 cubic feet. DOE has recognized this in the past when previous prevailing market conditions led manufacturers to design residential washers beyond 3.8 cubic feet, and DOE has granted multiple waivers to multiple manufacturers to accommodate their request to modify Table 5.1 to allow for the testing of these larger capacity washers between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet.

    Whirlpool's proposed modified Table 5.1 is attached at Exhibit A. This modified table extrapolates load sizes for washers with container volumes between 6.0 cubic feet and 8.0 cubic feet, based on the linear equations used in the existing Table 5.1 for load sizes used with basket volumes up to 6.0 cubic feet. This is similar to the approach that other manufacturers have used in previous waiver petitions to extrapolate load sizes for container volumes between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet, and modify Table 5.1 in Appendix J1.2

    2 See Federal Register/Vol. 76, No. 246/79666-79669 and Federal Register/Vol. 75, No. 219/69653-69655

    4. Regulatory Framework

    DOE's regulations, found in 10 CFR part 430.27, provide that the Assistant Secretary will grant a Petition to a manufacturer upon “determin[ation] that the basic model for which the waiver was requested contains a design characteristic which either prevents testing of the basic model according to the prescribed test procedures, or the prescribed test procedures may evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy consumption characteristics as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data.”

    Whirlpool believes that this Petition meets both conditions stated above for when DOE will grant a Petition. First, Table 5.1 of Appendix J2 defines test load sizes as linear functions of the container volume, but the Table only lists basket volumes up to 6.0 cubic feet. As a result, Whirlpool's new large capacity residential washer basic models listed above cannot be currently tested to the prescribed test procedure. Second, if Whirlpool were to test its large capacity residential washers listed above to the current load sizes listed under the container volume limit of 5.9-6.0 cubic foot, the results of that energy and water test would be unrepresentative of the true energy consumption characteristics of these new models by underestimating their energy use.

    5. Other Manufacturers With Similar Design Characteristics

    To the best of our knowledge, Whirlpool is not aware of other manufacturers offering residential clothes washers with a measured container volume greater than or equal to 6.0 cubic feet.

    6. Additional Justification For Interim Waiver Application

    Granting of an Interim Waiver is justified in this case because: (i) Whirlpool has provided strong evidence that demonstrates the likelihood of the granting of the Petition for Waiver; (ii) Whirlpool will suffer significant economic hardship and competitive disadvantage if this Interim Waiver Application is not granted; and (iii) an Interim Waiver is desirable for public policy reasons.

    a. Strong Likelihood That Waiver Will Be Granted

    Whirlpool has provided strong evidence that the Waiver should be granted. A Petition for Waiver is appropriate because these large capacity washers with measured container volumes above 6.0 cubic feet contain a design characteristic (container volumes beyond those listed in Table 5.1 of Appendix J2) that prevents testing of these models according to the Appendix J2 test procedure. Also, using the existing largest container volume listed in Table 5.1 of Appendix J2 (5.9-6.0 cubic feet), would provided a tested energy consumption characteristic that is unrepresentative of the true energy consumption of the models.

    Whirlpool has provided ample information in this Petition for Waiver and Application for Interim Waiver explaining its rationale for using the modified Table 5.1 found in Exhibit A. Whirlpool has demonstrated that such a modified Table is consistent with past waiver approaches that other manufacturers have taken to receive DOE waivers for container volumes between 3.8 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet before Table 5.1 in Appendix J1 was recently revised.

    b. Economic Hardship & Competitive Disadvantage

    In the absence of an Interim Waiver, Whirlpool will lack certainty as to whether it can launch these large capacity washers into the market. As mentioned before, Whirlpool predicts strong consumer demand for these large capacity washers, and the inability to bring them to market through denial of an Interim Waiver will cause economic hardship and competitive disadvantage for Whirlpool.

    There are long lead times and significant expenses associated with the design and manufacture of residential clothes washers. Compliance with federally mandated energy and water consumption standards is a critical design factor for all of Whirlpool's washers. Any delay in obtaining clarity on this issue will require Whirlpool to postpone key decisions regarding its investments to build, launch, and market these washers, and/or require Whirlpool to implement costly contingency plans. In the event this Waiver request is not approved, Whirlpool would not be able to move forward with the launch of these models, which would be a multi-million dollar impact to the company, potentially result in the loss of American jobs at our Clyde, OH manufacturing facility, and put us at a competitive disadvantage to competitors that market washers larger than any models we currently offer.

    Further, any denial for the Interim Waiver would not only impact our large capacity washer models listed in this petition, it would also impact the matching dryers that would be sold with these washers. The washers and dryers are intended to be sold as a matching pair, with a dryer capacity in the dryer that is optimized to be used with one of our large capacity washers. If Whirlpool is not granted the Interim Waiver, we would be forced to do two things: (i) postpone the launch of these dryers until a waiver is granted for the matching large capacity washers, or (ii) sell large capacity dryers in the market without a matching washer. If we postpone the launch, this would be a significant business disruption, resulting in a multi-million dollar impact to the company and put American jobs at risk at our Marion, OH manufacturing facility. If we sell these dryers in the market without their matching washer, we would expect significantly lower sales of the dryer than we would otherwise expect with the matching washer on the market. Most dryers are sold with a matching washer, for various reasons, and many consumers would not want to purchase a non-matching washer and this dryer. There would also be unused capacity and potentially wasted energy in the dryer, since its capacity is optimized to be used with the large capacity matching washer.

    c. An Interim Waiver is Desirable for Public Policy Reasons

    It would be desirable for public policy reasons to grant immediate relief by granting an Interim Waiver. It would immediately make available to the public the largest capacity residential clothes washers available on the market. For many consumers that purchase this washer, this would mean more clothing items that can be washed in a single load. For those consumers that maximize the clothes washer capacity, this equates to fewer loads per year, which is less water and energy use compared to the alternative of smaller and more frequent loads.

    Not granting the waiver would also potentially put U.S. jobs at our manufacturing facilities in Clyde, OH and Marion, OH at risk, if Whirlpool cannot launch these large capacity washers and dryers. Whirlpool employs 3,000 people at the washer manufacturing facility in Clyde, OH and 2,500 people at the dryer manufacturing facility in Marion, OH.

    7. CERTIFICATION OF NOTICE TO OTHER MANUFACTURERS

    Whirlpool Corporation is providing concurrent notice of this Petition for Waiver & Application for Interim Waiver to the other known manufacturers of residential clothes washers made or sold in the U.S., and to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. The cover letters, including names and addresses of other known manufacturers and the industry association, is included in Exhibit B.

    8. CONCLUSION

    Whirlpool respectfully submits that the DOE grant the above Petition for Waiver and Interim Waiver. By granting this Waiver, DOE will ensure that consumers will have access to new, innovative large capacity residential washers and Whirlpool will avoid economic hardship and competitive disadvantage.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration and prompt response.

    Sincerely,

    Sean Southard

    Senior Analyst, Regulatory Affairs

    Whirlpool Corporation

    Exhibit A: Modified Table 5.1—Test Load Sizes—10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix J2 Container volume cu. ft.
  • ≥ <
  • liter
  • ≥ <
  • Minimum load lb kg Maximum load lb kg Average load lb kg
    0-0.80 0-22.7 3.00 1.36 3.00 1.36 3.00 1.36 0.80-0.90 22.7-25.5 3.00 1.36 3.50 1.59 3.25 1.47 0.90-1.00 25.5-28.3 3.00 1.36 3.90 1.77 3.45 1.56 1.00-1.10 28.3-31.1 3.00 1.36 4.30 1.95 3.65 1.66 1.10-1.20 31.1-34.0 3.00 1.36 4.70 2.13 3.85 1.75 1.20-1.30 34.0-36.8 3.00 1.36 5.10 2.31 4.05 1.84 1.30-1.40 36.8-39.6 3.00 1.36 5.50 2.49 4.25 1.93 1.40-1.50 39.6-42.5 3.00 1.36 5.90 2.68 4.45 2.02 1.50-1.60 42.5-45.3 3.00 1.36 6.40 2.90 4.70 2.13 1.60-1.70 45.3-48.1 3.00 1.36 6.80 3.08 4.90 2.22 1.70-1.80 48.1-51.0 3.00 1.36 7.20 3.27 5.10 2.31 1.80-1.90 51.0-53.8 3.00 1.36 7.60 3.45 5.30 2.40 1.90-2.00 53.8-56.6 3.00 1.36 8.00 3.63 5.50 2.49 2.00-2.10 56.6-59.5 3.00 1.36 8.40 3.81 5.70 2.59 2.10-2.20 59.5-62.3 3.00 1.36 8.80 3.99 5.90 2.68 2.20-2.30 62.3-65.1 3.00 1.36 9.20 4.17 6.10 2.77 2.30-2.40 65.1-68.0 3.00 1.36 9.60 4.35 6.30 2.86 2.40-2.50 68.0-70.8 3.00 1.36 10.00 4.54 6.50 2.95 2.50-2.60 70.8-73.6 3.00 1.36 10.50 4.76 6.75 3.06 2.60-2.70 73.6-76.5 3.00 1.36 10.90 4.94 6.95 3.15 2.70-2.80 76.5-79.3 3.00 1.36 11.30 5.13 7.15 3.24 2.80-2.90 79.3-82.1 3.00 1.36 11.70 5.31 7.35 3.33 2.90-3.00 82.1-85.0 3.00 1.36 12.10 5.49 7.55 3.42 3.00-3.10 85.0-87.8 3.00 1.36 12.50 5.67 7.75 3.52 3.10-3.20 87.8-90.6 3.00 1.36 12.90 5.85 7.95 3.61 3.20-3.30 90.6-93.4 3.00 1.36 13.30 6.03 8.15 3.70 3.30-3.40 93.4-96.3 3.00 1.36 13.70 6.21 8.35 3.79 3.40-3.50 96.3-99.1 3.00 1.36 14.10 6.40 8.55 3.88 3.50-3.60 99.1-101.9 3.00 1.36 14.60 6.62 8.80 3.99 3.60-3.70 101.9-104.8 3.00 1.36 15.00 6.80 9.00 4.08 3.70-3.80 104.8-107.6 3.00 1.36 15.40 6.99 9.20 4.17 3.80-3.90 107.6-110.4 3.00 1.36 15.80 7.16 9.40 4.26 3.90-4.00 110.4-113.3 3.00 1.36 16.20 7.34 9.60 4.35 4.00-4.10 113.3-116.1 3.00 1.36 16.60 7.53 9.80 4.45 4.10-4.20 116.1-118.9 3.00 1.36 17.00 7.72 10.00 4.54 4.20-4.30 118.9-121.8 3.00 1.36 17.40 7.90 10.20 4.63 4.30-4.40 121.8-124.6 3.00 1.36 17.80 8.09 10.40 4.72 4.40-4.50 124.6-127.4 3.00 1.36 18.20 8.27 10.60 4.82 4.50-4.60 127.4-130.3 3.00 1.36 18.70 8.46 10.85 4.91 4.60-4.70 130.3-133.1 3.00 1.36 19.10 8.65 11.05 5.00 4.70-4.80 133.1-135.9 3.00 1.36 19.50 8.83 11.25 5.10 4.80-4.90 135.9-138.8 3.00 1.36 19.90 9.02 11.45 5.19 4.90-5.00 138.8-141.6 3.00 1.36 20.30 9.20 11.65 5.28 5.00-5.10 141.6-144.4 3.00 1.36 20.70 9.39 11.85 5.38 5.10-5.20 144.4-147.2 3.00 1.36 21.10 9.58 12.05 5.47 5.20-5.30 147.2-150.1 3.00 1.36 21.50 9.76 12.25 5.56 5.30-5.40 150.1-152.9 3.00 1.36 21.90 9.95 12.45 5.65 5.40-5.50 152.9-155.7 3.00 1.36 22.30 10.13 12.65 5.75 5.50-5.60 155.7-158.6 3.00 1.36 22.80 10.32 12.90 5.84 5.60-5.70 158.6-161.4 3.00 1.36 23.20 10.51 13.10 5.93 5.70-5.80 161.4-164.2 3.00 1.36 23.60 10.69 13.30 6.03 5.80-5.90 164.2-167.1 3.00 1.36 24.00 10.88 13.50 6.12 5.90-6.00 167.1-169.9 3.00 1.36 24.40 11.06 13.70 6.21 6.00-6.10 169.9-172.7 3.00 1.36 24.80 11.25 13.90 6.30 6.10-6.20 172.7-175.6 3.00 1.36 25.20 11.43 14.10 6.40 6.20-6.30 175.6-178.4 3.00 1.36 25.60 11.61 14.30 6.49 6.30-6.40 178.4-181.2 3.00 1.36 26.00 11.79 14.50 6.58 6.40-6.50 181.2-184.1 3.00 1.36 26.40 11.97 14.70 6.67 6.50-6.60 184.1-186.9 3.00 1.36 26.90 12.20 15.10 6.85 6.60-6.70 186.9-189.7 3.00 1.36 27.30 12.38 15.30 6.94 6.70-6.80 189.7-192.6 3.00 1.36 27.70 12.56 15.50 7.03 6.80-6.90 192.6-195.4 3.00 1.36 28.10 12.75 15.70 7.12 6.90-7.00 195.4-198.2 3.00 1.36 28.50 12.93 15.90 7.21 7.00-7.10 198.2-201.0 3.00 1.36 28.90 13.11 16.10 7.30 7.10-7.20 201.0-203.9 3.00 1.36 29.30 13.29 16.30 7.39 7.20-7.30 203.9-206.7 3.00 1.36 29.70 13.47 16.50 7.48 7.30-7.40 206.7-209.5 3.00 1.36 30.10 13.65 16.70 7.57 7.40-7.50 209.5-212.4 3.00 1.36 30.50 13.83 16.90 7.67 7.50-7.60 212.4-215.2 3.00 1.36 31.00 14.06 17.30 7.85 7.60-7.70 215.2-218.0 3.00 1.36 31.40 14.24 17.50 7.94 7.70-7.80 218.0-220.9 3.00 1.36 31.80 14.42 17.70 8.03 7.80-7.90 220.9-223.7 3.00 1.36 32.20 14.61 17.90 8.12 7.90-8.00 223.7-226.5 3.00 1.36 32.60 14.79 18.10 8.21
    Exhibit B: Notice to Manufacturers November 9, 2015 Alliance Laundry Systems, LLC Attn: Andrew Huerth PO Box 990 Shepard Street Ripon, WI 54971 Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers Attn: Jennifer Cleary 1111 19th Street NW., Suite 402 Washington, DC 20036 Arcelik A.S. Attn: Salih Zeki Bugay 125 W Tremont Ave #1134 Charlotte, NC 28203 Asko Appliances AB Attn: Jonas Lidberg Socerbruksgatan 3SE-531 40 Lidköping, Sweden Avanti Products 10880 NW 30th Street Miami, FL 33172 Bosch Home Appliances Corporation Attn: Michelle Buranday 1901 Main St Irvine, CA 92614 Danby Products, Inc. PO Box 669 Findlay, OH 45839-0669 Electrolux Home Products Attn: George Hawranko 10200 David Taylor Dr Rm TKY435 Charlotte, NC 28262 Fisher & Paykel Appliances Inc. Attn: Laurence Mawhinney 695 Town Center Dr Ste 180 Costa Mesa, CA 92626 General Electric Company Attn: Earl F. Jones 4000 Buechel Bank Road AP2-225 Louisville, KY 40225 Haier America Attn: Michelangelo Troisi 1800 Valley Rd Wayne, NJ 07470 LG Electronics USA, Inc. Attn: John I. Taylor 2000 Millbrook Dr Lincolnshire, IL 60069 Miele, Inc. Attn: Steve Polinski 9 Independence Way Princeton, NJ 08450 Samsung Electronics America, Inc. Attn: Doug Czerwonka 85 Challenger Rd Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660 Versonel 180 Earland Drive Building #8 New Holland, PA 17557

    Re: Petition for Waiver & Application for Interim Waiver Regarding Measurement of Energy Consumption of Residential Clothes Washers, Using 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, Appendix J2

    Dear Madam or Sir:

    Whirlpool Corporation (“Whirlpool”) is submitting the enclosed Petition for Waiver and Application for Interim Waiver (pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27) to the US Department of Energy (“DOE”), relating to the Test Procedures for energy and water consumption of clothes washers. This letter provides notice to other known manufacturers of similar products. The DOE Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Renewable Energy will receive and consider timely written comments on the Petition for Waiver and Application for Interim Waiver. Any manufacturer submitting written comments should provide a copy to Whirlpool Corporation at the address shown below.

    Whirlpool Corporation

    Attn: Sean Southard

    Senior Analyst, Regulatory Affairs

    2000 M-63 North, MD1604

    Benton Harbor, MI 49022

    Fax: 269/923-7258

    Email: [email protected]

    [FR Doc. 2015-31623 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Guidance and Application for Hydroelectric Incentive Payments AGENCY:

    Wind and Water Power Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability of guidance and open application period.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is publishing Guidance for the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Section 242 Program. The guidance describes the hydroelectric incentive payment requirements and explains the type of information that owners or authorized operators of qualified hydroelectric facilities can provide DOE when applying for hydroelectric incentive payments. This incentive is available for electric energy generated and sold for a specified 10-year period as authorized under section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In Congressional appropriations for Federal fiscal year 2015, DOE received funds to support this hydroelectric incentive program for the first time. At this time, DOE is only accepting applications from owners and authorized operators of qualified hydroelectric facilities for hydroelectricity generated and sold in calendar year 2014.

    DATES:

    DOE is currently accepting applications from December 16, 2015 through February 1, 2016. Applications must be sent to [email protected] by midnight EDT, February 1, 2016, or they will not be considered timely filed for calendar year 2014 incentive payments.

    ADDRESSES:

    DOE's guidance is available at: http://energy.gov/eere/water/water-power-program.

    Written correspondence may be sent to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE-4), by email at [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information should be directed to Mr. Steven Lindenberg, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE-4), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121, (202) 586-2783, [email protected] Electronic communications are recommended for correspondence and required for submission of application information.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005; Pub. L. 109-58), Congress established a new program to support the expansion of hydropower energy development at existing dams and impoundments through an incentive payment procedure. Under section 242 of EPAct 2005, the Secretary of Energy is directed to provide incentive payments to the owner or authorized operator of qualified hydroelectric facilities for electric energy generated and sold by a qualified hydroelectric facility for a specified 10-year period (See 42 U.S.C. 15881). The conference report to the law that made appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015 includes $3,960,000 for conventional hydropower under section 242 of EPAct 2005.

    DOE developed and announced guidance in January 2015 describing the application process and the information necessary for DOE to make a determination of eligibility under section 242. See 80 FR 2685 (January 20, 2015). The guidance announced today includes certain minor modifications to the January 2015 guidance based on DOE's experience with the January 2015 application process. Specifically, DOE is amending some portions of the guidance document to more precisely describe what types of production are considered “new” production and the information necessary to demonstrate adequate metering. The final guidance is available at: http://energy.gov/eere/water/water-power-program. Each application will be reviewed based on the guidance. DOE notes that applicants that received payments for calendar year 2013 and that are eligible for calendar year 2014 payments must still submit a full calendar year 2014 application.

    When submitting information to DOE for the Section 242 program, it is recommended that applicants carefully read and review the complete content of the Guidance for this process. When reviewing applications, DOE may corroborate the information provided with information that DOE finds through FERC e-filings, contact with power off-taker, and other due diligence measures carried out by reviewing officials. DOE may require the applicant to conduct and submit an independent audit at its own expense, or DOE may conduct an audit to verify the number of kilowatt-hours claimed to have been generated and sold by the qualified hydroelectric facility and for which an incentive payment has been requested or made.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 10, 2015. Douglas Hollett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31618 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP15-150-000] Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC ; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Proposed Line WB2VA Integrity Project

    On April 2, 2015, Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia) filed an application in Docket No. CP15-150-000, requesting authorization and a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity pursuant to section 7(b) and 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act, to abandon, modify, and install certain natural gas pipeline facilities. The proposed project is known as the Line WB2VA Integrity Project. The purpose of the project is to allow the use of modern inline inspection devices and upgrade pipeline segments in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards.

    On April 15, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) issued its Notice of Application for the project. Among other things, that notice alerted agencies issuing federal authorizations of the requirement to complete all necessary reviews and to reach a final decision on a request for a federal authorization within 90 days of the date of issuance of the Commission staff's Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. This instant notice identifies the FERC staff's planned schedule for the completion of the EA for the project.

    Schedule for Environmental Review Issuance of EA—January 28, 2016. 90-day Federal Authorization Decision Deadline—April 27, 2016.

    If a schedule change becomes necessary, additional notice will be provided so that the relevant agencies are kept informed of the project's progress.

    Project Description

    The Line WB2VA Integrity Project would include modifications to Columbia's existing facilities at 17 sites in Hardy County, West Virginia, and Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham, and Greene Counties, Virginia. Proposed modifications include installation of pig launchers and receivers; replacement of short sections of existing pipeline, mainline valves, and other appurtenant facilities; and abandonment of two existing 20-inch-diameter pipelines beneath the South Fork of the Shenandoah River that would be replaced with a new 24-inch-diameter pipeline.

    Background

    On May 14, 2015, we issued a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed WB2VA Integrity Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues (NOI). The NOI was published in the Federal Register and was mailed to 163 interested parties, including federal, state, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; affected landowners; environmental and public interest groups; potentially interested Native American tribes; other interested parties; and local libraries and newspapers.

    In response to the NOI, the Commission received comments from non-government organizations, and federal and state agencies. The primary environmental issues raised by the commentors include: air quality, steep slopes and slope-prone soils, recreation, public lands, karst topography, threatened and endangered species, wetlands and waterbodies, cumulative impacts, and alternatives.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection are cooperating agencies for preparation of the EA.

    Additional Information

    In order to receive notification of the issuance of the EA and to keep track of all formal issuances and submittals, the Commission offers a free service called eSubscription. This can reduce the amount of time you spend researching proceedings by automatically providing you with notification of these filings, document summaries, and direct links to the documents. Go to www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp.

    Additional information about the project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs at (866) 208-FERC or on the FERC Web site (www.ferc.gov). Using the “eLibrary” link, select “General Search” from the menu, enter the selected date range and “Docket Number” excluding the last three digits (i.e., CP15-150), and follow the instructions. For assistance with eLibrary, the helpline can be reached at (866) 208-3676, TTY (202) 502-8659, or at [email protected] The eLibrary link on the FERC Web site also provides access to the texts of formal documents issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rule makings.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31609 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-48-000.

    Applicants: Longview Power.

    Description: Application of Longview Power, LLC for Authorizations Pursuant to Section 203 of the Federal Power Act and Requests for Expedited Action and Waivers of Certain Filing Requirements.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5168.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1045-002.

    Applicants: Pilot Hill Wind, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change in Status of Pilot Hill Wind, LLC.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5174.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-341-000; ER16-343-000.

    Applicants: RE Astoria LLC, RE Astoria 2 LLC.

    Description: Clarification to November 17, 2015 RE Astoria LLC and November 18, 2015 RE Astoria 2 LLC tariff filings.

    Filed Date: 11/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20151125-5059.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-341-000; ER16-343-000.

    Applicants: RE Astoria LLC, RE Astoria 2 LLC.

    Description: Second Clarification to November 17, 2015 RE Astoria LLC and November 18, 2015 RE Astoria 2 LLC tariff filings.

    Filed Date: 12/4/15.

    Accession Number: 20151204-5285.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-490-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-12-09_MISO-PJM JOA Eliminate $20M Project Threshold to be effective 2/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5114.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-491-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Florida, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: TEA Amended Firm PTP SA No. 140 to be effective 12/10/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5116.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-492-000.

    Applicants: Wabash Valley Power Association, Inc.

    Description: Application of Wabash Valley Power Association, Inc. for Approval to Establish a Regulatory Asset Related to Planned Early Retirements and Recovery of Such Costs through Formulary Rate Tariff.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5167.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-493-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 1977R7 Nemaha-Marshall Electric Cooperative NITSA and NOA to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5046.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-494-000.

    Applicants: MidAmerican Energy Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: MidAmerican-Ameren Amended Trans Interconnection Agreement to be effective 12/31/9998.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5051.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-495-000.

    Applicants: Prairie Breeze Wind Energy LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Filing of Amended Assignment, Co-Tenancy, and Shared Facilities Agreement to be effective 12/11/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5054.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following foreign utility company status filings:

    Docket Numbers: FC16-1-000.

    Applicants: Wind Service Sp. z.o.o.

    Description: Self-Certification of Foreign Utility Company Status of Wind Service Sp. z.o.o.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5080.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31606 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [14697-000] Advanced Hydropower, Inc.; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On August 3, 2015, Advanced Hydropower, Inc. filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the McNary Dam Advanced Hydropower Project (McNary Dam Project or project) to be located at U.S. Corps of Engineers' McNary Dam near Plymouth in Benton County, Washington and Umatilla in Umatilla County, Oregon. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The proposed project would utilize flows at the existing McNary Dam, and would consist of the following new features: (1) A 52-foot-wide, 40-foot-high gated intake located on the upstream side of McNary Dam; (2) a 32-foot-wide, 34-foot-high, 234-foot-long concrete penstock installed through McNary Dam; (3) a 34-megawatt vertical shaft Alden turbine; (4) a draft tube discharging flows to the existing McNary Dam tailrace; (5) a 1.24-mile-long, 13.8- or 23-kilovolt transmission line interconnecting with the existing McNary Dam switchyard; and (6) appurtenant facilities. The estimated annual generation of the McNary Dam Project would be 148.92 gigawatt-hours.

    Applicant Contact: Mr. Kurt Ross, Advanced Hydropower, Inc., 925 Fairgrounds Road, Goldendale, Washington 98620; phone: (509) 773-5650.

    FERC Contact: Sean O'Neill; phone: (202) 502-6462.

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14697-000.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14697) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31612 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filing Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-1257-000.

    Applicants: ANR Pipeline Company.

    Description: Informational Filing, submitted out of time, in compliance with October 22, 2015 Letter Order of ANR Pipeline Company under RP15-1257.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5021.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-291-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: J. Aron Contract Amendment to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-291-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: J. Aron Contract Amendment to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-292-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Reinstate AOS to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5071.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-293-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Update LPS and FLPS Form of Service Agreements to be effective 1/9/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5077.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-294-000.

    Applicants: Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Capacity Release Waiver Filing to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5120.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-295-000.

    Applicants: Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Filing of Negotiated Rate Agreement to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5121.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: CP16-26-000.

    Applicants: MoGas Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Abandonment Authority and for a Certificate of Public Convenience.

    Filed Date: 11/30/2015.

    Accession Number: 20151130-5452.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/2015.

    Docket Numbers: PR16-8-000.

    Applicants: Washington 10 Storage Corporation.

    Description: Tariff filing per 284.123(e)/.224: Update of Statement of Operating Conditions to be effective 12/8/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 201512075094.

    Comments/Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: PR16-5-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Gas Company.

    Description: Tariff filing per 284.123(b)(1)/.: New Rate Filing to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/2/15.

    Accession Number: 201512025225.

    Comments/Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/23/15.

    Docket Numbers: PR16-6-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Gas Company.

    Description: Tariff filing per 284.123(g)/.224: Cancellation of FERC Section 284.224 Service Tariff—Clone—Clone to be effective 12/3/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/3/2015.

    Accession Number: 201512035003.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/24/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 2/1/16.

    Docket Numbers: PR16-7-000.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc.

    Description: Tariff filing per 284.123(b)(1)/.: Revised SOC to be effective 12/4/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/4/15.

    Accession Number: 201512045120.

    Comments/Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/28/15.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    Filings in Existing Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-1278-001.

    Applicants: Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, L.L.C.

    Description: Report Filing: MNUS December 10, 2015, Errata Filing to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5069.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/22/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-1279-001.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Report Filing: TETLP December 10, 2015, Errata Filing to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5073.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/22/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31617 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL16-20-000] Grid Assurance LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order

    Take notice that on December 4, 2015, pursuant to Rule 207(a)(2) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission), 18 CFR 385.207(a)(2)(2015), Grid Assurance LLC filed a petition for declaratory order making regulatory findings for the benefit of the prospective subscribers to the spare transmission equipment service that will be offered by Grid Assurance. Grid Assurance seeks to address a critical national security need—enhancing the resiliency of the bulk power system in the event of a catastrophic event such as a natural disaster or an attack, by making critical replacement equipment for the transmission grid readily available to transmission owners in the United States and Canada, as more fully explained in the petition.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest in this proceeding must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Petitioner.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected] call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on December 28, 2015.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31610 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER16-341-000; ER16-343-000.

    Applicants: RE Astoria LLC, RE Astoria 2 LLC.

    Description: Third Clarification to November 17, 2015 RE Astoria LLC and November 18, 2015 RE Astoria 2 LLC tariff filings.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5046.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-496-000.

    Applicants: Prairie Breeze Wind Energy II LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Filing of Amended Assignment, Co-Tenancy, and Shared Facilities Agreement to be effective 12/11/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5059.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-497-000.

    Applicants: Prairie Breeze Wind Energy III LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Filing of Amended Assignment, Co-Tenancy, and Shared Facilities Agreement to be effective 12/11/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5062.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-498-000.

    Applicants: RE Mustang LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Application for Market Base Rate to be effective 2/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5064.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-499-000.

    Applicants: RE Mustang 3 LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Application for Market Based Rate to be effective 2/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5066.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-500-000.

    Applicants: RE Mustang 4 LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Application for Market Based Rate to be effective 2/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5067.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-501-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Amendment to Extend Terms of Eldorado Co-Tenancy and Communication Agreement to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5077.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-502-000.

    Applicants: Arizona Public Service Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Service Agreement No. 193—Amendment 4, ANPP Hassayampa Switchyard to be effective 11/10/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5124.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-503-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Florida, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: City of Quincy NITSA-NOA SA No. 153 to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5151.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-504-000.

    Applicants: Talen Energy Marketing, LLC.

    Description: Informational Filing of Talen Energy Marketing, LLC Pursuant to Schedule 2 of the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. Open-Access Tariff.

    Filed Date: 10/30/15.

    Accession Number: 20151030-5336.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric securities filings:

    Docket Numbers: ES16-9-000

    Applicants: New York State Electric & Gas Corporation.

    Description: Application for Authorization to Issue Short Term Debt of New York State Electric & Gas Corporation.

    Filed Date: 12/10/15.

    Accession Number: 20151210-5146.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/31/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31607 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filing Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP16-274-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Storage Injections and Withdrawals to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151202-5000.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-275-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Rate Case Settlement Amendment Filing 7 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151202-5033.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-276-000.

    Applicants: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company LL.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Cost and Revenue Study to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151202-5158.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-277-000.

    Applicants: Enable Mississippi River Transmission, L.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate Filing to Amend LER 5680's Attachment A_12_3_15 to be effective 12/3/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/3/15.

    Accession Number: 20151203-5048.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/15/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-278-000.

    Applicants: Cheyenne Plains Gas Pipeline Company, L.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.601: Non-Conforming Negotiated Rate Agreement Update (EnCana) to be effective 12/7/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/4/15.

    Accession Number: 20151204-5133.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/16/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-279-000.

    Applicants: Dauphin Island Gathering Partners.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Texas Eastern Lease Charge Removal to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/4/15.

    Accession Number: 20151204-5141.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/16/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-280-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 20151204 Negotiated Rates to be effective 12/5/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/4/15.

    Accession Number: 20151204-5232.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/16/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-281-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Cap Rel Neg Rate Agmt (Encana 37663 to BP 45524) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5067.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-282-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Cap Rel Neg Rate Agmt (QEP 37657 to BP 45523) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5068.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-283-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Cap Rel Neg Rate Agmts (EOG 34687 to Sequent 45550 and Trans LA 45585) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5070.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-284-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Cap Rel Neg Rate Agmts (Atlanta 8438 to various eff 12-1-15) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5071.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-285-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Cap Rel Neg Rate Agmts (Petrohawk 41455 to Texla 45582 and Sequent 45584) to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5072.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-286-000.

    Applicants: Enable Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate Filing- Thunderbird 1010446 to be effective 12/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151208-5069.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-287-000.

    Applicants: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Company LL.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Stagecoach Pipeline & Storage Co. LLC—Compliance with RP15-1218 Order to be effective 1/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151208-5071.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-288-000.

    Applicants: Millennium Pipeline Company, LLC.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate Service Agreement—Columbia 165033 to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151208-5152.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-289-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Correct BP Name to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151208-5154.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-290-000.

    Applicants: Dominion Transmission, Inc.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: DTI—December 8, 2015 Administrative Changes to be effective 1/8/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151208-5155.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-291-000.

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: J. Aron Contract Amendment to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151209-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    Filings In Existing Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP16-37-001.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Negotiated & Non-Conf ESE Compliance Filing—NJNG to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 12/2/15.

    Accession Number: 20151202-5161.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP16-224-001.

    Applicants: Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Cashout Report 2014-2015-Revised Appendix A to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20151207-5115.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/21/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: December 9, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31608 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Notice of Commission Staff Attendance

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) hereby gives notice that members of the Commission's staff may attend the following meeting related to the transmission planning activities of the Southeastern Regional Transmission Planning (SERTP) Process.

    The SERTP Process Fourth Quarter Meeting.

    December 15, 2015 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) The above-referenced meeting will be via web conference. The above-referenced meeting is open to stakeholders. Further information may be found at: www.southeasternrtp.com.

    The discussions at the meeting described above may address matters at issue in the following proceedings:

    Docket Nos. ER13-1928, et al., Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, et al.

    Docket Nos. ER13-1923, et al., Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., et al.

    Docket No. EL15-32, North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, Inc. v. Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress.

    For more information, contact Valerie Martin, Office of Energy Market Regulation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at (202) 502-6139 or [email protected]

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31611 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Western Area Power Administration Salt Lake City Area Integrated Projects and Colorado River Storage Project 2025 General Power Marketing Criteria AGENCY:

    Western Area Power Administration, Department of Energy (DOE).

    ACTION:

    Notice of the Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan and announcement of public information and comment forums.

    SUMMARY:

    Western Area Power Administration (Western), Colorado River Storage Project Management Center (CRSP MC), a Federal power marketing agency of the Department of Energy, is seeking comments on its Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan for the Salt Lake City Area Integrated Projects (SLCA/IP). The current SLCA/IP marketing plan will expire on September 30, 2024. The Proposed General Power Marketing Criteria provides the basis for marketing the long-term, firm hydroelectric resources of the SLCA/IP to be effective October 1, 2024. The Proposed General Power Marketing Criteria for the SLCA/IP are published herein. This Federal Register notice (FRN) formally initiates Western's public process and request for public comments. Western will prepare and publish the final 2025 General Power Marketing Criteria after public comments on the criteria are considered. The Energy Planning and Management Program as set forth in 10 CFR part 905 is not specifically applicable to the SLCA/IP; however, Western used the Power Marketing Initiative outlined in Subpart C for general guidance in developing a framework for this proposal. This FRN is not a call for applications. A call for applications from those interested in an allocation of SLCA/IP power will occur in a future notice.

    DATES:

    A public information forum is scheduled for Thursday, January 14, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. MST at the Ramada Inn, 5575 West Amelia Earhart Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah. The public comment forum is scheduled for Wednesday, February 17, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. MST at the Ramada Inn, 5575 West Amelia Earhart Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah. Written comments may be submitted to Western on or before March 30, 2016.

    Responses to questions about the proposed criteria unanswered at the forum will be provided in writing within a reasonable period of time. An opportunity will be given to all interested parties to present written or oral statements at the public comment forum. The forums will be transcribed, and copies will be available upon request. Any fees required by the transcription firm to provide a transcribed copy will be the responsibility of the requestor. Additionally, Western is available to consult on a government-to-government basis with Tribes that express interest in doing so.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit written comments regarding the proposed 2025 General Power Marketing Criteria to Ms. Lynn Jeka, CRSP Manager, Western Area Power Administration, 150 East Social Hall Avenue, Suite 300, Salt Lake City, UT 84111-1580. Western's representatives will explain the proposed criteria and answer questions. Comments may also be faxed to (801) 524-5017, or emailed to [email protected].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Parker Wicks, Public Utilities Specialist, or Mr. Steve Mullen, Public Utilities Specialist, at Western Area Power Administration, CRSP Management Center, 150 East Social Hall Avenue, Suite 300, Salt Lake City, UT 84111-1580, telephone (801) 524-5493, or email to [email protected]. Information can also be found at https://www.wapa.gov/regions/CRSP/PowerMarketing/Pages/power-marketing.aspx.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Brief descriptions of the projects included in the SLCA/IP are provided below:

    Colorado River Storage Project

    Authorized in 1956, the CRSP and participating projects initiated the comprehensive development and use of water resources of the Upper Colorado River. The CRSP is comprised of the Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Crystal, and Morrow Point dams and powerplants. CRSP storage units stabilize the erratic flows of the Colorado River and its tributaries so annual water delivery commitments to the Lower Colorado River Basin, as well as to farmers, municipalities, and industries in the Upper Basin, can be met. Delivery of this water to consumers is accomplished, in part, through the participating projects discussed below. Additional project development may occur in future years. Initial hydroelectric generation began at the CRSP facilities in 1963. The maximum operating capacity of the five original CRSP powerplants is currently about 1,760 MW. The average annual generation over the 20-year period from 1994 through 2014 was about 5,208,238 MWh.

    Participating Projects

    Seedskadee Project (Fontenelle Powerplant): The Seedskadee Project was authorized as one of the initial group of participating projects authorized with the CRSP in 1956. The Fontenelle Dam, powerplant, and reservoir are the principal features of the Seedskadee Project. The powerplant commenced operation in May 1968. The maximum operating capacity of Fontenelle Powerplant is 10 MW. The average annual generation from 1994-2014 was 53,477 MWh.

    Dolores Project (McPhee Dam and Towaoc Canal Powerplants): The Dolores Project was authorized by the Colorado River Basin Act of September 30, 1968, as a participating project under the Colorado River Storage Project Act. The maximum operating capacity of the two powerplants is 12.8 MW, and the combined average annual output of McPhee Dam and Towaoc Canal powerplants from 1994-2014 was 18,161 MWh.

    Integrated Projects

    Western consolidated and operationally integrated the Collbran and Rio Grande projects with CRSP beginning on October 1, 1987. These integrated projects have retained their separate financial obligations for repayment; however, an SLCA/IP rate is set to recover revenues to meet the repayment requirements of all projects. The maximum operating capacity of the eleven SLCA/IP powerplants is 1,818.6 MW, and the average annual generation from 1994-2014 was about 5,635,057 MWh. The SLCA/IP resources are currently marketed to approximately 140 long-term customers, and many more electric service providers enjoy this power indirectly through parent organizations that are direct customers of the SLCA/IP. Existing contracts will terminate at the end of the September 2024 billing period.

    Collbran Project (Upper Molina and Lower Molina Powerplants): Authorized in 1952 and in service since 1962. The maximum operating capacity of the two powerplants is presently 13.5 MW. The average annual generation from 1994-2014 was 41,915 MWh.

    Rio Grande Project (Elephant Butte Powerplant): The Rio Grande Project was authorized in 1905, and the powerplant went into service in 1940. The maximum operating capacity of the Elephant Butte Powerplant is 27.0 MW. The average annual generation was 66,743 MWh from 1994-2014.

    Current Marketing Plan Background

    The final Post-1989 General Power Marketing and Allocation Criteria, SLCA/IP (Post-1989 Plan), was published in the Federal Register (51 FR 4844-4870, February 7, 1986) and provided the marketing plan principles used to market what is now referred to as the SLCA/IP firm hydropower resources. The firm electric service contracts associated with the Post-1989 Plan were initially to expire in 2004. Western's Energy Planning and Management Program (EPAMP) Final Rule, Subpart C—Power Marketing Initiative was adopted for the SLCA/IP as published in the Federal Register (64 FR 34414-34417, Friday, June 25, 1999), which extended the firm electric contracts associated with the Post-1989 Plan through September 30, 2024, and also established a Post-2004 resource pool. The current marketing plan is inclusive of the Post-1989 Plan as extended and amended by EPAMP and the Post-2004 Power Marketing Initiative.

    Proposed 2025 General Power Marketing Criteria Background

    During the summer of 2015, Western held four meetings to initiate informal discussions with current SLCA/IP firm electric service customers and their representatives. The meetings were held in Phoenix, Arizona; Lakewood, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Salt Lake City, Utah. These meetings provided customers the opportunity to review current marketing plan principles and provide informal input to Western for consideration in this Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan. Some of the key marketing plan principles discussed at the meetings included marketing area, contract term, resource pools, and marketable resource. The main input Western received from the commenters during these meetings was that the Post-1989 Plan worked well and that Western should make as few changes as possible. Western agrees and proposes to keep the general contract format and maintain the existing allocations with its current customers. Western is also proposing that, if after it completes its analysis there is additional resource available, a power pool of 2 percent be created to serve new customers. Although Western's existing customers requested that no new power pool be created and that any additional marketable resource be allocated to them to offset reductions in their allocations due to the 1996 Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision, Western determined it could support additional wide-spread use by allocating any additional resource to benefit new customers rather than try to distribute a small amount of power among the approximately 135 existing customers. Western considered the feedback it received in developing the Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan, outlined below.

    Proposed 2025 General Power Marketing Criteria

    Western's Proposed 2025 Power Marketing Plan will remain predominantly unchanged from the Post-1989 General Power Marketing Criteria and Post-2004 Power Marketing Initiative. The Marketing Plan principles are as follows:

    Proposed Marketing Plan Principles

    1. Contract Term: A 40-year contract term would be used for firm electric service contracts. The firm electric service contract term would begin October 1, 2024, and expire September 30, 2064.

    2. Marketing Area: The Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan supports continuing the current SLCA/IP marketing area, which is divided into Northern and Southern Divisions.

    A. The Northern Division consists of the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; the City of Page, Arizona; a portion of the area in Arizona which lies in the drainage area of the Upper Colorado River Basin to be served by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority; and White Pine County and portions of Elko and Eureka counties in Nevada.

    B. The Southern Division consists of the remaining portion of the state of Arizona and that part of the state of Nevada in Clark, Lincoln, and Nye counties that comprise the southern portion of the state.

    3. New Resource Pool: Currently, the CRSP MC is doing extensive modeling to determine the amount of SLCA/IP resource that will be available for the 2025 Marketing Plan. Western expects that capacity and energy will be available above what is currently allocated to existing customers. If so, the 2025 Marketing Plan will provide a 2 percent resource pool of the modeled marketable resource. The allocation of this resource would occur one time at the beginning of the contract term, October 1, 2024. If, after the analysis of available marketable resource is completed, there is less than 2 percent available for a resource pool, then no resource pool will be made available to new customers. Western's determination of the availability of a resource pool will be announced through an FRN. Depending upon the timing, it may be announced in conjunction with another action (i.e., Final 2025 Marketing Plan) or it may be announced in a separate FRN.

    4. Western will provide new allocations only to eligible preference entities in the Northern Division and Native American tribes in either the Northern or Southern Division. Western will give priority to those preference entities that currently do not receive the benefit of Federal hydropower. If the applicant has met the eligibility criteria, Western, through the public process, will determine the amount of power, if any, to allocate in accordance with the marketing criteria and administrative discretion under Reclamation Law.

    5. Eligible applicants, except Native American tribes, must be ready, willing, and able to receive and distribute or use power from Western. Ready, willing, and able means the eligible applicant has the facilities needed for the receipt of power or has made the necessary arrangements for transmission and/or distribution service, and its power supply contracts with third parties permit the delivery of Western's power.

    6. Eligible applicants must have the necessary arrangements for transmission and/or distribution service in place by October 1, 2023.

    7. An eligible Native American applicant must be an Indian tribe as defined in the Indian Self Determination Act of 1975, 25 U.S.C. 450b, as amended.

    8. In determining allocations, Western will give priority consideration in the following order to entities satisfying these marketing criteria:

    A. Federally recognized Native American tribes.

    B. Municipal corporations and political subdivisions including irrigation or other districts, municipalities, and other governmental organizations that have electric utility status by October 1, 2023. “Electric utility status” means that the entity has responsibility to meet load growth, has a distribution system, and is ready, willing, and able to purchase Federal power from Western on a wholesale basis.

    C. Electric cooperatives and public utilities, other than electric utilities, that are recognized as utilities by their applicable legal authorities, are nonprofit in nature, have electrical facilities, and are independently governed and financed.

    D. Other eligible applicants.

    9. In determining allocations, Western will consider existing Federal power resource allocations of the applicants.

    10. Western will base allocations to Native American tribes on actual loads experienced in the most recent calendar year. Western may use estimated load values if actual load data are not available. Western will evaluate and may adjust inconsistent estimates during the allocation process. Western is available to assist tribes in developing load estimates.

    11. Western will base allocations to eligible applicants on the actual loads experienced in the most recent calendar year and will apply current marketing criteria to these loads.

    12. The minimum allocation will be 100 kW.

    13. Contractors must execute electric service contracts within 6 months of receiving a contract offer from Western, unless Western agrees otherwise in writing.

    14. If unanticipated obstacles to the delivery of electric service to a Native American tribe arise, Western retains the right to provide the economic benefit of the resource directly to the tribe.

    15. Existing Marketable Resource: Dependent upon available resource, Western proposes extending the existing contract rates of delivery commitments, with associated energy, to the existing SLCA/IP long-term, firm power customers.

    16. Hydrology and River Operations Withdrawal Provision: Western will reserve the right to adjust, at its discretion and sole determination, the contract rate of delivery on 5 years' advance written notice in response to changes in hydrology and river operations. Any such adjustments would occur after an appropriate public process.

    17. Service Seasons: The Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan supports continuing the current SLCA/IP summer and winter seasons.

    A. Summer Season: The 6-month period from the first day of the April billing period through the last day of the September billing period in any calendar year.

    B. Winter Season: The 6-month period from the first day of the October billing period of any calendar year through the last day of the March billing period of the next succeeding calendar year.

    18. Retention of Existing Contract Provisions: The Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan supports using the existing SLCA/IP firm electric service contract provisions with only minor modifications. Customer Displacement Power (CDP) and Western Replacement Power (WRP) contract provisions will continue to be available in the new SLCA/IP firm electric service contracts. The CDP and WRP provisions allow customers, at their discretion, to augment hydropower allocations with purchase power. Western reserves enough capacity on the CRSP transmission system to deliver the maximum amount of hydropower the system is capable of generating, which under certain conditions can sometime occur. In times when hydropower deliveries are lower, this transmission capacity can be made available for use by the customers. Under CDP, customers may elect to use this reserved transmission capacity to deliver their own energy resources in hours that it is needed to augment the hydropower deliveries. WRP is similar to CDP, but customers request that Western act as their agent and purchase energy available on the market to augment hydropower deliveries.

    Availability of Information

    Documents developed or retained by Western during this public process will be available, by appointment, for inspection and copying at the CRSP MC, located at 150 East Social Hall Avenue, Suite 300, Salt Lake City, Utah. Western will post information concerning the Proposed 2025 Marketing Plan on its Web site at: https://www.wapa.gov/regions/CRSP/PowerMarketing/Pages/power-marketing.aspx. Written comments received as part of the 2025 Marketing Plan formal public process will be available for viewing on the Web site.

    Procedural Requirements Environmental Compliance

    Western will evaluate this action for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and DOE NEPA Regulations (10 CFR 1021).

    Determination Under Executive Order 12866

    Western has an exemption from centralized regulatory review under Executive Order 12866; accordingly, no clearance of this notice by the Office of Management and Budget is required.

    Dated: December 8, 2015. Mark A. Gabriel, Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31619 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0439; FRL 9939-81-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts, Chemical and Radionuclides Rules AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an Information Collection Request (ICR) for the Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts, Chemical and Radionuclides Rules (EPA ICR No. 1896.10, OMB Control No. 2040-0204) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA; 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through December 31, 2015. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register (80 FR 17040) on March 31, 2015, during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A description of the ICR is provided in this renewal notice, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. 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.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0439, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected] or by mail to EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected] Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without modification including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kevin Roland, Drinking Water Protection Division, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, (4606M), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-564-4588; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: The Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts, Chemical and Radionuclides Rules ICR examines public water systems' and primacy agencies' burden and costs for recordkeeping and reporting requirements in support of the chemical drinking water regulations. These recordkeeping and reporting requirements are mandatory for compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR parts 141 and 142. The following chemical regulations are included: The Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (Stage 1 DBPR), the Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (Stage 2 DBPR), the Chemical Phase Rules (Phases II/IIB/V), the Radionuclides Rule, the Disinfectant Residual Monitoring and Associated Activities under the Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR), the Arsenic Rule and the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). Future chemical-related rulemakings will be added to this consolidated ICR after the regulations are promulgated and the initial, rule-specific, ICRs are due to expire.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are new and existing public water systems and primacy agencies.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory for compliance with 40 CFR parts 141 and 142.

    Estimated number of respondents: 149,822.

    Frequency of response: Varies by requirement (i.e., on occasion, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, biennially, and every 3, 6 and 9 years).

    Total estimated burden: 5,305,696 hours (per year). Burden is defined in 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $464,896,000 (per year), includes $5,492,000 annualized capital costs and $253,440,000 operation and maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: There is a decrease of 428,639 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This decrease is a result of updating relevant baseline information for each rule with the most current and accurate information available and updating burden to incorporate the results of consultation with stakeholders. Estimated violation and other associated rates have also been updated to reflect current information on rule compliance.

    Courtney Kerwin, Acting Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31540 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-RCRA-2013-0110; FRL-9940-16-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Categorical Non-Waste Determination for Selected Non Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM): Construction and Demolition Wood, Paper Recycling Process Residuals, and Creosote-Treated Railroad Ties (Additions to List of Section 241.4 Categorical Non-Waste Fuels) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “Categorical Non-Waste Determination for Selected Non Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM): Construction and Demolition Wood, Paper Recycling Process Residuals, and Creosote-Treated Railroad Ties (Additions to List of Section 241.4 Categorical Non-Waste Fuels)” (EPA ICR No. 2493.01, OMB Control No. 2050-XXXX) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This is a request for approval of a new collection. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register (79 FR 21006) on April 14, 2014 during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. 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.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-RCRA-2013-0110, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected]. Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jesse Miller, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Materials Recovery and Waste Management Division, MC 5302P, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (703) 308-1180; fax number: (703) 308-0522; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: EPA published the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule on March 21, 2011. Amendments to this rule were published in the Federal Register on February 7, 2013. These amendments provided clarification on certain issues on which EPA received new information, as well as specific targeted revisions. In addition, these amendments listed several NHSMs as categorical non-wastes when used as fuels. The Agency also indicated that we would consider adding additional materials to the categorical listings.

    The rule associated with this ICR Supporting Statement proposes to add three additional materials to the list of categorical non-waste fuels: (1) Construction and demolition (C&D) wood processed from construction and demolition debris according to best management practices; (2) paper recycling residuals (PRRs), including old corrugated cardboard (OCC) rejects, generated from the recycling of recovered paper and paperboard products and burned on-site by paper recycling mills whose boilers are designed to burn solid fuel, and (3) creosote-treated railroad ties that are processed and combusted in units designed to burn both biomass and fuel oil. This ICR is a description of the indirect information collection requirements associated with the proposed rule. There are two burden categories associated with this action: reading and understanding the rule, and certification statements for affected facilities.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Generators, users, and potential users of the new materials proposed to be added to the list of categorical non-waste fuels.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Voluntary, required to obtain non-waste determinations for non-hazardous secondary materials (40 CFR part 241).

    Estimated number of respondents: 605 (total).

    Frequency of response: Once.

    Total estimated burden: 885 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $64,739 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: This is a new collection.

    Courtney Kerwin, Acting Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31541 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0007; FRL-9937-24-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; EPA Worker Protection Standards for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “EPA Worker Protection Standards for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Renewal)” (EPA ICR No. 1426.11, OMB Control No. 2050-0105) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through December 31, 2015. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register 80 FR 60144 on October 5, 2015 during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. 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.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0007, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected] Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sella M. Burchette, U.S. Environmental Response Team, MS 101, Building 205, Edison, NJ 08837, telephone number: 732-321-6726; fax number: 732-321-6724; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: Section 126(f) of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) requires EPA to set worker protection standards for State and local employees engaged in hazardous waste operations and emergency response in the 27 States that do not have Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved State plans. The EPA coverage, as cited in 40 CFR 311, required to be identical to the OSHA standards, extends to three categories of employees: Those engaged in clean-ups at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, including corrective actions at Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSD) facilities regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); employees working on routine hazardous waste operations at RCRA TSD facilities, and employees involved in emergency response operations without regard to location. This ICR renews existing mandatory record keeping collection of ongoing activities including monitoring of any potential employee exposure at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, maintaining records of employee training, refresher training, medical exams and reviewing emergency response plans.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: State and local employees engaged in hazardous waste operations and emergency response in the 27 States that do not have Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) approved State plans.

    Respondent's Obligation to respond: Mandatory. Section (e) and by statue in Section (f)[8] of OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.120.

    Estimated number of respondents: 23,900.

    Frequency of response: Once, Annual, On occasion.

    Total estimated burden: 255,477 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b)

    Total estimated cost: $4,668,688 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in Estimates: There is no change of the hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This is due to the program maturing and stabilizing. The cost increased by $1,143,100, which is due to increased labor rates.

    Courtney Kerwin, Acting Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31539 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0659; FRL-9939-98-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Projects (New) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “Generic Clearance for Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Projects (New)” (EPA ICR No. 2521.01, OMB Control No. 2080—NEW) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This is a request for approval of a new collection. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register (80 FR 59148) on October 1, 2015 during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. 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.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0659 to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected] Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jay Benforado, IOAA-ORD, Mail Code 8101R, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-564-3262; fax number: 202-565-2494; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: EPA relies on scientific information. Citizen science and crowdsourcing techniques will allow the Agency to collect qualitative and quantitative data that might help inform scientific research, assessments, or environmental screening; validate environmental models or tools; or enhance the quantity and quality of data collected across the country's diverse communities and ecosystems to support the Agency's mission. Information gathered under this generic clearance will be used by the Agency to support the activities listed above and might provide unprecedented avenues for conducting breakthrough research. Collections under this generic ICR will be from participants who actively seek to participate on their own initiative through an open and transparent process (the Agency does not select participants or require participation); the collections will be low-burden for participants; collections will be low-cost for both the participants and the Federal Government; and data will be available to support the scientific research (including assessments, environmental screening, tools, models, etc.) of the Agency, states, tribal or local entities where data collection occurs. EPA may, by virtue of collaborating with non-federal entities, sponsor the collection of this type of information in connection with citizen science projects. When applicable, all such collections will accord with Agency policies and regulations related to human subjects research and will follow the established approval paths through EPA's Human Subjects Research Review Official. Finally, personally identifiable information (PII) will only be collected when necessary and in accordance with applicable federal procedures and policies. If a new collection is not within the parameters of this generic ICR, the Agency will submit a separate ICR to OMB for approval.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Individuals.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Voluntary.

    Estimated number of respondents: 42,500 (total).

    Frequency of response: The frequency of responses will range from once to on occasion.

    Total estimated burden: 389,083 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b)

    Total estimated cost: $12,893,959 (per year), includes $525,000 annualized capital for operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: This is a new information collection.

    Courtney Kerwin, Acting Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31542 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0465; FRL 9940-12-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Water Quality Standards Regulation (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “Water Quality Standards Regulation (Renewal)” (EPA ICR No. 0988.12, OMB Control No. 2040-0049) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through December 31, 2015. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register (80 FR 37616 on July 1, 2015), during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below. 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.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0465, online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tangela Cooper, Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology, Standards and Health Protection Division, (4305T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-566-0369; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: Water quality standards are provisions of state, tribal, and federal law that consist of designated uses for waters of the United States, water quality criteria to protect the designated uses, and an antidegradation policy. Section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act requires states and authorized tribes to establish water quality standards, and to review and, if appropriate, revise their water quality standards once every three years. The Act also requires EPA to review and either approve or disapprove the new or revised standards, and to promulgate replacement federal standards if necessary. Section 118(c)(2) of the Act specifies additional water quality standards requirements for waters of the Great Lakes system.

    The Water Quality Standards Regulation (40 CFR part 131 and portions of part 132) governs national implementation of the water quality standards program. The Regulation describes requirements and procedures for states and authorized tribes to develop, review, and revise their water quality standards, and EPA procedures for reviewing and approving the water quality standards. The regulation also establishes specific additional requirements for water quality standards and their implementation in the waters of the Great Lakes system, contained in the Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System (40 CFR part 132).

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: States, territories, and Indian tribes with EPA-approved standards; NPDES-permitted facilities that discharge into the Great Lakes.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory or required to obtain or retain a benefit, pursuant to 40 CFR parts 131 and 132.

    Estimated number of respondents: 2,787 (total).

    Frequency of response: Generally annual.

    Total estimated burden: 292,305 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $13,579,575 (per year). There are no annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in Estimates: There is an increase of 15,324 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This increase reflects an increase in the estimated number of respondents to reflect EPA's approval of water quality standards for four additional tribes, and minor adjustments to reflect updated estimates of Great Lakes activities.

    Courtney Kerwin, Acting Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31538 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF THE UNITED STATES [Public Notice 2015-6020] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Submission for OMB review and comments request.

    Form Title: EIB 15-03, Small Business Exporter Survey on US Content Requirement.

    SUMMARY:

    The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), as a part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal Agencies to comment on the proposed information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    Under Ex-Im Bank's Short and Medium-Term Insurance and Medium-Term Guarantee programs exported goods and services must meet established content requirement to be eligible for Ex-Im Bank financing and ensure that US-jobs benefit from Ex-Im bank programs. Ex-Im Bank relied upon the exporter's self-certification of content was never verified. The small business exporter survey seeks to obtain feedback from customers on US content requirement. This survey will help Ex-Im Bank better understand small business customers' perspectives on the bank's existence, monitoring, ability to perform compliance on potential areas of concern for exporters and how Ex-Im Bank's requirement impacts their small business. The objective is to identify possible service improvements and better understand small business owners' experiences working with Ex-Im Bank.

    The survey can be reviewed at: http://www.valuerecoveryholding.com/pending/surveyquestionnaire.html

    DATES:

    Comments should be received on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted electronically on WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV or by mail to Nigussie Haile, Export Import Bank of the United States, 811 Vermont Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20571

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Titles and Form Number: EIB 15-03, Small Business Exporter Survey on US Content Requirement.

    OMB Number: 3048-XXXX.

    Type of Review: Regular.

    Need and Use: The information requested enables Ex-Im Bank to identify possible service improvements to the benefit of small business exporters.

    The number of respondents: 1,000.

    Estimated time per respondents: 10 minutes.

    The frequency of response: One time.

    Annual hour burden: 166.7 total hrs.

    Government Expenses

    Reviewing time per response: 5 minutes.

    Responses per year: 1,000.

    Reviewing time per year: 83.33 hours.

    Average Wages per hour: $42.50.

    Average cost per year: (time * wages) $3,541.67.

    Benefits and overhead: 20%.

    Total Government Cost: $4,250.

    Bonita Jones-McNeil, Program Analyst, Records Management Division.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31530 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-0270] Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and Budget AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (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 January 15, 2016. 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 No.: 3060-0270.

    Title: Section 90.443, Content of Station Records.

    Form No.: N/A.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit, not-for-profit institutions, and state, local or tribal government.

    Number of Respondents: 63,375 respondents; 63,375 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: .25 hours.

    Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 47 U.S.C. Section 303(j), as amended.

    Total Annual Burden: 15,844 hours.

    Annual Cost Burden: No cost.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

    Needs and Uses: Section 90.443(b) requires that each licensee of a station shall maintain records for all stations by providing the dates and pertinent details of any maintenance performed on station equipment, along with the name and address of the service technician who did the work. If all maintenance is performed by the same technician or service company, the name and address need be entered only once in the station records.

    Section 90.443(c) requires that at least one licensee participating in the cost arrangement must maintain cost sharing records.

    Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31638 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-0281] Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated Authority AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collection. 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 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 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

    DATES:

    Written PRA comments should be submitted on or before February 16, 2016. 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 contact listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information about the information collection, contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    OMB Control Number: 3060-0281.

    Title: Section 90.651, Supplemental Reports Required of Licensees Authorized Under this Subpart.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection. Business or other for-profit entities, not-for-profit institutions and state, local or tribal government.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 190 respondents; 346 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: .166 hours (10 minutes).

    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority for this information collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 161, 303(g), 303(r), 332(c)(7).

    Total Annual Burden: 57 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: No cost.

    Privacy Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

    Needs and Uses: In a Report and Order (FCC 99-9, released February 19, 1999) in WT Docket 97-153, the Commission, under section 90.651, adopted a revised time frame for reporting the number of mobile units placed in operation from eight months to 12 months of the grant date of their license. The radio facilities addressed in this subpart of the rules are allocated on and governed by regulations designed to award facilities on a need basis determined by the number of mobile units served by each base station. This is necessary to avoid frequency hoarding by applicants. This rule section requires licensees to report the number of mobile units served via FCC Form 601. The Commission is extending this reporting requirement for a period of three years in the Office of the Management and Budget's (OMB) inventory.

    Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer, The Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31573 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of the Termination of the Receivership of 10227, Champion Bank, Creve Coeur, MO

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) as Receiver for Champion Bank, Creve Coeur, MO (“the Receiver”) intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed receiver of Champion Bank on April 20, 2010. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this Notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this Notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 32.1, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Date: December 10, 2015. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31543 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION [Notice 2015-12] Filing Dates for the Ohio Special Elections in the 8th Congressional District AGENCY:

    Federal Election Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice of filing dates for special elections.

    SUMMARY:

    Ohio has scheduled special elections on March 15, 2016, and June 7, 2016, to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the 8th Congressional District vacated by Representative John Boehner.

    Committees required to file reports in connection with the Special Primary Election on March 15, 2016, shall file a 12-day Pre-Primary Report. Committees required to file reports in connection with both the Special Primary and the Special General Election on June 7, 2016, shall file a 12-day Pre-Primary Report, 12-day Pre-General Report and a Post-General Report.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Elizabeth S. Kurland, Information Division, 999 E Street NW., Washington, DC 20463; Telephone: (202) 694-1100; Toll Free (800) 424-9530.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Principal Campaign Committees

    All principal campaign committees of candidates who participate in the Ohio Special Primary and Special General Elections shall file a 12-day Pre-Primary Report on March 3, 2016; a 12-day Pre-General Report on May 26, 2016; and a Post-General Report on July 7, 2016. (See charts below for the closing date for each report.)

    All principal campaign committees of candidates participating only in the Special Primary Election shall file a 12-day Pre-Primary Report on March 3, 2016. (See charts below for the closing date for each report.)

    Unauthorized Committees (PACs and Party Committees)

    Political committees filing on a quarterly basis in 2016 are subject to special election reporting if they make previously undisclosed contributions or expenditures in connection with the Ohio Special Primary or Special General Elections by the close of books for the applicable report(s). (See charts below for the closing date for each report.)

    Committees filing monthly that make contributions or expenditures in connection with the Ohio Special Primary or Special General Elections will continue to file according to the monthly reporting schedule.

    Additional disclosure information in connection with the Ohio Special Elections may be found on the FEC Web site at http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates.shtml.

    Disclosure of Lobbyist Bundling Activity

    Principal campaign committees, party committees and Leadership PACs that are otherwise required to file reports in connection with the special elections must simultaneously file FEC Form 3L if they receive two or more bundled contributions from lobbyists/registrants or lobbyist/registrant PACs that aggregate in excess of the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold during the special election reporting periods. (See charts below for closing date of each period.) 11 CFR 104.22(a)(5)(v), (b).

    The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold for calendar year 2015 is $17, 600. This threshold amount may change in 2016 based upon the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). As soon as the adjusted threshold amount is available, the Commission will publish it in the Federal Register and post it on its Web site. 11 CFR 104.22(g) and 110.7(e)(2). For more information on these requirements, see Federal Register Notice 2009-03, 74 FR 7285 (February 17, 2009).

    Calendar of Reporting Dates for Ohio Special Elections Committees Involved in Only The Special Primary (03/15/16) Must File Report Close of books 1 Reg./cert. &
  • overnight mailing deadline
  • Filing deadline
    Pre-Primary 02/24/16 02/29/16 03/03/16 April Quarterly 03/31/16 04/15/16 04/15/16
    Committees Involved in Both the Special Primary (03/15/16) and Special General (06/07/16) Must File Report Close of books 1 Reg./Cert. &
  • overnight mailing deadline
  • Filing deadline
    Pre-Primary 02/24/16 02/29/16 03/03/16 April Quarterly 03/31/16 04/15/16 04/15/16 Pre-General 05/18/16 05/23/16 05/26/16 Post-General 06/27/16 07/07/16 07/07/16 July Quarterly —WAIVED— October Quarterly 09/30/16 10/15/16 10/15/16
    Committees Involved in Only the Special General (06/07/16) Must File Report Close of books 1 Reg./cert. &
  • overnight mailing deadline
  • Filing deadline
    Pre-General 05/18/16 05/23/16 05/26/16 Post-General 06/27/16 07/07/16 07/07/16 July Quarterly —WAIVED— October Quarterly 09/30/16 10/15/16 10/15/16 1 The reporting period always begins the day after the closing date of the last report filed. If the committee is new and has not previously filed a report, the first report must cover all activity that occurred before the committee registered as a political committee up through the close of books for the first report due.

    On behalf of the Commission.

    Dated: December 9, 2015. Ann M. Ravel, Chair, Federal Election Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31545 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6715-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than December 31, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (Yvonne Sparks, Community Development Officer) P.O. Box 442, St. Louis, Missouri 63166-2034:

    1. Joel A. Montgomery, Jr., St. Louis, Missouri, as trustee, of the RHM IV 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust, WJM 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust, JMF 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust, and the JAMJR 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust; and Richard H. Montgomery III, Sikeston, Missouri, as trustee, of the MMM 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust and RHM III 2015 Irrevocable Bank Trust, to retain and acquire additional voting shares of Montgomery Bancorporation, Inc., and thereby indirectly retain and acquire additional voting shares of Montgomery Bank, N.A., both in Sikeston, Missouri.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, December 11, 2015. Margaret McCloskey Shanks, Deputy Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31601 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than January 11, 2016.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Jacquelyn K. Brunmeier, Assistant Vice President) 90 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480-0291:

    1. Bank Forward Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust, Fargo, North Dakota, to become a bank holding company, by retaining at least 25 percent of the voting shares of Security State Bank Holding Company, Fargo, North Dakota, and thereby indirectly retain voting shares of Bank Forward, Hannaford, North Dakota.

    In connection with this application, Security State Bank Holding Company and Bank Forward Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust, through Bank Forward have also applied to engage in extending credit and servicing loans, pursuant to section 225.28(b)(1).

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, December 11, 2015. Margaret McCloskey Shanks, Deputy Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31600 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [OMB Control No. 9000-0101; Docket 2015-0055; Sequence 32] Information Collection; Drug-Free Workplace AGENCY:

    Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for public comments regarding an extension of an existing 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 an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement concerning drug-free workplace.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by Information Collection 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace, by any of the following methods:

    Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching the OMB control number. Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “Information Collection 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace” on your attached document.

    Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace, 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. Charles Gray, Procurement Analyst, Office of Acquisition Policy, GSA 202-208-6726 or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A. Purpose

    FAR clause 52.223-6, Drug-Free Workplace, requires (1) contractor employees to notify their employer of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace; and (2) Government contractors, after receiving notice of such conviction, to notify the contracting officer. The clause is not applicable to commercial items, contracts at or below simplified acquisition threshold (unless awarded to an individual), and contracts performed outside the United States or by law enforcement agencies. The clause implements the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-690).

    The information provided to the Government is used to determine contractor compliance with the statutory requirements to maintain a drug-free workplace.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Respondents: 598.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 598.

    Hours per Response: .5.

    Total Burden Hours: 299.

    C. Public Comments

    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), and whether it 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. 9000-0101, Drug-Free Workplace, in all correspondence.

    Edward Loeb, Acting Director, Federal Acquisition Policy Division, Office of Governmentwide Acquisition Policy, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of Governmentwide Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31561 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [OMB Control No. 9000-0083; Docket 2015-0055; Sequence 31] Information Collection; Qualification Requirements AGENCY:

    Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for comments regarding the extension of a previously existing 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 an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement concerning Qualification Requirements.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by Information Collection 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements, by any of the following methods:

    Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching the OMB control number. Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “Information Collection 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements” on your attached document.

    Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements, 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. Charles Gray, Procurement Analyst, Office of Governmentwide Acquisition Policy, GSA, 703-795-6328 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A. Purpose

    FAR subpart 9.2 and the associated clause at FAR 52.209-1, implement the statutory requirements of 10 U.S.C. 2319 and 41 U.S.C. 3311, which allow an agency to establish a qualification requirement for testing or other quality assurance demonstration that must be completed by an offeror before award of a contract. Under the qualification requirements, an end item, or a component thereof, may be required to be prequalified.

    The clause at FAR 52.209-1, Qualification Requirements, requires offerors who have met the qualification requirements to identify the offeror's name, the manufacturer's name, source's name, the item name, service identification, and test number (to the extent known). This eliminates the need for an offeror to provide new information when the offeror, manufacturer, source, product or service covered by qualification requirement has already met the standards specified by an agency in a solicitation.

    The contracting officer uses the information to determine eligibility for award when the clause at 52.209-1 is included in the solicitation. Alternatively, items not yet listed may be considered for award upon the submission of evidence of qualification with the offer.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Respondents: 9,693.

    Responses per Respondent: 5.

    Annual Responses: 48,465.

    Hours per Response: 1.0.

    Total Burden Hours: 48,465.

    C. Public Comments

    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary; whether it 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. 9000-0083, Qualification Requirements, in all correspondences.

    Edward Loeb, Acting Director, Federal Acquisition Policy Division, Office of Governmentwide Acquisition Policy, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of Governmentwide Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31560 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [Docket 2015-0055; Sequence 16; OMB Control No. 9000-0107] Submission for OMB Review; Notice of Radioactive Materials AGENCIES:

    Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for comments regarding the extension of a previously existing 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 an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement concerning Notice of Radioactive Materials. A notice was published in the Federal Register at 80 FR 58253 on September 28, 2015. No comments were received.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden to: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for GSA, Room 10236, NEOB, Washington, DC 20503. Additionally submit a copy to GSA by any of the following methods:

    Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching the OMB control number. Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “Information Collection 9000-0107, Notice of Radioactive Materials”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 9000-0107, Notice of Radioactive Materials” on your attached document.

    Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 9000-0107, Notice of Radioactive Materials.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 9000-0107, Notice of Radioactive Materials, 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. Charles Gray, Procurement Analyst, Office of Acquisition Policy, GSA, 703-795-6328 or email [email protected]

    A. Purpose

    The clause at FAR 52.223-7, Notice of Radioactive Materials, requires contractors to notify the Government prior to delivery of items containing radioactive materials. The purpose of the notification is to alert receiving activities that appropriate safeguards may need to be instituted. The notice shall specify the part or parts of the items which contain radioactive materials, a description of the materials, the name and activity of the isotope, the manufacturer of the materials, and any other information known to the contractor which will put users of the items on notice as to the hazards involved.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Respondents: 535.

    Responses per Respondent: 5.

    Annual Responses: 2,675.

    Hours per Response: 1.

    Total Burden Hours: 2,675.

    C. Public Comments

    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it 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. 9000-0107,

    Notice of Radioactive Materials, in all correspondence.

    Edward Loeb, Acting Director, Federal Acquisition Policy Division, Office of Governmentwide Acquisition Policy, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of Governmentwide Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31562 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [30Day-16-0048] Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act Review

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has submitted the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The notice for the proposed information collection is published to obtain comments from the public and affected agencies.

    Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies concerning the proposed collection of information are encouraged. Your comments should address any of the following: (a) 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; (b) Evaluate the accuracy of the agencies estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) 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; and (e) Assess information collection costs.

    To request additional information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, call (404) 639-7570 or send an email to [email protected] Direct written comments and/or suggestions regarding the items contained in this notice to the Attention: CDC Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503 or by fax to (202) 395-5806. Written comments should be received within 30 days of this notice.

    Proposed Project

    ATSDR Exposure Investigations (EIs) (OMB Control No. 0923-0048, Expiration Date 5/31/2016)—Extension—Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

    Background and Brief Description

    The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is requesting a three-year extension of this generic clearance to allow the agency to conduct exposure investigations (EIs), through methods developed by ATSDR. After a chemical release or suspected release into the environment, EIs are usually requested by officials of a state health agency, county health departments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the general public, and ATSDR staff.

    EI results are used by public health professionals, environmental risk managers, and other decision makers to determine if current conditions warrant intervention strategies to minimize or eliminate human exposure. For example, three of the EIs that ATSDR conducted in the past three years include the Colorado Smelter (CO—blood lead and urine arsenic), ASARCO Hayden Smelter Site (AZ—blood lead and urine arsenic), and Decatur (AL—perfluorochemicals [PFCs] in serum).

    Example 1: Colorado Smelter Blood Lead and Urine Arsenic Sampling, CO

    The site is a former smelter located in Pueblo, Colorado. Past sampling found elevated levels of lead and arsenic in residential soils and a slag pile associated with the smelter. ATSDR sampled blood lead levels (BLLs) in children and adults and found seven children that had BLLs near or exceeding the level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dL)(a level identified by ATSDR as a level of concern for lead effects in children). One adult had an elevated level of arsenic in their urine. Speciation of the sample determined that it was primarily organic arsenic, probably resulting from eating seafood.

    • The local health department conducted a Healthy Homes Inspection for these families having children with elevated BLLs and ATSDR recommended that the children follow up with their primary care provider.

    • On June 10, 2014, the local health department obtained a six year grant from the EPA Region 8 to conduct health education, BLL screening, assist in the coordination of developmental and cognitive evaluations in affected children from a designated area of Pueblo, and conduct other public health actions/investigations as stipulated in the grant.

    • On December 11, 2014, EPA listed the Colorado Smelter site on the National Priority List (NPL).

    Example 2: ASARCO Hayden Smelter Site, AZ

    The community is located in the vicinity of the ASARCO Hayden Smelter, which has been operating for 100 years as a copper ore processer. The processing has resulted in lead and arsenic contamination in the surrounding residential area and in tailing piles used for recreation. Limited sampling of the community in the past found elevated BLLs and arsenic in urine. Based on community concerns, EPA requested that ATSDR conduct an EI to assess potential exposure of the community to lead and arsenic.

    • In April, 2015, ATSDR collected 83 BLL and 58 urine arsenic samples from the community.

    • Participants have been notified of their results and the EI report is being prepared.

    Example 3: Perfluorochemical Serum Sampling, Decatur, AL

    Perfluorochemicals (PFC) are a class of organofluorine compounds that are used in a variety of industrial and consumer products including fire-fighting foams; personal care and cleaning products; and oil, stain, grease, and water repellent coatings. These coatings are used on carpet, textiles, leather, “non-stick” cookware, and paper wrappers used on fast food items. As a result, United States (U.S.) general population exposure to PFCs is common.

    In 2007, PFCs were released by a chemical manufacturer near Decatur, AL, and impacted environmental media in the area. In 2010, ATSDR conducted an EI to assess exposure of residents to PFCs in blood. PFCs were found in the serum of people that regularly used the public water system in the area as their primary drinking water source.

    Recommendations of the EI included continued monitoring for PFCs in the public water supply and continued biological PFC testing in the community to determine if PFCs in the community had been reduced.

    Based on the results of the 2010 EI, ATSDR is preparing to conduct another EI at the site in 2016 (approved by OMB on 8/10/2015), including biological sampling of serum and urine to:

    • Compare individuals' current serum PFC concentrations with their 2010 serum PFC concentrations.

    • Compare individuals' serum PFC concentrations to the national population reference values (NHANES 2011-2012).

    • Calculate the biological half-life for each PFC species using paired blood and urine PFC concentrations to improve the understanding of the pharmacokinetic behavior of these compounds in humans.

    • Evaluate the potential existence of non-drinking water PFC exposure pathways through physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling.

    All of ATSDR's targeted biological assessments (e.g., urine, blood) and some of the environmental investigations (e.g., air, water, soil, or food sampling) involve participants to determine whether they are or have been exposed to unusual levels of pollutants at specific locations (e.g., where people live, spend leisure time, or anywhere they might come into contact with contaminants under investigation).

    Questionnaires, appropriate to the specific contaminant, are generally needed in about half of the EIs (at most approximately 12 per year) to assist in interpreting the biological or environmental sampling results. ATSDR collects contact information (e.g., name, address, phone number) to provide the participant with their individual results. ATSDR also collects information on other possible confounding sources of chemical(s) exposure such as medicines taken, foods eaten, hobbies, jobs, etc. In addition, ATSDR asks questions on recreational or occupational activities that could increase a participant's exposure potential. That information represents an individual's exposure history.

    The number of questions can vary depending on the number of chemicals being investigated, the route of exposure (e.g., breathing, eating, touching), and number of other sources of the chemical(s) (e.g., products used, jobs). We use approximately 12-20 questions about the pertinent environmental exposures per investigation. Typically, the number of participants in an individual EI ranges from 10 to 100. Participation is completely voluntary, and there are no costs to participants other than their time. Based on a maximum of 12 EIs per year and 100 participants each, the estimated annualized burden hours are 600.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • (in hrs.)
  • Exposure Investigation Participants Chemical Exposure Questions 1,200 1 30/60
    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. 2015-31581 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Health Resources and Services Administration Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment Request AGENCY:

    Health Resources and Services Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with Section 3507(a)(1)(D) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has submitted an Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. Comments submitted during the first public review of this ICR will be provided to OMB. OMB will accept further comments from the public during the review and approval period.

    DATES:

    Comments on this ICR should be received no later than January 15, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, including the Information Collection Request Title, to the desk officer for HRSA, either by email to [email protected] or by fax to 202-395-5806.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request a copy of the clearance requests submitted to OMB for review, email the HRSA Information Collection Clearance Officer at [email protected] or call (301) 443-1984.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Information Collection Request Title: Shortage Designation Management System

    OMB No. 0915-xxxx—NEW

    Abstract: HRSA's Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) is committed to improving the health of the nation's underserved communities and vulnerable populations by developing, implementing, evaluating, and refining programs that strengthen the nation's health workforce. The Department of Health and Human Services relies on two federal shortage designations to identify and dedicate resources to areas and populations in greatest need of providers: Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations and Medically Underserved Area/Medically Underserved Population (MUA/P) designations. HPSA designations are geographic areas, population groups, and facilities that are experiencing a shortage of health professionals. MUA/P designations are areas, or populations within areas, that are experiencing a shortage of health care services. MUAs are designated for the entire population of a particular geographic area. MUP designations are limited to particular groups of underserved people within an area. These designations are currently used in a number of Departmental programs that provide both federal and state government grant/program benefits for communities, health care facilities, and providers. BHW has the responsibility for designating and de-designating HPSAs and MUA/Ps on behalf of the Secretary.

    HPSA designations are required to be reviewed and updated annually to reflect current data. Individual states—through their Primary Care Office (PCO)—have primary responsibility for initiating an application for a new or updated HPSA designation, or withdrawing HPSAs that no longer meet the designation criteria. HRSA reviews the application and makes the final determination on the HPSA designation. Requests come from the PCOs who have access to the online application and review system, Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS). Requests that come from other sources are referred to the PCOs for their review and concurrence. In addition, interested parties, including the Governor, the State Primary Care Association, and state professional associations are notified of each request submitted for their comments and recommendations.

    In order to obtain a federal shortage designation for an area, population, or facility, PCOs must submit a shortage designation application through SDMS for review and approval by BHW. Both the HPSA and MUA/P applications request local, state, and national data on the population that is experiencing a shortage of health professionals and the number of health professionals relative to the population covered by the proposed designation. The information collected on the applications is used to determine which areas, populations, and facilities have shortages.

    The lists of designated HPSAs are annually published in the Federal Register. In addition, lists of HPSAs are updated on the HRSA Web site, http://www.hrsa.gov/shortage/, so that interested parties can access the information.

    Need and Proposed Use of the Information: The need and purpose of this information collection is to obtain information to designate HPSAs and MUA/Ps. The information obtained from the SDMS is used to determine which areas, populations, and facilities have critical shortages of health professionals. The SDMS HPSA application and SDMS MUA/P application are used for these designation determinations. Applicants must submit a SDMS application to BHW to obtain a federal shortage designation. The application asks for local, state, and national data required for determining the application's eligibility to obtain a federal shortage designation. In addition, applicants must enter detailed information explaining how the area, population, or facility faces a critical shortage of health professionals.

    Likely Respondents: State PCOs interested in obtaining a primary care, dental, or mental HPSA designation or a MUA/P in their state.

    Burden Statement: Burden in this context means the time expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose or provide the information requested. 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. The total annual burden hours estimated for this ICR are summarized in the table below.

    Total Estimated Annualized Burden—Hours Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total
  • responses
  • Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • (in hours)
  • Total burden hours
    Designation Planning and Preparation 54 57 3,078 23.40 72,025.20 SDMS Application 54 57 3,078 11.33 34,873.74 Total 54 57 3,078 34.73 106,898.94
    Jackie Painter, Director, Division of the Executive Secretariat.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31642 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4165-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Health Resources and Services Administration Statement of Organization, Functions and Delegations of Authority

    This notice amends Part R of the Statement of Organization, Functions and Delegations of Authority of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) (60 FR 56605, as amended November 6, 1995; as last amended at 80 FR 66545-66546 dated October 29, 2015).

    This notice reflects organizational changes in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Office of the Administrator (RA), Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5) and the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ). Specifically, this notice: (1) Establishes the Office of Global Health (RAI) within the Office of the Administrator (RA); (2) transfers the function of the Office of Global Health Affairs (RQA1) from the Bureau of Health Workforce to the Office of the Administrator (RA); (3) transfers the Border Health function from the Office of External Engagement (RA57) within the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5) to the Office of Global Health (RAI); (4) abolishes the Office of Global Health Affairs (RQA1) within the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ); and (5) updates the functional statement for the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ), Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (OPAE) and the Office of the Administrator (RA).

    Chapter RA—Office of the Administrator (RA) Section RA-10, Organization

    Delete the organizational structure for the Office of the Administrator (RA) and replace in its entirety.

    The Office of the Administrator is headed by the Administrator, who reports directly to the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.

    (1) Immediate Office of the Administrator (RA);

    (2) Office of Legislation (RAE);

    (3) Office of Communications (RA6);

    (4) Office of Health Equity (RAB);

    (5) Office of Equal Opportunity, Civil Rights, and Diversity Management (RA2);

    (6) Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5);

    (7) Office of Women's Health (RAW); and

    (8) Office of Global Health (RAI).

    Section RA-20, Functions

    This notice reflects organizational changes in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Office of the Administrator (RA), Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5). Specifically, this notice: (1) Transfers the function of the Office of Global Health Affairs (RQA1) to the Office of the Administrator (RA); (2) transfers the Border Health function from the Office of External Engagement (RA57) within the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5) to the Office of Global Health (RAI); and (3) updates the functional statement for the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ), the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation (RA5) and the Office of the Administrator (RA).

    Office of the Administrator (RA)

    (1) Leads and directs programs and activities of the Agency and advises the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services on policy matters concerning them; (2) provides consultation and assistance to senior Agency officials and others on clinical and health professional issues; (3) serves as the Agency's focal point on efforts to strengthen the practice of public health as it pertains to the HRSA mission; (4) establishes and maintains verbal and written communications with health organizations in the public and private sectors to support the mission of HRSA; (5) coordinates the Agency's strategic, evaluation and research planning processes; (6) manages the legislative and communications programs for the Agency; (7) administers HRSA's equal opportunity and civil rights activities; (8) provides overall leadership, direction, coordination, and planning in the support of the Agency's special health programs; (9) manages the health, wellness, and safety of women and girls with the support of the Office of Women's Health, through policy, programming and outreach education; and (10) provides leadership within HRSA for the support of global health and coordinates policy development with the HHS Office of Global Affairs, other departmental agencies, bilateral/multilateral organizations, and other international organizations and partners.

    Office of Global Health (RAI)

    The Office of Global Health serves as the principal advisor to the Administrator on global health issues. Specifically: (1) Provides leadership, coordination, and advancement of global health programs relating to sustainable health systems for vulnerable and at-risk populations and for HRSA training programs; (2) provides support for the agency's international travel and the Department of State's International Visitors Leadership Program; (3) provides management and oversight of international programs aimed at -improving quality and innovation in human resources for health, health professions recruitment, education, faculty development, retention, and applied research systems; (3) provides leadership within HRSA for the support of global health and coordinates policy development with the HHS Office of Global Affairs, other departmental agencies, bilateral/multilateral organizations, and other international organizations and partners; (4) monitors HRSA's border health activities and investments to promote collaboration and improve health care access to those living along the U.S.-Mexico border; and (5) supports and conducts programs associated with the international migration and recruitment of health personnel, foreign and immigrant health workers, and veterans.

    Office of External Engagement (RA57)

    (1) Serves as the principal Agency resource for facilitating external engagement; (2) coordinates the Agency's intergovernmental activities; (3) provides the Administrator with a single point of contact on all activities related to important state and local government, stakeholder association, and interest group activities; (4) coordinates Agency cross-Bureau cooperative agreements and activities with organizations such as the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislature, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of Counties, and National Association of County and City Health Officials; (5) interacts with various commissions such as the Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Denali Commission; (6) serves as the primary liaison to Department intergovernmental staff; and (7) serves as the Agency liaison to manage and coordinate study engagements with the Government Accountability Office and the HHS Office of the Inspector General, Office of Evaluation and Inspections.

    Chapter RQ—Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ) Section RQ-10, Organization

    Delete the organizational structure for the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ) and replace in its entirety.

    The Bureau of Health Workforce is headed by the Associate Administrator, who reports directly to the Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration.

    (1) Office of the Associate Administrator (RQ);

    (2) Division of Policy and Shortage Designation (RQ1);

    (3) Division of Business Operations (RQ2);

    (4) Division of External Affairs (RQ3);

    (5) Office of Workforce Development and Analysis (RQA);

    (6) National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (RQA2);

    (7) Division of Medicine and Dentistry (RQA3);

    (8) Division of Nursing and Public Health (RQA4);

    (9) Division of Practitioner Data Bank (RQA5);

    (10) Office of Health Careers (RQB);

    (11) Division of Participant Support and Compliance (RQB1);

    (12) Division of Health Careers and Financial Support (RQB2);

    (13) Division of National Health Service Corps (RQB3); and

    (14) Division of Regional Operations (RQB4).

    Section RQ-20, Functions

    This notice reflects organizational changes in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ). Specifically, this notice: (1) Transfers the function of the Office of Global Health Affairs (RQA1) to the Office of the Administrator (RA); and (2) updates the functional statement for the Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ) and the Office of the Administrator (RA).

    Bureau of Health Workforce (RQ)

    The Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) improves the health of the nation's underserved communities and vulnerable populations by developing, implementing, evaluating, and refining programs that strengthen the nation's health care workforce. BHW programs support a diverse, culturally competent workforce by addressing components including: education and training; recruitment and retention; financial support for students, faculty, and practitioners; supporting institutions; data analysis; and evaluation and coordination of health workforce activities. These efforts support development of a skilled health workforce serving in areas of the nation with the greatest need.

    Delegations of Authority

    All delegations of authority and re-delegations of authority made to HRSA officials that were in effect immediately prior to this reorganization, and that are consistent with this reorganization, shall continue in effect pending further re-delegation.

    This reorganization is effective upon date of signature.

    Dated: December 8, 2015. James Macrae, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31594 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4165-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-3638] Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; Draft Guidance; Extension of the Comment Period AGENCY:

    The Office for Human Research Protections, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of the Secretary, and the Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are extending the comment period for the draft guidance entitled “Minutes of Institutional Review Board (IRB) Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and IRBs.” A notice of availability requesting comments on the draft guidance document appeared in the Federal Register of November 5, 2015. The Agencies are taking the initiative to extend the comment period for an additional 30 days because the timing of the due date for comments intersects with comment periods on other Federal Register documents requiring review by the same group of stakeholders. This extension will allow interested persons additional time to submit comments.

    DATES:

    OHRP and FDA are extending the comment period on the draft guidance entitled “Minutes of Institutional Review Board (IRB) Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and IRBs.” Submit either electronic or written comments by February 3, 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-3638 for “Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; Draft Guidance; Availability” 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.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Janet Donnelly, Office of Good Clinical Practice, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, Rm. 5167, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-4187; or Irene Stith-Coleman, Office for Human Research Protections, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20852, 240-453-6900.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Federal Register of November 5, 2015 (80 FR 68545), OHRP and FDA published a notice of availability with a 60-day comment period to request comments on a draft guidance document entitled “Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings: Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; Draft Guidance; Availability.” The Agencies are taking the initiative to extend the comment period for an additional 30 days because the timing of the due date for comments intersects with comment periods on other Federal Register documents requiring review by the same group of stakeholders. We believe that a 30-day extension allows adequate time for interested persons to submit comments without significantly delaying finalizing the guidance on these important issues.

    Dated: December 9, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dated: December 4, 2015. Karen B. DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31593 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; Notice of Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of meetings of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

    The meetings will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Cures Acceleration Network Review Board.

    Date: January 14, 2016.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: Report from the Institute Director.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Anna L. Ramsey-Ewing, Ph.D., Executive Secretary, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, 1 Democracy Plaza, Room 1072, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0809, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Advisory Council.

    Date: January 14, 2016.

    Open: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: Report from the Institute Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Anna L. Ramsey-Ewing, Ph.D., Executive Secretary, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, 1 Democracy Plaza, Room 1072, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0809, [email protected]

    In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus. All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver's license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.859, Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry Research; 93.350, B—Cooperative Agreements; 93.859, Biomedical Research and Research Training, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31547 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-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 grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; NIAID Peer Review Meeting.

    Date: January 5, 2016.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 3F30A, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Ellen S. Buczko, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities, Room # 3F30A, National Institutes of Health/NIAID, 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9823, Bethesda, MD 20892-9823, (240) 669-5028, [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. 93.855, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research; 93.856, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31549 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(a) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of an Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC or Committee) meeting.

    The purpose of the IACC meeting is to discuss business, agency updates and issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and services activities. The committee will discuss the next update of the IACC Strategic Plan. The meeting will be open to the public and will be accessible by webcast and conference call.

    Name of Committee: Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC).

    Type of meeting: Open Meeting.

    Date: January 12, 2016.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.* Eastern Time * Approximate end time.

    Agenda: To discuss business, updates and issues related to ASD research and services activities. The committee will discuss the next update of the IACC Strategic Plan.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 31 Center Drive, Building 31, C Wing, 6th Floor, Conference Room 6, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Webcast Live: http://videocast.nih.gov/.

    Conference Call Access: Dial: 800-988-9744, Access code: 3700810.

    Cost: The meeting is free and open to the public.

    Registration: Pre-registration is recommended to expedite check-in. Seating in the meeting room is limited to room capacity and on a first come, first served basis. To register, please visit: www.iacc.hhs.gov.

    Deadlines: Notification of intent to present oral comments: Monday, January 4, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. ET. Submission of written/electronic statement for oral comments: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. ET. Submission of written comments: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. ET. For IACC Public Comment guidelines please see: http://iacc.hhs.gov/public-comment/index.shtml.

    Access: Medical Center Metro Station (Red Line).

    Contact Person: Ms. Lina Perez, Office of Autism Research Coordination, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6182A, Bethesda, MD 20892-9669, Phone: 301-443-6040, Email: [email protected].

    Public Comments

    Any member of the public interested in presenting oral comments to the Committee must notify the Contact Person listed on this notice by 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday, January 4, 2016, with their request to present oral comments at the meeting. Interested individuals and representatives of organizations must submit a written/electronic copy of the oral presentation/statement including a brief description of the organization represented by 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. Statements submitted will become a part of the public record. Only one representative of an organization will be allowed to present oral comments and presentations will be limited to three to five minutes per speaker, depending on the number of speakers to be accommodated within the allotted time. Speakers will be assigned a time to speak in the order of the date and time when their request to speak is received, along with the required submission of the written/electronic statement by the specified deadline.

    In addition, any interested person may submit written public comments to the IACC prior to the meeting by sending the comments to the Contact Person listed on this notice by 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. The comments should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person. NIMH anticipates written public comments received by 5:00 p.m. ET, Tuesday, January 5, 2016 will be presented to the Committee prior to the meeting for the Committee's consideration. Any written comments received after the 5:00 p.m. EST, January 5, 2016 deadline through January 11, 2016 will be provided to the Committee either before or after the meeting, depending on the volume of comments received and the time required to process them in accordance with privacy regulations and other applicable Federal policies. All written public comments and oral public comment statements received by the deadlines for both oral and written public comments will be provided to the IACC for their consideration and will become part of the public record.

    In the 2009 IACC Strategic Plan, the IACC listed the “Spirit of Collaboration” as one of its core values, stating that, “We will treat others with respect, listen to diverse views with open minds, discuss submitted public comments, and foster discussions where participants can comfortably offer opposing opinions.” In keeping with this core value, the IACC and the NIMH Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) ask that members of the public who provide public comments or participate in meetings of the IACC also seek to treat others with respect and consideration in their communications and actions, even when discussing issues of genuine concern or disagreement.

    Remote Access

    The meeting will be open to the public through a conference call phone number and webcast live on the Internet. Members of the public who participate using the conference call phone number will be able to listen to the meeting but will not be heard. If you experience any technical problems with the webcast or conference call, please send an email to [email protected] or by phone at 415-652-8023.

    Individuals who participate in person or by using these electronic services and who need special assistance, such as captioning of the conference call or other reasonable accommodations, should submit a request to the Contact Person listed on this notice at least 5 days prior to the meeting.

    Security

    As part of security procedures, attendees should be prepared to present a photo ID at the meeting registration desk during the check-in process. Pre-registration is recommended. Seating will be limited to the room capacity and seats will be on a first come, first served basis, with expedited check-in for those who are pre-registered.

    Meeting schedule subject to change.

    Information about the IACC is available on the Web site: http://www.iacc.hhs.gov.

    Dated: December 10, 2015. Carolyn Baum, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31621 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; NIDCD Review of Applications on Open Design Tools for Speech Signal Processing (R01).

    Date: January 13, 2016.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Shiguang Yang, DVM, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, NIDCD, NIH, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8349, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; NIDCD SBIR Review of Applications on Open Design Tools for Speech Signal Processing.

    Date: January 14, 2016.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Shiguang Yang, DVM, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, NIDCD, NIH, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8349, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; NIDCD Review of Applications on Translational Research in Voice, Speech, and Language.

    Date: January 21, 2016.

    Time: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Shiguang Yang, DVM, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, NIDCD, NIH, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8349, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.173, Biological Research Related to Deafness and Communicative Disorders, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Sylvia Neal, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31552 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The 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; Development of Therapeutic Products for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Date: January 11, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate contract proposals.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, Montgomery County Conference Center Facility, 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Travis J. Taylor, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities, Room 3G62B, 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9823, Bethesda, MD 20892-9823, (240) 669-5082, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; Development of Therapeutic Products for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Date: January 12, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate contract proposals.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, Montgomery County Conference Center Facility, 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Travis J. Taylor, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities, Room 3G62B, 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9823, Bethesda, MD 20892-9823, (240) 669-5082, [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: December 10, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31550 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging; 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: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; Neuromuscular Interactions.

    Date: January 13, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Alicja L. Markowska, Ph.D., DSC, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute on Aging, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C212, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-9666, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.866, Aging Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31555 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; Short-term Measurements of Improved Physical and Molecular Resilience in Preclinical Models (R01).

    Date: January 29, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Bita Nakhai, Ph.D., Scientific Review Branch, National Institute on Aging, Gateway Bldg., 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-402-7701, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; Alzheimer's Disease Drug Development.

    Date: February 3, 2016.

    Time: 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Alexander Parsadanian, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building 2C/212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-9666, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; FGF21 and Aging.

    Date: February 23, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Alexander Parsadanian, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, National Institute on Aging Gateway, Building 2C/212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-9666, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.866, Aging Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31556 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; Clinical Trial Review.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Time: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Shiguang Yang, DVM, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, NIDCD, NIH, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8349, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; Translational Grant Review.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Sheo Singh, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8351, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Communication Disorders Review Committee.

    Date: February 18-19, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The Declan Suites San Diego, 701 A Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

    Contact Person: Eliane Lazar-Wesley, Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders/NIH, 6001 Executive Blvd., MSC 9670, Bethesda, MD 20892-8401, 301-496-8683, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Special Emphasis Panel; Hearing and Balance Fellowships.

    Date: February 19, 2016.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The Declan Suites San Diego, 701 A Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

    Contact Person: Kausik Ray, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health Rockville, MD 20850, 301-402-3587, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.173, Biological Research Related to Deafness and Communicative Disorders, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Sylvia Neal, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31553 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Human Genome Research Institute; 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 Inherited Disease Research Access Committee.

    Date: January 8, 2016.

    Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 5635 Fishers Lane, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Camilla E. Day, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, CIDR, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, 5635 Fishers Lane, Suite 4075, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-402-8837, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.172, Human Genome Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. Sylvia Neal, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31554 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Proposed Collection; 60-Day Comment Request; CareerTrac SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the requirement of Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, for opportunity for public comment on proposed data collection projects, the Fogarty International Center (FIC), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), including the Intramural Research and Training Award (IRTA) and Superfund Research Program (SRP) within NIEHS, National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS), and National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects to be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.

    Written comments and/or suggestions from the public and affected agencies are invited to address one or more of the following points: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the function of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) 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) 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 the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    To Submit Comments and For Further Information: To obtain a copy of the data collection plans and instruments, submit comments in writing, or request more information on the proposed project, contact: Dr. Rachel Sturke, Evaluation Officer, Division of Science Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, FIC, NIH, 16 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 or call non-toll-free number (301)-480-6025 or Email your request, including your address to: [email protected]. Formal requests for additional plans and instruments must be requested in writing.

    Comment Due Date: Comments regarding this information collection are best assured of having their full effect if received within 60 days of the date of this publication.

    Proposed Collection: CareerTrac, 0925-0568, Expiration Date: 02/29/2016—REVISION, Fogarty International Center (FIC), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Need and Use of Information Collection: This data collection system is being developed to track, evaluate and report short and long-term outputs, outcomes and impacts of trainees involved in health research training programs—specifically tracking this for at least ten years following training by having Principal Investigators enter data after trainees have completed the program. The data collection system provides a streamlined, web-based application permitting principal investigators to record career achievement progress by trainee on a voluntary basis. FIC, NLM, NIEHS, NCI and NIGMS management will use this data to monitor, evaluate and adjust grants to ensure desired outcomes are achieved, comply with OMB Part requirements, respond to congressional inquiries, and as a guide to inform future strategic and management decisions regarding the grant program.

    OMB approval is requested for 3 years. There are no costs to respondents other than their time. The total estimated annualized burden hours are 8,714.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average time per response
  • (in hours)
  • Total annual burden hour
    FIC Grantee 200 43 30/60 4300 NIEHS Grantee 140 17 30/60 1190 NCI/CRCHD Grantee 240 22 30/60 2640 NIGMS Grantee 54 11 30/60 297 Superfund Grantee 35 10 30/60 175 NLM Grantee 14 16 30/60 112
    Dated: December 1, 2015. Dexter Collins, Executive Officer, FIC, NIH.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31632 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Notice of Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of meetings of the National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council.

    The meetings will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Open: 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To present the Director's Report and other scientific presentations.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Brent B. Stanfield, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 6707 Democracy Blvd. Room 715, Msc 5452, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-8843, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council, Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Subcommittee.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review the Division's scientific and planning activities.

    Place: Nations Institutes of Health, Building 31, 31 Center Drive, Conference Room 6, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, 31 Center Drive, Conference Room 6, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Brent B. Stanfield, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 6707 Democracy Blvd. Room 715, MSC 5452, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-8843, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council; Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Closed: 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, 31 Center Drive, Conference Room 10, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review the Division's scientific and planning activities.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, 31 Center Drive, Conference Room 10, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Brent B. Stanfield, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 6707 Democracy Blvd. Room 715, MSC 5452, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-8843, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council, Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases Subcommittee.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review the Division's scientific and planning activities.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 7, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Conference Room 7, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Brent B. Stanfield, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 6707 Democracy Blvd., Room 715, MSC 5452, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-8843, [email protected]

    Any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding the statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus. All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver's license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: www.niddk.nih.gov/fund/divisions/DEA/Council/coundesc.htm., where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.847, Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Research; 93.848, Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Research; 93.849, Kidney Diseases, Urology and Hematology Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 10, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-31546 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of meetings of the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council.

    The meetings will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Subcommittee.

    Date: January 25, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health Natcher Building Conference Rooms F1/F2 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms F1/F2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation Subcommittee.

    Date: January 25, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council.

    Date: January 25, 2016.

    Open: 10:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

    Agenda: Report from the Institute Director.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Subcommittee.

    Date: January 25, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room A, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Program advisory discussions and reports from division staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Subcommittee.

    Date: June 6, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room A, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Program advisory discussions and reports from division staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council.

    Date: June 6, 2016.

    Open: 10:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

    Agenda: Report from the Institute Director.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation Subcommittee.

    Date: June 6, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Subcommittee.

    Date: June 6, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms F1/F2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms F1/F2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Subcommittee.

    Date: September 12, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms F1/F2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms F1/F2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation Subcommittee.

    Date: September 12, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Reports from the Division Director and other staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room D, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council.

    Date: September 12, 2016.

    Open: 10:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

    Agenda: Report from the Institute Director.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Closed: 11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Subcommittee.

    Date: September 12, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Room A, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Open: 1:00 p.m. to adjournment.

    Agenda: Program advisory discussions and reports from division staff.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Natcher Building, Conference Rooms E1/E2, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Matthew J. Fenton, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rm 4F50, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-7291, [email protected]

    Any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding the statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus. All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver's license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: www.niaid.nih.gov/facts/facts.htm, where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (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: De