Federal Register Vol. 80, No.41,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 41 (March 3, 2015)

Page Range11317-11533
FR Document

80_FR_41
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 11501 - Sunshine Notice-March 19, 2015 Board of Directors MeetingPDF
80 FR 11517 - In the Matter of Agent155 Media Corp., QSound Labs, Inc., STEN Corp., and Wind Energy America, Inc.; Order of Suspension of TradingPDF
80 FR 11517 - Order of Suspension of Trading; In the Matter of China Pharmaceuticals, Inc., China Printing & Packaging, Inc., Silvan Industries, Inc., and Ziyang Ceramics Corp.PDF
80 FR 11317 - Establishment of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration CenterPDF
80 FR 11349 - Risk-Based Capital Guidelines: Implementation of Capital Requirements for Global Systemically Important Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 11500 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
80 FR 11502 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 11394 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
80 FR 11395 - First Responder Network Authority Board Special MeetingPDF
80 FR 11467 - 2015 Preliminary Fee Rate and Fingerprint FeesPDF
80 FR 11379 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Common Thresher Shark as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species ActPDF
80 FR 11361 - Proposed Significant New Use Rule on Certain Chemical Substances; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
80 FR 11363 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To List the Tanzanian DPS of African Coelacanth as Threatened Under the Endangered Species ActPDF
80 FR 11523 - Additional Designations, Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation ActPDF
80 FR 11522 - Additional Designations, Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation ActPDF
80 FR 11501 - Proposed Submission of Information Collection for OMB Review; Comment Request; Annual Reporting (Form 5500 Series)PDF
80 FR 11395 - Approval of Subzone Status; Spenco Medical Corporation; Waco, TexasPDF
80 FR 11499 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on Planning and Procedures; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 11396 - Approval of Subzone Status; Red Wing Shoe Company; Salt Lake City, UtahPDF
80 FR 11499 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on Regulatory Policies and Practices; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 11499 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on Metallurgy & Reactor Fuels; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 11454 - Measuring Dystrophin in Dystrophinopathy Patients and Interpreting the Data; Public Scientific Workshop; Request for CommentsPDF
80 FR 11469 - Notice Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Air ActPDF
80 FR 11330 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Trip Limit IncreasePDF
80 FR 11444 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Related Regulations for Blood and Blood Components; and Requirements for Donor Testing, Donor Notification, and “Lookback”PDF
80 FR 11443 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Notification of a Health Claim or Nutrient Content Claim Based on an Authoritative Statement of a Scientific BodyPDF
80 FR 11449 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Investigational New Drug ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 11332 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management AreaPDF
80 FR 11455 - Pediatric Neurocognitive Workshop; Advancing the Development of Pediatric Therapeutics Public WorkshopPDF
80 FR 11437 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 11432 - Sunoco Pipeline L.P.; Notice of Petition for Declaratory OrderPDF
80 FR 11434 - Enable Bakken Crude Services, LLC; Notice of Request for WaiverPDF
80 FR 11433 - Paul Greyshock; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 11428 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 11430 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 11432 - Cub River Irrigation Company; Notice of Preliminary Determination of a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility and Soliciting Comments and Motions To IntervenePDF
80 FR 11394 - First Responder Network Authority Board MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11319 - Special Conditions: Cessna Aircraft Company, Model 650, Citation VII Airplane; As Modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation; Installed Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery SystemsPDF
80 FR 11442 - Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 11469 - Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training and Employer Outreach (ACVETEO): MeetingPDF
80 FR 11415 - Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem RatesPDF
80 FR 11334 - Retrospective Review and Regulatory FlexibilityPDF
80 FR 11427 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 11393 - Black Hills National Forest Advisory BoardPDF
80 FR 11470 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Continued Collection; Comment Request: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Chapter 31) Tracking Report (VETS 201) Extension Without Revisions.PDF
80 FR 11425 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 11398 - Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP)PDF
80 FR 11518 - Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 11437 - Health Discovery Corporation; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public CommentPDF
80 FR 11468 - Notice of Availability of the Proposed Notice of Sale (NOS) for Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area (WPA) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 246 (WPA Sale 246)PDF
80 FR 11398 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Shell Ice Overflight Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, AlaskaPDF
80 FR 11463 - Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed South Coast Resource Management Plan Amendment; for the Proposed Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan and Land ExchangePDF
80 FR 11434 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated AuthorityPDF
80 FR 11436 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications CommissionPDF
80 FR 11328 - Implementation of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014PDF
80 FR 11326 - Reform of Rules and Policies on Foreign Carrier Entry Into the U.S. Telecommunications MarketPDF
80 FR 11413 - 36(b)(1) Arms Sales NotificationPDF
80 FR 11509 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Relating to the Listing and Trading of the Shares of the First Trust Strategic Floating Rate ETF of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IVPDF
80 FR 11502 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Relating to the Listing and Trading of the Shares of the AlphaMark Actively Managed Small Cap ETF of ETF Series SolutionsPDF
80 FR 11426 - Notice of Intent To Grant an Exclusive License; Survival Innovations LLCPDF
80 FR 11441 - Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)PDF
80 FR 11387 - Hearing of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure; Federal Register Citation of Previous Announcements: 79 FR 48250 and 79 FR 72702.PDF
80 FR 11456 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11459 - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11457 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 11457 - Center for Scientific Review Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11458 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11456 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 11458 - National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 11468 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Office on Violence Against Women Solicitation Template Revision of a Currently Approved Collection.PDF
80 FR 11442 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 11331 - Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Fishing Year 2014; Interim Gulf of Maine Cod Management Measures; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 11471 - Information Collection: NRC Request for Information Concerning Patient Release PracticesPDF
80 FR 11426 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 11428 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 11531 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11525 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11524 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11527 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11521 - AGC Flat Glass North America, Inc., Grant of Petition For Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
80 FR 11518 - California Disaster #CA-00231PDF
80 FR 11467 - Notice of Deadline for Submitting Completed Applications To Begin Participation in the Tribal Self-Governance Program in Fiscal Year 2016 or Calendar Year 2016PDF
80 FR 11391 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11466 - Availability of Funds for Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Management to Federally Recognized Indian TribesPDF
80 FR 11387 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 11462 - Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations under Cobell SettlementPDF
80 FR 11441 - Meeting of the National Preparedness and Response Science BoardPDF
80 FR 11350 - U.S. Industrial Base Surveys Pursuant to the Defense Production Act of 1950PDF
80 FR 11472 - Biweekly Notice; Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards ConsiderationsPDF
80 FR 11396 - Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Initiation and Preliminary Results of Changed Circumstances Review, and Intent To Revoke Order In PartPDF
80 FR 11413 - Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 11323 - Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approval and Promulgation: Missouri; St. Louis Inspection and Maintenance ProgramPDF
80 FR 11321 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans: Texas; Approval of Substitution for Transportation Control MeasuresPDF
80 FR 11355 - Proposed Establishment of the Los Olivos District Viticultural AreaPDF
80 FR 11459 - Ideation Prize CompetitionPDF
80 FR 11346 - Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California and Imported Table Grapes; Relaxation of Handling RequirementsPDF
80 FR 11335 - Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, and Tangelos Grown in Florida; Recommended Decision and Opportunity To File Written Exceptions to Proposed Amendments to Marketing Order No. 905PDF
80 FR 11492 - Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations and Containing Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information and Order Imposing Procedures for Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards InformationPDF
80 FR 11361 - Vessel Documentation Renewal FeesPDF

Issue

80 41 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Contents Administrative Administrative Office of United States Courts NOTICES Hearing: Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure, 11387 2015-04329 Agency Agency for International Development NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 11387-11393 2015-04305 2015-04307 Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service PROPOSED RULES Imported Table Grapes and Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California: Handling Requirements, 11346-11349 2015-04087 Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, and Tangelos Grown in Florida: Marketing Orders, 11335-11346 2015-04085 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Forest Service

Alcohol Tobacco Tax Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau PROPOSED RULES Viticultural Areas: Los Olivos District, 11355-11361 2015-04253 Army Army Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 11425-11426 2015-04356 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 11441-11442 2015-04330 Children Children and Families Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 11442 2015-04320 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: ORR - 2 Quarterly Report on Expenditures and Obligations, 11442-11443 2015-04365 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 11394 2015-04430 Coast Guard Coast Guard PROPOSED RULES Vessel Documentation Renewal Fees, 11361-11362 2015-03651 Commerce Commerce Department See

First Responder Network Authority

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Commission Fine Commission of Fine Arts NOTICES Meetings: Commission of Fine Arts, 11413 2015-04272 Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

See

Navy Department

NOTICES Arms Sales, 11413-11415 2015-04335 Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem Rates, 11415-11425 2015-04363
Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Missouri; St. Louis Inspection and Maintenance Program, 11323-11326 2015-04271 Texas; Approval of Substitution for Transportation Control Measures, 11321-11323 2015-04269 PROPOSED RULES Significant New Use Rules: Certain Chemical Substances; Comment Period Extension, 11361 2015-04406 Executive Office of the President See

Presidential Documents

Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Special Conditions: Cessna Aircraft Company, Model 650, Citation VII Airplane; as modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation; Installed Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery Systems, 11319-11321 2015-04366 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Foreign Carrier Entry into the U.S. Telecommunications Market, 11326-11328 2015-04336 Implementation of the STELA Reauthorization Act, 11328-11330 2015-04337 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 11434-11437 2015-04338 2015-04339 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 11426-11432 2015-04316 2015-04317 2015-04361 2015-04369 2015-04370 Petitions for Declaratory Orders: Sunoco Pipeline LP, 11432 2015-04373 Preliminary Determinations of Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facilities: Cub River Irrigation Co., 11432-11433 2015-04368 Preliminary Permit Applications: Paul Greyshock, 11433-11434 2015-04371 Waiver Requests: Enable Bakken Crude Services, LLC, 11434 2015-04372 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 11518-11521 2015-04351 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System PROPOSED RULES Risk-Based Capital Guidelines: Implementation of Capital Requirements for Global Systemically Important Bank Holding Companies, 11349-11350 2015-04438 NOTICES Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 11437 2015-04375 Federal Trade Federal Trade Commission NOTICES Proposed Consent Orders: Health Discovery Corp., 11437-11441 2015-04348 Fine Arts Commission See

Commission of Fine Arts

FirstNet First Responder Network Authority NOTICES Meetings: First Responder Network Authority Board, 11394-11395 2015-04367 First Responder Network Authority Board; Teleconference, 11395 2015-04413 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: South Coast Resource Management Plan Amendment; Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan and Land Exchange, 11463-11466 2015-04341 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Related Regulations for Blood and Blood Components, etc., 11444-11449 2015-04381 Investigational New Drug Applications, 11449-11454 2015-04379 Notification of a Health Claim or Nutrient Content Claim Based on an Authoritative Statement of a Scientific Body, 11443-11444 2015-04380 Meetings: Measuring Dystrophin in Dystrophinopathy Patients and Interpreting the Data; Public Scientific Workshops, 11454-11455 2015-04384 Pediatric Neurocognitive; Advancing the Development of Pediatric Therapeutics; Public Workshops, 11455-11456 2015-04376 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 11522-11524 2015-04401 2015-04403 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Subzone Status; Approvals: Red Wing Shoe Co., Salt Lake City, UT, 11396 2015-04390 Spenco Medical Corp., Waco, TX, 11395-11396 2015-04393 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Meetings: Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board, 11393-11394 2015-04359 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

NOTICES Meetings: National Preparedness and Response Science Board, 11441 2015-04303
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

NOTICES Ideation Prize Competition, 11459-11462 2015-04127
Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau NOTICES Funding Availabilities: Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Management to Federally Recognized Indian Tribes, 11466-11467 2015-04306 Submission Deadlines: Completed Applications for Tribal Self-Governance Program in Fiscal Year 2016 or Calendar Year 2016, 11467 2015-04308 Industry Industry and Security Bureau PROPOSED RULES U.S. Industrial Base Surveys Pursuant to the Defense Production Act, 11350-11355 2015-04299 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Indian Gaming Commission

See

Ocean Energy Management Bureau

NOTICES Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations under Cobell Settlement, 11462-11463 2015-04304
International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof from the People's Republic of China, 11396-11398 2015-04279 Justice Department Justice Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Office on Violence Against Women Solicitation Template, 11468-11469 2015-04321 Proposed Consent Decrees under the Clean Air Act, 11469 2015-04383 Labor Department Labor Department See

Veterans Employment and Training Service

PROPOSED RULES Retrospective Review and Regulatory Flexibility, 11334 2015-04362 NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training and Employer Outreach, 11469-11470 2015-04364
Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: South Coast Resource Management Plan Amendment; Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan and Land Exchange, 11463-11466 2015-04341 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NOTICES Inconsequential Noncompliance; Approvals: AGC Flat Glass North America, Inc., 11521-11522 2015-04311 National Indian National Indian Gaming Commission NOTICES Preliminary Fee Rate and Fingerprint Fees; 2015, 11467-11468 2015-04412 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 11456-11458 2015-04323 2015-04324 2015-04325 Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 11459 2015-04327 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 11456-11457 2015-04326 2015-04328 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 11458-11459 2015-04322 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Trip Limit Increase, 11330-11331 2015-04382 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Pacific Cod in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, 11332-11333 2015-04378 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Fishing Year 2014; Interim Gulf of Maine Cod Management Measures; Correction, 11331-11332 2015-04319 PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Listing the Tanzanian DPS of African Coelacanth as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, 11363-11379 2015-04405 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife: Petition to List Common Thresher Shark as Threatened or Endangered, 11379-11386 2015-04409 NOTICES Exempted Fishing Permit Applications: Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery, 11398 2015-04355 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Shell Ice Overflight Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska, 11398-11413 2015-04345 Navy Navy Department NOTICES Exclusive Licenses: Survival Innovations, LLC, 11426 2015-04331 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: NRC Request for Information Concerning Patient Release Practices, 11471-11472 2015-04318 Facility Operating and Combined Licenses: Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, 11472-11492 2015-04298 Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc., 11492-11498 2015-03917 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on Metallurgy and Reactor Fuels, 11499 2015-04386 Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on Planning and Procedures, 11499-11500 2015-04392 Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on Regulatory Policies And Practices, 11499 2015-04389 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 11500-11501 2015-04429 2015-04433 Ocean Energy Management Ocean Energy Management Bureau NOTICES Oil and Gas Lease Sales: Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area, Outer Continental Shelf, Sale 246, 11468 2015-04347 Overseas Overseas Private Investment Corporation NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 11501 2015-04496 Pension Benefit Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Annual Reporting, 11501-11502 2015-04397 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS Defense and National Security: Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center; Establishment (Memorandum of February 25, 2015), 11317-11318 2015-04443 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 11502 2015-04432 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: NASDAQ Stock Market LLC, 11502-11517 2015-04333 2015-04334 Trading Suspension Orders: Agent155 Media Corp., et al., 11517 2015-04450 China Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al., 11517-11518 2015-04449 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: California, 11518 2015-04309 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 11524-11533 2015-04312 2015-04313 2015-04314 2015-04315 Veterans Employment Veterans Employment and Training Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Tracking Report, 11470-11471 2015-04357 Reader Aids

Consult the Reader Aids section at the end of this page for phone numbers, online resources, finding aids, reminders, and notice of recently enacted public laws.

To subscribe to the Federal Register Table of Contents LISTSERV electronic mailing list, go to http://listserv.access.thefederalregister.org and select Online mailing list archives, FEDREGTOC-L, Join or leave the list (or change settings); then follow the instructions.

80 41 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0441; Special Conditions No. 25-577-SC] Special Conditions: Cessna Aircraft Company, Model 650, Citation VII Airplane; As Modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation; Installed Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery Systems AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Cessna Aircraft Company, Model 650, Citation VII Airplane. This airplane as modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. This design feature is for the installation of Universal Avionics InSightTM Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS), Engine Interface Units (EIU), UNS-1Fw Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Flight Management System (FMS), and Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) Class A, which will use rechargeable lithium batteries and battery systems. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

This action is effective on Cessna Aircraft Company on March 3, 2015. We must receive your comments by April 17, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-0441 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Nazih Khaouly, FAA, Airplane and Flightcrew Interface Branch, ANM-111, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2432; facsimile 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The FAA has determined that notice of, and opportunity for prior public comment on, these special conditions is impracticable because these procedures would significantly delay issuance of the design approval and thus delivery of the affected aircraft. In addition, the substance of these special conditions has been subject to the public comment process in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. The FAA therefore finds that good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

Comments Invited

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

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

Background

On January 13, 2014, Universal Avionics Systems Corporation applied for a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the installation of Universal Avionics InSightTM EFIS, EIU, UNS-1Fw WAAS FMS, and TAWS Class A, which will use rechargeable lithium batteries and battery systems. The Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII is a pressurized, two-crew, seven-passenger, low wing transport with two aft mounted turbo-fan engines.

Rechargeable lithium batteries are a novel or unusual design feature in transport category airplanes. This type of battery has certain failure, operational, and maintenance characteristics that differ significantly from those of the nickel-cadmium and lead-acid rechargeable batteries currently approved for installation on transport category airplanes.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of § 21.101, Universal Avionics Systems Corporation must show that the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII, as changed, continues to meet the applicable provisions of the regulations listed in Type Certificate No. A9NM or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change except for earlier amendments as agreed upon by the FAA. The regulations listed in the type certificate are commonly referred to as the “original type-certification basis.”

In addition, if the regulations listed do not provide adequate standards regarding the change, the applicant must comply with certain regulations in effect on the date of application for the change.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

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

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII must comply with the fuel vent and exhaust emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34 and the noise certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

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

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII will incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature: The installation of a Universal Avionics InSightTM EFIS, EIU, UNS-1Fw WAAS FMS, and TAWS Class A, which will use rechargeable lithium batteries and battery systems.

Discussion

The current regulations governing installation of batteries in large transport-category airplanes were derived from Civil Air Regulations (CAR) part 4b.625(d) as part of the re-codification of CAR 4b that established 14 CFR part 25 in February 1965. The new battery requirements, § 25.1353(c)(1) through (c)(4), reworded the CAR requirements.

Increased use of nickel-cadmium batteries in small airplanes resulted in increased incidents of battery fires and failures that led to additional rulemaking affecting large transport category airplanes as well as small airplanes. On September 1, 1977 and March 1, 1978, the FAA issued § 25.1353(c)(5) and (c)(6), respectively, governing nickel-cadmium battery installations on large transport-category airplanes.

The proposed use of rechargeable lithium batteries for equipment and systems prompted the FAA to review the adequacy of these existing regulations. Our review indicates that the existing regulations do not adequately address several failure, operational, and maintenance characteristics of rechargeable lithium batteries that could affect the safety and reliability of the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplane lithium battery installations.

At present, there is limited experience with the use of rechargeable lithium batteries and battery systems in applications involving commercial aviation. However, other users of this technology, ranging from wireless telephone manufacturers to the electric-vehicle industry, have noted safety problems with rechargeable lithium batteries. These problems include overcharging, over-discharging, and flammability of cell components.

1. Overcharging

In general, lithium batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure (i.e., thermal runaway) than their nickel-cadmium or lead-acid counterparts. This condition is especially true for overcharging, which causes heating and destabilization of the components of the cell, leading to the formation (by plating) of highly unstable metallic lithium. The metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion. Finally, the severity of thermal runaway, due to overcharging, increases with increasing battery capacity due to the higher amount of electrolyte in large batteries.

2. Over-Discharging

Discharge of some types of lithium battery cells beyond a certain voltage (typically 2.4 volts), can cause corrosion of the electrodes of the cell, resulting in loss of battery capacity that cannot be reversed by recharging. This loss of capacity may not be detected by the simple voltage measurements commonly available to flightcrews as a means of checking battery status—a problem shared with nickel-cadmium batteries.

3. Flammability of Cell Components

Unlike nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries, some types of lithium batteries use liquid electrolytes that are flammable. The electrolyte can serve as a source of fuel for an external fire, if there is a breach of the battery container.

These problems experienced by users of lithium batteries raise concern about the use of these batteries in commercial aviation. The intent of the special conditions are to establish appropriate airworthiness standards for lithium battery installations in the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplane and to ensure, as required by §§ 25.1309 and 25.601, that these batteries are not hazardous or unreliable.

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

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplane. Should Universal Avionics Systems Corporation apply at a later date for a supplemental type certificate to modify any other model included on Type Certificate No. A9NM to incorporate the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

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

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

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

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

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplanes modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation.

Installed Rechargeable Lithium Batteries and Battery Systems.

These special conditions require that (1) all characteristics of the rechargeable lithium batteries and battery installation that could affect safe operation of the Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplanes are addressed; and (2) appropriate instructions for continued airworthiness, which include maintenance requirements, are established to ensure the availability of electrical power, when needed, from the batteries.

In lieu of the requirements of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 25.1353(b)(1) through (b)(4) at amendment 25-123, all rechargeable lithium batteries and battery systems on Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplanes, modified by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation, must be designed and installed as follows:

1. Safe cell temperatures and pressures must be maintained during any foreseeable charging or discharging condition and during any failure of the charging or battery monitoring system not shown to be extremely remote. The rechargeable lithium battery installation must preclude explosion in the event of those failures.

2. Design of the rechargeable lithium batteries must preclude the occurrence of self-sustaining, uncontrolled increases in temperature or pressure.

3. No explosive or toxic gases emitted by any rechargeable lithium battery in normal operation, or as the result of any failure of the battery charging system, monitoring system, or battery installation which is not shown to be extremely remote, may accumulate in hazardous quantities within the airplane.

4. Installations of rechargeable lithium batteries must meet the requirements of § 25.863(a) through (d).

5. No corrosive fluids or gases that may escape from any rechargeable lithium battery may damage surrounding structure or any adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring of the airplane in such a way as to cause a major or more severe failure condition, in accordance with § 25.1309(b) and applicable regulatory guidance.

6. Each rechargeable lithium battery installation must have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on structure or essential systems caused by the maximum amount of heat the battery can generate during a short circuit of the battery or of its individual cells.

7. Rechargeable lithium battery installations must have a system to control the charging rate of the battery automatically, so as to prevent battery overheating or overcharging, and:

a. A battery temperature sensing and over-temperature warning system with a means for automatically disconnecting the battery from its charging source in the event of an over-temperature condition, or,

b. A battery failure sensing and warning system with a means for automatically disconnecting the battery from its charging source in the event of battery failure.

8. Any rechargeable lithium battery installation, the function of which is required for safe operation of the airplane, must incorporate a monitoring and warning feature that will provide an indication to the appropriate flight crewmembers whenever the state-of-charge of the batteries has fallen below levels considered acceptable for dispatch of the airplane.

9. The instructions for continued airworthiness required by § 25.1529 must contain maintenance requirements to assure that the battery is sufficiently charged at appropriate intervals specified by the battery manufacturer and the equipment manufacturer that contain the rechargeable lithium battery or rechargeable lithium battery system. This is required to ensure that lithium rechargeable batteries and lithium rechargeable battery systems will not degrade below specified ampere-hour levels sufficient to power the airplane systems for intended applications. The instructions for continued airworthiness must also contain procedures for the maintenance of batteries in spares storage to prevent the replacement of batteries with batteries that have experienced degraded charge retention ability or other damage due to prolonged storage at a low state of charge. Replacement batteries must be of the same manufacturer and part number as approved by the FAA. Precautions should be included in the instructions for continued airworthiness maintenance instructions to prevent mishandling of the rechargeable lithium battery and rechargeable lithium battery systems, which could result in short-circuit or other unintentional impact damage caused by dropping or other destructive means that could result in personal injury or property damage.

Note 1: The term “sufficiently charged” means that the battery will retain enough of a charge, expressed in ampere-hours, to ensure that the battery cells will not be damaged. A battery cell may be damaged by lowering the charge below a point where the battery experiences a reduction in the ability to charge and retain a full charge. This reduction would be greater than the reduction that may result from normal operational degradation.

Note 2: These special conditions are not intended to replace § 25.1353(b) in the certification basis of Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplanes. These special conditions apply only to rechargeable lithium batteries, lithium battery systems, and their installations. The requirements of § 25.1353(b) remain in effect for batteries and battery installations on Cessna, Model 650, Citation VII airplanes that do not use lithium batteries.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on February 23, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-04366 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R06-OAR-2014-0871; FRL-9923-80-Region 6] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans: Texas; Approval of Substitution for Transportation Control Measures AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Final rule; notice of administrative change.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making an administrative change to update the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to reflect a change made to the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) on November 3, 2014, as a result of EPA's concurrence on a substitute transportation control measure (TCM) for the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) portion of the Texas SIP. On November 24, 2014, the State of Texas, through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), submitted a revision to the Texas SIP requesting that EPA update its SIP to reflect a substitution of a TCM. The substitution was made pursuant to the TCM substitution provisions contained in Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA concurred on this substitution on November 3, 2014. In this administrative action, EPA is updating the non-regulatory provisions of the Texas SIP to reflect the substitution. In summary, the substitution was a replacement of environmental speed limits (ESLs) within the DFW 8-hour ozone nonattainment area with traffic signalization projects. EPA has determined that this action falls under the “good cause” exemption in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) which, upon finding “good cause,” authorizes an agency to make an action effective immediately, thereby avoiding the 30-day delayed effective date otherwise provided for in the APA.

DATES:

This action is effective March 3, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

SIP materials which are incorporated by reference into 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 52 are available for inspection at the following location: Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, TX 75202. Publicly available materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Region 6 office. The Regional Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30, excluding Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Jeffrey Riley at (214) 665-8542 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On November 3, 2014, EPA issued a concurrence letter to TCEQ stating that the substitution of DFW area ESL TCMs with traffic signalization project TCMs met the CAA section 176(c)(8) requirements for substituting TCMs in an area's approved SIP. See also EPA's Guidance for Implementing the CAA section 176(c)(8) Transportation Control Measure Substitution and Addition Provision contained in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users which was signed into law on August 10, 2005, dated January 2009. The DFW area ESLs were originally approved into the SIP as control measures on October 11, 2005 (70 FR 58978). On January 9, 2014, EPA approved re-categorization of the DFW area ESL control measures to TCMs, making the measures eligible for substitution under the provisions of CAA section 176(c)(8) (79 FR 1596).

As a part of the concurrence process, the public was provided an opportunity to comment on the proposed TCM substitution. Public notice and comment was provided by the DFW metropolitan planning organization, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), during Regional Transportation Council meetings held on July 14, 2014 and July 17, 2014. Public notice for these meetings was published in 20 DFW area newspapers and circulars.

Through this concurrence process, EPA determined that the requirements of CAA section 176(c)(8) were met, including the requirement that the substitute measures achieve equivalent or greater emission reductions than the control measure to be replaced. Upon EPA's concurrence, the ESL substitution took effect as a matter of federal law. A copy of EPA's concurrence letter is included in the Docket for this action. This letter can be accessed at www.regulations.gov using Docket ID No. EPA-R06-OAR-2014-0871. In accordance with the requirements for TCM substitution, on November 24, 2014, TCEQ submitted a request for EPA to update the DFW portion of the Texas SIP to reflect EPA's previous approval of the TCM substitution of the ESLs with the traffic signalization project TCMs in its SIP (the subject of this administrative change). Today, EPA is taking administrative action to update the non-regulatory provisions of the Texas SIP in 40 CFR 52.2270(e) to reflect EPA's concurrence on the substitution of a TCM for the conversion of ESLs to traffic signalization projects:

Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable geographic or
  • nonattainment area
  • State submittal
  • date/effective date
  • DFW nine-county area ESL TCMs to traffic signalization TCMs. Affected counties are Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Parker, Johnson, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall Dallas-Fort Worth 9/16/2010

    Under section 553 of the APA, an agency may find good cause where procedures are “impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” The substitution was made through the process included in CAA section 176(c)(8). Effective immediately, today's action codifies provisions which are already in effect. The public had an opportunity to comment on this substitution during the public comment period prior to approval of the substitution. Immediate notice of this action in the Federal Register benefits the public by providing the updated Texas SIP Compilation and “Identification of Plan” portion of the Federal Register.

    Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. General Requirements

    Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), this administrative action is not a “significant regulatory action” and is therefore not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget. This action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. Because the Agency has made a “good cause” finding that this action is not subject to notice-and-comment requirements under the APA or any other statute as indicated in the Supplementary Information section above, it is not subject to the regulatory flexibility provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), or to sections 202 and 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4). In addition, this action does not significantly or uniquely affect small governments or impose a significant intergovernmental mandate, as described in sections 203 and 204 of UMRA.

    This administrative action also does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the federal government and Indian tribes, as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999).

    This administrative action also is not subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR19885, April 23, 1997), because it is not economically significant. This administrative action does not involve technical standards; thus the requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) do not apply. The administrative action also does not involve special consideration of environmental justice related issues as required by Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). This administrative action does not impose an information collection burden under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

    B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

    The Congressional Review Act (CRA) (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. Section 808 allows the issuing agency to make a rule effective sooner than otherwise provided by the CRA if the agency makes a good cause finding that notice and public procedure is impracticable, unnecessary or contrary to the public interest. Today's administrative action simply codifies a provision which is already in effect as a matter of law in Federal and approved state programs. 5 U.S.C. 808(2). These announced actions were effective upon EPA's concurrence. 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 this action in the Federal Register. This update to Texas' SIP Compilation is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: February 19, 2015. Ron Curry, Regional Administrator, Region 6.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart SS—Texas 2. In § 52.2270(e), the table titled “EPA Approved Nonregulatory Provisions and Quasi-Regulatory Measures in the Texas SIP” is amended by adding an entry at the end for “DFW nine-county area ESL TCM to traffic signalization TCMs”.

    The addition reads as follows:

    § 52.2270 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Nonregulatory Provisions and Quasi-Regulatory Measures in the Texas SIP Name of SIP provision Applicable geographic or
  • nonattainment area
  • State submittal/
  • effective date
  • EPA approval date Comments
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * DFW nine-county area ESL TCM to traffic signalization TCMs Dallas-Fort Worth: Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Parker, Johnson, Ellis, Kaufman and Rockwall Counties 9/16/2010 1/9/2014, 79 FR 1596 DFW ESLs recategorized as TCM 1/9/2014, substituted withtraffic signalization TCMs 11/3/2014.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04269 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2014-0399; FRL-9923-66-Region 7] Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approval and Promulgation: Missouri; St. Louis Inspection and Maintenance Program AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve revisions to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of Missouri relating to its vehicle Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program. On August 16, 2007, and December 7, 2007, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) requested to amend the SIP to replace the St. Louis centralized vehicle test program, called the Gateway Clean Air Program (GCAP), with a de-centralized, OBD-only vehicle I/M program called the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program (GVIP). In this action, EPA is also approving three additional SIP revisions submitted by Missouri related to the state's I/M program including: Exemptions for specially constructed vehicles or “kit-cars,” exemptions for Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), and rescission of Missouri State Highway Patrol rules from the Missouri SIP.

    These revisions to Missouri's SIP do not have an adverse effect on air quality as demonstrated in the technical support document which is a part of this docket. EPA's approval of these SIP revisions is being done in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2014-0399. All documents in the docket are listed on the www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. excluding Federal holidays. The interested persons wanting to examine these documents should make an appointment with the office at least 24 hours in advance.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steven Brown, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at 913-551-7718, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document “we,” “us,” or “our” refer to EPA. This section provides additional information by addressing the following:

    I. What is being addressed in this document? II. Have the requirements for approval of a SIP revision been met? III. EPA's response to comments. IV. What action is EPA taking? I. What is being addressed in this document?

    EPA is approving revisions to the St. Louis vehicle I/M program to replace the centralized, transient I/M240 vehicle I/M program (GCAP) with the de-centralized, OBD-only, vehicle I/M program (GVIP). MDNR submitted to EPA five SIP revision submissions to address the vehicle I/M program replacement and associated state rule, plus one supplemental demonstration. They are as follows:

    On August 16, 2007, MDNR requested that Missouri Rule 10 CSR 10-5.380, “Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection” be rescinded and replaced with rule 10 CSR 10-5.381, “On-Board Diagnostics Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection.” In that same submittal letter, MDNR also requested that Missouri Rule 10 CSR 10-5.375, “Motor Vehicles Emissions Inspection Waiver” be rescinded. EPA is not taking any action on 10 CSR 10-5.375 as it is being replaced in its entirety with the GVIP I/M program, Missouri Rule 10 CSR 10-5.381.

    On December 14, 2007, MDNR submitted the new GVIP plan and performance standard demonstration to show that the GVIP program meets the basic requirements as described in 40 CFR part 51 subpart S. This submission also requests that EPA approve the plan to replace the GCAP I/M program with the new GVIP program.

    On December 21, 2007, Missouri submitted a revision requesting that the Missouri State Highway Patrol rules be removed from the Missouri SIP because the new rule, 10 CSR 10-5.381, does not rely on the Missouri Highway Patrol rules for enforcement. More details can be found in the technical support document that is a part of this docket.

    On January 2, 2009, MDNR submitted a required supplemental demonstration for I/M network type and program evaluation as required by 40 CFR 51.353. This demonstration is required within one year after the I/M program begins.

    On June 17, 2009, Missouri submitted a revision to I/M rule 10 CSR 10-5.381 which includes minor clarification edits and exempts specially constructed vehicles or “kit-cars” from the rule.

    On December 10, 2012, Missouri submitted a revision to exempt Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) from the I/M program as codified in rule 10 CSR 10-5.381.

    As part of our review, EPA performed a separate analysis of all the state's SIP submissions and a cumulative air quality analysis as documented in the technical support document that is part of this docket. EPA's analysis shows that these SIP revisions do not adversely affect air quality in the St. Louis area and are approvable.

    II. Have the requirements for approval of a SIP revision been met?

    The state submission has met the public notice requirements for SIP submissions in accordance with 40 CFR 51.102. The submission also satisfied the completeness criteria of 40 CFR part 51, appendix V. In addition, as explained above and in more detail in the technical support document which is part of this docket, the revision meets the substantive SIP requirements of the CAA, including section 110 and implementing regulations.

    III. EPA's Response to Comments

    The public comment period on EPA's proposed rule opened December 28, 2014, the date of its publication in the Federal Register, and closed on January 29, 2015. During this period, EPA received five comments from one anonymous commenter.

    Comment 1: The commenter contends that while no action is necessary with regards to removing Missouri Rule 10 CSR 10-5.375 from the SIP because Missouri is replacing the GCAP program with the GVIP program, EPA incorrectly stated that Missouri Rule 10 CSR 10-5.375 was not part of the SIP.

    Response 1: EPA agrees with the commenter that 10 CSR 10-5.375 was included in list number 47 in 40 CFR 52.1320(e) under “Vehicle I/M Program” and also should have been listed in 40 CFR 52.1320(c) but was not. EPA also agrees that no action is necessary to remove 10 CSR 10-5.375 from the SIP as the GCAP I/M program is being wholly replaced with the GVIP I/M program. Therefore, no action is necessary on Missouri's request to remove Missouri rule CSR 10-5.375 from the SIP.

    Comment 2: The commenter contends that the analysis performed to show that the new I/M program meets the performance standard did not account for the removal of both the IM240 and single speed idle test and therefore was done improperly.

    Response 2: Missouri is not required to include a performance standard test for IM240 and single speed idle testing as Missouri is only required to meet the Basic Performance Standard test set forth by EPA. The reason for the performance standard testing was to give an indication of whether or not the GVIP program would satisfy the minimum requirements of EPA's I/M rule. The GVIP program's modeling parameters used by Missouri during this Basic Performance Standard test analysis were correctly identified and performed adequately. The technical support document (TSD) supplied in the docket reviews the performance standard test results and also includes a section 110(l) modeling exercise that compares the GCAP and GVIP I/M programs emissions results.

    Comment 3: The commenter states that portions of the St. Louis area are required to have an enhanced I/M program as part of the 1-hour ozone maintenance plan which covers the second ten-year maintenance plan and beyond. The commenter says that this means that until Missouri has demonstrated that the enhanced I/M program is no longer necessary, and EPA approves this demonstration, the St. Louis area is still required to have an enhanced I/M program.

    Response 3: Under the 1-hour standard, the St. Louis area was classified as moderate non-attainment and was only required to do a basic I/M program. At the time the GCAP was approved, its emission reductions were compared to those that would be achieved by the basic I/M performance standard and were found to exceed the performance standard. Because the GCAP program met the applicable performance standard as well as providing the additional emission reductions required under the attainment plan, it was approved. Today's action, among other things, is approving the replacement of the GCAP program with the GVIP program which has also been found to meet the minimum basic program requirements but also achieves greater emission reductions than the GCAP program it replaces as demonstrated by the section 110(l) analysis included in the TSD in the docket for today's action. The GVIP program meets all the requirements previously met by the GCAP when it was approved into the SIP. Today's action does not weaken or remove the I/M program from the SIP as demonstrated in the TSD, contrary to what is implied by the commenter. Additionally, Missouri relies on the GVIP program and it is specifically relied upon in the St. Louis area's 1997 8-hour ozone maintenance plan.

    Comment 4: The commenter states that Missouri's emissions analysis uses the outdated EPA mobile model, MOBILE-6, and that because Missouri submitted this SIP revision over five years ago and EPA has not acted on it, the burden should be on EPA to perform an additional analysis utilizing the updated EPA mobile model, MOVES2014.

    Response 4: EPA did perform an additional modeling analysis utilizing MOVES2014 to compare the GCAP and GVIP I/M program differences for control efficiency and emissions results for the St. Louis area. The results show that the GVIP program achieves greater emission reductions than the GCAP program. These results can be found in the TSD which is part of this docket.

    Comment 5: The commenter states that EPA should perform an additional modeling analysis that uses the performance standard in the February 2014 guidance document EPA-420-B-14-006. The commenter further states that by using this guidance any analysis will show that the removal of the IM240 test and single speed idle test will result in a loss of NOX and VOC emission reductions and that losses will need to be compensated for with other emission reduction measures.

    Response 5: Additional performance standard modeling is only required if changes are made to an approved I/M program prior to attaining the standard for which the program was adopted (section 4.0, EPA guidance document: EPA-420-B-14-006). Missouri has attained the standard(s) for which the program was adopted. Once an area goes from being a nonattainment area to an attainment and maintenance area, the only analysis required when changing an I/M program is to estimate the shortfall, if any, created by the change as part of a required 110(l) demonstration. The 110(l) demonstration modeling contained in the TSD, provided in the docket, was performed using the February 2014 guidance cited in the comment and shows that there was no shortfall created by the change from the GCAP to the GVIP which is being approved through this action.

    IV. What action is EPA taking?

    EPA is taking final action to amend the Missouri SIP to approve revisions to St. Louis vehicle I/M program. While these SIP revisions were submitted in separate requests, they are direct changes to the St. Louis Vehicle Inspection Program and are being addressed in one SIP action.

    Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    In this rule, EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of the Missouri rule 10-5.381 “On Board Diagnostics Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection” described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below.” EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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 CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by May 4, 2015. 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, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: February 18, 2015. Karl Brooks, Regional Administrator, Region 7.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Environmental Protection Agency amends 40 CFR part 52 as set forth below:

    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 AA—Missouri 2. In § 52.1320(c) the table is amended by: a. Removing the entry for “10-5.380”; b. Adding in numerical order the entry for “10-5.381”; and c. Removing the chapter title “Missouri Department of Public Safety Division 50-State Highway Patrol Chapter 2—Motor Vehicle Inspection” and its entries for “50-2.010 through 50-2.420”.

    The addition reads as follows:

    § 52.1320 Identification of Plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA-Approved Missouri Regulations Missouri
  • citation
  • Title State
  • effective date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    Missouri Department of Natural Resources *         *         *         *         *         *         * Chapter 5—Air Quality Regulations and Air Pollution Control Regulations for the St. Louis Metropolitan Area *         *         *         *         *         *         * 10-5.381 On-Board Diagnostics Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection 12/30/12 3/3/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2015-04271 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 1 and 63 [IB Docket No. 12-299; FCC 14-48] Reform of Rules and Policies on Foreign Carrier Entry Into the U.S. Telecommunications Market AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; announcement of effective date.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, for a period of three years, the information collection requirements associated with the Commission's Report and Order, IB Docket No. 12-299, FCC 14-48. This notice is consistent with the Report and Order, which stated that the Commission would publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the effective date of the requirements.

    DATES:

    The amendments to 47 CFR 1.767(a)(8), 1.768(g)(2), 63.11(g)(2) and 63.18(k), published at 79 FR 31873, June 3, 2014 are effective on March 3, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information contact Cathy Williams, [email protected], (202) 418-2918.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document announces that, on February 10, 2015 and February 20, 2015, OMB approved the information collection requirements contained in the Commission's Report and Order, FCC 14-48, published at 79 FR 31873, June 3, 2014. The OMB Control Numbers are 3060-0686 and 3060-0944. The Commission publishes this notice as an announcement of the effective date of the requirements. If you have any comments on the burden estimates listed below, or how the Commission can improve the collections and reduce any burdens caused thereby, please contact Cathy Williams, Federal Communications Commission, Room 1-C823, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Please include the OMB Control Number, 3060-0686, in your correspondence. The Commission will also accept your comments via email at [email protected]

    To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis

    As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), the FCC is notifying the public that it received OMB approval on February 10, 2015 and February 20, 2015, for the new information collection requirements contained in the Commission's rules at 47 CFR 1.767(a)(8), 1.768(g)(2), 63.11(g)(2) and 63.18(k).

    Under 5 CFR part 1320, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a current, valid OMB Control Number.

    No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act that does not display a current, valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Numbers are 3060-0686 and 3060-0944.

    The foregoing notice is required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, October 1, 1995, and 44 U.S.C. 3507.

    The total annual reporting burdens and costs for the respondents are as follows:

    OMB Control Number: 3060-0686.

    OMB Approval Date: February 20, 2015.

    OMB Expiration Date: February 28, 2018.

    Title: International Section 214 Authorization Process and Tariff Requirements—47 CFR Sections 63.10, 63.11, 63.13, 63.18, 63.19, 63.21, 63.24, 63.25 and 1.1311.

    Form Number: International Section 214 Application—New Authorization; International Section 214 Authorizations—Transfer of Control/Assignment; International Section 214—Special Temporary Authority and International Section 214—Foreign Carrier Affiliation Notification.

    Respondents: Business and other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 495 respondents; 748 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.50 hour to 15 hours.

    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement, Quarterly reporting requirement, Recordkeeping requirement and third party disclosure requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection is contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 11, 201-205, 208, 211, 214, 219, 220, 303(r), 309, 310 and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 161, 201-205, 208, 211, 214, 219, 220, 303(r), 309, 310 and 403.

    Total Annual Burden: 3,286 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: $755,400.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: In general, there is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information. In those cases where a respondent believes information requires confidentiality, the respondent can request confidential treatment under § 0.459 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 0.459.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) received approval for a revision of OMB Control No. 3060-0686 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The purpose of this revision was to obtain OMB approval of rules adopted in the Commission's Report and Order in IB Docket No. 12-299, FCC 14-48, adopted and released on April 22, 2014 (Report and Order). In the Report and Order, the Commission eliminated the effective competitive opportunities (ECO) test from §§ 63.11(g)(2) and 63.18(k) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 63.11(g)(2), 63.18(k), which apply to applications filed under section 63.18, 47 CFR 63.18, for authority to provide U.S.-international telecommunications service pursuant to section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Communications Act), 47 U.S.C. 214, and to foreign carrier affiliation notifications filed under § 63.11 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 63.11. The Commission is also making adjustments to the hour and cost burdens associated with other rules and requirements covered by this information collection. The information will be used by the Commission staff in carrying out its duties under the Communications Act.

    The information will be used by the staff in carrying out its duties under the Communications Act. The information collections are necessary largely to determine the qualifications of applicants to provide common carrier international telecommunications service, including applicants that are, or are affiliated with, foreign carriers, and to determine whether and under what conditions the authorizations are in the public interest, convenience, and necessity. The information collections are also necessary to maintain effective oversight of U.S. international carriers generally.

    If the collections are not conducted or are conducted less frequently, applicants will not obtain the authorizations necessary to provide telecommunications services, and the Commission will be unable to carry out its mandate under the Communications Act. In addition, without the information collections, the United States would jeopardize its ability to fulfill the U.S. obligations as negotiated under the WTO Basic Telecom Agreement because these collections are imperative to detecting and deterring anticompetitive conduct. They are also necessary to preserve the Executive Branch agencies' and the Commission's ability to review foreign investments for national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade concerns.

    OMB Control Number: 3060-0944.

    OMB Approval Date: February 10, 2015.

    OMB Expiration Date: February 28, 2018.

    Title: Cable Landing License Act, 47 CFR 1.767; 1.768; Executive Order 10530.

    Form Number: Submarine Cable Landing License Application.

    Respondents: Business and other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 38 respondents; 94 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.50 hour to 17 hours.

    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement, Quarterly reporting requirement, Recordkeeping requirement and third party disclosure requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection is contained in the Submarine Cable Landing License Act of 1921, 47 U.S.C. 34-39, Executive Order 1050, section 5(a), and the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i)-(j), 155, 303(r), 309, and 403.

    Total Annual Burden: 421 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: $88,505.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: In general, there is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information. In those cases where a respondent believes information requires confidentiality, the respondent can request confidential treatment under § 0.459 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 0.459.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) received approval for a revision of OMB Control No. 3060-0944 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The purpose of this revision was to obtain OMB approval of rules adopted in the Commission's Report and Order in IB Docket No. 12-299, FCC 14-48, adopted and released on August 22, 2014 (Report and Order). In the Report and Order, the Commission eliminated the effective competitive opportunities (ECO) test from §§ 1.767(a)(8) and 1.768(g)(2) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.767(a)(8), 1.768(g)(2), which apply to cable landing license applications filed under the Submarine Cable Landing License Act of 1921, 47 U.S.C. 34-39, and § 1.767 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.767, and to foreign carrier affiliation notifications filed under § 1.768 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.768. The Commission is also making adjustments to the hour and cost burdens associated with other rules and requirements covered by this information collection.

    The information will be used by the Commission staff in carrying out its duties under the Submarine Cable Landing License Act of 1921, 47 U.S.C. 34-39, Executive Order 10530, section 5(a), and the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. The information collections are necessary largely to determine whether and under what conditions the Commission should grant a license for proposed submarine cables landing in the United States, including applicants that are, or are affiliated with, foreign carriers in the destination market of the proposed submarine cable. Pursuant to Executive Order No. 10530, the Commission has been delegated the President's authority under the Cable Landing License Act to grant cable landing licenses, provided that the Commission must obtain the approval of the State Department and seek advice from other government agencies as appropriate. If the collection is not conducted or is conducted less frequently, applicants will not obtain the authorizations necessary to provide telecommunications services and facilities, and the Commission will be unable to carry out its mandate under the Cable Landing License Act and Executive Order 10530. In addition, without the collection, the United States would jeopardize its ability to fulfill the U.S. obligations as negotiated under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Basic Telecom Agreement because certain of these information collection requirements are imperative to detecting and deterring anticompetitive conduct. They are also necessary to preserve the Executive Branch agencies' and the Commission's ability to review foreign investments for national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade concerns.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04336 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 76 [MB Docket No. 15-37; FCC 15-21] Implementation of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) amends its rules to implement certain provisions of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014. Collectively, those provisions: Extend to January 1, 2020 the good faith negotiation requirements applicable to multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) and television broadcast stations, and the exclusive contract prohibition applicable to such broadcast stations; prohibit same-market television broadcast stations from coordinating negotiations or negotiating on a joint basis for retransmission consent except under certain conditions; prohibit a television broadcast station from limiting the ability of an MVPD to carry into its local market television signals that are deemed “significantly viewed” or that otherwise are permitted to be carried by the MVPD, with certain exceptions; and eliminate the “sweeps prohibition” in the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (“the Act”).

    DATES:

    Effective April 2, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Raelynn Remy, [email protected], Federal Communications Commission, Media Bureau, (202) 418-2936.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Order, MB Docket No. 15-37, FCC 15-21, which was adopted on February 13, 2015 and released on February 18, 2015. The full text of this document is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    This document does not contain new or modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified “information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

    Document Summary I. Introduction

    1. In this Order, we amend our rules to implement three provisions of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 (“STELAR”).1 Collectively, those provisions: (i) Extend to January 1, 2020 the good faith negotiation requirements applicable to multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) and television broadcast stations, and the exclusive contract prohibition applicable to such broadcast stations; 2 (ii) prohibit same-market television broadcast stations from coordinating negotiations or negotiating on a joint basis for retransmission consent except under certain conditions; 3 (iii) prohibit a television broadcast station from limiting the ability of an MVPD to carry into its local market television signals that are deemed “significantly viewed” or that otherwise are permitted to be carried by the MVPD, with certain exceptions; 4 and (iv) eliminate the “sweeps prohibition” in section 614(b)(9) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (“the Act”).5

    1See Public Law 113-200, 128 Stat. 2059 (2014). The STELAR was enacted on December 4, 2014 (H.R. 5728, 113th Cong.).

    2See 47 U.S.C. 325(b)(3)(C) (as amended by section 101 of the STELAR).

    3See id. (as amended by section 103(a) of the STELAR).

    4See id. (as amended by section 103(b) of the STELAR).

    5See 47 U.S.C. 534(b)(9) (as amended by section 105 of the STELAR).

    2. The STELAR requires the Commission, among other things, to undertake several proceedings to adopt new rules, amend or repeal existing rules, and conduct analyses. This proceeding implements sections 101, 103 and 105 of the STELAR.6 We address those provisions in one order because their implementation entails no exercise of our administrative discretion and, therefore, notice and comment procedures are unnecessary under the “good cause” exception to the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).7 We discuss each provision, in turn.

    6 Provisions of the STELAR that we do not implement in this Order will be addressed in other proceedings.

    7See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). See also Metzenbaum v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 675 F.2d 1282, 1291 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (agency order, issued pursuant to Congressional waiver of certain provisions of federal law that otherwise would have governed construction and operation of Alaskan natural gas pipeline, was appropriately issued without notice and comment under the APA's “good cause” exception as a nondiscretionary ministerial action); Komjathy v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 832 F.2d 1294, 1296-97 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (notice and comment is unnecessary where the regulation does no more than repeat, virtually verbatim, the statutory grant of authority), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1057 (1988).

    II. Discussion A. Section 101 of the STELAR: Extension of Sunset Dates in Retransmission Consent Rules

    3. We revise § 76.64(b)(3)(ii) of our rules (relating to the retransmission consent exemption for carriage of distant network signals by satellite carriers), § 76.64(l) (relating to the prohibition on exclusive retransmission consent contracts) and § 76.65(f) (relating to the expiration of the reciprocal good faith negotiation requirements) to reflect the new sunset dates established in section 101 of the STELAR. Section 101 amends section 325(b)(2)(C) of the Act by replacing the previous sunset date of December 31, 2014 with a new sunset date of December 31, 2019. Section 101 also amends section 325(b)(3)(C) of the Act to replace the previous sunset date of January 1, 2015 with a new sunset date of January 1, 2020.8 Accordingly, we amend §§ 76.64(b)(3)(ii), 76.64(l), and 76.65(f) of our rules to reflect those new sunset dates.

    8See 47 U.S.C. 325(b)(3)(C) (as amended by section 101 of the STELAR) (requiring MVPDs and television broadcast stations to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith and prohibiting such stations from engaging in exclusive contracts for carriage).

    B. Section 103(a) of the STELAR: Ban on Joint Negotiation for Retransmission Consent

    4. We also revise § 76.65(b) of our rules (setting forth standards for good faith negotiation) to incorporate new provisions of section 325 added by the STELAR. In particular, section 103(a) of the STELAR revises section 325 by adding new subsection 325(b)(3)(C)(iv), which, read as part of section 325(b)(3)(C) as a whole, requires the Commission to revise its retransmission consent rules:

    [to] prohibit a television broadcast station from coordinating negotiations or negotiating on a joint basis with another television broadcast station in the same local market (as defined in section 122(j) of title 17, United States Code) to grant retransmission consent under this section to a [MVPD], unless such stations are directly or indirectly under common de jure control permitted under the regulations of the Commission.9

    9See 47 U.S.C. 325(b)(3)(C) (as amended by section 103 of the STELAR).

    5. In accordance with our statutory mandate in section 325(b)(3)(C), we revise § 76.65(b) of our rules to incorporate this new provision virtually verbatim. Specifically, we repeal § 76.65(b)(1)(viii) of our rules (governing joint negotiation of retransmission consent) and replace that provision with language implementing new section 325(b)(3)(C)(iv) of the Act. We take this action based on our conclusion that the prohibition on joint negotiation in new section 325(b)(3)(C)(iv) is broader than, and thus supersedes, the Commission's existing prohibition.10

    10 For example, the prohibition on joint negotiation codified in § 76.65(b)(1)(viii) of our existing rules applies by its terms only to same-market “Top Four” television broadcast stations, whereas the new statutory ban applies to all same-market television broadcast stations. Moreover, in contrast to the existing ban on joint negotiation (which permits joint negotiation of retransmission consent by stations that are commonly owned, operated or controlled as determined by the Commission's broadcast attribution rules), the new statutory ban permits joint negotiation only by stations that “are directly or indirectly under common de jure control permitted under the regulations of the Commission.” Compare 47 CFR 76.65(b)(1)(viii) with 47 U.S.C. 325(b)(3)(C) (as amended by section 103(a) of the STELAR).

    C. Section 103(b) of the STELAR: Protections for Significantly Viewed and Other Television Signals

    6. In addition, section 103(b) of the STELAR amends section 325 by adding new subsection 325(b)(3)(C)(v). Read as part of section 325(b)(3)(C) in its entirety, that new subsection directs the Commission to amend its retransmission consent rules:

    [to] prohibit a television broadcast station from limiting the ability of a [MVPD] to carry into the local market (as defined in [S]ection 122(j) of title 17, United States Code) of such station a television signal that has been deemed significantly viewed, within the meaning of [S]ection 76.54 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation, or any television broadcast signal such distributor is authorized to carry under [S]ection 338, 339, 340, or 614 of [the] Act, unless such stations are directly or indirectly under common de jure control permitted by the Commission.11

    11See 47 U.S.C. 325(b)(3)(C) (as amended by section 103 of the STELAR).

    7. Thus, we amend § 76.65(b) of our rules by adding new subsection 76.65(b)(1)(ix), which incorporates the protections for significantly viewed and other television signals established in section 103(b) of the STELAR.

    D. Section 105 of the STELAR

    8. We amend § 76.1601 of our rules by removing the prohibition on deletion or repositioning of local commercial television stations by cable operators during periods in which major television ratings services measure such stations' audience size, otherwise known as the “sweeps prohibition.” 12 Section 105(a) of the STELAR amends section 614(b)(9) of the Act by eliminating the sweeps prohibition,13 and section 105(b) directs the Commission to conform its rules accordingly.14 Pursuant to Congress's directive in section 105(b), therefore, we amend our rules to eliminate Note 1 of § 76.1601.

    12See 47 CFR 76.1601, Note 1.

    13 In particular, section 105(a) of the STELAR amends section 614(b)(9) of the Act by striking the second sentence, which states that “[n]o deletion or repositioning of a local commercial television station shall occur during a period in which major television ratings services measure the size of audiences of local television stations.” 47 U.S.C. 534(b)(9).

    14 Section 105(b) of the STELAR provides that “[n]ot later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall revise [S]ection 76.1601 of its rules . . . and any note to such section by removing the [sweeps prohibition].” See Public Law 113-200, 128 Stat. 2059, 105(b) (2014).

    E. “Good Cause” Under Section 553(b)(B) of the APA

    9. Consistent with previous decisions, we amend our rules as set forth above without providing for prior public notice and comment. Our action here is largely ministerial because it simply effectuates new sunset dates or other provisions established by legislation, and requires no exercise of administrative discretion. For this reason, we conclude that prior notice and comment would serve no useful purpose and are unnecessary. We, therefore, find that this action comes within the “good cause” exception to the notice and comment requirements of the APA.15

    15See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B).

    III. Procedural Matters A. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    10. Because we adopt this Order without notice and comment, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) does not apply.16

    16See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The SBREFA was enacted as Title II of the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 (CWAAA).

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    11. This document does not contain any new or modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA).17 In addition, therefore, it does not contain any information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002.18

    17 The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, 109 Stat. 163 (1995) (codified in Chapter 35 of title 44 U.S.C.).

    18 The Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (SBPRA), Public Law 107-198, 116 Stat. 729 (2002) (codified in Chapter 35 of title 44 U.S.C.); see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

    C. Congressional Review Act

    12. The Commission will send a copy of this Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.19

    19See 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    D. Additional Information

    13. For more information, contact Raelynn Remy, [email protected], Policy Division, Media Bureau, (202) 418-2936.

    IV. Ordering Clauses

    14. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority found in sections 4(i), 4(j), 303(r), 325 and 614 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303(r), 325, and 534, and sections 101, 103 and 105 of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014, Public Law 113-200, 128 Stat. 2059 (2014), this Order IS ADOPTED and the Commission's rules ARE HEREBY AMENDED as set forth below.

    15. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority found in sections 4(i), 4(j), 303(r), 325 and 614 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303(r), 325, and 534, and sections 101, 103 and 105 of the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014, Public Law 113-200, 128 Stat. 2059 (2014), the rules SHALL BE EFFECTIVE thirty (30) days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

    16. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission shall send a copy of this Order in MB Docket No. 15-37 in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 76

    Cable television.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Final rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 76 as follows:

    PART 76—MULTICHANNEL VIDEO AND CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE 1. Amend the authority citation for part 76 to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 154, 301, 302, 302a, 303, 303a, 307, 308, 309, 312, 315, 317, 325, 338, 339, 340, 341, 503, 521, 522, 531, 532, 534, 535, 536, 537, 543, 544, 544a, 545, 548, 549, 552, 554, 556, 558, 560, 561, 571, 572, 573.

    2. Section 76.64 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) and (l) to read as follows:
    § 76.64 Retransmission consent.

    (b) * * *

    (3) * * *

    (ii) The broadcast station is owned or operated by, or affiliated with a broadcasting network, and the household receiving the signal is an unserved household. This paragraph shall terminate at midnight on December 31, 2019, provided that if Congress further extends this date, the rules remain in effect until the statutory authorization expires.

    (l) Exclusive retransmission consent agreements are prohibited. No television broadcast station shall make or negotiate any agreement with one multichannel video programming distributor for carriage to the exclusion of other multichannel video programming distributors. This paragraph shall terminate at midnight on January 1, 2020, provided that if Congress further extends this date, the rules remain in effect until the statutory authorization expires.

    3. Section 76.65 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(1)(viii) and by adding paragraph (b)(1)(ix) and revising paragraph (f) to read as follows:
    § 76.65 Good faith and exclusive retransmission consent complaints.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (viii) Coordination of negotiations or negotiation on a joint basis by two or more television broadcast stations in the same local market (as defined in 17 U.S.C. 122(j)) to grant retransmission consent to a multichannel video programming distributor, unless such stations are directly or indirectly under common de jure control permitted under the regulations of the Commission.

    (ix) The imposition by a television broadcast station of limitations on the ability of a multichannel video programming distributor to carry into the local market (as defined in 17 U.S.C. 122(j)) of such station a television signal that has been deemed significantly viewed, within the meaning of § 76.54 of this part, or any successor regulation, or any other television broadcast signal such distributor is authorized to carry under 47 U.S.C. 338, 339, 340 or 534, unless such stations are directly or indirectly under common de jure control permitted by the Commission.

    (f) Termination of rules. This section shall terminate at midnight on January 1, 2020, provided that if Congress further extends this date, the rules remain in effect until the statutory authorization expires.

    § 76.1601 [Amended].
    4. Amend § 76.1601 by removing Note 1.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04337 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 101206604-1758-02] RIN 0648-XD790 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Trip Limit Increase AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; in-season trip limit increase.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS increases the trip limit in the commercial sector for king mackerel in the Florida east coast subzone to 75 fish per day in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This trip limit increase is necessary to maximize the socioeconomic benefits associated with harvesting the quota.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2015, through March 31, 2015, unless NMFS publishes a superseding document in the Federal Register.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Gerhart, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: s[email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia) is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils) and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

    On January 30, 2012 (76 FR 82058, December 29, 2011), NMFS implemented a commercial quota of 1,102,896 lb (500,265 kg) for Gulf migratory group king mackerel in the Florida east coast subzone (50 CFR 622.384(b)(1)(i)(A)). From November 1 through March 31, the Florida east coast subzone encompasses an area of the EEZ south of a line extending due east of the boundary between Flagler and Volusia Counties, FL, and north of a line extending due east of the boundary between Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, FL. From November 1 through the end of February, king mackerel in or from the subzone may be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts not exceeding 50 fish per day (50 CFR 622.385(a)(2)(i)(A)).

    However, beginning on March 1, if less than 70 percent of the Florida east coast subzone king mackerel commercial quota has been harvested by that date, king mackerel in or from that subzone may be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts not exceeding 75 fish per day (50 CFR 622.385(a)(2)(i)(B)(2)).

    NMFS has determined that less than 70 percent of the quota for Gulf migratory group king mackerel in the Florida east coast subzone will be harvested by March 1, 2015. Accordingly, a 75-fish trip limit applies to vessels fishing for king mackerel in or from the EEZ in the Florida east coast subzone effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2015. The 75-fish trip limit will remain in effect until the subzone closes or until the end of the current fishing year (March 31, 2015) for this subzone.

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of Gulf migratory group king mackerel and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.385(a)(2)(i)(B)(2) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment.

    This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this commercial trip limit increase constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), because prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary, because the rule establishing the trip limits has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the trip limit increase. They are contrary to the public interest, because prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time, thus delaying fishermen's ability to catch more king mackerel than the present trip limit allows and preventing fishermen from reaping the socioeconomic benefits associated with this increased trip limit.

    As this action allows fishermen to increase their harvest of king mackerel from 50 fish to 75 fish per day in or from the EEZ of the Florida east coast subzone, the AA finds it relieves a restriction and may go into effect without a 30-day delay in effectiveness, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04382 Filed 2-26-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 141002822-5169-03] RIN 0648-BE56 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Fishing Year 2014; Interim Gulf of Maine Cod Management Measures; Correction AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule, correcting amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    This document makes corrections to the Gulf of Maine cod interim regulations published in the Federal Register on November 13, 2014. This document corrects regulatory text by including the exemption from certain seasonal interim closure areas for vessels fishing for whiting in the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exempted Areas with a raised footrope trawl. These two exempted areas, which overlap with certain seasonal closure areas, were inadvertently overlooked in the interim rule. This action does not make any substantive changes to the interim rule regulations.

    DATES:

    Effective February 26, 2015, until May 12, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    William Whitmore, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone: 978-281-9182.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On November 13, 2014, we published interim management measures (79 FR 67362) to increase protection for Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod in response to a recently updated stock assessment that concluded the stock is severely depleted. The management measures included seasonal interim closure areas where fishing for groundfish is prohibited. The regulations implemented through the GOM cod interim rule allowed vessels fishing with exempted gear or fishing in exempted fisheries to continue to fish within the seasonal interim closure areas; however, the rule mistakenly did not include the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exemption Areas.

    An exempted fishery is implemented after it is determined that a specific fishery utilizes a certain gear type, and/or fishes in specific areas or times that result in a groundfish bycatch that is less than 5 percent and doesn't jeopardize fishing mortality objectives. Vessels fishing in the Small Mesh Areas must use raised footrope trawl nets that result in minimal groundfish bycatch. Vessels fishing in these areas may not fish for, possess, or land any groundfish. They are allowed to fish for and possess only whiting, red hake, and a limited number of other species.

    Additional information on exempted fisheries can be found online at www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/regs/info.html.

    Correction

    We recently recognized that the GOM cod interim rule regulations inadvertently omitted two small mesh exemption areas utilized by groundfish vessels. Groundfish vessels are allowed to fish with small mesh nets using raised footrope trawls in the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exempted Areas, as described at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(9). Because these areas were omitted from the regulatory text, groundfish vessels would be unable to fish in the portions of the Small Mesh 1 and 2 Exemption Areas that overlap with the GOM cod seasonal interim closure areas. This correction adds the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exempted Areas to the list of exempted fishery areas that are exempt from the GOM cod seasonal interim closure areas. As a result, vessels can now fish with small mesh nets with raised footrope trawls in the Small Mesh Area 2 Exemption Area in March and April, and, if the interim rule were to be extended another six months, in the Small Mesh Area 1 Exemption Area July 15 through November 15. This correction is consistent with the original intent of the GOM cod interim rule.

    Classification

    The Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be contrary to the public interest. This temporary rule adds the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exempted Areas to the list of exempted fisheries that are exempt from the GOM cod seasonal interim closure areas. These two areas were inadvertently left out of the GOM cod interim action and adding these areas does not substantively change the regulations. Providing notice and comment on these changes is contrary to the public interest because any additional delay would cause economic harm to fishery participants by denying them opportunities to fish in the specified areas, which would have been permitted but for the previous inadvertent omission. Moreover, this action reduces a regulatory restriction and provides fishermen with greater fishing opportunities while maintaining the goals and objectives of the GOM cod interim rule and the groundfish fishery management plan.

    The Assistant Administrator also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness and makes this rule effective immediately upon filing for public inspection. In addition to the reasons stated above, an area within Small Mesh Area 2 will close on March 1, 2015. Vessels fishing with raised footrope trawls would then be prohibited from fishing in that area unnecessarily. Waiving the 30-day delay avoids this unnecessary closure and allows fishery participants to fish in Small Mesh Area 2 without interruption, as was originally intended when the interim management measures were published.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Therefore, NOAA amends 50 CFR part 648 as follows:

    PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. Section 648.81 is amended by: A. Suspending from February 26, 2015, unti May 12, 2015, paragraph (o)(2)(iv), and B. Temporarily adding from February 26, 2015, until May 12, 2015, paragraph (o)(2)(vi).

    The addition reads as follows:

    § 648.81 NE multispecies closed area and measures to protect EFH.

    (o) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (vi) That are fishing in the Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery, ass specified in § 648.80(a)(15), or the Small Mesh Area 1 and 2 Exemption Areas as specified in § 648.80(a)(9).

    [FR Doc. 2015-04319 Filed 2-26-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 131021878-4158-02] RIN 0648-XD803 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod, except for the Community Development Quota program (CDQ), in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the non-CDQ allocation of the 2015 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 27, 2015, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Josh Keaton, 907-586-7269.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    The non-CDQ allocation of the 2015 Pacific cod TAC in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI is 8,414 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2014 and 2015 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014) and inseason adjustment (80 FR 188, January 5, 2015). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the non-CDQ allocation of the 2015 Pacific cod TAC in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 6,414 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 2,000 mt as incidental catch in directed fishing for other species. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI.

    After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip.

    Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the directed fishing closure of non-CDQ Pacific cod in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of February 25, 2015.

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

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

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04378 Filed 2-26-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 41 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF LABOR 5 CFR Chapter XLII 20 CFR Chapters IV, V, VI, VII, and IX 29 CFR Subtitle A and Chapters II, IV, V, XVII, and XXV 30 CFR Chapter I 41 CFR Chapters 50, 60, and 61 48 CFR Chapter 29 Retrospective Review and Regulatory Flexibility AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, Labor.

    ACTION:

    Request for information; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    On February 3, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL or the Department) published a Request for Information (RFI) in response to Executive Order 13563 on improving regulation and regulatory review, and Executive Order 13610 on identifying and reducing regulatory burden. The RFI invited public comment on how the Department can improve any of its significant regulations by modifying, streamlining, expanding, or repealing them, and the comment period ended on February 25, 2015. This extension reopens and extends the date to comment on the RFI.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the Request for Information published on February 3, 2015, at 80 FR 5715, is extended. The comment period ended on February 25, 2015. Comments must be received on or before March 18, 2015. The Department is accepting all comments.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments through the Department's Regulations Portal at http://www.dol.gov/regulations/regreview.

    All comments will be available for public inspection at http://www.dol.gov/regulations/regreview.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Pamela Peters, Program Analyst, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room S-2312, Washington, DC 20210, [email protected] (202) 693-5959 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with hearing impairments may call 1-800-877-8339 (TTY/TDD).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On January 18, 2011, President Obama issued Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” The Order explains the Administration's goal of creating a regulatory system that protects “public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation” while using “the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools to achieve regulatory ends.” After receipt and consideration of comments, the Department issued its Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules in August 2011. On May 12, 2012, President Obama issued Executive Order 13610, “Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens.” This Order explained that “it is particularly important for agencies to conduct retrospective analyses of existing rules to examine whether they remain justified and whether they should be modified or streamlined in light of changed circumstances, including the rise of new technologies.”

    Request for Comments

    The Department recognizes the importance of conducting retrospective review of regulations and is once again seeking public comment on how the Department can increase the effectiveness of its significant regulations while minimizing the burden on regulated entities. The Department recognizes that the regulated community, academia, and the public at large have an understanding of its programs and their implementing regulations, and therefore is requesting public comment on how the Department can prepare workers for better jobs, improve workplace safety and health, promote fair and high-quality work environments, and secure a wide range of benefits for employees and those who are seeking work, all in ways that are more effective and least burdensome.

    This request for public input will inform development of the Department's future plans to review its existing significant regulations. To facilitate receipt of the information, the Department has created an Internet portal specifically designed to capture your input and suggestions, http://www.dol.gov/regulations/regreview/. The portal contains a series of questions to gather information on how DOL can best meet the requirements of the Executive Order. The portal will be open to receive comments until March 18, 2015.

    Please note that these questions do not pertain to DOL rulemakings currently open for public comment. To comment on an open rulemaking, please visit regulations.gov and submit comments by the deadline indicated in that rulemaking. Comments that pertain to rulemakings currently open for public comment will not be addressed by the Department in this venue, which focuses on retrospective review.

    The Department will consider public comments as we update our plan to review the Department's significant rules. The Department is issuing this request solely to seek useful information as we update our review plan. While responses to this request do not bind the Department to any further actions related to the response, all submissions will be made available to the public on http://www.dol.gov/regulations/regreview/.

    Authority:

    E.O. 13653, 76 FR 3821, Jan. 21, 2011; E.O. 12866, 58 FR 51735, Oct. 4, 1993.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Mary Beth Maxwell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04362 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 905 [Doc. No. AO-13-0163; AMS-FV-12-0069; FV13-905-1] Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, and Tangelos Grown in Florida; Recommended Decision and Opportunity To File Written Exceptions to Proposed Amendments to Marketing Order No. 905 AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule and opportunity to file exceptions.

    SUMMARY:

    This recommended decision proposes amendments to Marketing Order No. 905 (order), which regulates the handling of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos (citrus) grown in Florida. Nine amendments are proposed by the Citrus Administrative Committee (Committee), which is responsible for local administration of the order. These proposed amendments would: Authorize regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit, authorize the regulation of intrastate shipments of fruit, revise the process for redistricting the production area, change the term of office and tenure requirements for Committee members, authorize mail balloting procedures for Committee membership nominations, increase the capacity of financial reserve funds, authorize pack and container requirements for domestic shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets, eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process, and require handlers to register with the Committee. These proposed amendments are intended to improve the operation and administration of the order.

    DATES:

    Written exceptions must be filed by April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written exceptions should be filed with the Hearing Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 1081-S, Washington, DC 20250-9200; Fax: (202) 720-9776 or via the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the docket number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. Comments will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Hearing Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Melissa Schmaedick, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, Post Office Box 952, Moab, UT 84532; Telephone: (202) 557-4783, Fax: (435) 259-1502, or Michelle Sharrow, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Stop 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

    Small businesses may request information on this proceeding by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Stop 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Prior documents in this proceeding: Notice of Hearing issued on March 28, 2013, and published in the March 28, 2013, issue of the Federal Register (78 FR 18899).

    This action is governed by the provisions of sections 556 and 557 of title 5 of the United States Code and is therefore excluded from the requirements of Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.

    Preliminary Statement

    Notice is hereby given of the filing with the Hearing Clerk of this recommended decision with respect to the proposed amendments to Marketing Order 905 regulating the handling of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos grown in Florida, and the opportunity to file written exceptions thereto. Copies of this decision can be obtained from Melissa Schmaedick, whose address is listed above.

    This recommended decision is issued pursuant to the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the “Act,” and the applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and orders (7 CFR part 900).

    The proposed amendments are based on the record of a public hearing held on April 24, 2013, in Winter Haven, Florida. Notice of this hearing was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2013 (78 FR 18899). The notice of hearing contained nine proposals submitted by the Committee.

    The proposed amendments were recommended by the Committee following deliberations at a public meeting on July 17, 2012, and were submitted to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on October 25, 2012. After reviewing the recommendation and other information submitted by the Committee, AMS decided to proceed with the formal rulemaking process and schedule the matter for hearing.

    The Committee's proposed amendments to the order would: (1) Authorize regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit; (2) authorize the regulation of intrastate shipments of fruit; (3) revise the process for redistricting the production area; (4) change the term of office and tenure requirements for Committee members; (5) authorize mail balloting procedures for Committee membership nominations; (6) increase the capacity of financial reserve funds; (7) authorize pack and container requirements for domestic shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets; (8) eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process; and (9) require handlers to register with the Committee.

    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) also proposed to make such changes to the order as may be necessary, if any of the proposed changes are adopted, so that all of the order's provisions conform to the effectuated amendments.

    Ten industry witnesses testified at the hearing. The witnesses represented citrus producers and handlers in the production area, as well as the Committee, and they all supported the proposed amendments. The witnesses emphasized the need to restructure Committee representation and administration as well as equip the industry with more tools to address the changing needs of fresh Florida citrus.

    Witnesses offered testimony supporting the recommendation to authorize the regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit. According to testimony, new varieties and hybrids could address the disease concerns of the industry and increase consumer demand for fresh citrus through the development of varieties with new characteristics.

    Witnesses testified in support of streamlining the order by allowing mail ballots for Committee membership nominations, eliminating the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process, and changing the term of office and tenure requirements for Committee members to lengthen their terms of service. Witnesses stated that these three proposals would result in cost savings to the Committee and time savings for industry members. Moreover, longer term limits and overall tenure would contribute to stability in the administration of the order. The proposal to allow for greater financial reserves was supported by witnesses who indicated that additional reserves would result in less fluctuation in assessments and provide year-over-year budget stability.

    Witnesses favored two proposals that would add authority to the order to regulate intrastate Florida citrus shipments in the event the Florida Department of Citrus discontinues or modifies its regulation of the fresh segment. This proposal was largely supported as a precautionary measure, with witnesses clearly stating that the authority would not be implemented unless Florida state regulations are not in effect. Witnesses also supported a similar proposal that would allow the Committee to develop different pack and container regulations for different markets, including the intrastate market.

    Witnesses also supported the proposed amendment to modify the redistricting criteria and allow redistricting to occur more often than once every five years, as currently provided for under the order. The new criteria would give the Committee a clearer picture of production trends within the fresh citrus segment of the Florida citrus industry and allow the Committee to respond as necessary to best represent the fresh industry's interests.

    Finally, witness testimony supported adding authority to require handler registration. Witnesses stated that handler registration would be helpful for two reasons: To assist in compliance and to provide the Committee with accurate handler information.

    At the conclusion of the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge established a deadline of July 1, 2013, for interested persons to file proposed findings and conclusions or written arguments and briefs based on the evidence received at the hearing. One brief was filed.

    Material Issues

    The material issues presented on the record of hearing are as follows:

    1. Whether to amend the definitions of “fruit” and “variety” in § 905.4 and § 905.5 to update terminology and authorize regulation of additional varieties and hybrids of citrus.

    2. Whether to amend the definition of “handle or ship” in § 905.9 to authorize regulation of intrastate shipments.

    3. Whether to amend § 905.14 to revise the process for redistricting the production area.

    4. Whether to amend § 905.20 to change the term of office of Committee members from one to two years, and change the tenure requirements for Committee members from three to four years.

    5. Whether to amend § 905.22 to authorize mail balloting procedures for Committee membership nominations.

    6. Whether to amend § 905.42 to authorize the Committee to increase the capacity of its financial reserve funds from approximately six months of a fiscal period's expenses to approximately two years' fiscal periods' expenses.

    7. Whether to amend § 905.52 to authorize pack and container requirements for domestic shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets.

    8. Whether to amend § 905.28 to eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process.

    9. Whether to amend § 905.7 to require handlers to register with the Committee.

    Findings and Conclusions

    The following findings and conclusions on the material issues are based on evidence presented at the hearing and the record thereof.

    Material Issue Number 1—Definitions of “Fruit” and “Variety”

    Sections 905.4, Fruit, and 905.5, Variety, should be amended to update order terminology and authorize regulation of additional varieties and hybrids of citrus.

    The proposal to authorize regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit would assist the industry in addressing declines in production caused by diseases. Research and development of disease-resistant hybrids may improve the health of Florida's fresh citrus industry. In addition, the industry would be better able to meet consumer preferences as new and improved fruit becomes available for commercial production.

    In order to regulate newly developed citrus varieties and hybrids, authority must be added to the order. While the order currently authorizes regulation of specific hybrid fruit included in the definitions, it does not authorize regulation of new hybrids.

    The proposal to amend the definitions of “fruit” and “variety” would revise order language to reflect terminology currently being used in the industry. The order currently lists varieties that are no longer commercially viable. Amendments to the definitions would remove those varieties and group other varieties under sub-definitions currently used within the industry.

    The order currently identifies six types of citrus fruit that have varieties that can be regulated under the order. These are: Citrus sinensis, Osbeck, commonly called “oranges;” Citrus paradisi, MacFadyen, commonly called “grapefruit;” Citrus nobilis deliciosa, commonly called “tangerines;” Temple oranges; tangelos; and Honey tangerines.

    The proposed amendment would revise this list by moving Temple oranges, tangelos and Honey tangerines under the modified definition of “variety,” and adding pummelos (Citrus maxima merr) as a new type. Additionally, authority would be added to regulate varieties of any hybrid fruit developed from the parent fruits of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and pummelos.

    The definition of “varieties” currently identifies twelve classifications or groupings of varieties regulated under the order. These include: “round oranges;” late maturing oranges of the Valencia type; Temple oranges; Marsh and other seedless grapefruit, excluding pink grapefruit; Duncan and other seeded grapefruit, excluding pink grapefruit; Pink seedless grapefruit; Pink seeded grapefruit; tangelos; Dancy and similar tangerines, excluding Robinson and Honey tangerines; Robinson tangerines; Honey tangerines; and Navel oranges.

    The proposed modification of this definition would re-organize the existing list and add new varieties as follows: Oranges, with sub-groupings for early and midseason oranges, Valencia, Lue Gim Gong, or similar late maturing oranges of the Valencia type, and navel oranges; Grapefruit, red grapefruit and all shades of color and white grapefruit; Tangerines and mandarins, with sub-groupings for Dancy, Robinson, Honey, Fall-Glo, Early Pride, Sunburst, and W-Murcott tangerines, and tangors; and pummelos, including Hirado Buntan and other pink seeded pummelos. Currently regulated citrus hybrids would also be included, specifically: Tangelos, including Orlando and Minneola tangelos, and Temple oranges.

    A new sub-paragraph would be added to authorize regulation of any new varieties of citrus fruits specified in 905.4, Fruit, including hybrids of those fruit. Any new hybrid variety subject to regulation would be required to exhibit similar characteristics and be subject to cultural practices common to existing regulated varieties.

    According to the record, the Florida citrus industry believes that newly-developed hybrids are necessary for the recovery and long-term health of the industry. The industry is funding the development of new varieties and hybrids and has developed a plan for field testing. The industry hopes to begin producing new varieties and hybrids in the next few seasons. According to the witnesses, there is great anticipation within the fresh segment of the Florida citrus industry for the introduction of new varieties and hybrids that will reverse the decline of the Florida citrus industry.

    Witnesses explained that many of the varieties that have been the mainstay of the Florida fresh citrus industry have either succumbed to pest and disease challenges, or reached a point of market obsolescence. Furthermore, for the past decade, the Florida citrus industry has been contracting due to the loss of bearing trees and production, which has been brought about by the effects of two diseases, citrus canker and greening, and natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Also, the percentage of Florida's citrus crop utilized for fresh shipment has decreased to approximately nine percent of the total volume of citrus produced in Florida.

    According to the record, during the past ten years, the number of bearing citrus trees has declined by 29 percent, while production has declined by 42 percent, and fresh utilization has declined by 45 percent. In addition, the value of the juice produced by fresh fruit varieties has continued to decline, which has further depressed the fresh citrus sector.

    Witnesses gave examples of changes in consumer preferences that have also impacted the fresh Florida citrus industry. According to the record, Robinson and Dancy tangerines were the preferred varieties of tangerines by consumers thirty years ago. Over time, these varieties fell out of favor and were replaced by the Fall-Glo, Sunburst and Honey varieties because of their sweeter flavor. Consumers are now losing interest in these varieties and are showing a preference for easy-peel, seedless varieties.

    These competitive varieties are grown in areas outside of Florida, such as California and Spain, and are currently not suitable for production in the state. As a result, the Florida fresh citrus industry is in the process of developing easy-peel, seedless varieties that will grow in the production area. The new fruit will likely be a hybrid fruit currently not regulated under the order. Witnesses explained that the order should be amended to authorize regulation of hybrid fruit so that this new variety can be regulated once it is ready for commercial production.

    Researchers from the University of Florida (UF) testifying at the hearing stated that much research and development of new citrus fruit has been done to improve the competitiveness of the Florida citrus industry. According to the record, this research has resulted in the development and release of as many as ten new citrus fruits providing improvements such as sweeter oranges with earlier or later maturity and improved color and flavor attributes found in other citrus. In addition, research is focused on generating new and unique hybrids that may revitalize consumer interest in fresh Florida citrus. Two examples given by one witness from UF are the Sugar Belle mandarin hybrid and the Valquarius sweet orange, which are starting to be produced for the juice industry.

    According to the record, varieties developed by the UF Citrus Breeding Program are being released into a “fast-track” testing program where a limited numbers of trees are grown on a test basis by interested growers. Fruit from the test trees cannot be sold.

    Once the new varieties have been assessed for their potential value and growers plant sufficient numbers of trees to produce a supply of fruit for marketing through ordinary commercial channels, commercialization will proceed. Once a new variety becomes commercially viable, its inclusion under the order is likely to be considered by the Committee. Without the authority to regulate hybrid citrus fruit, the Committee would not be able to recommend the new fruit's inclusion under the marketing order.

    One example of a new fruit that is currently in the test phase is the “UF914.” This is a hybrid of pummelo and grapefruit that resembles ordinary grapefruit in appearance, but is much larger. According to the record, it generally has higher sugar levels and lower acidity than an ordinary grapefruit, yet retains the red pigmentation, flavor and aroma of a grapefruit.

    A critically important attribute of this particular variety is its extremely low content of furanocoumarins, those chemicals contained in ordinary grapefruit that are responsible for the so-called “grapefruit juice effect”, or a negative interaction between grapefruit juice and prescription medication, and subsequent medical recommendations for limited grapefruit consumption. As a consequence of its unique chemical composition, there could be substantial consumer demand for this variety. If this fruit were to be produced on a commercial scale, its inclusion under the order would be important to ensure and maintain quality and consistency of product in the market.

    Researchers from the UF further explained that while new varieties will likely present marketing opportunities, they may also have new and unique quality attributes. Witnesses concluded that the success of these new varieties, as well as the future of Florida's fresh citrus industry, would be better secured by ensuring that new varieties will be required to meet quality standards.

    In general, witnesses testifying in support of Material Issue Number One stated that, when new varieties and hybrids are available to the Florida citrus industry, it will be important that the marketing order contains the authority to regulate quality and size standards, and that its language be inclusive of all varieties likely to emerge from the breeding programs. The ability to regulate these varieties will ensure that the quality and consistency of fruit entering channels of trade will meet consumer demand, compete with product from global production areas, and ensure a fair economic return for Florida fresh citrus growers and handlers.

    Two corrections to the proposed regulatory language were offered by a witness testifying from the UF Citrus Breeding Program. These corrections include: Correcting the Latin binomial for pummelo from “Citrus grandis” to “Citrus maxima Merr,” as listed in the Notice of Hearing; and, correcting the spelling of the previously listed “Poncirus trifoliate” to read “Poncirus trifoliata.” These corrections have been accepted and are incorporated into the revised definition of § 905.4, Fruit, below.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was given at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that §§ 905.4, Fruit, and 905.5, Variety, be amended to update terminology and authorize regulation of additional varieties and hybrids of citrus as proposed and corrected.

    A conforming change is needed in the title of 7 CFR part 905. It is proposed to be revised to “ORANGES, GRAPEFRUIT, TANGERINES, AND PUMMELOS GROWN IN FLORIDA” to reflect the proposed addition of pummelos as a regulated fruit and the inclusion of tangelos as a regulated hybrid variety.

    Material Issue Number 2—Intrastate Shipments

    Section 905.9, the definition of “handle or ship,” should be amended to authorize regulation of fresh Florida citrus handled and shipped within the production area. This section should be further modified to state that any regulations or requirements implemented as a result of this new authority would not conflict with Florida state statutes or regulations in effect thereunder.

    The order currently regulates the grade and size of fresh Florida citrus handled and shipped to points outside of the production area, including exports, but does not regulate shipments within the state of Florida. Fresh citrus fruit handled and shipped within the state are currently regulated by the Florida Citrus Commission under the Florida Department of Citrus rules, Chapter 20.

    Witnesses explained that adding authority for intrastate shipments under the Federal marketing order would create one comprehensive program for regulating fresh Florida citrus in the event that the Florida state program were to stop regulating fresh citrus shipments. Witnesses further explained that this additional authority is being proposed as a precautionary measure and that the industry does not intend to implement this new authority while the Florida state program is in effect.

    According to the record, the Committee spent approximately one and a half years thoroughly reviewing and considering this proposal. This proposal has been discussed by industry organizations and with two members of the Florida Citrus Commission, the group that oversees all Florida state citrus regulation. Witnesses stated that the proposal has industry support and, by design, would not conflict with state regulations.

    According to the record, all witnesses who included remarks in their testimony about this proposal supported it as a precautionary measure for future use in the event that the State program no longer regulated fresh citrus shipments. Witnesses testifying in support of this proposal included individuals that serve or work closely with Florida state citrus regulatory programs. These witnesses stated that the Florida Citrus Commission is aware of this proposal and does not oppose it.

    Witnesses also explained that the proposal to allow for different handling regulations for different market destinations under the order, further discussed in Material Issue 8, complemented the industry's effort to streamline regulation within Florida's fresh citrus industry. According to the record, the two proposals would result in a coordination of regulation under the Federal and State programs, and would provide an added authority under the order to regulate fresh shipments in the state of Florida in the event that the Florida Citrus Commission stopped regulating them. These proposals would streamline handling operations under both programs and would provide continuity in regulation.

    No testimony or evidence opposing this proposal was provided at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.9, the definition of “handle or ship,” be amended to authorize regulation of fresh Florida citrus handled and shipped within the production area.

    Material Issue Number 3—Redistricting

    Section 905.14, Redistricting, should be amended to revise the process for redistricting the production area. This amendment would provide flexibility within the order allowing for the redefining of grower districts within the production area when warranted by relevant factors.

    Under the order, the Committee is authorized to consider redistricting every five years. Any recommendation to redistrict must include an analysis of the following factors: (1) The volume of fruit shipped from each district; (2) the volume of fruit produced in each district; (3) the total number of acres of citrus grown in each district; and (4) other relevant factors. The order further requires that any redistricting must retain a minimum of eight, but no more than nine, grower membership positions on the Committee.

    According to the record, the proposed amendment would modify three of the four factors used in assessing the need to change district boundaries and remove time restrictions, thereby increasing flexibility. Specifically, the amendment would change the assessment of total volume of fruit shipped from each district to the number of bearing trees in each district. It would also change the assessment of total volume of fruit produced in each district to the total volume of fresh fruit produced in each district. Finally, the consideration of total number of acres in each district would change to total number of bearing trees per district. The last remaining factor currently included in the order—other relevant factors when conditions warrant—would not be changed.

    The proposed amendment would also remove the restriction on redistricting any more frequently than every five years. If implemented, the proposed modification to the order would allow for redistricting as needed when the above factors indicate that a change in district boundaries would be beneficial.

    Witnesses explained that, due to the major declines in bearing tree numbers, production, and fresh shipments the Florida citrus industry has experienced over the past decade, this proposal would allow the Committee to determine the need for changes in grower districts on a timely basis using information that more accurately represents production trends within the fresh citrus industry.

    For example, given the increased loss of trees per acre due to disease and natural disasters, the current guideline for calculating grower districts using acreage is no longer applicable. According to the record, when calculating production capacity within a county or grower district, the new industry standard is to consider bearing trees, not acreage. Due to heavy tree losses within producing groves, acreage is not a reliable indicator of production. Record evidence indicates that many groves have anywhere from 10 percent to as much as or more than 50 percent of their grove acreage with non-bearing trees or no trees at all. Therefore, acreage count as an indicator of production can be misleading. For this reason, the Committee is recommending the usage of bearing trees per district rather than acreage per district.

    Witnesses also explained that the Florida Agricultural Statistical Service conducts a tree census every other year. With this information, the Committee would have accurate and timely information on bearing trees, by variety and county, to utilize in their redistricting evaluations.

    Witnesses stated that the importance of identifying and assessing the volume of fresh production per district is paramount to understanding trends within the fresh segment of the Florida citrus industry. According to record evidence, the Florida citrus industry utilizes 90 percent or more of its annual crop to produce processed products. Witnesses explained it is important to identify where the remaining 10 percent of fresh citrus is being produced and handled so that the Committee can assign Committee representation or re-designate districts based on the true distribution of fresh citrus production.

    Witnesses explained that calculating the volume of fresh citrus produced per district can be accomplished by identifying the number of fresh citrus variety trees in each district and multiplying that number by the average yield per tree of those varieties. Witnesses identified “fresh citrus varieties” as those varieties that return to the grower an on-tree value that exceeds the cost of production. These varieties currently would include Navel oranges, red and white grapefruit, specialty citrus varieties, Fall-Glo tangerines, Sunburst tangerines, tangelos, and Honey tangerines.

    Finally, witnesses stated that the proposed amendments would allow the Committee the flexibility to adjust grower districts to reflect shifts in the production of fresh varieties and fresh volume of Florida citrus. Given industry concerns over the continued loss of trees and reduction in fresh volume, the Committee's ability to react to such changes in a timely manner is important to administer the marketing order program effectively.

    No testimony opposing this proposal was presented at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.14, Redistricting, be amended to revise the process for redistricting the production area. This amendment would provide flexibility within the order to allow for the redefining of grower districts within the production area when relevant factors warrant redistricting.

    Material Issue Number 4—Term of Office

    Section 905.20, Term of office, should be amended to change the term of office of Committee members from one to two years, and change the tenure limits for Committee members from three to four years. This proposed change would provide more continuity in the administration of the order and would result in cost savings and efficiencies from fewer elections.

    The order currently limits the term of office for Committee members and alternate members to one year, with the number of consecutive terms, or tenure, that a member or alternate can serve in their position limited to three terms. Therefore, the longest a Committee member can serve before being required to take a break in service is three years. The proposed amendment would lengthen this time to a total of four years, or a limit of two consecutive two-year terms.

    Witnesses explained that the current requirements under the order disrupt the administration of the order. Each year nominations and new selections occur. The annual nomination process not only disrupts the work of the Committee, but it also requires time and resources from handlers and growers to participate in nominations and from the Committee to conduct them. Witnesses stated that changing the nomination process to a bi-annual occurrence would allow Committee members to work for two years without interruption, which would also reduce costs associated with conducting and participating in nominations. The overall effect would be an increase in administrative efficiencies and stability.

    Regarding the need for increased continuity in leadership, witnesses explained that the production of fresh Florida citrus is rapidly changing. According to the record, in the last 10 seasons the fresh citrus industry has experienced production declines of 50 percent and shipment declines of 40 percent. Witnesses stated that it will be important to have continuity in leadership and representation as the industry addresses the issues of disease and development of new, consumer-friendly citrus varieties to bolster production and market demand.

    No testimony opposing this proposal was provided at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.20, Term of office, be amended to change the term of office of Committee members from one to two years, and change the tenure limit for Committee members from three to four years. This proposed change would provide more continuity in the administration of the order and would result in cost savings and efficiencies with fewer nomination meetings to conduct.

    Material Issue Number 5—Mail Balloting

    Section 905.22, Nominations, should be amended to authorize the use of mail ballots in conducting Committee membership nominations. In addition, this section should be amended to provide that the nomination process occur in the month of June to allow ample time for the distribution and collection of mail ballots.

    The order currently does not allow for voting by mail during the nomination process; all votes must be cast in person or, in the case of handlers, by proxy, at annual nomination meetings. For grower nominations, meetings are held at set locations within each of the three grower districts. Growers are entitled to one vote for each nominee in each of the districts in which he or she is a producer. Shipper nominations are held at the Florida Department of Citrus headquarters. Shippers may vote by proxy, and each shipper's vote is weighted by the volume of fruit handled by them during the then current fiscal period. The nomination process occurs in the month of July.

    If implemented, this amendment would simplify the nomination and voting process and would increase industry participation, specifically grower participation. This amendment would also make the nomination process more efficient and economical by eliminating the Committee's expenses associated with holding a nomination meeting. Lastly, this change would reduce financial and other burdens currently required of growers commuting to vote.

    Witnesses stated that the current process can limit grower participation due to time and travel requirements to attend nominating meetings. Given that the state of Florida production area is divided into three grower districts, each of these districts covers a large geographic area.

    According to witnesses, the burdens of commuting to a nomination meeting have led to poor voter turnout. A considerable number of growers do not live within an easily commutable radius of the nomination meeting locations. Time spent commuting to nomination meetings can be costly in terms of lost wages, time spent away from the workplace, and fuel costs for travel to and from the nomination meetings.

    The Committee anticipates that this change will foster increased participation. By allowing voting by mail or other means, participation should increase, and the level of diversity among the members involved in the nomination process may increase as well. According to the record, the Committee believes that it will realize cost savings from conducting the nominations of members and alternate members by mail or other means. As presented earlier, this measure is coupled with the proposal to extend the term of office from a one-year term to a two-year term, which would decrease administrative and travel costs associated with nomination meetings. However, if there is any cost increase, it would be outweighed by the benefit of increased participation and involvement.

    The Committee further proposed that the nomination process take place in the month of June in order to allow extra time for the mailing and receipt of mail ballots. The expense of mailing the ballots would be outweighed by the savings in travel and time-related costs of industry members no longer needing to travel to nomination meetings.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was given at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.22, Nominations, be amended to authorize the use of mail ballots in conducting Committee membership nominations and to conduct nominations in June.

    Material Issue Number 6—Financial Reserve Fund

    Section 905.42, Handler's accounts, should be amended to authorize the Committee to increase the capacity of its financial reserve funds from approximately six months of a fiscal period's expenses to approximately two years' fiscal periods' expenses.

    The order currently provides authority to hold in reserve funds equal to approximately one-half of one fiscal period's expenses. According to witnesses, this limits the Committee's flexibility to develop and implement projects requiring advertising, promotion or research without raising the assessment rate during the season. The proposed amendment would allow the Committee to increase their reserves up to two fiscal periods' expenses. The larger reserve fund would provide greater flexibility in the administration of the marketing order program and promote assessment rate stability.

    Assessment revenue funds the Committee's administrative, research, and promotion activities. As production has declined over time, the Committee has had to either increase the assessment rate to generate more revenue, or rely on its reserves to fund some of its activities. This has caused the assessment rate to fluctuate substantially over time. The Committee's proposal to raise the reserve cap to two fiscal periods' expenses would reduce assessment rate fluctuation and make more funds available for the Committee to use in fiscal years when assessment revenue isn't sufficient to cover expenses.

    According to the record, the Committee's fiscal year begins on August 1 and ends on July 31 of the following year. The shipping season for Florida fresh citrus begins in September and lasts about eight months, with approximately 87 percent of the volume being shipped in six months. The volume of regulated fresh citrus declined 17 percent in the last five seasons, and 41 percent in the last decade. Committee data indicates that 2013-2014 fresh shipments from Florida are projected to decrease another 10 percent from last season. Moreover, the 2013-2014 crop year projection of fresh shipments of 13.2 million boxes will be the lowest since the 1919-1920 season.

    Witnesses explained that the Committee has tried to avoid assessment increases each year, and would rather establish an assessment rate that would fully fund its operations and build its reserves to handle the fluctuations in fresh shipments. However, with the current assessment rate and reserve threshold combination, reserves are being drawn down faster than they are being replenished year-over-year. Without raising the cap on reserves, witnesses stated that it will become increasingly difficult for the Committee to avoid annual increases in the assessment rate.

    Witnesses testifying in favor of this proposal stated that raising the assessment rate to a level that would properly fund the Committee's operations and simultaneously build ample reserves to handle production fluctuations can only be achieved by increasing the amount of reserves the Committee is allowed to carry over from one fiscal year to the next.

    According to the record, the Committee did consider a proposal that would increase the reserve threshold from one half year to one fiscal period's expenses. However, this option was ultimately rejected because current fluctuations in regulated shipments indicate that the Committee's reserve needs are greater than one year's annual expenses. Witnesses explained that it has been the Committee's practice to hold excess assessments during the past few fiscal years to ensure that there would be ample reserves to fully fund their operations.

    Witnesses further stated that the proposal to increase the reserve threshold to two fiscal periods' worth of Committee expenses is essential to the Committee's financial stability moving forward, until fluctuations in production can be remedied through the development of disease-resistant citrus and new plantings of varieties with the characteristics desired by consumers of fresh Florida citrus.

    Lastly, if the proposed amendment to increase the reserve fund were approved, witnesses stated that the Committee should begin building the reserves immediately.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was presented at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that Section 905.42, Handler's accounts, be amended to authorize the Committee to increase the capacity of its financial reserve funds from approximately six months of a fiscal period's expenses to approximately two fiscal periods' expenses.

    Material Issue Number 7—Regulation of Shipments

    Section 905.52, Issuance of regulations, should be amended to authorize pack and container requirements for domestic shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets. Additionally, in the event that the State of Florida opted to no longer regulate intrastate fresh citrus shipments, this amendment would also allow for such shipments to be regulated under the Federal marketing order.

    The order currently regulates the size, capacity, weight, dimensions, marking, or pack of containers used for fresh citrus export shipments, provided that the container is not prohibited under Chapter 601 of the Florida Statutes. The Committee recommends that the order be amended to allow for the establishment of such regulation for both export and interstate shipments, and that these requirements may be different for different market destinations. By adding this authority, the Committee could recognize and meet the differing demands of customers and consumers domestically and abroad. Witnesses explained that having the flexibility to meet differing demands is important in maintaining current markets and creating new markets for any new varieties developed in the future.

    The regulation of pack and containers for intrastate shipments falls under the authorities outlined in Chapter 20 of the Florida statutes. Changes to these regulations are developed by the Florida fresh citrus industry and presented to the Florida Citrus Commission for their approval. The Florida Citrus Commission oversees state regulation for both the fresh and processed segments of the state's citrus industry.

    According to the record, intrastate markets have been recognized by the Florida citrus industry as being unique from the interstate and export markets in that much of the in-state fruit is sold locally by fruit stands and gift-fruit shippers. Typically, this fruit is sold in bins and ten-box containers so that the consumer may choose their own fruit. This is different from interstate or export shipments, which are typically packed and sold in cartons or bags. Intrastate shipments of fresh Florida citrus represent roughly six percent of the industry's total fresh shipments.

    The Committee recommends amending the order to provide authority to regulate intrastate shipments of fresh citrus in the event that the State of Florida ceases to regulate them. This amendment would allow for orderly marketing of fresh citrus to continue if state regulations were no longer in effect. Witnesses explained that this amendment was proposed as a precautionary measure and that the Committee's recommendation had been discussed openly with the Florida Citrus Commission. No opposition was expressed.

    USDA recommends modifying the proposed amendatory text published in the Notice of Hearing. USDA's modifications simplify the proposed amendatory text to more clearly state the intent of the Committee's recommendation and that which was supported by witness testimony. The modified language is included here below.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was given at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.52, Issuance of regulations, be amended to: Authorize different regulations for different market destinations; allow for the regulation of pack and container requirements for interstate shipments; and, in the absence of state regulation, allow for the establishment of requirements for intrastate shipments. Any regulation implemented under this authority would not conflict with Florida state statutes or regulation in effect thereunder.

    Material Issue Number 8—Nomination Acceptance

    Section 905.28, Qualifications and acceptance, should be modified to allow the Committee nominee acceptance statement and the background statement to be combined into one form.

    The order currently requires each member and alternate to complete an acceptance letter in addition to the background statement when nominated to serve on the Committee.

    This proposal would combine the separate acceptance and background statements into one form. Nominees agreeing to serve on the Committee would complete a background statement that would also include a statement of acceptance. If implemented, this proposal would reduce paperwork associated with the nomination process and result in time savings for nominees filling out the forms.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was given at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.28, Qualifications and acceptance, be amended to allow the acceptance statement and the background statement to be combined into one form.

    Material Issue Number 9—Handler Registration

    Section 905.7, Handler, should be amended to require handlers to register with the Committee. This amendment would require handlers who intend to handle fresh citrus to provide the Committee with their contact information at the beginning of each crop year. This would assist in administering the compliance provisions of the order.

    The order does not currently require handlers to register with the Committee. At the beginning of each crop year, the Committee receives a manifest of handlers who are handling fresh citrus from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service. The information is gathered by the state of Florida through the state's dealer license requirements and through product inspection and certification. The Committee then uses this manifest for compliance purposes and to generate their assessment billings.

    According to the record, the State of Florida Department of Citrus, Chapter 601, Florida Statutes, Florida Citrus Code 601.4, requires each packing house or handler that prepares Florida citrus for the fresh market in Florida to register annually with the Florida Department of Agriculture through the Division of Fruit and Vegetables (Division). In addition, Section 601.56, Florida Statutes, also referred to as the Florida Citrus Code, requires Florida citrus handlers to be approved by the Department of Citrus for a citrus fruit dealer's license.

    Under the order, § 905.53, Inspection and certification, requires each lot of fresh citrus handled to be inspected by the Division. The Division certifies that the lot of fruit meets all applicable minimum grade and size requirements of the order. The Committee contracts annually with the Division to furnish the Committee, by month, information on each handler's regulated shipments, both interstate and export. This information allows the Committee to calculate each handler's assessment, as well as monitor compliance with grade and size regulation of fresh Florida citrus shipments.

    Witnesses explained that while the Committee has not experienced major compliance issues in the past, adding authority for it to require handler registration would provide the Committee with a timely and accurate list of handlers who intend to handle fresh citrus each crop year. Witnesses further explained that in the event the Florida state program were to stop regulating fresh citrus shipments the Committee would be able to gather necessary information through a handler registration requirement to continue monitoring handler compliance under the program.

    According to the record, the Committee monitors compliance (for both adherence to the order's grade and size requirements and assessment payments) through provisions of both its compliance and internal controls plans. There are procedures in both to ensure that handlers are fully informed of any violations and are given time to take corrective actions.

    Witnesses explained that, in the very limited cases of minimum grade and size regulation violations, the majority of the reported violations involved less than a full pallet of fruit each, which would be equivalent to 54 cartons of citrus. Furthermore, most of the violations have been clerical errors made by the handlers' shipping departments. In the last few seasons, with most shippers using bar coding systems for loading trucks or containers, these violations have almost been eliminated. The Committee has not experienced many late or uncollectible assessments. Nonetheless, witnesses advocated the need to implement a handler registration requirement. This authority would provide the Committee with a timely and accurate list of handlers handling fresh citrus each crop year for the purposes of compliance and communication.

    Witnesses explained that, if the amendment was approved, the Committee would have the authority to develop a handler registration form along with other guidelines to implement the collection of information. The handler registration form would likely require contact information along with other pertinent information deemed necessary for the operation of the order. Completed handler registration forms would provide accurate contact information that would improve the effectiveness of communications between handlers and the Committee, and assist in administering the compliance provisions of the order. Other than the time required to complete the registration form, witnesses stated that this proposal would not require handlers to bear any additional costs. Witnesses also stated that this proposal is not controversial and has support within the industry.

    No testimony opposing the proposed amendment was given at the hearing. For the reasons stated above, it is recommended that § 905.7, Handler, be amended to require handler registration.

    Small Business Considerations

    Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), AMS has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis.

    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions so that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders and amendments thereto are unique in that they are normally brought about through group action of essentially small entities for their own benefit.

    According to the 2007 US Census of Agriculture, the number of citrus growers in Florida was 6,061. According to the National Agriculture Statistic Service (NASS) Citrus Fruit Report, published September 19, 2012, the total number of acres used in citrus production in Florida was 495,100 for the 2011/12 season. Based on the number of citrus growers from the US Census of Agriculture and the total acres used for citrus production from NASS, the average citrus farm size is 81.7 acres. NASS also reported the total value of production for Florida citrus at $1,804,484,000. Taking the total value of production for Florida citrus and dividing it by the total number of acres used for citrus production provides a return per acre of $3,644.69. A small grower as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201) is one that grosses less than $750,000 annually. Multiplying the return per acre of $3,644.69 by the average citrus farm size of 81.7 acres, yields an average return of $297,720.51. Therefore, a majority of Florida citrus producers are considered small entities under SBA's standards.

    According to the industry, there were 44 handlers for the 2011/12 season, down 25 percent from the 2002/03 season. A small agricultural service firm as defined by the SBA is one that grosses less than $7,000,000 annually. Twenty one handlers would be considered a small entity under SBA's standards. A majority of handlers are considered large entities under SBA's standards.

    The production area regulated under the order covers the portion of the state of Florida which is bound by the Suwannee River, the Georgia Border, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Acreage devoted to citrus production in the regulated area has declined in recent years.

    According to data presented at the hearing, bearing acreage for oranges reached a high of 605,000 acres during the 2000/01 crop year. Since then, bearing acreage for oranges has decreased 28 percent. For grapefruit, bearing acreage reached a high of 107,800 acres during the 2000/01 crop year. Since the 2000/01 crop year, bearing acreage for grapefruit has decreased 58 percent. For tangelos, bearing acreage reached a high for the 2000/01 crop year of 10,800 acres for Florida. Since the 2000/01 crop year, bearing acreage for tangelos has decreased 62 percent. For tangerines and mandarins, bearing acreage reached a high for the 2000/01 crop year of 25,500 acres. Since the 2000/01 crop year, bearing acreage for tangerines and mandarins has decreased 53 percent.

    According to data presented at the hearing, the total utilized production for oranges reached a high during the 2003/04 crop year of 242 million boxes. Since the 2000/01 crop year, total utilized production for oranges has decreased 34 percent. For grapefruit, the total utilized production reached a high during the 2001/02 crop year of 46.7 million boxes. Since the 2000/01 crop year, total utilized production for grapefruit has decreased 59 percent. For tangelos, the total utilized production reached a high during the 2002/03 crop year of 2.4 million boxes. Since the 2000/01 crop year, total utilized production for tangelos has decreased 45 percent. For tangerines and mandarins, the total utilized production reached a high during the 2001/02 crop year of 6.6 million boxes. Since the 2000/01 crop year, total utilized production for tangerines and mandarins has decreased 23 percent.

    During the hearing held on April 24, 2013, interested persons were invited to present evidence at the hearing on the probable regulatory and informational impact of the proposed amendments to the order on small businesses. The evidence presented at the hearing shows that none of the proposed amendments would have any burdensome effects on small agricultural producers or firms.

    Material Issue Number 1—Definitions of “Fruit” and “Variety”

    The proposal described in Material Issue 1 would amend the definitions of “fruit” and “variety” in § 905.4 and § 905.5 to update terminology and authorize regulation of additional varieties and hybrids of citrus.

    Currently, the New Varieties Development and Management Corporations, a non-profit research organization, is actively working to identify, acquire and sub-license promising citrus varieties and hybrids for the Florida citrus grower. In order to regulate these new varieties and hybrids, the definitions of fruit and variety must be amended so that these new varieties and hybrids can be regulated under the order.

    Witnesses supported this proposal and stated that Florida growers have invested heavily and steadily in the development of new citrus varieties to meet changing demand and consumer preferences. Witnesses stated that it is imperative that the order be amended to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry and maximize its relevance and utility to the industry. No significant impact on small business entities is anticipated from this proposed change.

    Material Issue Number 2—Intrastate Shipments

    The proposal described in Material Issue 2 would amend the definition of “handle or ship” in § 905.9 to authorize regulation of intrastate shipments.

    Currently, the Florida Citrus Commission, under the Florida Department of Citrus Rules Chapter 20, regulates the grade and size of intrastate shipments, while the Federal order regulates all interstate shipments and exports of fresh citrus. If the proposed amendment were implemented, authority to regulate intrastate shipments would be added to the Federal order. This amendment would allow for the eventual regulation of all fresh citrus shipments under the order if intrastate shipments were no longer regulated by the Florida Department of Citrus.

    Witnesses explained that adding the authority to regulate intrastate shipments to the order would be a precautionary measure. If the Florida Department of Citrus were to stop regulating fresh citrus shipments, having the authority to do so under the Federal order would facilitate a streamlined transition of regulation from one program to the other. Such a transition would benefit growers and handlers as shipments of fresh citrus could continue without interruption.

    Witnesses anticipated that handlers would incur little to no additional costs as a result of the proposed amendment. As currently proposed, the amendment would simply add an authority to the order. This authority would not be implemented unless warranted by other factors. If implemented, handlers of intrastate fresh citrus shipments would be subject to assessments under the order. However, the Florida Department of Citrus already collects assessments on intrastate shipments. Therefore, the cost of assessments collected on intrastate shipments, whether under the State or Federal program, would continue. In conclusion, it is determined that the benefits of adding the authority to regulate intrastate shipments of fresh citrus to the order would outweigh any costs.

    Material Issue Number 3—Redistricting

    The proposal described in Material Issue 3 would amend § 905.14 to revise the process for redistricting the production area.

    The proposed amendment would grant flexibility to the Committee in redefining grower districts within the production area when the criteria and relevant factors within the production area warrant redistricting. Disease and natural disasters over the past decade have significantly affected bearing acreage. The proposed amendment would allow the Committee at any time, subject to the approval of the Secretary, to base their determination of grower districts on the number of bearing trees, volume of fresh fruit, total number of citrus acres, and other relevant factors when conditions warrant redistricting.

    According to a witness, the proposed amendment would give the Committee, in future seasons, the flexibility to adjust grower districts to reflect the shift in production of fresh varieties and fresh volume. In addition, the Committee would be able to adjust grower districts based on the number of trees lost to disease and natural disasters. Thus, it is not expected that this proposal would result in any additional costs to growers or handlers.

    Material Issue Number 4—Term of Office

    The proposal described in Material Issue 4 would amend § 905.20 to change the term of office of Committee members from one to two years, and change the tenure limits for Committee members from three to four years.

    According to a witness, a two-year term would allow for biennial nomination meetings, which would provide administrative efficiencies and stability. The current one-year term of office is administratively inefficient and requires additional Committee resources. Moreover, limiting terms to one year results in an annual effort to nominate and appoint new members. This process is costly to the Committee and requires time and resources for industry members to participate. A two-year term would reduce these costs. For the reasons described above, it is determined that the proposed amendment would benefit industry participants and improve administration of the order. The costs of implementing this proposal would be minimal, if any.

    Material Issue Number 5—Mail Balloting

    The proposal described in Material Issue 5 would amend § 905.22 to authorize mail balloting procedures for Committee membership nominations. Nomination meetings have low participation rates due to time, travel, and administrative costs.

    The proposed amendment would allow the Committee to conduct the nomination and/or election of members and alternates by mail or other means according to the rules and regulations recommended by the Committee and approved by the Secretary. Currently, the Committee holds grower nomination meetings in each of the three grower districts and one shipper nomination meeting annually. Witnesses indicated that attending these meetings is costly due to travel expenses and time away from their growing or handling operations. While the proposed amendment would result in some increased expenses for printing and mailing of ballot materials, witnesses indicated that the potential savings to growers and handlers far exceed those costs.

    Moreover, witnesses indicated that the additional benefit of increased participation in the nomination process as a result of materials being sent to all interested parties would outweigh the costs of conducting nominations by mail. This would be particularly true in the case of small business entities that have fewer resources and relatively less flexibility in managing their businesses compared to larger businesses. For these reasons, it is determined that the cost savings, increased participation, and other benefits gained from conducting nomination meetings via mail would outweigh the potential costs of implementing this proposal.

    Material Issue Number 6—Financial Reserves Fund

    The proposal described in Material Issue 6 would amend § 905.42 to authorize the Committee to increase the capacity of its financial reserve funds from approximately six months of a fiscal period's expenses to approximately two fiscal periods' expenses. Such reserve funds could be used to cover any expenses authorized by the Committee or to cover necessary liquidation expenses if the order is terminated.

    The proposed amendment would allow the Committee to increase their reserves up to two fiscal periods' expenses. Currently, reserves are capped at approximately one half of one year's expenses. Witnesses explained that the current cap on reserves is too restrictive and could limit the Committee's ability to develop and implement projects requiring advertising, promotion or research without raising the assessment rate during the season.

    As discussed earlier in this recommended decision, witnesses considered the need to develop and promote new hybrid varieties and markets to be essential to reviving the health of the fresh citrus sector. According to them, not increasing the reserve cap would inhibit the Committee's ability to address these needs.

    Also, without the proposed amendment it would become more difficult for the Committee to avoid assessment rate increases annually or during a season. According to the record, the proposed amendment would also provide greater stability in the administration of the order's assessment rate. Under the current reserve limit, the Committee would need to increase the assessment rate mid-season if the need for additional revenues for research or promotion activities occurs after the assessment rate and budget are finalized. Increasing the assessment rate mid-season confuses industry members and creates additional burdens in administering the order.

    For the reasons discussed above, it is determined that the benefits of increasing the maximum level of funds that can be held in the financial reserves would outweigh the costs.

    Material Issue Number 7—Regulation of Shipments

    The proposal described in Material Issue 7 would amend § 905.52 to: Authorize different regulations for different market destinations; allow for the regulation of pack and container requirements for interstate shipments; and, in the absence of state regulation, allow for the establishment of requirements for intrastate shipments.

    This would allow shippers to meet varying customer demands in different market destinations. In addition, the proposed amendment would allow regulation and orderly marketing to continue for intrastate shipments if Florida State fresh citrus regulations were discontinued. This authority will not be implemented unless state regulations were no longer in effect.

    The proposed amendment to regulate containers and establish quality standards for the production area would not have any adverse effects on small businesses if approved. Continued orderly marketing of fresh citrus shipments within the State of Florida would equally benefit all segments of the industry and consumers by maintaining quality standards and consistency.

    Material Issue Number 8—Nomination Acceptance

    The proposal described in Material Issue 8 would Amend § 905.28 to eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process. Currently, nominees complete both background and acceptance statements when they are nominated. The elimination of the acceptance statement would reduce paperwork and administrative costs. Therefore, it is determined that the proposed amendment would benefit both large and small-scale fresh citrus businesses, and would reduce costs and improve the administration of the order.

    Material Issue Number 9—Handler Registration

    The proposal described in Material Issue 9 would Amend § 905.7 to require handlers to register with the Committee. Currently, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Fruit and Vegetables has a registration program for handlers of Florida citrus. The Committee contracts annually with the Division to obtain information on each handler's regulated shipments, both interstate and export, on a monthly basis.

    A handler registration form would serve as an efficient means for obtaining handler information that would improve communication between the Committee and handlers. It would also assist the Committee in monitoring and enforcing compliance. If a handler were to not comply with regulations in effect under the order, the Committee would have that handler's contact information on file to begin the compliance enforcement process. Moreover, if a handler failed to respond to compliance enforcement requests, the Committee could revoke a handler's registration. Without the registration, a handler would not be able to ship citrus subject to order regulation.

    Witnesses stated that while a handler registration program may result in additional administrative costs, the benefits of this proposed amendment would outweigh those costs. Also, the proposal would not disproportionately disadvantage small-sized businesses as all handlers, regardless of size, would be required to register with the Committee. Furthermore, the new requirement would not result in a direct cost to handlers as the cost of administering a handler registration program would be borne by the Committee.

    For these reasons, it is determined that the benefits of requiring handlers to register with the Committee would be greater than the costs.

    Interested persons were invited to present evidence at the hearing on the probable regulatory and informational impact of the proposed amendments to the order on small entities. The record evidence indicates that implementation of the proposals to authorize regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit; authorize the regulation of intrastate shipments of fruit; revise the process for redistricting the production area; change the term of office and tenure requirements for Committee members; authorize mail balloting procedures for Committee membership nominations; increase the capacity of financial reserve funds; authorize pack and container requirements for intrastate shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets; eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process; and, require handlers to register with the Committee would improve the operation of the order and are not anticipated to impact small businesses disproportionately.

    USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this proposed rule. These amendments are intended to improve the operation and administration of the order and to assist in the marketing of fresh Florida citrus.

    Committee meetings regarding these proposals, as well as the hearing date and location, were widely publicized throughout the Florida citrus industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the meetings and the hearing to participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. All Committee meetings and the hearing were public forums and all entities, both large and small, were able to express views on these issues. Finally, interested persons are invited to submit information on the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses.

    AMS 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.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    Current information collection requirements for Part 905 are approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), under OMB Number 0581-0189—“Generic OMB Fruit Crops.” In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the termination of the Letter of Acceptance has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. The Letter of Acceptance has no time or cost burden associated with it due to the fact that handlers simply sign the form upon accepting nomination to the Committee. As a result, the current number of hours associated with OMB No. 0581-0189, Generic Fruit Crops, would remain the same: 7,786.71 hours.

    No other changes in these requirements are anticipated as a result of this proceeding. Should any such changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval.

    As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies.

    Civil Justice Reform

    The amendments to the order proposed herein have been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. They are not intended to have retroactive effect. If adopted, the proposed amendments would not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this proposal.

    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed no later than 20 days after the date of entry of the ruling.

    Rulings on Briefs of Interested Persons

    Briefs, proposed findings and conclusions, and the evidence in the record were considered in making the findings and conclusions set forth in this recommended decision. To the extent that the suggested findings and conclusions filed by interested persons are inconsistent with the findings and conclusions of this recommended decision, the requests to make such findings or to reach such conclusions are denied.

    General Findings

    The findings hereinafter set forth are supplementary to the findings and determinations which were previously made in connection with the issuance of the marketing agreement and order; and all said previous findings and determinations are hereby ratified and affirmed, except insofar as such findings and determinations may be in conflict with the findings and determinations set forth herein.

    (1) The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, and all of the terms and conditions thereof, would tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act;

    (2) The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, regulates the handling of fresh citrus grown in the production area (Florida) in the same manner as, and is applicable only to, persons in the respective classes of commercial and industrial activity specified in the marketing order upon which a hearing has been held;

    (3) The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, is limited in its application to the smallest regional production area which is practicable, consistent with carrying out the declared policy of the Act, and the issuance of several orders applicable to subdivisions of the production area would not effectively carry out the declared policy of the Act;

    (4) The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, prescribes, insofar as practicable, such different terms applicable to different parts of the production area as are necessary to give due recognition to the differences in the production and marketing of fresh citrus grown in the production area; and

    (5) All handling of fresh citrus grown in the production area as defined in the marketing order is in the current of interstate or foreign commerce or directly burdens, obstructs, or affects such commerce.

    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposal. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because these proposed changes have already been widely publicized and the Committee and industry would like to avail themselves of the opportunity to implement the changes as soon as possible. All written exceptions received within the comment period will be considered and a grower referendum will be conducted before any of these proposals are implemented.

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 905

    Grapefruit, Marketing agreements, Oranges, Pummelos, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Tangerines.

    Recommended Further Amendment of the Marketing Order

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 7 CFR part 905 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 905—ORANGES, GRAPEFRUIT, TANGERINES, AND PUMMELOS GROWN IN FLORIDA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 905 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 601-674.

    2. Revise the heading of part 905 to read as set forth above. 3. Revise § 905.4 to read as follows:
    § 905.4 Fruit.

    Fruit means any or all varieties of the following types of citrus fruits grown in the production area:

    (a) Citrus sinensis, Osbeck, commonly called “oranges”;

    (b) Citrus paradisi, MacFadyen, commonly called “grapefruit”;

    (c) Citrus reticulata, commonly called “tangerines” or “mandarin”;

    (d) Citrus maxima Merr (L.); Osbeck, commonly called “pummelo”; and,

    (e) “Citrus hybrids” that are hybrids between or among one or more of the four fruits (a) through (d) of this section and the following: Trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata), sour orange (C. aurantium), lemon (C. limon), lime (C. aurantifolia), citron (C. medica), kumquat (Fortunella species), tangelo (C. reticulata x C. paradisi or C. grandis), tangor (C. reticulata x C. sinensis), and varieties of these species. In addition, citrus hybrids include: tangelo (C. reticulata x C. paradisi or C. grandis), tangor (C. reticulata x C. sinensis), Temple oranges, and varieties thereof.

    4. Revise § 905.5 to read as follows:
    § 905.5 Variety.

    Variety or varieties means any one or more of the following classifications or groupings of fruit:

    (a) Oranges;

    (1) Early and Midseason oranges

    (2) Valencia, Lue Gim Gong, and similar late maturing oranges of the Valencia type;

    (3) Navel oranges

    (b) Grapefruit;

    (1) Red Grapefruit, to include all shades of color

    (2) White Grapefruit

    (c) Tangerines and Mandarins;

    (1) Dancy and similar tangerines

    (2) Robinson tangerines

    (3) Honey tangerines

    (4) Fall-Glo tangerines

    (5) US Early Pride tangerines

    (6) Sunburst tangerines

    (7) W-Murcott tangerines

    (8) Tangors

    (d) Pummelos;

    (1) Hirado Buntan and other pink seeded pummelos

    (2) [Reserved].

    (e) Citrus Hybrids;

    (1) Tangelos

    (i) Orlando tangelo

    (ii) Minneola tangelo

    (2) Temple oranges

    (f) Other varieties of citrus fruits specified in § 905.4, including hybrids, as recommended and approved by the Secretary: Provided, That in order to add any hybrid variety of citrus fruit to be regulated under this provision, such variety must exhibit similar characteristics and be subject to cultural practices common to existing regulated varieties.

    5. Revise § 905.7 to read as follows:
    § 905.7 Handler.

    Handler is synonymous with shipper and means any person (except a common or contract carrier transporting fruit for another person) who, as owner, agent, or otherwise, handles fruit in fresh form, or causes fruit to be handled. Each handler shall be registered with the Committee pursuant to rules recommended by the Committee and approved by the Secretary.

    6. Revise § 905.9 to read as follows:
    § 905.9 Handle or Ship.

    Handle or ship means to sell, transport, deliver, pack, prepare for market, grade, or in any other way to place fruit in the current of commerce within the production area or between any point in the production area and any point outside thereof.

    7. Revise § 905.14 to read as follows:
    § 905.14 Redistricting.

    The Committee may, with the approval of the Secretary, redefine the districts into which the production area is divided or reapportion or otherwise change the grower membership of districts, or both: Provided, That the membership shall consist of at least eight but not more than nine grower members, and any such change shall be based, insofar as practicable, upon the respective averages for the immediately preceding three fiscal periods of:

    (a) The number of bearing trees in each district;

    (b) the volume of fresh fruit produced in each district;

    (c) the total number of acres of citrus in each district; and

    (d) other relevant factors.

    Each redistricting or reapportionment shall be announced on or prior to March 1 preceding the effective fiscal period.

    8. Revise § 905.20 to read as follows:
    § 905.20 Term of Office.

    The term of office of members and alternate members shall begin on the first day of August of even-numbered years and continue for two years and until their successors are selected and have qualified. The consecutive terms of office of a member shall be limited to two terms. The terms of office of alternate members shall not be so limited. Members, their alternates, and their respective successors shall be nominated and selected by the Secretary as provided in § 905.22 and § 905.23.

    9. Revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(1) and add a new paragraph (c) in § 905.22 to read as follows:
    § 905.22 Nominations.

    (a) Grower members. (1) The Committee shall give public notice of a meeting of producers in each district to be held not later than June 10th of even-numbered years, for the purpose of making nominations for grower members and alternate grower members. The Committee, with the approval of the Secretary, shall prescribe uniform rules to govern such meetings and the balloting thereat. The chairman of each meeting shall publicly announce at such meeting the names of the persons nominated, and the chairman and secretary of each such meeting shall transmit to the Secretary their certification as to the number of votes so cast, the names of the persons nominated, and such other information as the Secretary may request. All nominations shall be submitted to the Secretary on or before the 20th day of June.

    (b) Shipper members. (1) The Committee shall give public notice of a meeting for bona fide cooperative marketing organizations which are handlers, and a meeting for other handlers who are not so affiliated, to be held not later than June 10th of even-numbered years, for the purpose of making nominations for shipper members and their alternates. The Committee, with the approval of the Secretary, shall prescribe uniform rules to govern each such meeting and the balloting thereat. The chairperson of each such meeting shall publicly announce at the meeting the names of the persons nominated and the chairman and secretary of each such meeting shall transmit to the Secretary their certification as to the number of votes cast, the weight by volume of those shipments voted, and such other information as the Secretary may request. All nominations shall be submitted to the Secretary on or before the 20th day of June.

    (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, nomination and election of members and alternate members to the Committee may be conducted by mail, electronic mail, or other means according to rules and regulations recommended by the Committee and approved by the Secretary.

    10. Revise § 905.28 to read as follows:
    § 905.28 Qualification and Acceptance.

    Any person nominated to serve as a member or alternate member of the Committee shall, prior to selection by the Secretary, qualify by filing a written qualification and acceptance statement indicating such person's qualifications and willingness to serve in the position for which nominated.

    11. Revise the first sentence of paragraph (a) in § 905.42 to read as follows:
    § 905.42 Handler's accounts.

    (a) If, at the end of a fiscal period, the assessments collected are in excess of expenses incurred, the Committee, with the approval of the Secretary, may carry over such excess into subsequent fiscal periods as a reserve: Provided, That funds already in the reserve do not exceed approximately two fiscal periods' expenses. * * *

    12. Revise paragraphs (a)(4) and (a)(5), and add a new paragraph (a)(6) in § 905.52 to read as follows:
    § 905.52 Issuance of regulations.

    (a) * * *

    (4) Establish, prescribe, and fix the size, capacity, weight, dimensions, marking (including labels and stamps), or pack of the container or containers which may be used in the packaging, transportation, sale, shipment, or other handling of fruit.

    (5) Provide requirements that may be different for the handling of fruit within the production area, the handling of fruit for export, or for the handling of fruit between the production area and any point outside thereof within the United States.

    (6) Any regulations or requirements pertaining to intrastate shipments shall not be implemented unless Florida statutes and regulations regulating such shipments are not in effect.

    Dated: February 23, 2015. Rex. A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04085 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Parts 925 and 944 [Doc. No. AMS-FV-14-0031; FV14-925-2 PR] Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California and Imported Table Grapes; Relaxation of Handling Requirements AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule with request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    This proposed rule invites comments on partially relaxing the handling requirements currently prescribed under the California table grape marketing order (order) and the table grape import regulation. The order regulates the handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California and is administered locally by the California Desert Grape Administrative Committee (committee). The import regulation is authorized under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 and regulates the importation of table grapes into the United States. This action would partially relax the one-quarter pound minimum bunch size requirement in the order's regulations and the import regulation for U.S. No. 1 Table grade grapes packed in consumer packages known as clamshells weighing 5 pounds or less. Under the proposal, up to 20 percent of the weight of such containers may consist of single grape clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound, but consisting of at least five berries each. This rule would provide California desert grape handlers and importers with the flexibility to respond to an ongoing marketing opportunity to meet consumer needs.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this proposed rule. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments submitted in response to this proposal will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be made public on the Internet at the address provided above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kathie Notoro, Marketing Specialist, or Martin Engeler, Regional Director, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, Fax: (559) 487-5906, or Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

    Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This proposal is issued under Marketing Order No. 925, as amended (7 CFR part 925), regulating the handling of grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California, hereinafter referred to as the “order.” The order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the “Act.”

    This proposed rule is also issued under section 8e of the Act, which provides that whenever certain specified commodities, including table grapes, are regulated under a Federal marketing order, imports of these commodities into the United States are prohibited unless they meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality, or maturity requirements as those in effect for the domestically produced commodities.

    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule in conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.

    This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This proposed rule is not intended to have retroactive effect.

    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.

    There are no administrative procedures which must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of import regulations issued under section 8e of the Act.

    This proposed rule would partially relax the one-quarter pound minimum bunch size requirement in the order's regulations and the import regulation for all U.S. No. 1 Table grade grapes packed in clamshell consumer packages weighing 5 pounds or less. Under the revision, up to 20 percent of the weight of such containers could consist of single grape clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound but consisting of at least five berries each. This proposed rule would provide California desert grape handlers and importers with the flexibility to respond to an ongoing marketing opportunity. The committee met on November 5, 2013, and conducted an electronic vote on April 8, 2014, to unanimously recommend the partial relaxation for California desert grapes. The change in the import regulation is required under section 8e of the Act.

    Section 925.52(a)(1) of the order provides authority to regulate the handling of any grade, size, quality, maturity, or pack of any and all varieties of grapes during the season. Section 925.53 provides authority for the committee to recommend to USDA changes to regulations issued pursuant to § 925.52. Section 925.55 specifies that when grapes are regulated pursuant to § 925.52, such grapes must be inspected by the Federal or Federal-State Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure they meet applicable requirements.

    Section 925.304(a) of the order's rules and regulations requires grapes to meet the minimum grade and size requirements of U.S. No 1 Table; or to meet all the requirements of U.S. No. 1 Institutional, except that a tolerance of 33 percent is provided for off-size bunches. The requirements for the U.S. No. 1 Table and U.S. No. 1 Institutional grades are set forth in the United States Standards for Grades of Table Grapes (European or Vinifera Type) (7 CFR 51.880 through 51.914) (Standards). To meet the requirements of U.S. No. 1 Table grade, grapes must have a bunch size of at least one-quarter pound.

    In 2010, the order's regulations were relaxed with respect to the bunch size requirement specified in the Standards (75 FR 17031). This change permitted the use of bunch sizes smaller than one-quarter pound, but with at least five berries each, in packing consumer clamshell containers containing 2 pounds net weight or less. Not more than 20 percent of the weight of such containers could consist of these smaller bunches. This relaxation was made to allow handlers to take advantage of a new marketing opportunity for grapes packed in small clamshell containers. Prior to the relaxation, handlers were experiencing difficulty filling these containers properly with one-quarter pound bunches; smaller bunches were needed to fill the corners of the square container configuration to achieve the desired weight.

    Since the order's regulations were amended in 2010, customers nationwide have been increasingly requesting grapes in larger clamshell containers. Handlers experience difficulty properly filling these larger containers to the desired weights with one-quarter pound bunch sizes, similar to the problem they experienced with the smaller 2-pound clamshell containers. Therefore, the committee recommended that the bunch size requirement in the order's regulations pertaining to U.S. No. 1 Table grade grapes be partially relaxed with respect to containers weighing 5 pounds or less. Under this proposed change, up to 20 percent of the weight of such containers may consist of single grape clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound, but with at least five berries each. This proposal would allow handlers to continue to respond to increased marketing opportunities. Section 925.304 (a) would be revised accordingly.

    Under section 8e of the Act, minimum grade, size, quality, and maturity requirements for table grapes imported into the United States are established under Table Grape Import Regulation 4 (7 CFR 944.503) (import regulation). A relaxation in the California Desert Grape Regulation 6 minimum bunch size requirement would require a corresponding relaxation to the minimum bunch size requirement for imported table grapes. Like the domestic industry, this proposed action would allow importers the flexibility to respond to an ongoing marketing opportunity to meet consumer needs. Section 944.503(a)(1) would be revised accordingly.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility analysis.

    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and the rules issued thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf.

    There are approximately 15 handlers of southeastern California grapes who are subject to regulation under the marketing order and about 41 grape producers in the production area. In addition, there are about 102 importers of grapes. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201). Ten of the 15 handlers subject to regulation have annual grape sales of less than $7,000,000, according to USDA Market News Service and committee data. Based on information from the committee and USDA's Market News Service, it is estimated that at least 10 of the 41 producers have annual receipts of less than $750,000. Thus, it may be concluded that a majority of grape handlers regulated under the order and about ten of the producers could be classified as small entities under the SBA definitions.

    Mexico, Chile, and Peru are the major countries that export table grapes to the United States. According to 2013 data from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), shipments of table grapes imported into the United States from Mexico totaled 16,582,989 18-pound lugs, from Chile totaled 47,922,204 18-pound lugs, and from Peru totaled 3,519,448 18-pound lugs. According to FAS data, the value of table grapes imported from Mexico, Chile, and Peru was $332,284,000, $760,952,000, and $80,912,000, respectively, for a total value of $1,174,148,000. It is estimated that the average importer receives $11.5 million in revenue from the sale of table grapes. Based on this information, it may be concluded that the average table grape importer would not be classified as a small entity.

    This proposed rule would revise § 925.304(a) of the rules and regulations of the California desert grape order and § 944.503(a)(1) of the table grape import regulation. This proposed rule would partially relax the one-quarter pound minimum bunch size requirement in the order's regulations and the import regulation for U.S. No. 1 Table grade grapes packed in consumer clamshell packages weighing 5 pounds or less. Under the proposed relaxation, up to 20 percent of the weight of each package may consist of single grape clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound, but with at least five berries each. Authority for the proposed change to the California desert grape rules and regulations is provided in §§ 925.52(a)(1) and 925.53. Authority for the change to the table grape import regulation is provided in section 8e of the Act.

    There is agreement in the industry for the need to expand the revised minimum bunch size requirement for grapes packed in these consumer clamshell packages to allow for more packaging options.

    Regarding the impact of this proposed rule on affected entities, this rule would provide both California desert grape handlers and importers with the flexibility to continue to respond to an ongoing marketing opportunity to meet consumer needs. This marketing opportunity initially existed in the 2009 season, and the minimum bunch size regulations were revised for consumer clamshell packages weighing 2 pounds or less, on a test basis. In 2011, the regulation was revised permanently for consumer clamshell packages weighing 2 pounds or less due to the positive market response. This proposal would expand the revised requirements to include larger consumer clamshell packages weighing 5 pounds or less. Customers have been requesting larger sized clamshell packages, and this proposed action would enable handlers and importers to take advantage of increased market opportunities, which may result in increased shipments of consumer grape packages. This is expected to have a positive impact on producers, handlers, and importers.

    No additional alternatives were considered because the 2011 revision produced the desired results, and no problems were identified. The committee believes the partial relaxation of the bunch size requirement for grapes packed in larger consumer clamshell packages was appropriate to prescribe for the 2014 and subsequent seasons.

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the order's information collection requirements have been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB No. 0581-0189. No changes in those requirements as a result of this action are necessary. Should any changes become necessary, they would be submitted to OMB for approval.

    This rule would not impose any additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements on either small or large grape handlers or importers. As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies.

    AMS 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.

    In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.

    Further, the committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the grape industry, and all interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and participate in committee deliberations. Like all committee meetings, the November 5, 2013 meeting was a public meeting; and all entities, both large and small, were able to express their views on this issue.

    Finally, interested persons are invited to submit comments on this proposed rule, including the regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small businesses.

    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at the previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    A 30-day comment period is provided to allow interested persons to respond to this proposal. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because this rule, if adopted, needs to be in place as soon as possible to allow handlers to take advantage of this relaxation during the regulatory period which begins on April 10, 2015. All written comments timely received will be considered before a final determination is made on this matter.

    In accordance with section 8e of the Act, the United States Trade Representative has concurred with the issuance of this rule.

    List of Subjects 7 CFR Part 925

    Grapes, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    7 CFR Part 944

    Avocados, Food grades and standards, Grapefruit, Grapes, Imports, Kiwifruit, Limes, Olives, Oranges.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 925 and 944 are proposed to be amended as follows:

    1. The authority citation for 7 CFR parts 925 and 944 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 601-674.

    PART 925—GRAPES GROWN IN A DESIGNATED AREA OF SOUTHEASTERN CALIFORNIA 2. Amend § 925.304(a) by re-designating paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) as paragraphs (a)(3) and (a)(4), revising paragraph (a) introductory text and adding new paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) to read as follows:
    § 925.304 California Desert Grape Regulation 6.

    (a) Grade, size, and maturity. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3) and (a)(4) of this section, such grapes shall meet the minimum grade and size requirements established in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2).

    (1) U.S. No. 1 Table, as set forth in the United States Standards for Grades of Table Grapes (European or Vinifera Type 7 CFR 51.880 through 51.914), with the exception of the tolerance percentage for bunch size when packed in individual consumer clamshell packages weighing 5 pounds or less: not more than 20 percent of the weight of such containers may consist of single clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound, but with at least five berries each; or

    (2) U.S. No. 1 Institutional, with the exception of the tolerance percentage for bunch size. Such tolerance shall be 33 percent instead of 4 percent as is required to meet U.S. No. 1 Institutional grade. Grapes meeting these quality requirements may be marked “DGAC No. 1 Institutional” but shall not be marked “Institutional Pack.”

    PART 944—FRUITS; IMPORT REQUIREMENTS 3. Amend § 944.503 by redesignating paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (a)(1)(ii) as paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (a)(1)(iv), revising paragraph (a)(1) introductory text and adding new paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows:
    § 944.503 Table Grape Import Regulation 4.

    (a)(1) Pursuant to section 8e of the Act and Part 944—Fruits, Import Regulations, and except as provided in paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (a)(1)(iv), the importation into the United States of any variety of Vinifera species table grapes, except Emperor, Calmeria, Almeria, and Ribier varieties, is prohibited unless such grapes meet the minimum grade and size requirements established in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) or (a)(2)(ii).

    (i) U.S. No. 1 Table, as set forth in the United States Standards for Grades of Table Grapes (European or Vinifera Type 7 CFR 51.880 through 51.914), with the exception of the tolerance percentage for bunch size when packed in individual consumer clamshell packages weighing 5 pounds or less: not more than 20 percent of the weight of such containers may consist of single clusters weighing less than one-quarter pound, but with at least five berries each; or

    (ii) U.S. No. 1 Institutional, with the exception of the tolerance percentage for bunch size. Such tolerance shall be 33 percent instead of 4 percent as is required to meet U.S. No. 1 Institutional grade. Grapes meeting these quality requirements may be marked “DGAC No. 1 Institutional” but shall not be marked “Institutional Pack.”

    Dated: February 23, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04087 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 217 [Regulation Q; Docket No. R-1505] RIN 7100-AD-26 Risk-Based Capital Guidelines: Implementation of Capital Requirements for Global Systemically Important Bank Holding Companies AGENCY:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    On December 18, 2014, the Board published in the Federal Register a proposal to implement risk-based capital surcharges for U.S.-based global systemically important banking organizations.

    Due to the range and complexity of the issues addressed in the proposed rulemaking, the public comment period has been extended until April 3, 2015. This action will allow interested persons additional time to analyze the proposal and prepare their comments.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule published on December 18, 2014 (79 FR 75473) to implement risk-based capital surcharges for U.S.-based global systemically important banking organizations is extended from March 2, 2015 to April 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any of the methods identified in the proposed rule.1 Please submit your comments using only one method.

    1See 79 FR 75473 (December 18, 2014).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jordan Bleicher, Senior Supervisory Financial Analyst, (202) 973-6123, or Holly Kirkpatrick, Supervisory Financial Analyst, (202) 452-2796, Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, or Christine Graham, Senior Attorney, (202) 452-3005, Legal Division.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On December 18, 2014, the Board published in the Federal Register a proposal to implement risk-based capital surcharges for U.S.-based global systemically important banking organizations.2 The proposed rule stated that the public comment period would close on March 2, 2015.3

    2See 79 FR 75473 (December 18, 2014).

    3Id.

    The Board has received a comment letter requesting that the Board extend the comment period for the proposal.4 The commenter suggested that an extension of the comment period would facilitate more detailed comments about the implications of the proposal and its potential consequences.

    4See, e.g., Comment letter to the Board from The Clearing House (February 20, 2015).

    Due to the range and complexity of the issues addressed in the proposed rulemaking, the public comment period has been extended until April 3, 2015. This action will allow interested persons additional time to analyze the proposal and prepare their comments.

    By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, acting through the Secretary of the Board under delegated authority, February 26, 2015. Robert deV. Frierson, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04438 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Part 702 [Docket No. 140501396-4396-01] RIN 0694-AG17 U.S. Industrial Base Surveys Pursuant to the Defense Production Act of 1950 AGENCY:

    Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule

    SUMMARY:

    This proposed rule would set forth the policies and procedures of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for conducting surveys to obtain information in order to perform industry studies assessing the U.S. industrial base to support the national defense pursuant to the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended. Specifically, this proposed rule would provide a description of: BIS's authority to issue surveys; the purpose for the surveys and the manner in which such surveys are developed; the confidential treatment of submitted information; and the penalties for non-compliance with surveys. This rule is intended to facilitate compliance with surveys, thereby resulting in stronger and more complete assessments of the U.S. industrial base.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received no later than May 4, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jason Bolton, Trade and Industry Analyst, Office of Technology Evaluation, phone: 202-482-5936 email: [email protected] or Brad Botwin, Director, Industrial Base Studies, Office of Technology Evaluation, phone: 202-482-4060 email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Pursuant to authorities under § 705 of the Defense Production Act of 1950 as amended (DPA) (50 U.S.C. app. 2155) and § 104 of Executive Order 13603 of March 16, 2012 (National Defense Resources Preparedness, 77 FR 16651, 3 CFR, 2012 Comp., p. 225), the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) conducts studies that assess the capabilities of the U.S. industrial base to support the national defense. To produce these studies, BIS may issue surveys to collect detailed information related to the health and competitiveness of the U.S. industrial base from government sources and private individuals or organizations.

    This proposed rule sets forth procedures intended to facilitate the accurate and timely completion of surveys issued by BIS to collect data for these studies. This rule sets forth in a single part of the Code of Federal Regulations the information about BIS's authority to conduct the studies, the authority to issue surveys to gather data in support of the studies, the purpose of the surveys and the manner in which such surveys are developed, the confidential treatment of submitted information, and the penalties for non-compliance with surveys.

    Additionally, this rule explains BIS's procedures for verifying that the scope and purpose of the surveys are well defined, and assures that the surveys do not solicit data that duplicates adequate and authoritative data that is available to BIS from any federal or other responsible agency. A survey may require the submission of information similar or identical to information possessed by another federal agency but that is not available to BIS.

    Based on requests it receives from U.S. Government agencies, BIS produces studies to develop findings and policy recommendations for the purpose of improving the competitiveness of specific domestic industries and technologies critical to meeting national defense and essential civilian requirements. These studies may require surveys to collect relevant data and assessments of that data and other information available to BIS.

    BIS, in cooperation with the requesting agency, selects the persons to be surveyed based on the likelihood that they will have information relevant to a study. That likelihood is related to the person's association with the industry sector, material, product, service or technology that is the subject of the study. That association may be based on factors such as the person's role in directly or indirectly providing, producing, distributing, utilizing, procuring, researching, developing, consulting or advising on, the industry sector, material, product, service or technology that is the subject of the study.

    Whether a person's association with the industry sector, material, product, service or technology being assessed is proximate or remote does not determine whether that person's association is sufficient for inclusion in the survey. For example, information about a supplier of raw materials or components that is several transactions removed from the production of the product that is the subject of a study may be relevant to assessing the capabilities of the U.S. industrial base to supply the product to support the national defense. In such a situation, the supplier would be included in the survey. The nature of the person from whom the information is sought also does not determine whether that person's association with the industry sector, material, product, service or technology at issue is sufficient for inclusion in the survey. Surveys may require information from businesses organized for profit, non-profit organizations, academic institutions and government agencies.

    To be useful, a study must be comprehensive, accurate and focused on the relevant industry sector, material, product, service or technology. Therefore, surveys may require information about employment, research and development, sources of supply, manufacturing processes, customers, business strategy, finances and other factors affecting the industry's health and competitiveness. To properly focus the survey on the industry sector, material, product, service or technology being assessed, BIS may request information about a corporation as a whole or information about one or more specified units or individual activities of that corporation. The DPA provides both a civil remedy and criminal penalties that may be used when recipients of surveys do not supply the information sought.

    BIS deems the information supplied in response to survey requests to be confidential and is prohibited by law from publishing or disclosing such information unless the Under Secretary for Industry and Security determines that withholding the information is contrary to the interest of the national defense. The authority to make this determination, which § 705(d) of the DPA gives to the President, has been delegated to relevant agencies, including the Secretary of Commerce, by § 802 of Executive Order 13603. The Secretary of Commerce re-delegated this authority to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security. The DPA provides criminal penalties for any person who willfully violates its prohibition on publication or disclosure.

    Section by Section Description of the Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would create a new part in Title 15, Chapter VII, Subchapter A of the Code of Federal Regulations to be designated as 15 CFR part 702. This new part would be devoted exclusively to BIS's collection of information under § 705 of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155). Placing the new part in Subchapter A would promote an orderly and logical regulatory structure because all other regulations implementing BIS authorities related to the DPA are contained in that subchapter.

    Section 702.1

    Section 702.1 would set forth a general description of BIS' authority to collect information needed to complete the surveys. The survey responses assist BIS in determining the capabilities of the industrial base to support the national defense and to develop policy recommendations to improve both the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their ability to meet national defense needs.

    Section 702.2

    Section 702.2 would implement the requirement to publish regulations found in § 705 of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155(a)) by requiring BIS personnel of appropriate competence and authority to ensure that before a survey is sent to any person for completion; (1) the scope and purpose of a survey have been established, (2) the scope and purpose are consistent with BIS's authorities under the DPA, and (3) the data requested by the survey does not duplicate adequate and authoritative data available to BIS from a federal or other authoritative source. A survey may require information that is similar or identical to information possessed by other federal agencies but not available to BIS. The section does not limit the factors that may be considered in deciding whether to conduct a survey nor does it modify or replace the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. In addition, all surveys are reviewed by BIS and by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act before they are distributed. The OMB review process provides additional assurance that surveys are designed to collect only information deemed necessary to meet the scope and purpose of a study.

    Section 702.3

    Section 702.3 would address the confidentiality requirements imposed by § 705(d) of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155(d)) and, in accordance with that section, would provide two procedures by which the restrictions on disclosure in § 705(d) would be invoked. First, consistent with its current practice, BIS would deem all information submitted in response to a survey to be confidential. Second, a person submitting a response to a survey may request confidential treatment of the information submitted. Although the second procedure is likely to be redundant of the first, the statute prohibits disclosure if either the government deems the information to be confidential or if the person furnishing the information requests confidential treatment. BIS concludes that both procedures should be included in the regulations to be consistent with the statute. Additionally, § 702.3 would note that confidential information shall not be published or disclosed unless the Under Secretary for Industry and Security determines that withholding the information is contrary to the interest of the national defense. The statutory authority of the President to make this determination has been delegated to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security. This section also repeats the penalties that the statute authorizes for persons convicted of willfully violating the prohibition on disclosure.

    Section 702.4

    Section 702.4 would require timely, complete and adequate responses to surveys. Specifically, the section would require that survey responses be returned to BIS within the time frame stated on the initial distribution letter or other request for information. The section would treat a response as “inadequate” if it provides information that is not responsive to the questions asked or if it provides aggregated information when specific information was requested.

    Section 702.4 would set forth the criteria by which BIS may grant either an exemption from complying with the survey requirement or an extension of time to comply. The grounds for granting an exemption or an extension are limited and generally result when BIS concludes that the survey recipient lacks information deemed relevant to the survey or when compliance with the requirement would be unduly burdensome.

    Section 702.4 would make clear that the deadline for complying with a survey is not suspended by submitting a request for an exemption or extension of time to comply.

    Finally, § 702.4 would provide that BIS may return responses that are incomplete or inadequate and specify a due date for a complete and adequate response.

    Section 702.5

    Section 702.5 would set forth the consequences of failure to comply with a survey or other request for information. These consequences are established by § 705(a) and (c) of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155(a) and (c)). If a person does not comply with a survey, BIS may serve a subpoena upon that person to compel compliance. If the person still does not comply, the government may apply to the U.S. district court in any district in which the person is found, resides or transacts business for an order requiring such person to comply. The district court has authority to punish any failure to comply with the order as contempt of court. Persons who are convicted of willfully failing to comply with a survey or other request for information may be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

    Section 702.6

    Section 702.6 would define certain terms used in part 702.

    The word “confidential” would be defined in terms of § 705(d) of the DPA, thereby distinguishing its use in this rule from its use in connection with the classification of information for national security purposes as set forth in Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, Classified National Security Information (75 FR 707; 3 CFR, 2010 Comp., p. 298).

    The definition of the term “person” would be based on the definition of “person” in § 702 of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2152) with some additions. The DPA definition reads: “The term `person' includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or any other organized group of persons, or legal successor or representative thereof, or any State or local government or agency thereof.” Use of the word “includes” in the statutory definition implies that the list following that word is not exhaustive. BIS concludes that the use of “includes” indicates that Congress recognized that the agency implementing the DPA would need discretion to identify the types of entities that would likely possess information relevant to the subject of each industrial base assessment to ensure a comprehensive collection of information.

    This proposed rule would add “The Government of the United States, of the District of Columbia, of any commonwealth, territory or possession of the United States, or any department, agency or commission thereof.” BIS has concluded that inclusion of the additional entities is within its authority under the DPA because the DPA definition prefaces the list of entities with the word “includes,” and because inclusion of the additional entities is necessary to achieve the purpose of the statute.

    Based on prior studies, BIS has observed that the U.S. Government makes a significant contribution to the industrial base, whether in research, technology development, testing, manufacturing, repair and overhaul, or trade development. As a result, the U.S. Government is a significant source of information regarding the industrial base. Similarly, it is plausible that the District of Columbia, commonwealths of the United States and other territories and agencies can be survey respondents, and therefore have been included to ensure the completeness of a survey sample and corresponding assessment.

    The regulatory definition also would make clear that the term “corporation, partnership, association, or any other organized group of persons” is not limited to commercial, for-profit enterprises or publicly traded corporations.

    The definitions of the terms “initial distribution letter” and “survey” each describe a document used in the data collection process. The definitions describe those documents based on the way they are used in current BIS practice.

    Supplement No. 1 to Part 702

    Supplement No. 1 to part 702 would provide information that BIS believes would be helpful to persons who receive a survey. This information includes both a description of the survey and a glossary of terms.

    Rulemaking Requirements

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

    2. 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 Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et. seq.) unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. This rule does not contain a collection of information that is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act. This rule sets forth procedures related to BIS's administration of surveys pursuant to § 705 of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155). Individual surveys that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act will display a currently valid OMB control number.

    3. This rule does not contain policies with Federalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 13132.

    4. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to the notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) or any other statute. However, under § 605(b) of the RFA, if the head of an agency certifies that a rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities, the RFA does not require the agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. Pursuant to § 605(b), the Chief Counsel for Regulation, Department of Commerce, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration, certifying that this proposed rule, if promulgated, will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rationale for that certification is as follows.

    Impact

    This proposed rule would set forth, in a single part of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Department of Commerce's authority under § 705 of the DPA “to obtain information in order to perform industry studies assessing the capabilities of the United States industrial base to support the national defense.” Since the mid-1980s, BIS and its predecessor organizations within the Department of Commerce have conducted such studies and required survey responses based on the statute. Section 705 of the DPA authorizes the collection of the information. The statute also authorizes the issuance of subpoenas for the information and authorizes the United States district courts to issue orders compelling compliance with such subpoenas. It also provides criminal penalties for failure to comply with the government's requests for information. This proposed rule would not require any person to supply information that the person would not be required to provide pursuant to the statute.

    This proposed rule would require that surveys issued by BIS pursuant to § 705 be responded to by the deadline set forth in the survey. The rule would publicly state BIS's existing internal policies and standards for the granting of both an extension of time to comply with the requirement and exemptions from compliance. To the extent that publication of these policies and standards in the Code of Federal Regulations could be construed as a change in the burden on small entities or any other entities, the publication would have to be deemed as a reduction in burden because it facilitates access to the standards by all parties.

    This proposed rule also would set forth the statutory standards for treating information submitted in response to a survey as confidential. It would reiterate the statutory penalties for failure to comply with a survey and for unauthorized release of information that § 705 requires to be treated as confidential.

    This proposed rule would adopt the statutory definition of “person” but also add “[t]he Government of the United States, of the District of Columbia, of any commonwealth, territory or possession of the United States, or any department, agency or commission thereof” to the definition. The term “person” is used in the statute and in this proposed rule to represent those to whom the requirements of the statute and this proposed rule apply. BIS has historically interpreted the statute to apply to units of the U.S. Government (including the District of Columbia Government and the governments of the territories and possessions) and does not view this as a substantive change. For purposes of this certification, the addition is immaterial because the government bodies that would be added to the statutory definition by this proposed rule are not small entities under the definition provided in the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.

    Number of Small Entities

    Surveys are one-time exercises used to assess the state and/or capabilities of a particular industry sector or technology. Entities are selected for participation based on their role in, or relationship to, the industry sector or technology being assessed. Information obtained during the course of any one assessment may be relevant to determining whether the current entity supplying that information is a small entity. However, the composition of survey respondents varies dramatically between industry studies due to the complexity of each industry sector or technology being assessed. Consequently, BIS is unable to draw from existing data to estimate the number of small businesses participating in future collections. Accordingly, BIS is unable to determine the number of small entities that would be affected by this proposed rule.

    Conclusion

    Although BIS cannot predict the exact number of small entities that will be participating in any one survey, this rule would not impose a significant burden on any such small entities because it would not require any impacted entity to perform any action that it is not already required to perform pursuant to § 705 of the DPA.

    List of Subjects in Part 702

    Business and industry, Confidential business information, Employment, Penalties, National defense, Research, Science and technology.

    Accordingly, the National Security Industrial Base Regulations (15 CFR Chapter VII, Subchapter A) is proposed to be amended as follows.

    1. Add Part 702 to read as follows: Subchapter A—National Security Industrial Base Regulations Part 702—INDUSTRIAL BASE SURVEYS—DATA COLLECTIONS Sec. 702.1 Introduction. 702.2 Scope and purpose of surveys—avoiding duplicative requests for information. 702.3 Confidential information. 702.4 Requirement to comply with surveys or other requests for information. 702.5 Consequences of failure to comply. 702.6 Definitions. Supplement No. 1 to Part 702—General Survey Information. Authority:

    50 U.S.C. app. 2061 et seq., E.O. 13603, 77 FR 16651, 3 CFR, 2012 Comp., p. 225.

    § 702.1 Introduction.

    In accordance with 50 U.S.C. app. 2155, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) may obtain such information from, require such reports and the keeping of such records by, make an inspection of the books, records, and other writings, premises or property of, take the sworn testimony of and administer oaths and affirmations to, any person as may be necessary or appropriate, in its discretion, to the enforcement or the administration of its authorities and responsibilities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 as amended (DPA) and any regulations or orders issued thereunder. BIS's authorities under the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2061 et seq.) include authority to collect data via surveys to perform industry studies assessing the capabilities of the United States industrial base to support the national defense and develop policy recommendations to improve both the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their ability to meet national defense program needs.

    § 702.2 Scope and purpose of surveys—avoiding duplicative requests for information.

    (a) BIS will not send any survey to any person for completion unless the scope and purpose of the survey have been established, that scope and purpose are consistent with BIS's authorities under the DPA, and the data requested by the survey does not duplicate adequate and authoritative data already available to BIS from a Federal or other authoritative source.

    (b) BIS personnel of appropriate competence and authority will ensure that the requirements of paragraph (a) are met.

    (c) This section shall not be construed as limiting the criteria that BIS may consider in determining whether to proceed with a survey. This paragraph shall not be construed as replacing or in any way modifying the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

    § 702.3 Confidential information.

    This section implements § 705(d) of the DPA.

    (a) BIS deems all information submitted in response to a survey issued pursuant to this part to be confidential.

    (b) Any person submitting information in response to a survey issued pursuant to this part may request confidential treatment of that information.

    (c) The President's authority under the DPA to protect confidential information has been delegated to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security. The information described in paragraphs (a) and (b) shall not be published or disclosed unless the Under Secretary for Industry and Security determines that the withholding thereof is contrary to the interest of the national defense.

    (d) Any person convicted of willfully violating the prohibition in paragraph (c) may be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

    § 702.4 Requirement to comply with surveys or other requests for information.

    (a) Requirement to comply. Every person who receives a survey or other request for information issued pursuant to this part must submit a complete and adequate response to BIS within the time frame stated on the initial distribution letter or other request for information. Survey response information that does not adhere to the survey question criteria or that contains only aggregate information in place of specified information will be treated as inadequate and therefore noncompliant. BIS may exempt persons from this requirement for the reasons in paragraph (b) of this section, or grant extensions of time to comply as set forth in paragraph (c) of this section. Submitting a request to BIS for an exemption or an extension of time for completion does not suspend the initial deadline required by BIS (or any extended deadline subsequently granted by BIS). Thus, persons who request an exemption or extension of time are advised to proceed as if the response is required by the deadline until advised otherwise by BIS.

    (b) Grounds for exemption. (1) An exemption from the requirements of this section may be granted if the person receiving the survey or other request for information:

    (i) Has no physical presence in the United States of any kind;

    (ii) Does not provide, produce, distribute, utilize, procure, research, develop, consult or advise on, or have any other direct or indirect association with the materials, products, services or technology that are within the scope of the survey;

    (iii) Has ceased business operations more than 12 months prior to receipt of the survey;

    (iv) Has been in business for less than one year; or

    (v) BIS determines that extenuating circumstances exist that make responding impractical.

    (2) BIS may also grant an exemption if, based on the totality of the circumstances, it concludes that compliance would be impractical and/or that requiring compliance would be unduly time intensive.

    (3) Existence of a pre-existing private non-disclosure agreement or information sharing agreement between a person and another party (e.g., customers, suppliers, etc.), does not exempt a person from the obligation to comply with and complete a survey. The authority to conduct the survey and comply with the survey is derived from the DPA, and that statutory obligation to comply supersedes any private agreement.

    (c) Extensions of time to complete. A person who receives a survey or other request for information may request an extension of time to submit the complete response to BIS. BIS may grant such an extension of time, if, in its judgment, circumstances are such that additional time reasonably is needed, the extension would not jeopardize timely completion of BIS's overall analysis, and the person is making reasonable progress towards completing the survey or response to the other request for information. Generally, extensions will be for no more than two weeks. A person who receives a survey or other request for information may request successive extensions if the person believes that it continues to have a legitimate need for additional time to complete the survey. BIS will not grant extensions that would jeopardize the performance and timely completion of its industrial base assessments.

    (d) Procedure for requesting exemptions or extensions of time. Requests for exemptions or extensions of time must be made to BIS at the telephone number, email address or BIS physical address provided in the initial distribution letter for a survey or in the other request for information. A request for an exemption must provide factual information and documentation that are adequate for BIS to determine that one or more of the criteria stated in paragraph (b) or (c) are met.

    (e) Responses that are incomplete or inadequate. BIS may return responses that are incomplete or inadequate to the person for prompt completion. BIS will specify the required period of time permitted for completion and submission of the revised survey.

    § 702.5 Consequences of failure to comply.

    (a) Civil. If any person fails to comply with the requirements of § 702.4, BIS may issue a subpoena requiring that person to submit the information called for in the survey. In the case of contumacy or refusal to obey such a subpoena, the U.S. Government may apply for an order by the United States district court in a district where that person resides or transacts business that would compel the person to submit the completed survey.

    (b) Criminal. In accordance with 50 U.S.C. app. 2155, any person who willfully fails to comply with § 702.4, may, upon conviction, be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

    § 702.6 Definitions.

    The definitions in this section apply throughout this part.

    Confidential. A description of information that is subject to the disclosure prohibitions of the DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2155(d)).

    Initial distribution letter. A letter that BIS sends to a person that has been identified by the U.S. Government as a supplier or customer of materials, products or services used for activities of the industry that is the focus of a survey. The letter describes the survey's primary objectives, how survey results will assist the U.S. Government, and the confidential treatment of the information submitted. The letter also provides BIS contact information.

    Person. The term “person” includes: (a) An individual, corporation, partnership, association, or any other organized group of persons, or legal successor or representative thereof;

    (b) Any State or local government or agency thereof;

    (c) The Government of the United States, of the District of Columbia, of any commonwealth, territory or possession of the United States, or any department, agency or commission thereof.

    Note to the definition of “person”. Paragraph (a) of this definition is not limited to commercial or for-profit organizations. For example, the term “any other organized group of persons” may encompass labor unions, academic institutions, charitable organizations or any group of persons who are organized in some manner. The term corporation is not limited to publicly traded corporations or corporations that exist for the purpose of making a profit.

    Survey. A questionnaire or other request for information that collects detailed information and data to support both the assessment of a particular industrial sector or technology and the development of a corresponding study.

    Supplement No. 1 to Part 702—General Survey Information

    This supplement provides general information about surveys and the content of the typical survey. The content of this supplement is purely in example of a typical survey, and in no way limits the content that may appear in a specific Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)-issued survey. Procedures and content vary from survey to survey, and as such, there is no set template to follow. Nonetheless, BIS is offering this information as a basic guide to some elements of a survey.

    Survey Structure

    Most surveys include the following sections: Cover Page; Table of Contents; General Instructions; Glossary of Terms; Organizational Information, and sector-specific sections.

    —The cover page typically includes the title of the survey, its scope, an explanation of the legal requirement to comply, the burden estimate for compliance with the survey, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number, and the survey date of expiration. —The General Instructions section normally includes process steps necessary for a person's survey submittal. These include but are not limited to instructions for survey completion, survey support staff point-of-contact information, the name and address of the presiding BIS official, and instructions for both survey certification and submittal. —The Glossary of Terms section explains terms contained in the survey. Terms contained in the survey may be unique to the subject matter of the industry assessment, and therefore may change in meaning from survey to survey. Therefore, it is important to follow the specific instructions and defined terms contained in the specific survey you receive, regardless of any previous survey you might have completed. —The Organization Information section requests information related to the person in receipt of the survey, including address information, the source level of response (e.g., facility, business unit, division, corporate consolidated, etc.), point of contact details, and other pertinent contact information. The survey is generally organized in a question and answer format and is presented on an electronic survey system. Each survey is specially tailored to collect the specific information requested. Therefore, specific detailed information is what should be submitted in response to a survey requesting such information. —For example, if we ask for a listing of your customers that order widget A, your response should not be a listing of your entire customer base. Only the information pertaining to customers' ordering widget A is responsive to that kind of question. Also note that your reply to a survey request is compulsory, unless you meet the criteria for exemption set forth in the body of the regulation. Therefore, any non-disclosure agreements or similar agreements you may have with your customers or clients are not applicable to a survey's request for information. Compliance with the survey is required by the DPA. Accordingly, compliance with that statutory requirement is paramount to any private agreement you have with your customers or other parties.

    In addition to the aforementioned sections, each survey contains sections tailored to the specific scope of the study, including but not limited to Facility Locations, Products and Services, Inventories, Suppliers and Customers, Challenges and Organizational Outlook, Employment, Operations, Financial Statements, Sales, Research and Development, and Capital Expenditures.

    Examples of Survey Terms

    Certification: A section of the survey in which a person (an authorizing official) certifies that the information supplied in response to the survey is complete and correct, to the best of the person's knowledge.

    Facility: A building or the minimum complex of buildings or parts of buildings in which a person operates to serve a particular function, producing revenue and incurring costs for the person. A facility may produce an item of tangible or intangible property or may perform a service. It may encompass a floor or group of floors within a building, a single building, or a group of buildings or structures. Often, a facility is a group of related locations at which employees work, together constituting a profit-and-loss center for the person, and it may be identified by a unique Dun and Bradstreet number.

    Sole source: An organization that is the only source for the supply of parts, components, materials, or services. No alternative U.S. or non-U.S. based supplier exists other than the current supplier.

    Survey template: The data collection instrument supplied by BIS to persons by which survey information is recorded and submitted to BIS. The survey is generally organized in a question and answer format and is presented on an electronic survey system.

    Supplier: An entity from which your organization obtains inputs. A supplier may be another firm with which you have a contractual relationship, or it may be another facility owned by the same parent organization. The inputs may be materials, products or services.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Kevin J. Wolf, Assistant Secretary for Export Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04299 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Part 9 [Docket No. TTB-2015-0004; Notice No. 148] RIN 1513-AC11 Proposed Establishment of the Los Olivos District Viticultural Area AGENCY:

    Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to establish the approximately 22,820-acre “Los Olivos District” viticultural area in Santa Barbara County, California. The proposed viticultural area lies entirely within the Santa Ynez Valley viticultural area and the larger, multicounty Central Coast viticultural area. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. TTB invites comments on this proposed addition to its regulations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by May 4, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Please send your comments on this document to one of the following addresses:

    Internet: http://www.regulations.gov (via the online comment form for this document as posted within Docket No. TTB-2015-0004 at “Regulations.gov,” the Federal e-rulemaking portal);

    U.S. Mail: Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; or

    Hand delivery/courier in lieu of mail: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Suite 200-E, Washington, DC 20005.

    See the Public Participation section of this document for specific instructions and requirements for submitting comments, and for information on how to request a public hearing or view or request copies of the petition and supporting materials.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen A. Thornton, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; phone 202-453-1039, ext. 175.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background on Viticultural Areas TTB Authority

    Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages. The FAA Act provides that these regulations should, among other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading statements on labels and ensure that labels provide the consumer with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) administers the FAA Act pursuant to section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, codified at 6 U.S.C. 531(d). The Secretary has delegated various authorities through Treasury Department Order 120-01 (Revised), dated December 10, 2013, to the TTB Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration and enforcement of this law.

    Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) authorizes TTB to define viticultural areas and sets out requirements for the use of their names as appellations of origin on wine labels and in wine advertisements. Part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9) sets forth standards for the preparation and submission to TTB of petitions for the establishment or modification of American viticultural areas (AVAs) and lists the approved AVAs.

    Definition

    Section 4.25(e)(1)(i) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)(i)) defines a viticultural area for American wine as a delimited grape-growing region having distinguishing features, as described in part 9 of the regulations, and a name and a delineated boundary, as established in part 9 of the regulations. These designations allow vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to the wine's geographic origin. The establishment of AVAs allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase. Establishment of an AVA is neither an approval nor an endorsement by TTB of the wine produced in that area.

    Requirements

    Section 4.25(e)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(2)) outlines the procedure for proposing an AVA and provides that any interested party may petition TTB to establish a grape-growing region as an AVA. Section 9.12 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 9.12) prescribes the standards for petitions requesting the establishment or modification of AVAs. Petitions to establish an AVA must include the following:

    • Evidence that the region within the proposed AVA boundary is nationally or locally known by the AVA name specified in the petition;

    • An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of the proposed AVA;

    • A narrative description of the features of the proposed AVA affecting viticulture, such as climate, geology, soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed AVA distinctive and distinguish it from adjacent areas outside the proposed viticultural AVA;

    • The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed AVA, with the boundary of the proposed AVA clearly drawn thereon; and

    • A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA boundary based on USGS map markings.

    Los Olivos District Petition

    TTB received a petition from C. Frederic Brander, owner and winemaker of the Brander Vineyard, proposing the establishment of the approximately 22,820-acre “Los Olivos District” AVA in Santa Barbara County, California. There are 12 bonded wineries and approximately 47 commercially producing vineyards covering a total of 1,120 acres within the proposed AVA. According to the petition, the distinguishing features of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA include its topography, soils, and climate. Unless otherwise noted, all information and data pertaining to the proposed AVA contained in this document are from the petition for the proposed Los Olivos District AVA and its supporting exhibits.

    The proposed Los Olivos District AVA includes the towns of Los Olivos, Solvang, Ballard, and Santa Ynez. The proposed AVA lies entirely within the Santa Ynez Valley AVA (27 CFR 9.54), which, in turn, lies within the larger, multicounty Central Coast AVA (27 CFR 9.75). The proposed Los Olivos District AVA shares its western boundary with the eastern boundary of the Ballard Canyon AVA (27 CFR 9.230) and its eastern boundary with the western boundary of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA (27 CR 9.217), but it does not overlap either of these AVAs.

    Name Evidence

    In the late 1800s, Alden March Boyd purchased land in Santa Barbara County and planted a 5,000-tree olive grove he named “Rancho Los Olivos.” The community that grew up nearby took the name “Los Olivos,” after Boyd's ranch. The proposed Los Olivos District AVA takes its name from the ranch and the town, both of which are located within the boundaries of the proposed AVA. The town and the ranch appear on the USGS Los Olivos quadrangle map. The town of Los Olivos also appears on a road map of Santa Barbara County, published by the American Automobile Association, which was included with the petition.

    Name evidence for the proposed AVA is supported by the fact that several businesses use the moniker “Los Olivos” in their names, including the Los Olivos Grand Hotel, the Gallery Los Olivos, the Los Olivos Café, and the Los Olivos Grocery. Additionally, several public institutions that serve residents within the proposed AVA use the name “Los Olivos,” including the Los Olivos Library, the Los Olivos Post Office, and the Los Olivos Elementary School.

    Boundary Evidence

    The boundary of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA separates the low, relatively flat plain that comprises the proposed AVA from the higher elevations and more rugged and mountainous terrain that surround the proposed AVA in all directions. The northern portion of the proposed boundary follows the 1,000-foot elevation contour through the lower foothills of the San Rafael Mountains and approximates the point above which marine fog does not reach. The eastern portion of the proposed boundary follows straight lines drawn between points shown on the USGS maps and separates the proposed AVA from the canyon lands of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA. The southern portion of the proposed boundary follows the Santa Ynez River and separates the proposed AVA from the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest. The western portion of the proposed boundary follows several roads and straight lines drawn between points on the USGS maps and separates the proposed AVA from the canyon lands of the Ballard Canyon AVA to the west.

    Distinguishing Features

    The distinguishing features of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA include its topography, soils, and climate.

    Topography

    According to the petition, the proposed Los Olivos District AVA is located on the only broad alluvial terrace plain of the Santa Ynez River. The topography of the proposed AVA is relatively uniform, with nearly flat terrain that gently slopes downward to the south. Elevations within the AVA range from approximately 400 feet in the southern portion of the proposed AVA, along the Santa Ynez River, to 1,000 feet in the northern portion, in the foothills of the San Rafael Mountains.

    The petition discusses the benefits that the relatively flat, uniform topography of the proposed AVA has for viticulture. The lack of steeply sloped terrain minimizes the risk of erosion, allows vineyard owners more options to space vines and orient rows, and facilitates mechanical harvesting and tilling. The flat, open terrain also allows vineyards within the proposed AVA to receive uniform amounts of sunlight, rainfall, and temperature-moderating fog because there are no significant hills or mountains within the proposed AVA to block the rainfall and fog or to shade the vineyards.

    The proposed Los Olivos District is surrounded by higher elevations and mountainous terrain in all directions. To the north are the San Rafael Mountains, with steep slopes and elevations reaching over 2,000 feet. To the east is the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, which is marked by steeper terrain, rolling hills, and canyons. Elevations within the portion of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA immediately adjacent to the proposed AVA reach heights of 1,600 feet. To the south of the proposed AVA are the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest, which have elevations reaching over 3,000 feet and steep, rugged terrain unsuitable for commercial viticulture. To the west of the proposed AVA is the Ballard Canyon AVA, which has rolling hills, maze-like canyons, and elevations reaching 1,200 feet.

    Soils

    Over 95 percent of the soils within the proposed Los Olivos District AVA are from the Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez soil association and are derived from alluvium, including Orcutt sand and terrace deposits. The soils are moderately to well-drained gravelly fine sandy loams and clay loams with low to moderate fertility.

    According to the petition, the soils found in the proposed Los Olivos District AVA are well-suited for viticulture. The soils drain well enough that the vines are not susceptible to root disease and chlorosis but do not drain so excessively as to require frequent irrigation. Soil nutrient levels within the proposed AVA are adequate to produce healthy vines and fruit without promoting excessive growth. Finally, the uniformity of the soils throughout the proposed Los Olivos District AVA results in a greater consistency in growing conditions for vineyards than is found in regions with greater soil variations.

    To the north of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA, within the San Rafael Mountains, approximately 95 percent of the soils are of the Chamise-Arnold-Crow Hill association, which is described as well-drained to excessively drained and very low to moderately fertile. To the east and south of the proposed AVA, the soils are more diverse. Within the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, to the east of the proposed AVA, approximately 40 percent of the soils are from the Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez association. The remaining 60 percent of the soils are from the Chamise-Arnold-Crow Hill, the Shedd-Santa Lucia-Diablo, and the Toomes-Climara associations, which are all well-drained to excessively drained and range from very low to highly fertile. To the south of the proposed AVA, within the Santa Ynez Mountains, approximately 60 percent of the soils are from the Los Osos-Gaviota association, which is described as well-drained to excessively drained and very low to moderately fertile. The remaining 40 percent of the soils is a combination of soils from Shedd-Santa Lucia-Diablo association and sedimentary rock that is not suitable for viticulture. To the west, within the Ballard Canyon AVA, approximately 95 percent of the soils are from the Chamise-Arnold-Crow Hill association, which are characterized as being well-drained to excessively drained and having very low to moderately low fertility.

    Climate

    Within the Central Coast AVA, where the proposed Los Olivos District AVA is located, temperatures are affected by cooling marine fog. Locations close to the Pacific Ocean have heavy marine fog, while locations farther inland, such as the proposed AVA, receive less fog. In general, marine fog contributes to cool daytime temperatures and warm nighttime temperatures. Because the proposed Los Olivos District AVA is located about 30 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, much of the marine fog has diminished by the time it reaches the proposed AVA in the late afternoon. However, enough fog remains to moderate the evening and nighttime temperatures. Due to the flat, open topography, the fog circulates freely throughout the entire proposed AVA.

    In locations where fog is present throughout most of the day, the difference between the daily high and daily low temperatures (diurnal temperature variation) is usually smaller than in regions where fog is less prevalent because fog lowers the daytime temperatures and warms the nighttime temperatures. The following table shows the average monthly diurnal temperature variation during the growing season measured at weather stations in the proposed Los Olivos District AVA and in regions to the east and west. Data was not available for locations to the north and south of the proposed AVA.

    Average Monthly Diurnal Temperature Variation [Degrees Fahrenheit] Month Lompoc 1
  • (West of proposed AVA)
  • Ballard Canyon AVA 2
  • (West of proposed AVA)
  • Santa Ynez 3
  • (Within proposed AVA)
  • Cachuma Lake 4 (East of proposed AVA)
    April 23 28 30 29.6 May 20.5 30 28.5 30.8 June 20 33 29.6 34.6 July 19.1 37 30.5 38.4 August 19.3 38 31.9 38.1 September 22.1 37 32.8 36.9 October 25.5 33 34.0 34.2

    The data shows that the proposed Los Olivos District AVA generally has smaller average monthly diurnal temperature variations than the region farther inland (Cachuma Lake) and greater average monthly variations than the region closer to the coast (Lompoc). Lompoc, which is located only 9 miles from the Pacific Ocean, has smaller average monthly diurnal temperature variations than the proposed AVA because the marine fog is heavy throughout the entire day, keeping daytime highs cool and allowing for only small drops in nighttime temperatures. From May through September, Cachuma Lake has greater average monthly diurnal temperature variations than the proposed AVA because the lake is farther from the ocean (approximately 36 miles). The marine fog has largely dissipated by the time it reaches Cachuma Lake, allowing daytime temperatures to rise higher and nighttime temperatures to drop lower than within the proposed AVA. During April and October, fog is lighter and occurs less frequently within the proposed AVA, so the diurnal temperature variations within the proposed AVA are similar to those at Cachuma Lake. The Ballard Canyon AVA is closer to the ocean than the proposed AVA, but the hills and canyons block much of the fog from entering the Ballard Canyon AVA. As a result, the Ballard Canyon AVA has generally greater diurnal temperature variations than the proposed Los Olivos District AVA.

    1 Source: Western Regional Climate Center period of record monthly climate summary, 1917-present. See www.wrcc.dri.edu.

    2 Source: Petition to Establish the Ballard Canyon AVA; data collected from 2005, 2008, and 2009. See http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=TTB-2013-0001-0002.

    3 Source: California Irrigation Management Information System Weather Station #64, Santa Ynez, from 1986-present. See University of California IPM Online at www.ucipm.ucdavis.edu/WEATHER/index.html.

    4 Source: Western Regional Climate Center period of record monthly climate summary, 1951-present. See www.wrcc.dri.edu.

    According to the petition, diurnal temperature variations during the growing season affect viticulture. Warm daytime temperatures encourage fruit maturation and sugar production, and cool nighttime temperatures minimize acid loss. Therefore, grapes in regions with large diurnal temperature variations ripen faster and have higher levels of sugar and acid than regions with smaller diurnal temperature variations. Additionally, because regions with large diurnal temperature variations generally have less fog, grapes in those regions are not at as great a risk of mildew or fungal diseases as areas with heavier fog and smaller diurnal temperature variations.

    The petition also included a summary of growing degree day (GDD) data 5 gathered during the 2007-2012 growing seasons for the proposed Los Olivos District AVA and the regions to the north, east, and west. Data was not available for the region to the south.

    5 Growing Degree Day data was measured using the University of California Cooperative Extension method, which collects temperature data hourly in degrees Celsius. One GDD unit accumulates for each degree Celsius the hourly temperature reading is over the baseline of 10 degrees Celsius, the temperature below which there is virtually no growth in grape vines.

    Summary of Growing Degree Days [Degrees Celsius] Location (direction from proposed AVA) 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Average Proposed Los Olivos District AVA 1,534 1,688 1,652 1,406 1,479 1,617 1,563 Ballard Canyon AVA (West) 1,140 1,546 1,540 1,314 1,397 1,494 1,450 Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA (East) 1,592 1,743 1,697 1,443 1,525 1,629 1,605 San Rafael Mountains (North) 1,748 1,952 1,850 1,521 1,587 1,753 1,735

    The data shows that the proposed Los Olivos District AVA has more growing degree days than the region to the immediate west and fewer than the regions to the north and east. According to the petition, GDD accumulation influences the grape varietals grown in a region. Warm regions typically grow Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, such as cabernet sauvignon and syrah, both of which are commonly grown within the proposed AVA. Additionally, warm temperatures promote vigorous vine growth and large leaf canopies, which affect decisions on row spacing, trellis design, pruning, and canopy management.

    Summary of Distinguishing Features

    In summary, the topography, soils, and climate of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA distinguish it from the surrounding regions. The proposed AVA is located on a broad alluvial plain. The terrain is open and flat, which reduces the risk of erosion and allows for the use of mechanized harvesting and tilling equipment in the vineyards. The open terrain also allows thin marine fog to circulate freely through the proposed AVA. The fog moderates temperatures, preventing the grapes from developing levels of sugars and acids that are too high. The moderate temperatures allow for a growing degree day accumulation that is high enough to grow warm climate varietals, including cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Finally, the soils within the proposed AVA are moderately drained to well-drained and have low to moderate fertility levels. As a result, vines are at a low risk for root disease or excessive growth, and vineyards do not require frequent irrigation.

    To the north, the high elevations of the San Rafael Mountains are above the fog line, and the terrain is higher, steeper, and more susceptible to erosion than the flat, gently sloping terrain of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA. To the east, the canyons and steeper terrain of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA prevent marine fog from entering the AVA, resulting in higher GDD accumulations than within the proposed AVA. Additionally, the steepness of the terrain makes mechanized harvesting and tilling less practical than within the proposed AVA. To the south, the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest have high, rugged, steep terrain and rocky soils, making the region less suitable for viticulture than the proposed AVA. To the west, the Ballard Canyon AVA has rolling hills and maze-like canyons that block much of the marine fog from entering, resulting in greater average diurnal temperature variations than within the proposed AVA.

    Comparison of the Proposed Los Olivos District AVA to the Existing Santa Ynez Valley and Central Coast AVAs Santa Ynez Valley AVA

    The Santa Ynez Valley AVA was established by T.D. ATF-132, which was published in the Federal Register on April 15, 1983 (48 FR 16252). The Santa Ynez Valley AVA encompasses the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the Ballard Canyon AVA, and the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, as well as the proposed Los Olivos District AVA. According to T.D. ATF-132, the Santa Ynez Valley AVA is a valley that surrounds the Santa Ynez River and is bound by the Purisima Hills and San Rafael Mountains to the north, Cachuma Lake to the east, the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south, and the Santa Rita Hills to the west. Vineyards are planted on elevations ranging from 200 feet along the Santa Ynez River to 1,500 feet in the foothills of the San Rafael Mountains. The Santa Ynez Valley AVA has seven major soil associations, but vineyards are primarily planted on soils from the Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez, Chamise-Arnold-Crow Hill, Shedd-Santa Lucia-Diablo, and Sorrento-Mocho-Camarillo associations. Temperatures within the Santa Ynez Valley AVA are generally warmer and less influenced by coastal breezes and fog than the region closer to the coast because the hills to the west of the AVA prevent much of the marine influence from reaching deep into the valley. Even without a heavy marine influence, fog is still common at elevations between 1,000 and 1,200 feet within the Santa Ynez Valley AVA.

    The proposed Los Olivos District AVA is located at the center of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA and shares some broad characteristics with the established AVA. Like much of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, the proposed Los Olivos District AVA receives some marine fog from the Pacific Ocean. However, due to its central location, the proposed AVA is warmer than regions within the western portion of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA (such as the Sta. Rita Hills AVA) and cooler than regions within the eastern portion (such as the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA). The fairly level alluvial plain topography of the proposed AVA is more uniform than the topography of the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA, which also includes mountains and canyons. In contrast to the varied soils of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, the proposed Los Olivos District AVA soils are predominately from the Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez association.

    Central Coast AVA

    The large, 1 million-acre Central Coast AVA was established by T.D. ATF-216, which was published in the Federal Register on October 24, 1985 (50 FR 43128). The Central Coast AVA encompasses all or portions of the California counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara, and it contains 28 established AVAs. T.D. ATF-216 describes the Central Coast viticultural area as extending from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco Bay area and east to the California Coastal Ranges. The distinguishing feature of the Central Coast AVA addressed in T.D. ATF-216 is that all of the included counties experience marine climate influence due to their proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

    The proposed Los Olivos District AVA, located within Santa Barbara County, is also located within the Central Coast AVA. Marine fog, which is the primary characteristic of the Central Coast AVA, is present within the proposed AVA during the growing season. However, due to its smaller size, the proposed viticultural area has greater uniformity in geographical features, such as topography, climate, and soils, than the larger Central Coast AVA.

    TTB Determination

    TTB concludes that the petition to establish the approximately 22,820-acre Los Olivos District AVA merits consideration and public comment, as invited in this document of proposed rulemaking.

    Boundary Description

    See the narrative description of the boundary of the petitioned-for AVA in the proposed regulatory text published at the end of this proposed rule.

    TTB notes that although narrative descriptions of AVA boundaries usually follow a clockwise direction, the proposed Los Olivos District AVA boundary description follows a counterclockwise direction in order to align the proposed eastern boundary more easily with the western boundary of the established Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA.

    Maps

    The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed below in the proposed regulatory text.

    Impact on Current Wine Labels

    Part 4 of the TTB regulations prohibits any label reference on a wine that indicates or implies an origin other than the wine's true place of origin. For a wine to be labeled with an AVA name or with a brand name that includes an AVA name or other term identified as viticulturally significant in part 9 of the TTB regulations, at least 85 percent of the wine must be derived from grapes grown within the area represented by that name or other term, and the wine must meet the other conditions listed in § 4.25(e)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(3)). If the wine is not eligible for labeling with an AVA name or other viticulturally significant term and that name or term appears in the brand name, then the label is not in compliance, and the bottler must change the brand name and obtain approval of a new label. Similarly, if the AVA name or other viticulturally significant term appears in another reference on the label in a misleading manner, the bottler would have to obtain approval of a new label. Different rules apply if a wine has a brand name containing an AVA name or other viticulturally significant term that was used as a brand name on a label approved before July 7, 1986. See § 4.39(i)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.39(i)(2)) for details.

    If TTB establishes this proposed AVA, its name, “Los Olivos District,” will be recognized as a name of viticultural significance under § 4.39(i)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.39(i)(3)). TTB also believes that the term “Los Olivos,” standing alone, has viticultural significance, as this name appears to be primarily associated with the grape-growing and wine-producing region of the proposed AVA. Therefore, if TTB establishes this proposed AVA, the term “Los Olivos” also will be recognized as a term of viticultural significance under 27 CFR 4.39(i)(3). The text of the proposed regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine bottlers using the name “Los Olivos District” or “Los Olivos” in a brand name, including a trademark, or in another label reference as to the origin of the wine, would have to ensure that the product is eligible to use the AVA name as an appellation of origin if this proposed rule is adopted as a final rule.

    The approval of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA would not affect any existing AVA, and any bottlers using “Central Coast” or “Santa Ynez Valley” as an appellation of origin or in a brand name for wines made from grapes grown within the Central Coast AVA or Santa Ynez Valley would not be affected by the establishment of this new AVA. The establishment of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA would allow vintners to use “Los Olivos District,” “Santa Ynez Valley,” and “Central Coast” as appellations of origin for wines made from grapes grown within the proposed Los Olivos District AVA, if the wines meet the eligibility requirements for the appellation.

    Public Participation Comments Invited

    TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on whether it should establish the proposed AVA. TTB is also interested in receiving comments on the sufficiency and accuracy of the name, boundary, soils, climate, and other required information submitted in support of the petition. In addition, given the proposed Los Olivos District AVA's location within the existing Central Coast AVA and Santa Ynez Valley AVA, TTB is interested in comments on whether the evidence submitted in the petition regarding the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA sufficiently differentiates it from the existing Central Coast AVA and Santa Ynez Valley AVA. TTB is also interested in comments on whether the geographic features of the proposed AVA are so distinguishable from the surrounding Central Coast AVA and Santa Ynez Valley AVA that the proposed Los Olivos District AVA should no longer be part of those AVAs. Please provide any available specific information in support of your comments.

    Because of the potential impact of the establishment of the proposed Los Olivos District AVA on wine labels that include the term “Los Olivos District” or “Los Olivos” as discussed above under Impact on Current Wine Labels, TTB is particularly interested in comments regarding whether there will be a conflict between the proposed AVA name and currently used brand names. If a commenter believes that a conflict will arise, the comment should describe the nature of that conflict, including any anticipated negative economic impact that approval of the proposed AVA will have on an existing viticultural enterprise. TTB is also interested in receiving suggestions for ways to avoid conflicts, for example, by adopting a modified or different name for the AVA.

    Submitting Comments

    You may submit comments on this document by using one of the following three methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the online comment form posted with this document within Docket No. TTB-2015-0004 on “Regulations.gov,” the Federal e-rulemaking portal, at http://www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available under Notice No. 148 on the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-rulemaking.shtml. Supplemental files may be attached to comments submitted via Regulations.gov. For complete instructions on how to use Regulations.gov, visit the site and click on the “Help” tab.

    U.S. Mail: You may send comments via postal mail to the Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Box 12, Washington, DC 20005.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: You may hand-carry your comments or have them hand-carried to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Suite 200-E, Washington, DC 20005.

    Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in the DATES section of this document. Your comments must reference Notice No. 148 and include your name and mailing address. Your comments also must be made in English, be legible, and be written in language acceptable for public disclosure. TTB does not acknowledge receipt of comments, and TTB considers all comments as originals.

    In your comment, please clearly state if you are commenting for yourself or on behalf of an association, business, or other entity. If you are commenting on behalf of an entity, your comment must include the entity's name, as well as your name and position title. If you comment via Regulations.gov, please enter the entity's name in the “Organization” blank of the online comment form. If you comment via postal mail or hand delivery/courier, please submit your entity's comment on letterhead.

    You may also write to the Administrator before the comment closing date to ask for a public hearing. The Administrator reserves the right to determine whether to hold a public hearing.

    Confidentiality

    All submitted comments and attachments are part of the public record and subject to disclosure. Do not enclose any material in your comments that you consider to be confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure.

    Public Disclosure

    TTB will post, and you may view, copies of this document, selected supporting materials, and any online or mailed comments received about this proposal within Docket No. TTB-2015-0004 on the Federal e-rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at http://www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available on the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine_rulemaking.shtml under Notice No. 148. You may also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page at http://www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use Regulations.gov, click on the site's “Help” tab.

    All posted comments will display the commenter's name, organization (if any), city, and State, and, in the case of mailed comments, all address information, including email addresses. TTB may omit voluminous attachments or material that the Bureau considers unsuitable for posting.

    You may also view copies of this document, all related petitions, maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or mailed comments that TTB receives about this proposal by appointment at the TTB Information Resource Center, 1310 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20005. You may also obtain copies at 20 cents per 8.5 x 11-inch page. Please note that TTB is unable to provide copies of USGS maps or other similarly-sized documents that may be included as part of the AVA petition. Contact TTB's information specialist at the above address or by telephone at 202-453-2270 to schedule an appointment or to request copies of comments or other materials.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    TTB certifies that this proposed regulation, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed regulation imposes no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other administrative requirement. Any benefit derived from the use of a viticultural area name would be the result of a proprietor's efforts and consumer acceptance of wines from that area. Therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required.

    Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993. Therefore, no regulatory assessment is required.

    Drafting Information

    Karen A. Thornton of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted this notice of proposed rulemaking.

    List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Wine.

    Proposed Regulatory Amendment

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB proposes to amend title 27, chapter I, part 9, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

    PART 9—AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    27 U.S.C. 205.

    Subpart C—Approved American Viticultural Areas 2. Subpart C is amended by adding § 9.___ to read as follows:
    § 9. Los Olivos District.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this section is “Los Olivos District”. For purposes of part 4 of this chapter, “Los Olivos District” and “Los Olivos” are terms of viticultural significance.

    (b) Approved maps. The four United States Geological Survey (USGS) 1:24,000 scale topographic maps used to determine the boundary of the Los Olivos District viticultural area are titled:

    (1) Los Olivos, CA, 1995;

    (2) Zaca Creek, Calif., 1959;

    (3) Solvang, CA, 1995; and

    (4) Santa Ynez, CA, 1995.

    (c) Boundary. The Los Olivos District viticultural area is located in Santa Barbara County, California. The boundary of the Los Olivos District viticultural area is as described below:

    (1) The beginning point is on the Los Olivos map at the intersection of Foxen Canyon Road with California State Road 154 (known locally as San Marcos Pass Road/Chumash Highway), section 23, T7N/R31W.

    (2) From the beginning point, proceed southwesterly in a straight line approximately 0.3 mile, crossing onto the Zaca Creek map, to the intersection of Ballard Canyon Road and an unnamed, unimproved road known locally as Los Olivos Meadows Drive, T7N/R31W; then

    (3) Proceed south-southeasterly in a straight line approximately 1 mile, crossing onto the Los Olivos map, to a marked, unnamed structure within a circular-shaped 920-foot contour line in the southwest corner of section 26, T7N/R31W; then

    (4) Proceed south-southwesterly in a straight line approximately 1.25 miles, crossing onto the Zaca Creek map, to the point marked by the “Ball” 801-foot elevation control point, T6N/R31W; then

    (5) Proceed south-southwesterly in a straight line approximately 1.45 miles, crossing onto the Solvang map, to a marked, unnamed 775-foot peak, T6N/R31W; then

    (6) Proceed south-southwesterly in a straight line approximately 0.55 mile to a marked communication tower located within the 760-foot contour line, T6N/R31W; then

    (7) Proceed south in a straight line approximately 0.6 mile to the intersection of Chalk Hill Road with an unnamed creek descending from Adobe Canyon, northwest of the unnamed road known locally as Fredensborg Canyon Road, T6N/R31W; then

    (8) Proceed southwesterly (downstream) along the creek approximately 1 mile to the creek's intersection with the Santa Ynez River, T6N/R31W; then

    (9) Proceed easterly (upstream) along the Santa Ynez River approximately 8 miles, crossing onto the Santa Ynez map, to the river's intersection with State Highway 154, T6N/R30W; then

    (10) Proceed north-northwest in a straight line approximately 1.2 miles to the marked 924-foot elevation point, T6R/R30W; then

    (11) Proceed north-northwest in a straight line 1.2 miles to the “Y” in an unimproved road 0.1 mile south of the 800-foot contour line, west of Happy Canyon Road, T6R/R30W; then

    (12) Proceed north-northwest in a straight line for 0.5 mile, crossing onto the Los Olivos map, and continuing approximately 2.3 miles to the third intersection of the line with the 1,000-foot contour line northwest of BM 812, T7N/R30W; then

    (13) Proceed westerly along the meandering 1,000-foot contour line to the contour line's intersection with an unnamed, unimproved road, an unnamed light-duty road, and the northern boundary line of section 23, T7N/R31W; then

    (14) Proceed northerly, then westerly, along the unnamed, unimproved road to Figueroa Mountain Road, near the marked 895-foot elevation, T7N/R31W; then

    (15) Proceed north on Figueroa Mountain Road approximately 400 feet to the 920-foot contour line, T7N/R31W; then

    (16) Proceed initially south, then northeasterly along the meandering 920-foot contour line, crossing onto the Zaca Creek map, to Foxen Canyon Road, T7N/R31W; then

    (17) Proceed southeasterly on Foxen Canyon Road approximately 1.7 miles, crossing onto the Los Olivos map, returning to the beginning point.

    Dated: February 23, 2015. John J. Manfreda, Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04253 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-31-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 721 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0760; FRL-9923-25] RIN 2070-AB27 Proposed Significant New Use Rule on Certain Chemical Substances; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    EPA issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register of January 7, 2015, concerning proposed significant new use rules for 13 chemical substances which were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMNs). This document extends the comment period for 45 days, from March 9, 2015 to April 23, 2015. Multiple commenters requested additional time to research and submit more detailed comments concerning the proposed SNURs. EPA is therefore extending the comment period in order to give all interested persons the opportunity to comment fully.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule published on January 7, 2015 (80 FR 845) is extended. Comments, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0760 must be received on or before April 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Follow the detailed instructions provided under ADDRESSES in the Federal Register document of January 7, 2015 (80 FR 845) (FRL-9919-23).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For technical information contact: Kenneth Moss, Chemical Control Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (202) 564-9232; email address: [email protected]

    For general information contact: The TSCA-Hotline, ABVI-Goodwill, 422 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14620; telephone number: (202) 554-1404; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document extends the public comment period established in the Federal Register proposed rule of January 7, 2015. In that document, EPA proposed significant new use rules for 13 chemical substances which were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMNs). EPA is hereby extending the comment period, which was set to end on March 9, 2015, to April 23, 2015.

    To submit comments, or access the docket, please follow the detailed instructions provided under ADDRESSES in the Federal Register proposed rule of January 7, 2015. If you have questions, consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 721

    Environmental protection, Chemicals, Hazardous substances, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 20, 2015. Maria J. Doa, Director, Chemical Control Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04406 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Part 67 [Docket No. USCG-2010-0990] RIN 1625-AB56 Vessel Documentation Renewal Fees AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard seeks public comment on whether to increase the period of validity for renewing endorsements on Certificates of Documentation. A separate fee of $26 for annual renewals of endorsements upon the Certificate of Documentation was established in a recent rulemaking. The Coast Guard is considering options for implementing multiyear renewals and updating the fee for services, and seeks information on factors to consider when implementing these changes.

    DATES:

    Comments and related material must either be submitted to the online docket via http://www.regulations.gov on or before June 1, 2015 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2010-0990 using any one of the following methods:

    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.

    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions about this document, call or email Ms. Mary Jager, CG-DCO-832, Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-1331, email [email protected] If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Cheryl Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Participation and Comments

    We encourage you to submit comments (or related material) on the possibility of extending the period of validity and modifying the fee for renewal on endorsements on the Certificate of Documentation (COD). We will consider all submissions and may adjust our final action based on your comments. Comments should be marked with docket number USCG-2010-0990 and should provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may provide personal contact information so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your comments; but please note that all comments will be posted to the online docket without change and that any personal information you include can be searchable online (see the Federal Register Privacy Act notice regarding our public dockets, 73 FR 3316, Jan. 17, 2008).

    Mailed or hand-delivered comments should be in an unbound 81/2 x 11 inch format suitable for reproduction. The Docket Management Facility will acknowledge receipt of mailed comments if you enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope with your submission.

    Documents mentioned in this request for comments, and all public comments, are in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following the Web site's instructions. You can also view the docket online at the Docket Management Facility (see the mailing address under ADDRESSES) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    We are not planning to hold a public meeting but will consider doing so if public comments indicate a meeting would be helpful. We would issue a separate Federal Register notice to announce the date, time, and location of such a meeting.

    Background

    On August 12, 2014, the Coast Guard published a final rule entitled “Vessel Documentation Renewal Fees” in the Federal Register (79 FR 47015). The final rule contained the Coast Guard's revision of 46 CFR part 67, setting out fees for services provided.

    The Coast Guard received 2,720 comment submissions on the proposed fees published on March 4, 2013 (78 FR 14053). Comments were received from individuals, law firms, commercial vessel documentation services, industry groups, and maritime corporations. We considered all comments in promulgating the final rule. The Coast Guard received 1,316 comments regarding the implementation of the new fee. The majority of these comments (757 comments) suggested the Coast Guard institute a multiyear renewal option program. We made no changes to the final rule. However, we are now seeking public comments in considering options that could be proposed in a future rulemaking. This document provides the public with an opportunity to continue this discussion.

    Discussion

    The legal basis for charging fees for this service is found in section 10401 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-508, Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388), codified at 46 U.S.C. 2110, which requires that the Coast Guard establish user fees for Coast Guard vessel documentation services. That section provides that the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating (Secretary) shall establish a fee or charge for a service or thing of value that is provided to the recipient or user of that service. The Secretary is empowered in 46 U.S.C. 2104 to delegate the authorities in 46 U.S.C. Subtitle II to the Coast Guard. The Secretary exercised that delegation's authority for fees in Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1(92)(a).

    In establishing these fees, we are required to use the criteria found in 31 U.S.C. 9701. Under this provision the fees must be fair, and must be based on the costs to the government, the value of the service or thing to the recipient, and the public policy or interest served (see 31 U.S.C. 9701(b)). One of the vessel documentation services the Coast Guard provides, and for which user fees are required under 46 U.S.C. 2110, is renewal of endorsements upon a COD. A COD is (1) required for the operation of a vessel in certain trades, (2) serves as evidence of vessel nationality, and (3) permits owners of vessels to benefit from preferred mortgages (46 CFR 67.1). An endorsement means an entry that may be made on a COD, and, except for a recreational endorsement, is conclusive evidence that a vessel is entitled to engage in a specified trade (46 CFR 67.3).

    The Coast Guard sets fees at an amount calculated to achieve recovery of the costs of providing the service, in a manner consistent with the general user charges principles set out in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-25. Under that OMB Circular, each recipient should pay a reasonable user charge for Federal Government services, resources, or goods from which he or she derives a special benefit. The user fee should be at an amount sufficient for the Federal Government to recover the full costs of providing the service, resource, or good (see OMB Circular A-25, sec. 6(a)(2)(a)).

    After reviewing the comments to the proposed rule, the Coast Guard is seeking comment on whether it should consider extending the period of validity and modifying the fee for renewal on endorsements on the COD.

    Request for Information

    Through this document, the Coast Guard asks for comments and information to consider in updating renewal of endorsements on COD processes and fees. Please consider the following questions when preparing comments:

    1. Would you prefer a multiyear renewal program with fees charged at the time of renewal, or would you prefer to continue annual renewals including an annual fee for service? Please explain why you prefer the renewal period and its fee payment schedule.

    2. Would you prefer having the option of choosing a multiyear or annual renewal each time you renew? Please explain why you prefer the option that you chose.

    If the only option for renewal is multiyear, how would you suggest the annual renewal is phased over to a multiyear renewal?

    3. Would you prefer a multiyear renewal program that requires payment every other year, or one that requires payment every 3 years? Please explain why you chose this option.

    4. What are the benefits of a multiyear renewal?

    5. Are there any negative impacts of a multiyear renewal?

    6. What, if any, concerns would you need to have addressed prior to selecting the multiyear renewal option?

    7. What are the impacts to mortgages from multiyear information verification and COD renewal? Will lenders require additional information from the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) to manage loans?

    8. What period of renewal is best for mortgage lenders?

    9. What other suggestions do you have for reducing the burden of obtaining a COD?

    This document is issued under authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a).

    Dated: February 18, 2015. J.C. Burton, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Director of Inspections and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-03651 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 [Docket No. 141219999-5133-01] RIN 0648-XD681 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To List the Tanzanian DPS of African Coelacanth as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    We, NMFS, have completed a comprehensive status review under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the African coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) in response to a petition to list that species. We have determined that, based on the best scientific and commercial data available, and after taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, L. chalumnae does not meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species when evaluated throughout all of its range. However, we determined that the Tanzanian population of the taxon represents a significant portion of the taxon's range, is threatened across that portion, and is a valid distinct population segment (DPS). Therefore, we propose to list the Tanzanian DPS of L. chalumnae as a threatened species under the ESA. We are not proposing to designate critical habitat for this DPS because the geographical areas occupied by the population are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and we have not identified any unoccupied areas that are essential to the conservation of the DPS. We are soliciting comments on our proposal to list the Tanzanian DPS of the coelacanth as threatened under the ESA.

    DATES:

    Comments on our proposed rule to list the coelacanth must be received by May 4, 2015. Public hearing requests must be made by April 17, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0024, by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0024. Click the “Comment Now” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Chelsey Young, NMFS Office of Protected Resources (F/PR3), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.

    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    You can obtain the petition, status review report, the proposed rule, and the list of references electronically on our NMFS Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/petition81.htm.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chelsey Young, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources (OPR), (301) 427-8491 or Marta Nammack, NMFS, OPR, (301) 427-8469.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On July 15, 2013, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians to list 81 marine species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This petition included species from many different taxonomic groups, and we prepared our 90-day findings in batches by taxonomic group. We found that the petitioned actions may be warranted for 27 of the 81 species and announced the initiation of status reviews for each of the 27 species (78 FR 63941, October 25, 2013; 78 FR 66675, November 6, 2013; 78 FR 69376, November 19, 2013; 79 FR 9880, February 21, 2014; and 79 FR 10104, February 24, 2014). This document addresses the findings for one of those 27 species: The African coelacanth L. chalumnae. Findings for seven additional species can be found at 79 FR 74853 (December 16, 2014). The remaining 19 species will be addressed in subsequent findings.

    We are responsible for determining whether species are threatened or endangered under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). To make this determination, we consider first whether a group of organisms constitutes a “species” under the ESA, then whether the status of the species qualifies it for listing as either threatened or endangered. Section 3 of the ESA defines a “species” to include “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” On February 7, 1996, NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS; together, the Services) adopted a policy describing what constitutes a distinct population segment (DPS) of a taxonomic species (the DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722). The DPS Policy identified two elements that must be considered when identifying a DPS: (1) The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of the species (or subspecies) to which it belongs; and (2) the significance of the population segment to the remainder of the species (or subspecies) to which it belongs. As stated in the DPS Policy, Congress expressed its expectation that the Services would exercise authority with regard to DPSs sparingly and only when the biological evidence indicates such action is warranted.

    Section 3 of the ESA defines an endangered species as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a threatened species as one “which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” We interpret an “endangered species” to be one that is presently in danger of extinction. A “threatened species,” on the other hand, is not presently in danger of extinction, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future (that is, at a later time). In other words, the primary statutory difference between a threatened and endangered species is the timing of when a species may be in danger of extinction, either presently (endangered) or in the foreseeable future (threatened).

    When we consider whether species might qualify as threatened under the ESA, we must consider the meaning of the term “foreseeable future.” It is appropriate to interpret “foreseeable future” as the horizon over which predictions about the conservation status of the species can be reasonably relied upon. The foreseeable future considers the life history of the species, habitat characteristics, availability of data, particular threats, ability to predict threats, and the reliability to forecast the effects of these threats and future events on the status of the species under consideration. Because a species may be susceptible to a variety of threats for which different data are available, or which operate across different time scales, the foreseeable future is not necessarily reducible to a particular number of years. Thus, in our determinations, we may describe the foreseeable future in general or qualitative terms.

    NMFS and the USFWS recently published a policy to clarify the interpretation of the phrase “significant portion of the range” (SPR) in the ESA definitions of “threatened” and “endangered” (76 FR 37577; July 01, 2014). The policy consists of the following four components:

    (1) If a species is found to be endangered or threatened in only an SPR, the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, and the ESA's protections apply across the species' entire range.

    (2) A portion of the range of a species is “significant” if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future.

    (3) The range of a species is considered to be the general geographical area within which that species can be found at the time USFWS or NMFS makes any particular status determination. This range includes those areas used throughout all or part of the species' life cycle, even if they are not used regularly (e.g., seasonal habitats). Lost historical range is relevant to the analysis of the status of the species, but it cannot constitute an SPR.

    (4) If a species is not endangered or threatened throughout all of its range but is endangered or threatened within an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies.

    We considered this policy in evaluating whether to list the coelacanth as endangered or threatened under the ESA.

    Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA requires us to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened due to any one or a combination of the following five threat factors: The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; disease or predation; the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)). We are also required to make listing determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data available, after conducting a review of the species' status and after taking into account efforts being made by any state or foreign nation to protect the species (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)).

    In making a listing determination, we first determine whether a petitioned species meets the ESA definition of a “species.” Next, using the best available information gathered during the status review for the species, we complete a status and extinction risk assessment across the range of the species. In assessing extinction risk, we consider the demographic viability factors developed by McElhany et al. (2000) and the risk matrix approach developed by Wainwright and Kope (1999) to organize and summarize extinction risk considerations. The approach of considering demographic risk factors to help frame the consideration of extinction risk has been used in many of our status reviews, including for Pacific salmonids, Pacific hake, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Puget Sound rockfishes, Pacific herring, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and black abalone (see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/ for links to these reviews). In this approach, the collective condition of individual populations is considered at the species level according to four demographic viability factors: Abundance, growth rate/productivity, spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity. These viability factors reflect concepts that are well-founded in conservation biology and that individually and collectively provide strong indicators of extinction risk.

    We then assess efforts being made to protect the species, to determine if these conservation efforts are adequate to mitigate the existing threats. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires the Secretary, when making a listing determination for a species, to take into consideration those efforts, if any, being made by any State or foreign nation to protect the species. We also evaluate conservation efforts that have not yet been fully implemented or shown to be effective using the criteria outlined in the joint NMFS/USFWS Policy for Evaluating Conservation Efforts (PECE; 68 FR 15100, March 28, 2003), to determine their certainty of implementation and effectiveness. The PECE is designed to ensure consistent and adequate evaluation of whether any conservation efforts that have been recently adopted or implemented, but not yet demonstrated to be effective, will result in improving the status of the species to the point at which listing is not warranted or contribute to forming the basis for listing a species as threatened rather than endangered. The two basic criteria established by the PECE are: (1) The certainty that the conservation efforts will be implemented; and (2) the certainty that the efforts will be effective. We consider these criteria, as applicable, below. We re-assess the extinction risk of the species in light of the existing conservation efforts.

    If we determine that a species warrants listing as threatened or endangered, we publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register and seek public comment on the proposed listing.

    Status Review

    We conducted a status review for the petitioned species addressed in this finding (Whittaker, 2014), which compiled information on the species' biology, ecology, life history, threats, and conservation status from information contained in the petition, our files, a comprehensive literature search, and consultation with experts. We also considered information submitted by the public in response to our petition finding. The draft status review report was also submitted to independent peer reviewers; comments and information received from peer reviewers were addressed and incorporated as appropriate before finalizing the draft report.

    The status review report provides a thorough discussion of demographic risks and threats to the particular species. We considered all identified threats, both individually and cumulatively, to determine whether the species should reasonably be expected to respond to the threats in a way that causes actual impacts at the species level. The collective condition of individual populations was also considered at the species level, according to the four demographic viability factors discussed above.

    The status review report is available on our Web site (see ADDRESSES section). The following section describes our analysis of the status of the African coelacanth, L. chalumnae.

    Species Description

    Latimeria chalumnae, a fish commonly known as the African coelacanth, belongs to a very old lineage of bony fish, the class Sarcopterygii or lobe-finned fishes, which includes the coelacanths, the lungfish, and very early tetrapods. Most species of lobe-finned fish are extinct. Among the lobe-finned fishes, L. chalumnae is one of only two living species belonging to the order Coelacanthiformes. The belief that the coelacanth had gone extinct over 65 million years ago made the discovery of a living specimen off the coast of South Africa in 1938 particularly sensational (McAllister, 1971). Latimeria chalumnae inhabits coasts along the western Indian Ocean, while Latimeria menadoensis, commonly known as the Indonesian coelacanth, observed for the first time in 1997, appears to be restricted to Indonesian waters, but might also occur along the coastal islands in the eastern Indian Ocean (Erdmann et al., 1998; Erdmann, 1999; Springer, 1999; Fricke et al., 2000b, Hissman pers. com.). Latimeria chalumnae and L. menadoensis are genetically and geographically distinct (Pouyaud et al., 1999; Holder et al., 1999; Inoue, 2005). While genetically distinct, the Indonesian and African coelacanth species exhibit overlapping morphological traits, which makes it difficult to differentiate between them based on morphology alone.

    The coelacanth has a number of unique morphological features. Most obvious are its stalked dorsal, pelvic, anal, and caudal fins. In the water, under camera observation, the body of the fish appears iridescent dark blue, but its natural color is brown (Hissman pers. com.); individuals have white blotches on their bodies that have been used for identification in the field. When individuals die, their color shifts from blue to brown. The name “coelacanth” comes from the Greek words for `hollow' and `spine,' referring to the fish's hollow oil-filled notochord, which supports the dorsal and ventral caudal fin rays (Balon et al., 1988). This notochord is composed of collagen which is stiffened under fluid pressure (Balon et al., 1988). Coelacanth species have a unique intracranial joint allowing them to simultaneously open the lower and upper jaws, possibly an adaptation for feeding (Balon et al., 1988). Coelacanths undergo osmoregulation via retention of urea (Griffith, 1991). Their swim bladder is filled with wax-esters used to passively regulate buoyancy, allowing the fish to reach depths of 700 meters during nightly feeding excursions (Hissmann et al., 2000). Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism in size, with females larger than males (Bruton et al., 1991b).

    The natural range of the African coelacanth L. chalumnae was once thought to be restricted to the Comoro Island Archipelago, located in the Western Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. For many years, specimens caught off South Africa, Mozambique, and Madagascar were thought to be strays from the Comoro population (Schliewen et al., 1993; Hissmann et al., 1998). However, between 1995 and 2001, catches and observations of coelacanths from the coasts of Kenya (De Vos et al., 2002), Tanzania (Benno et al., 2006), South Africa (Hissmann et al., 2006), and Madagascar (Heemstra et al., 1996) suggested that the species was more widespread than previously thought, occupying deep water coastal habitat in several locations throughout the Western Indian Ocean. The range extent of the coelacanth remains unclear, as direct observations of established populations rely on dedicated deep water canyon surveys, or bycatch observations from gillnets and artisanal handlines (Hissmann et al., 2006). Today, three established coelacanth populations have been confirmed by survey efforts, inhabiting deep-water caves off the coast of the Comoros, South Africa, and the coast of Tanzania.

    The coelacanth is known to inhabit waters deeper than 100m, making surveys difficult and reliant upon sophisticated technology including submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), or highly-trained divers using special gas mixtures. To date, the best data addressing coelacanth habitat use come from in situ observations of the fish off the steep volcanic coasts of Grand Comoro Island; two decades of coelacanth observation there demonstrate that the coelacanth inhabits deep submarine caves and canyons which are thought to provide shelter from predation and ocean currents (Fricke et al., 2011). The fish aggregate in these caves in groups of up to 10 individuals. Retreat into these caves after nightly feeding activity is most likely a key factor for coelacanth survival, allowing the fish to rest and conserve energy in a deep-water, low-prey environment (Fricke et al., 1991a). At night, coelacanths occupy deeper waters to actively feed, spending the majority of their time between 200 and 300 m (Fricke et al., 1994; Hissmann et al., 2000). Larger individuals are known to venture below 400 m, with the deepest observation at 698 m (Hissmann et al., 2000).

    South African coelacanth habitat has also been studied, although to a lesser extent than in the Comoro Islands (Venter et al., 2000; Hissmann et al., 2006; Roberts et al., 2006). In the deep canyons off the coast of South Africa, suitable coelacanth caves have been found at depths of 100-130 m, whereas at Grand Comoro Island, most caves are in depths of 180-230 m (Heemstra et al., 2006). In general, it is thought that the deep overhangs and caves found off the shelf of South Africa provide suitable shelter and refuge for coelacanths.

    Habitat off of Tanzania consists of rocky terraces occurring between 70-140 m depth; the water temperature at coelacanth catch depths is around 20 °C (Nyandwi, 2009). A large number (n = 19) of Tanzanian coelacanths have been caught in the outer reefs near the village of Tanga. In this region, some coelacanth catches have been reported to occur at 50-60 m; however, the validity of these reports is questionable (Benno et al., 2006; Nyandwi, 2009, Hissman pers. com.). These incidents may indicate a shallower depth preference for Tanzanian coelacanths than that exhibited by Comoran coelacanths; however, more surveys are needed to better understand coelacanth habitat use in this region (Benno et al., 2006). The benthic substrate off the coast of Tanzania is sedimentary limestone rather than the volcanic rock of the Comoros. In this habitat, coelacanths are thought to use submarine cavities and shelves that have eroded out of the limestone composite for shelter.

    Coelacanths demonstrate strong site fidelity with relatively large overlapping home ranges, greater than 8 km, as demonstrated at Comoro and South African sites where expeditions have tracked individual movements using ultrasonic transmitters (Fricke et al., 1994; Heemstra et al., 2006). Surveys off Grand Comoro over 21 years demonstrate that individual coelacanths may inhabit the same network of caves for decades; for example, 17 individuals originally identified in 1989 were re-sighted in 2008 in the same survey area (Fricke et al., 2011).

    Temperature use for the Comoran coelacanth, based on survey observations, was found to be between 16.5 and 22.8 °C (Fricke et al., 1991b). Surveys of South African coelacanth habitat off of Sodwana Bay confirm this temperature use across a broad portion of its range (Hissmann et al., 2006). This corresponds to estimates of thermal requirements based on the temperature-dependent oxygen saturation of their blood, with an optimum at 15 °C and an upper threshold at 22-23 °C (Hughes et al., 1972). Thus, the coelacanth depends on cooler waters to help maintain its oxygen demands. Most likely, the depth distribution of coelacanth depends partly on this temperature requirement. The coelacanth's ecological niche is likely shaped by this narrow temperature requirement, prey abundance, and the need for shelter and oxygen.

    It is thought that sedimentation and siltation act as a negative influence on coelacanth distribution. This is supported by a hypothesis surrounding the split between the two living coelacanth species estimated to have occurred 40-30 million years ago (Mya), corresponding with the collision between India and Eurasia (50 Mya), which created high levels of siltation and isolated individuals to the east and west of India (Inoue et al., 2005). This hypothesis has been supported by some surveys off Sodwana Bay where it was observed that some canyons, despite offering suitable habitat requirements, were not occupied by coelacanths; it was concluded that the turbidity of the water in these caves discouraged coelacanth habitation, as nearby canyons not affected by turbidity were occupied by coelacanths (Hissmann et al., 2006; Roberts et al., 2006).

    Coelacanths are considered ovoviviparous, meaning the embryos are provided a yolk sac and develop inside the adult female until they are delivered as live births; coelacanth embryos are not surrounded by a solid shell. Embryos remain in gestation for 3 years; this period of embryogenesis has been determined by scale rings of embryo and newborn coelacanth specimens (Froese et al., 2000). The coelacanth gestation period is considered the longest of any vertebrate (Froese et al., 2000). It has been hypothesized that the coelacanth may live upwards of 40 or 50 years, and even up to 100 years (Bruton et al., 1991a, Fricke et al., 2011, Hissman per. com.). Coelacanth generation times are long. In fact, they are expected to reach reproductive maturity between 16 and 19 years of age (Froese et al., 2000). Coelacanth fecundity is not well known; 26 embryos were found within one female caught in 2001 from off of Mozambique, and other known fecundities are 5, 19, and 23 pups (Fricke et al., 1992).

    Coelacanths are extremely slow drift-hunters. They descend at least 50 to 100 m below their daytime habitat to feed at night on the bottom or near-bottom, and are thought to consume deep-water prey, or prey found at the bottom of the ocean (Uyeno et al., 1991; Fricke et al., 1994). Stomach content analysis has revealed a variety of prey items including deepwater fishes ranging from cephalopods (including cuttlefish) to eels such as conger eels (Uyeno et al., 1991). The fish exhibits low-energy drift feeding behavior, which is thought to conserve energy and oxygen for the fish. Metabolic demands have been studied in the coelacanth, and demonstrate that they have one of the lowest resting metabolisms of all vertebrates (Hughes et al., 1972; Fricke et al., 2000a). The coelacanth's gill surface area is much smaller than other fishes of similar size; this morphological feature is a factor thought to heavily limit their growth rate and productivity due to its control over oxygen utilization (Froese et al., 2000). Studies of the fish's blood physiology have demonstrated that the oxygen dissociation curve is temperature dependent, and shows an affinity for oxygen at lower temperatures (15 °C). Small gill surface area and blood physiology are thought to influence the coelacanth's restriction to cold deep water habitat, and may correlate with their low metabolic rates, meager food consumption and generally slow growth and maturation (Froese et al., 2000).

    Population Abundance, Distribution, and Structure

    It was once thought that coelacanths were restricted to the Comoro Island Archipelago, and that individuals caught in other locations in the Western Indian Ocean were strays. However, growing evidence suggests that L. chalumnae consists of several established populations throughout the Western Indian Ocean (Schartl et al., 2005). Two resident and scientifically surveyed coelacanth populations exist in waters off South Africa and the Comoro Islands (Hissmann et al., 2006; Fricke et al., 2011). Increases in coelacanth catch off the coast of Tanzania during the last decade and genetic analysis of individuals caught there demonstrated that an established population exists there as well, as confirmed by the observance of 9 coelacanth individuals during a 2007 survey off the Tanzanian coast (Nikaido et al., 2011). Additional coelacanth catches have been recorded off Madagascar, Mozambique, and Kenya, but these regions have not yet been surveyed (Nulens et al., 2011) so their status is unclear. What is known of the coelacanth's distribution is largely based on bycatch data. Thus, the true number of established coelacanth populations, and the extent of the species' range across the Western Indian Ocean remain uncertain.

    Insufficient data exist to quantitatively estimate coelacanth population abundance or trends over time for the majority of its range. Population abundance estimates are greatly challenged by sampling and survey conditions wherein deep technical scuba or submersibles are necessary to reach and document the coelacanth in its natural habitat.

    Quantitative estimates of coelacanth abundance have been made only for the Comoro Islands. Coelacanth population abundance estimates for the western coastline of Grand Comoro were initially made in the late 1980s by Fricke et al. (1991a) and updated to include survey data from 1991 (Fricke et al., 1994). The survey area during this time covered 9 percent of the projected coelacanth habitat along the western coast of Grand Comoro (Hissmann et al., 1998). These estimates showed a relatively stable population ranging between 230-650 individuals (Fricke et al., 1994). Surveys conducted in 1994 across the southwestern coast of Grand Comoro (the same sample area as in earlier surveys) revealed a 68 percent decrease in cave inhabitants and a 32 percent decrease in the total number of coelacanths encountered as compared to a 1991 survey that covered the same area at the same time of year (Hissmann et al., 1998). Three additional surveys of the western coast of Grand Comoro occurred in the 2000s, and are summarized in Fricke et al. (2011). These survey methods and area were consistent with earlier surveys occurring in the late 1980s and 1990s. During surveys between 2000 and 2009, several marked individuals not sighted in 1994 re-appeared, and cave occupancy rates in these later surveys were similar to surveys of the early 1990s (Fricke et al., 2011). In total, nine dedicated coelacanth surveys have occurred in this area since 1986 (Fricke et al., 2011). Estimates of population abundance along the western coast of Grand Comoro, based on repeated surveys over almost 2 decades, are between 300 and 400 individuals, with 145 individuals identifiable via unique markings (Fricke et al., 2011). The 1994 survey showing population declines is thought to be an anomaly driven by higher water temperature, as later surveys demonstrate that the local population of western Grand Comoro has remained stable since the 1980s (Fricke et al., 2011). Some local Comoran fishermen have suggested that seasonal abundance patterns may exist for the coelacanth as they do for the locally-targeted oilfish, but there are insufficient data to address this phenomenon (Stobbs et al., 1991).

    Across the coelacanth's range, juveniles (<100 cm) are largely absent from survey and catch data, suggesting that earlier life stages may exhibit differences in distribution and habitat use (Fricke et al., 2011). Length at birth is assumed to be 40 cm (Bruton et al., 1991a). Size classes between 40 and 100 cm are largely absent from surveys of the Comoros, South Africa, and Tanzania; these smaller sizes are also absent from shallower water, suggesting that they inhabit deeper water than older individuals (Fricke et al., 2011). In general, the distribution and relative abundance of juveniles across the coelacanth's range remains unknown.

    Population estimates have not been conducted in other parts of the coelacanth's range, and it is possible that undiscovered populations exist across the Western Indian Ocean because coelacanths have been caught (in low numbers) off the coast of Madagascar, Kenya and Mozambique. Based on current understanding, coelacanth habitat and distribution is determined by the species' need for cool water and structurally complex caves and shelf overhangs for refuge. Using these requirements, Green et al. (2009) conducted a bathymetric survey using data coverage of the Western Indian Ocean in order to identify potential habitat for coelacanth populations, beyond occupied habitat already identified. The authors identified several locations off Mozambique and South Africa that met characteristics of coelacanth habitat. Lack of adequate data coverage for Tanzania and Madagascar precluded thorough analyses of these regions, so the authors did not rule out these locations as suitable coelacanth habitat. Although this bathymetric study did not lead to any additional surveys to confirm its findings, the analysis demonstrates the presence of suitable habitat throughout the Western Indian Ocean, and thus the potential for yet-undiscovered coelacanth populations. Based on the data presented, populations that have been surveyed appear to be stable with unknown abundance and trends elsewhere.

    Genetic data on coelacanth population structure are limited and known distribution of coelacanth populations is potentially biased by targeted survey efforts and fishery catch data. However, recent whole-genome sequencing and genetic data available for multiple coelacanth specimens can be used to cautiously infer some patterns of population structure and connectivity across the coelacanth's known range (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). Currently, whole-genome sequences exist for multiple individuals from Tanzania, the Comoros, and from the Indonesian coelacanth L. menadoensis.

    Significant genetic divergence at the species level has been demonstrated to exist between L. chalumnae and L. menadoensis (Inoue et al. 2005) as described above.

    Intraspecific population structure has been examined using L. chalumnae specimens from Tanzania, the Comoros, and southern Africa (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). These studies suggest that L. chalumnae comprises multiple independent populations distributed across the Western Indian Ocean. However, based on limited samples, the geographic patterns and relatedness among coelacanth populations are not well understood. Using mitochondrial DNA analyses, Nikaido et al. (2011) demonstrated that individuals from northern Tanzania differ from those from southern Tanzania and the Comoros. In fact, this study estimated that a northern Tanzanian population diverged from the rest of the species an estimated 200,000 years ago. Nikaido et al. (2011) hypothesized that differentiation of individuals from northern Tanzania may relate to divergence of currents in this region, where hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the potential for drifting migrants. More recent data reflecting a greater number of samples and higher-resolution population analyses do not support a genetic break between individuals from north and south Tanzania. Instead, this more robust population-genetics approach reveals significant divergence among individuals from South Africa, Tanzania, and two populations which diverged but are co-existing within the Comoros; the mechanism of divergence between the two co-existing populations of the Comoros remains unclear (Lampert et al., 2012). All studies are consistent in that they demonstrate low absolute divergence among populations, which either relates to extremely low evolutionary rates in L. chalumnae, or recent divergence of populations after going through a bottleneck (such as a founding effect) (Lampert et al., 2012). Information derived from unique sequences of mitochondrial DNA support the Comoros as an ancestral population to other populations distributed throughout the Western Indian Ocean, because this population appears to have a greater number of ancestral haplotypes (Nikaido et al., 2011).

    All coelacanth populations demonstrate the common characteristic of low diversity, but the Comoros population is the least diverse (Nikaido et al., 2011, Nikaido et al., 2013). Genetic evidence for inbreeding has been observed in investigations of coelacanth mitochondrial DNA and DNA fingerprinting, where high band-sharing coefficients showed significant inbreeding effects (Schartl et al., 2005). The species L. chalumnae exhibits significantly lower levels of genetic divergence than its sister species L. menadoensis (Nikaido et al., 2013). Because rates of molecular substitution and evolution are thought to be similar for these two species, the significantly lower diversity measures for L. chalumnae points to smaller populations (as compared to L. menadoensis) or the occurrence of repeated genetic bottlenecks, rather than slow evolution rate alone (Inoue et al., 2005, Nikaido et al., 2013). Low diversity within populations and evidence for inbreeding suggest that populations are independent and small.

    While population structure is not clearly resolved across the region, available genetic data suggest the following: (1) Oceanographic and environmental conditions may cause uneven gene flow among coelacanth populations across the region; (2) populations across the Western Indian Ocean are independent, and do not represent strays from the Comoros, or a panmictic population (or a population in which all individuals are potential mates); (3) Evolutionary rates of coelacanths are extremely slow, and lower diversity in L. chalumnae as compared with L. menadoensis points to smaller population sizes and/or genetic bottleneck effects.

    Summary of Factors Affecting the African Coelacanth

    Available information regarding current, historical, and potential threats to the coelacanth was thoroughly reviewed (Whittaker, 2014). Across the species' range, we found the threats to the species to be generally low, with isolated threats of overutilization through bycatch and habitat loss in portions of its range. Other possible threats include climate change, overutilization via the curio trade, and habitat degradation in the form of pollution; however, across the species' full range we classify these threats as low. We summarize information regarding each of these threats below according to the factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA. Available information does not indicate that neither disease nor predation is operative threats on this species; therefore, we do not discuss those further here. See Whittaker (2014) for additional discussion of all ESA section 4(a)(1) threat categories.

    The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    There is no evidence curtailment of the historical range of L. chalumnae has occurred throughout its evolutionary history, either due to human interactions or natural forces. Genetic data and geological history suggest that the split between L. chalumnae and its Indonesian sister species L. menadoensis occurred 40-30 Mya, and that the genus was previously distributed throughout the coasts of Africa and Eurasia (Springer, 1999; Inoue et al., 2005). However, no data are available to inform an understanding of historical changes in the range of the species L. chalumnae. Although the order Coelacanthiformes was deemed to have become extinct 65 million years before the 1938 discovery in South Africa, this surprising encounter cannot be used as evidence for a curtailment of the species' range from historical levels given lack of any historical data on the species prior to its discovery. The species is naturally hidden from human observation, and therefore, highly technical diving, deep water survey equipment, or unique fishing techniques (such as hand lines) are required to reach the fish's cavernous, structurally complex, and deep habitat; thus, the contemporary and historical extent of its range remains unclear.

    Due to its occurrence in deep water (>100 meters), the coelacanth may be particularly buffered from human disturbance (Heemstra et al., 2006). Nonetheless, increases in human population and development along the coastline of the Western Indian Ocean could impart long-term effects on the fish throughout its range. World human population forecasts predict that the largest percentage increase by 2050 will be in Africa, where the population is expected to at least double to 2.1 billion (Kincaid, 2010). The result of increased population density on coastal ecosystems of East Africa may include increased pollution and siltation, which may impact the coelacanth despite its use of a deep and relatively stable environment.

    Human population growth will likely lead to increases in agricultural production, industrial development, and water use along the coast of the Western Indian Ocean; these land use changes may increase near shore sedimentation, possibly affecting coelacanth habitat. As described earlier, sedimentation is theorized to negatively impact coelacanth distribution (Springer, 1999). The coelacanth has been shown to avoid caves with turbid water, even if other preferred conditions of shelter and food are present (Hissmann et al., 2006). Many East African countries are still developing, and the population is growing. Increased food demand may lead to changes in land and water use, and an increase in agriculture and thus run-off and siltation to the coast. It is possible that, if increases in siltation occur, coelacanth habitat may be affected, and range reduced. However, the nature of these economic and land use changes, as well as their direct effect on sedimentation and subsequent impact on coelacanth habitat, remain highly uncertain.

    Pollution of coastal African waters does not currently pose a direct threat to the coelacanth. A review of heavy metals in aquatic ecosystems of Africa showed generally low concentrations, close to background levels, and much lower than more industrial regions of the world (Biney et al., 1994). Yet, surprisingly, a toxicological study of two coelacanth specimens detected lipophilic organochlorine pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) (Hale et al., 1991). Levels ranged from 89 to 510 pg kg l for PCB and 210 to 840 pg kg l for DDT concentration, and were highest in lipid-rich tissues such as the swim bladder and liver (Hale et al., 1991). The coelacanth has high lipid content, and its trophic position may increase the probability of toxic bioaccumulation. Insufficient data are available to determine the impact of these toxins on coelacanth health and productivity.

    Direct habitat destruction is likely to impact coelacanths off the coast of Tanga, Tanzania. Plans are in place to build a new deep-sea port in Mwambani Bay, 8 km south of the original Tanga Port. The construction of the Mwambani port is part of a large project to develop an alternative sea route for Uganda and other land-locked countries that have been depending on the port of Mombasa. Development of the port would include submarine blasting and channel dredging and destruction of known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands—the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth catches (Hamlin, 2014). The new port is scheduled to be built in the middle of a newly-implemented Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. The plans for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea port construction appear to be ongoing, despite conservation concerns. If built, the port would likely disrupt coelacanth habitat by direct elimination of deep-water shelters, or by a large influx of siltation that would likely result in coelacanth displacement.

    Habitat destruction in the form of nearshore dynamite fishing on coral reefs may indirectly impact the coelacanth due to a reduction in prey availability, but these impacts are highly uncertain. As a restricted shallow-water activity, this destructive fishing would not impact the coelacanth's deep (+100 m) habitat directly. However, coral reefs in this region provide essential fish nursery habitat and are hot spots for biodiversity (Salm, 1983). Loss of nearshore coral habitat may negatively impact pelagic fish species due to loss of nursery habitat; it is highly uncertain how these impacts may affect the prey availability for the coelacanth. Dynamite fishing in the Comoros was observed recently by researchers (Fricke et al., 2011). While this method is not widespread throughout the Comoros, reduction in the sustainability of nearshore or pelagic fish populations may encourage fishermen to increase use of these new methods. Dynamite fishing in Tanzania is widespread, and has led to destruction of nearshore coral reefs and disruption of essential fish habitat (Wells, 2009). Destructive fishing practices occur throughout coral reefs along the coast of the Western Indian Ocean (Salm, 1983). The true extent to which the destruction of near shore coral habitat may affect the coelacanth remains uncertain, especially as the fish is thought to consume primarily deep-water prey (Uyeno, 1991; Uyeno et al., 1991).

    Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes Bycatch

    Since its discovery in 1938, all known coelacanth catches are considered to have been the result of bycatch. Particularly in the Comoro Islands, where the highest number of coelacanth catches has occurred, researchers have found no evidence of a targeted coelacanth fishery given that methods do not exist to directly catch the deep-dwelling fish (Bruton et al., 1991c). The coelacanth meat is undesirable, and thus the fish is not consumed by humans (Fricke, 1998).

    Out of 294 coelacanth catches since its 1939 discovery, the majority of catches (n = 215 as of 2011) have been a result of bycatch in the oilfish, or Revettus, artisanal fishery occurring only in the Comoro Island archipelago (Stobbs et al. 1991; Nulens et al. 2011). The Comoros oilfish fishery uses unmotorized outrigger canoes (locally called galawas). The fish are caught using handlines and hooks close to shore at depths as great as 800m (Stobbs et al., 1991). This traditional fishery is known locally as mazé fishing, and coelacanth catches have only occurred on Grand Comoro and Anjouan Islands (Stobbs et al., 1991). Oilfish are traditionally caught at night, an act considered locally to be very dangerous (Stobbs et al., 1991). Often, this artisanal fishing is performed only on dark moonless calm nights. In general, subsistence fishing in the region is limited by weather conditions, and often disrupted by monsoon or tropical storms. This fishery is also limited by a tradition of social pressure which restricts fishing to offshore waters adjacent to each fisherman's village (Stobbs et al., 1991).

    Since its discovery in the Comoros (in 1938), coelacanth catch rate has been very low, between 2-4 individuals per year. Coelacanth catch rate in the Comoros shows no significant trend over time; however, it has fluctuated historically with changes in fishing technology and shifts in the ratio between artisanal and more modern pelagic fishing methods (Stobbs et al., 1991; Plante et al., 1998). From a broader temporal perspective, there was an increasing but insignificant change in coelacanth catch from the Comoros from 1954 to 1995 (Plante et al., 1998). However, between 1995 and 2008, the number of galawas in the Comoros has declined steadily, corresponding with a steady increase in motorized boats (Fricke et al., 2011). The most recent update of coelacanth catch inventory indicates that catch rates in the Comoro archipelago have declined and stabilized over the past decade (Nulens et al., 2011). In fact, between 2000 and 2008, catch rates were the lowest ever observed, likely due to the increase in motorized boats and decreased artisanal handline fishing over the past decade (Fricke et al., 2011). Today, mazé fishing is going out of favor in the Comoros (Plante et al., 1998; Fricke et al., 2011); this trend is expected to continue into the future, and reduces fishing pressure on the coelacanth in this region, most likely explaining the reduction in coelacanth catch over the past decade (Stobbs et al., 1991; Plante et al., 1998; Fricke et al., 2011; Nulens et al., 2011). Fishing mortality has been determined to be negligible in the Comoros population, likely relating to its population stability over time (Bruton et al., 1991a; Fricke et al., 2011).

    Outside of the Comoros, coelacanths have been caught in Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, and South Africa (Nulens et al., 2011). Historically, far fewer coelacanth catches have occurred outside of the Comoros Islands. However, over the past decade, the trend in coelacanth catches shows a drastic increase in catch rate off Tanzania via shark gillnets (Fricke et al., 2011; Nulens et al., 2011). Hand line mazé fisheries are absent outside of the Comoros, thus catches across the rest of the Western Indian Ocean have occurred using different gear—deep-set shark gillnets and trawls. Trawls have been the mechanism for only 3 total coelacanth catches; minimal catch through trawling is thought to relate to the coelacanth's preferred rocky steep cavernous habitat, substrate not suitable for trawling activity (Benno et al., 2006). The first confirmed coelacanth catches using shark gillnets occurred in Madagascar in 1995 and in Tanzania in 2003, although a few earlier unconfirmed catches in these locations may have occurred as early as 1953 (Benno et al., 2006). The first Tanzanian catch in 2003 followed the introduction of shark gillnets in the region in 2001 (Benno et al., 2006). As of September 2003, the capture of coelacanths has been dominated by those caught in Tanzania (Nulens et al., 2011). Since the first 2003 catch in Tanzania, over 60 catches via deep water gillnets have been reported, with over 12 fish caught/year between 2003 and 2008 (Benno et al., 2006; Nulens et al., 2011). These shark gillnets are set at depths between 50 and 150m, and it is thought that accidental coelacanth catches in Tanzania occur when coelacanths leave their caves for nighttime hunting (Nyandwi, 2009).

    Expansion of the shark gillnet fishery across the Western Indian Ocean may result in increased bycatch of the coelacanth, as has been observed off the coast of Tanzania, but the potential for such an increase is uncertain. Available information suggests that shark fishing effort has been increasing off the coast of east Africa, including the coelacanth range countries of Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, and South Africa (Smale, 2008). Techniques for catching sharks in this region include deep-set shark gillnets, such as those responsible for the commencement of coelacanth bycatch in Tanzania in 2003 (Nulins et al., 2011). Shark gillnet fishing is used in other East African countries, such as Mozambique, where these fisheries are highly profitable, and are driven by the demand for fin exports, with evidence for frequent illegal export occurring (Pierce et al., 2008). Despite the use of gillnet fishing practices elsewhere in East Africa, other areas have not shown a similar spike in coelacanth bycatch as has been observed in Tanzania. Quantification of effort from the shark gill net fishery in South Africa has been challenging due to high levels of illegal or unreported fishing occurring; for example, as little as 21 percent of the actual catch for shark gillnet and seine fisheries may be reported in South Africa (Hutchings et al., 2002). Nonetheless, shark fisheries in this region are thought to be overexploited, which may lead to an increase in future effort due to sustained global demand (Hutchings et al., 2002). It is reasonable to conclude that the use of shark gillnets will continue or increase in Tanzania and will continue to expand throughout the Western Indian Ocean; however, whether this trend will result in an increased threat of coelacanth bycatch is uncertain, especially given the uncertainty over the fish's range and habitat use throughout the coast of East Africa.

    Commercial Interest

    The coelacanth is not desirable commercially as a traditional food source or for artisanal handicrafts. Targeted methods of fishing the coelacanth have never been developed, and local cultures do not value the coelacanth commercially or for subsistence purposes (Fricke, 1998).

    In the Comoros, the coelacanth has become a source of pride and national heritage (Fricke, 1998). However, cultural interest in the coelacanth does not put the fish at risk, and on the contrary, may encourage its conservation. Commercial interest through tourism to the coelacanth's habitat is not a realistic threat either, as the deepwater habitat is largely inaccessible. In the 1980s there was a rumor that Japanese scientists were attempting to develop a new anti-aging serum using the coelacanth notochord oil. Although these claims made international headlines, the rumor has since been rejected. As Fricke pointed out (Fricke, 1998), the unsubstantiated rumor of the `fountain of youth' serum had an unexpected result of stirring publicity and conservation interest in the fish. Interest in the coelacanth notochord oil for medicinal purposes does not pose a threat to the species, as claims of its life extending properties are unsubstantiated.

    Interest in coelacanth specimens on the black market is a possible threat to the species. The concern mostly surrounds a curio trade rather than a potential aquarium trade. Because the fish is deep-water dependent, it survives for only a short period of time at the surface, and thus far, is not maintained in aquariums. Several attempts have been made to keep the coelacanth alive in captivity, but these attempts have demonstrated that the deep water fish is fragile and that it has been shown to survive at the surface for less than 10 hours (Hughes et al., 1972); the cause of death is thought to be a combination of capture stress and overheating resulting in asphyxiation. Comment threads found on the popular Web site Monster Fish Keepers, a forum for private aquarium and fish hobbyists, reveal widespread knowledge of the coelacanth's fragility; these hobbyists express general understanding that the coelacanth's life can be sustained at surface depth no longer than a few hours (Hamlin, 1992; Monsterfish, 2007). Thus, black market trade of the coelacanth for private aquaria is not a realistic threat. However, the black-market curio trade may be a source of exploitation. The same fish hobbyist forums reveal general interest in the fish as a curio specimen, and willingness to pay large sums relative to the typical Comoran income for a dead specimen (Monsterfish, 2009). Thus, black market curio trade may provide an economic incentive for capture of the fish. However, we did not find data suggesting that a black market curio trade is currently active.

    Scientific Interest

    Since discovery of the species in 1938, international scientists and researchers have cherished the coelacanth as the only representative of an important evolutionary branch in the tree of life. This has led to a long history of surveys to better understand the fish's ecology, habitat, distribution, and evolution. A tissue library from bycaught specimens is maintained at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, which provides the opportunity for scientific use of samples derived from these accidental coelacanth catches (Fricke, 1998). Coelacanth specimens have been used by more than 30 laboratories. In earlier years of coelacanth research, a reward of US$300-400 was offered to fishermen for each coelacanth caught (Fricke, 1998). However, those rewards have not been offered for decades. Prior to strict regulations on coelacanth trade, the global museum trade offered between US$400 and US$2000 for each specimen caught. Today, trade of the coelacanth is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) because the coelacanth is listed as an Appendix I species; however, some transfer of specimens for scientific study is permitted. We did not find any evidence that targeted coelacanth catch for scientific purposes is occurring. Thus, the demand for specimens for scientific research is not considered a threat.

    In the future, scientific interest and study may be used as a basis for the public display of the coelacanth. The public display of the fish would be of high commercial value, and efforts to keep the coelacanth in captivity have already been made. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, American and Japanese aquariums attempted to directly capture and bring the coelacanth into captivity (Suzuki et al., 1985; Hamlin, 1992). These attempts were not successful; it was determined that coelacanth cannot be directly caught, and that they only survive for a few hours outside of their deep water environments (Hamlin, 1992). In the future, larger aquariums may pursue the use of pressurized tanks to keep the coelacanth alive in captivity, but their success is uncertain given the challenge of transporting a fish from its native habitat, and then maintaining it in an aquarium environment.

    Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Their Continued Existence Climate Change

    Coelacanth habitat preference and distribution is dictated by specialized requirements for appropriate shelter (caves, caverns, and shelves), prey availability, and a combination of depth and temperature that meets the fish's need for oxygen (relating to optimal blood saturation at 15 °C) (Hughes, 1972). Evidence from coelacanth habitation in South Africa is particularly useful in demonstrating the trade-offs among these important characteristics: There, coelacanths occupy depths of 100-140 m. The optimal temperature for the uptake of oxygen (15 °C) occurs at lower depths of 200 m, where fewer caves exist. It is thought that the occupation of shallower depths is a trade-off between the need for shelter and optimal oxygen uptake; increases in oceanic temperature as is expected in connection with climate change may disrupt the tight balance between coelacanths' metabolic needs and the need for refuge (Roberts et al., 2006).

    Across the globe, ocean temperature is increasing at an accelerated rate (IPCC, 2013). The extent of this warming is reaching deeper and deeper waters (Abraham et al. 2013). Increase of global mean surface temperatures for 2081-2100 relative to 1986-2005 is projected to likely be in the ranges derived from the concentration-driven CMIP5 model simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that is, 0.3 °C to 1.7 °C (RCP2.6), 1.1 °C to 2.6 °C (RCP4.5), 1.4 °C to 3.1 °C (RCP6.0), or 2.6 °C to 4.8 °C (RCP8.5) (IPCC, 2013). While these predictions relate to surface ocean temperatures, evidence from deep-water ocean measurements and models suggest that heat flux to the deep ocean has accelerated over the last decade (Abraham et al., 2013). If deep-water warming continues to keep pace with (or exceed the pace of) surface warming, even the most conservative IPCC scenarios may mean a warming of current coelacanth habitat.

    The coelacanth is typically observed at 15-20 °C, with upper thermal preferences of 22-23 °C (Hughes et al., 1972). The effect of these thermal boundaries on the coelacanth's distribution has been demonstrated by a 1994 survey of the Comoro Islands, which revealed a 68 percent decrease in cave inhabitants and a 32 percent decrease in the total number of coelacanths encountered as compared to a 1991 survey (Hissmann et al., 1998). Temperature is thought to have directly led to this decline in coelacanth observations; in 1994, temperature of the survey region was 25.1 °C, the warmest ever recorded by researchers there (Hissmann et al., 1998). However, it is important to note that individually-identifiable coelacanths had returned to their previous habitat in subsequent surveys (Fricke et al., 2011); this suggests that the warm conditions in 1994 led to a displacement of coelacanth habitat, but did not lead to extirpation of that population, or a reduction in the population abundance. This information suggests that warming may impact coelacanth distribution, but there may be suitable habitat to accommodate a displacement of populations, where warming may not lead to decreases in population sizes or extirpation of populations. Despite deep water warming that has occurred over the last decade, the surveyed coelacanth population in the Comoros is described as stable, and not declining (Fricke et al., 2011).

    Based on the majority of climate model predictions, it is likely that current coelacanth habitat will reach temperatures exceeding the fish's thermal preferences by 2100 (IPCC, 2013). It is unlikely that the low-diversity fish with long generation times will physiologically adapt to withstand the metabolic stress of a warming ocean. However, the fish may be able to move to suitable habitat outside of its current range, thus adapting its range to avoid the warming deep water conditions. If the fish is displaced based on its need for cooler waters, but complex cave shelters are not available, local extirpation or range restriction may occur. However, currently, these impacts and responses are highly uncertain. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that a warming ocean may impact the fish's distribution, but the impact of warming on the future viability of the species is uncertain. Due to the coelacanth's temperature-dependent oxygen demand, coupled with a highly specific need for deep structurally complex cave shelter, warming oceanic waters may pose a threat to the coelacanth and displacement of populations, but the impact of this threat on the future viability of the species is highly uncertain, and climate change threats have not been clearly or mechanistically linked to any decline in coelacanth populations.

    Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    CITES Appendix I regulates trade in species in order to reduce the threat international trade poses to those species. The coelacanth is included in CITES-Appendix I. Appendix I addresses those species deemed threatened with extinction by international trade. CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, meets criteria for other types of permits, and can otherwise be legally done without affecting the sustainability of the population, for instance, for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate). We found no evidence of illegal trade of the coelacanth. Trade is limited to the transfer of specimens for scientific purposes. There is no evidence that CITES regulations are inadequate to address known threats such that they are contributing to the extinction risk of the species.

    The coelacanth is also listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List. The IUCN is not a regulatory body, and thus the critically endangered listing does not impart any regulatory authority to conserve the species.

    The threat to the coelacanth stemming from anthropogenic climate change includes elevated ocean temperature reaching its deep-water habitat and resulting in decreased fitness or relocation of populations based on elimination of suitable habitat, which may become restricted due to the tight interaction between the coelacanth's thermal requirements and need for highly complex cave shelter and prey. Impacts of climate change on the marine environment are already being observed in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere (Hoerling et al., 2004; Melillo et al., 2014) and the most recent IPCC assessment provides a high degree of certainty that human sources of greenhouse gases are contributing to global climate change (IPCC, 2013). Countries have responded to climate change through various international and national mechanisms, including the Kyoto Protocol of 2007. Because climate change-related threats have not been clearly or mechanistically linked to decline of coelacanths, the adequacy of existing or developing measures to control climate change threats is not possible to fully assess, nor are sufficient data available to determine what regulatory measures would be needed to adequately protect this species from the effects of climate change. While it is not possible to conclude that the current efforts have been inadequate such that they have contributed to the decline of this species, we consider it likely that coelacanth will be negatively impacted by climate change given the predictions of widespread ocean warming (IPCC, 2013).

    Extinction Risk

    In general, demographic characteristics of the coelacanth make it particularly vulnerable to exploitation. While coelacanth abundance across its entire range is not well understood, it is likely that population sizes across the Western Indian Ocean are small, as described in Whittaker (2014). The likelihood of low abundance makes coelacanth populations more vulnerable to extinction by elevating the impact of stochastic events or chronic threats resulting in coelacanth mortality. Their growth rate and productivity is extremely limited. The coelacanth has one of the slowest metabolisms of any vertebrate, and this relates to their meager demand for food, slow swim speed and passive foraging, need for refuge to rest, and small gill surface area which limits their absorption of oxygen. In addition, their gestation period is longer than any vertebrate (3 years), although their fecundity is moderate. They are long-lived species, with long generation times. The extremely long gestation period and late maturity makes the coelacanth particularly vulnerable to external threats such as bycatch, possibly impeding recovery from mortality events (Froese et al., 2000). Genetic data suggest that the coelacanth comprises independent and isolated populations, originating in the Comoros, but fully established around the Western Indian Ocean. The small and isolated nature of coelacanth populations, only three of which are confirmed to exist, increases vulnerability by preventing their replacement and recovery from external threats and mortality events, and increases the potential for local extirpations. Finally, the species exhibits extremely low levels of diversity (Schartl et al., 2005). Low levels of diversity reflect low adaptive and evolutionary potential, making the coelacanth particularly vulnerable to environmental change and episodic events. These events may reduce diversity further, and result in a significant change or loss of variation in life history characteristics (such as reproductive fitness and fecundity), morphology, behavior, or other adaptive characteristics. Due to their low diversity, coelacanth populations may be at an increased risk of random genetic drift and could experience the fixing of recessive detrimental genes that could further contribute to the species' extinction risk (Musick, 2011).

    While demographic factors increase the coelacanth's vulnerability, the status review classified the risk of threats across its range as low or very low (Whittaker, 2014). We found that, in general, the coelacanth is largely buffered from habitat impacts due to its occurrence in deep water. Thus, the threats of dynamite fishing, pollution, land-use changes, and sedimentation are considered low-risk. The direct loss of coelacanth habitat may occur if the deep port of Mwambami Bay is developed off the coast of Tanzania. However, whether plans to build this port will come to fruition remains uncertain, and the effects will impact a small portion of the coelacanth's range. The threat of port development does not represent a widespread threat to the species, and the port of Mwambami Bay is the only large coastal development project (that we found) that would directly impact the fish.

    As for impacts from overutilization, bycatch has historically been thought to pose the greatest threat to the coelacanth, but survey data show there is no observed link between coelacanth bycatch and population decline. A decade ago, the Comoros oilfish fishery was responsible for the highest rate of coelacanth bycatch. Historically, the Comoran fishery was responsible for catch rates of about 3 fish per year, and is not thought to have contributed to declines in population abundance. While the Comoran oilfish fishery has seen recent declines in effort and has never contributed to population decline of the coelacanth, a greater threat of bycatch has emerged in Tanzania over the last decade. As evidenced by high rates of coelacanth bycatch via the shark gillnet fishery, which began in 2001 in Tanzania, this fishing method has the potential to impact the coelacanth. Since 2003 in Tanzania, coelacanth catch rates have been more than 3 times greater than ever observed in the Comoros, at over 10 fish per year. It is unclear whether this catch rate is unsustainable due to limited information on trends and abundance of the Tanzanian population. While traditional Comoran handline fishing is no longer the most pressing bycatch threat to the fish, data suggest that the expansion of a shark gill net fishery throughout the Western Indian Ocean could result in additional coelacanth bycatch. The reduction of sustainable fisheries throughout the east African and South African coastline may encourage shifts to alternative fishing methods, such as gillnets, or trawling closer to shore, both of which could increase the probability of coelacanth bycatch. Bycatch in Tanzania is an ongoing threat, and potential for additional coelacanth bycatch across the fish's range poses a potential but uncertain threat to the fish's persistence into the foreseeable future. Coelacanth population abundance in Tanzania, and whether current bycatch rates are sustainable, is unknown. Thus, the risk of bycatch across the species' entire range is generally low. There is no real indication that overutilization for scientific purposes, public display, or the curio trade is occurring; thus we do not consider these factors as contributing a risk to the future persistence of the species across its range.

    Because threats are low across the species' range, we have no reason to consider regulatory measures inadequate in protecting the species.

    Regarding other natural or manmade factors, the threat of climate change via ocean warming may work synergistically to enhance all other threats to the coelacanth across its range, but the nature of these impacts is highly uncertain as described in Whittaker (2014). The extent of this impact on the coelacanth remains uncertain, and there has been no clear or mechanistic link between climate change or temperature warming and coelacanth population declines. Thus, the threat of climate change poses a low risk to the coelacanth.

    Overall, the fish's demographic factors make it particularly vulnerable to ongoing and future threats, but existing threats pose a generally low risk. Thus, we find that the coelacanth is at a low risk of extinction due to current and projected threats to the species.

    Protective Efforts

    Since its discovery, much debate has surrounded the need to conserve the coelacanth, as an evolutionary relic and for its value to science. The long history of this debate was summarized by Bruton (1991). The international organization the Coelacanth Conservation Council (CCC) has been the primary body advocating for coelacanth conservation over the years since 1987.

    The CCC has its headquarters in Moroni, Comoros, and the Secretariat is currently in Grahamstown, South Africa with branches in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Japan. The CCC has set forth general objectives of promoting coelacanth research and conservation, along with establishing an international registry of coelacanth researchers and the compilation of a coelacanth inventory and bibliography, which were published for the first time in 1991 and recently updated in 2011 (Bruton et al., 1991b; Nulens et al., 2011).

    Several conservation initiatives were implemented in the Comoros in the 1990s to reduce coelacanth bycatch. For instance, fishing aggregation devices were installed to encourage pelagic fishing and reduce pressure on the coelacanth from nearshore handline fishing. During this time, the use of motorized boats was encouraged for the same purpose, in order to direct fishing off-shore and reduce the use of artisanal handlines. Initially, there were some challenges, including lack of infrastructure preventing the repair of motors. However, the fishing trend today in the Comoros shows a clear shift to motorized pelagic fishing, and reduced interest in traditional handline fishing; this trend is occurring due to a natural shift in social perspectives and local economic trends.

    A supporter of coelacanth conservation and member of the U.S. Explorer Club, Jerome Hamlin, author and curator of the Web site DINOFISH.com, has encouraged the use of a `Deep Release Kit' for coelacanth conservation when bycaught. The Deep Release Kit was created in response to the `Save the Coelacanth Contest' sponsored by DINOFISH.com (Hamlin, 2014). The kit consists of a barbless hook attached to a sack. The fisherman puts some of his sinker stones in the sack, places the hook in the lower jaw of the fish he has just caught with the shank pointing down to the sack, and releases the fish to the bottom where it frees itself. The purpose of the Deep Release procedure is to get the fish quickly to the cold bottom water with no further exertion on its part. A surface release (in theory) leaves the fish without the strength to get back down to depth. Hundreds of these devices have been distributed in the Comoros and Tanzania. These kits are some of the only direct coelacanth conservation measures in the Comoros or Tanzania. Yet, it is unclear whether these have been used at sea, their success is unproven, and it is unknown whether the method has been adopted by local fishermen.

    Ongoing scientific research on the coelacanth may play a role in coelacanth conservation, as management of the species can improve with a more complete understanding of its biology and natural history. In 2002, South Africa instituted its African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme, which has coordinated an extensive array of research including bathymetric surveys, taxonomic studies, and observational expeditions. This program is funded by the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank and it is in its third phase, taking an ecosystem-based approach to understanding coelacanth distribution and habitat utilization across the Western Indian Ocean, and providing deep-water research tools and resources for this research.

    Local efforts for marine conservation exist in the Comoros. For example, the Mohéli Marine Park takes a co-management approach to stop some destructive fishing and conserve marine habitat using a series of no-take reserves. The park encompasses 212 km2, and was set up during a 5-year biodiversity conservation project which began in 1998, funded by the World Bank's Global Environment Facility; the goals of the project were to address the loss of biodiversity in Comoros and develop local capacity for natural resource management (Granek et al., 2005). However, no alternative revenue-generating activities have been provided, making life difficult for some fishermen. The World Bank's Global Environment Facility biodiversity management project in the Park ended in 2003, and there has been no source of additional financing to continue the resource co-management. The Moheli Park has brought together some key institutions to encourage sustainable management and monitoring of marine habitat of the Comoros; however, specific laws have not been enacted, and existing legislation has not been enforced (Ahamada et al., 2002). No coelacanths have ever been caught off the island of Moheli, so the park's impact on bycatch of the species is not applicable.

    Other conservation efforts in the form of marine parks distributed throughout the Western Indian Ocean may benefit the coelacanth by reducing habitat destruction and improving prey availability; however, the direct impacts of these conservation efforts on the species is difficult to evaluate. Efforts to improve marine resource management and conservation in developing nations of east Africa have increased in the past decade. Today, 8.7 percent of the continental shelf in Kenya, 8.1 percent in Tanzania, and 4.0 percent in Mozambique have been designated as marine protected areas (Wells et al., 2007). Many of these parks intersect with known coelacanth habitat, or are in range countries where coelacanths have been caught and potential populations exist. However, in many areas, ongoing socioeconomic challenges have precluded effective management of these regions (Francis et al., 2002). Analysis of east African Marine Protected Area (MPA) management has demonstrated that socio-economic barriers make it more difficult to reach conservation goals (Tobey et al., 2006). Because of this, much effort has gone into creating community-based conservation planning in recent years (e.g., Harrison (2010)). Management constraints still remain. First, there are large gaps in ecosystem knowledge surrounding these marine parks; for instance, many vital habitats and species are not yet fully represented by MPAs in place today (Wells et al., 2007). Next, monitoring is not widely implemented and data are not available to determine whether biodiversity or socio-economic goals are being met (Wells et al., 2007).

    A new marine park in Tanga, Tanzania has been put in place, and was prompted by increases in coelacanth catch in the region. The Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park is located on the northern coastline of Tanzania, extending north of the Pangani River estuary 100 km along the coastline towards Mafuriko village just north of Tanga city. The park covers an area of 552 km2, of which 85 km2 are terrestrial and 467 km2 are marine. The plans for the park were announced in 2009, and a general management plan published in 2011 (Parks; MPRU, 2011). The goal of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park is to conserve marine biodiversity, resource abundance, and ecosystem functions of the Park, including the coelacanth and its habitat; and enable sustainable livelihoods and full participation of local community users and other key stakeholders. The plans for the park, specific to the coelacanth, are to restrict fishing within its boundaries, including fishing with deep-set shark gillnets, the primary source of coelacanth bycatch in the area. Additional restrictions against destructive fishing and development practices have been set forth in the park's 2011 general management plan (MPRU, 2011). Partnership and guidance from the IUCN has encouraged plans for community-based and adaptive park management (Harrison, 2010).

    Applying the considerations mandated by our PECE policy, we determine that the implementation and enforcement of the park's regulations and goals are unclear and untested; further, there are several reasons to believe that infrastructure, funding, and park management may not be adequate to fully prevent coelacanth bycatch within the park's boundaries: For one, illegal fishing off the coast of Tanzania is high (Tobey et al., 2006; Hempson, 2008; Wells, 2009). Widespread poverty and other regional socio-economic challenges in the region have reduced the effectiveness and implementation of other east African marine parks, and it is likely that the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park will face similar challenges (Toby, 2006; Wells, 2012). Although recommendations and goals are set in place to increase tourism to the Park as an economic offset for stricter fishing regulations, the economic infrastructure and incentives needed for this shift are not in place or have not yet been proven to be effective. Next, there are plans to build a new deep-sea port in Mwambani Bay, just 8 km south of the original old Tanga Port, which would include submarine blasting and channel dredging and destruction of known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands—the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth catches. The new port is scheduled to be built in the middle of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. The construction of Mwambani port is part of a large project to develop an alternative sea route for Uganda and other land-locked countries which have been depending on the port of Mombasa. The plans for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea port construction appear to be ongoing, despite conservation concerns. It is unclear whether this port will be built, but its presence would negate many of the benefits (even now, unproven) of the Park. The general management plan for the park will be fully evaluated every 10 years, with a mid-term review every 5 years. The effectiveness of Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park is not yet known, and for reasons described above, we do not consider this park to provide certain conservation measures that would alleviate extinction risk to the species.

    Significant Portion of Its Range Analysis

    As noted above, we find that the species is at a low risk of extinction throughout its range. In other words, our range-wide analysis for the species does not lead us to conclude that the species meets the definition for either an endangered species or a threatened species based on the rangewide analysis. Thus, under the final Significant Portion of Its Range (SPR) policy announced in July 2014, we must go on to consider whether the species may have a higher risk of extinction in a significant portion of its range (79 FR 37577; July 1, 2014).

    The final policy explains that it is necessary to fully evaluate a portion for potential listing under the “significant portion of its range” authority only if information indicates that the members of the species in a particular area are likely both to meet the test for biological significance and to be currently endangered or threatened in that area. Making this preliminary determination triggers a need for further review, but does not prejudge whether the portion actually meets these standards such that the species should be listed:

    To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we will determine whether there is substantial information indicating that (1) the portions may be significant and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those portions or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative is not a determination that the species is endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range—rather, it is a step in determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is required.

    79 FR 37586.

    Thus, the preliminary determination that a portion may be both significant and endangered or threatened merely requires NMFS to engage in a more detailed analysis to determine whether the standards are actually met (Id. at 37587). Unless both are met, listing is not warranted. The policy further explains that, depending on the particular facts of each situation, NMFS may find it is more efficient to address the significance issue first, but in other cases it will make more sense to examine the status of the species in the potentially significant portions first. Whichever question is asked first, an affirmative answer is required to proceed to the second question. Id. (“[I]f we determine that a portion of the range is not “significant,” we will not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we will not need to determine if that portion was “significant.”). Thus, if the answer to the first question is negative—whether that regards the significance question or the status question—then the analysis concludes and listing is not warranted.

    After a review of the best available information, we identified the Tanzanian population of the African coelacanth as a population facing concentrated threats because of increased catch rates in this region since 2003, and the threat of a deep-water port directly impacting coelacanth habitat in this region. Due to these concentrated threats, we found that the species may be at risk of extinction in this area. Under the policy, if we believe this population also may constitute a “significant” portion of the range of the African coelacanth, then we must go on to a more definitive analysis. We may either evaluate the extinction risk of this population first to determine whether it is threatened or endangered in that portion or first determine if it is in fact “significant.” Ultimately, of course, both tests have to be met to qualify the species for listing.

    We proceeded to evaluate whether this population represents a significant portion of the range of the African coelacanth. The Tanzanian population is one of only three confirmed populations of the African coelacanth, all considered to be small and isolated. Because all three populations are isolated, the loss of one would not directly impact the other remaining populations. However, loss of any one of the three known coelacanth populations would significantly increase the extinction risk of the species as a whole, as only two small populations would remain, making them more vulnerable to catastrophic events such as storms, disease, or temperature anomalies. Tanzanian and Comoran populations are approximately 1,000 km apart, ocean currents are thought to have led to their divergence over 200,000 years ago, and connectivity between them is not thought to be maintained (Nikiado et al., 2011). The South African population is separated from the Comoran and Tanzanian populations by hundreds of miles. The Tanzanian population exhibits the greatest genetic divergence from the other populations, suggesting that it may be the most reproductively isolated among them (Lampert et al., 2012). Potential catastrophic events such as storms or significant temperature changes may affect the Comoran and Tanzanian populations simultaneously, due to their closer geographic proximity. The South African population, while not as genetically isolated, may experience isolated catastrophic events due to its geographic isolation. This reasoning supports our conclusion that the Tanzanian population comprises a significant portion of the range of the species because this portion's contribution to the viability of the African coelacanth is so important that, without the members in this portion, the African coelacanth would be likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range.

    Because the Tanzanian population of the coelacanth was determined to represent a significant portion of the range of the species, we performed an extinction risk assessment on the Tanzanian population by evaluating how the demographic factors (abundance, productivity/growth rate, spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity) of the species would be impacted by the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors, considering only those factors affecting the Tanzanian population.

    Coelacanth abundance across its entire range is not well understood, and no abundance estimates exist for the Tanzanian population. Based on general knowledge of the African coelacanth, the Tanzanian population is likely associated with very restricted and specific habitat requirements and low growth rates. We conclude that it is likely that the population size of the Tanzanian population is small for the same reasons described above for the species as a whole: It exhibits low levels of diversity (Nikaido et al., 2013), long generation times, and restricted habitat (Hissmann et al., 2006; Fricke et al., 2011). The likelihood of low abundance makes the Tanzanian population more vulnerable to extinction by elevating the impact of stochastic events or chronic threats resulting in coelacanth mortality.

    Growth rate and productivity for the Tanzanian population is thought to exhibit similar characteristics to other populations of the species. The species as a whole has one of the slowest metabolisms of any vertebrate. The extremely long gestation period and late maturity makes the Tanzanian population particularly vulnerable to external threats such as bycatch, possibly impeding recovery from mortality events (Froese et al., 2000).

    The Tanzanian population is thought to represent a single isolated population of the species. It has been estimated that this population diverged from the rest of the species 200,000 years ago (Nikaido et al., 2011). Differentiation of individuals from the Tanzanian population may relate to divergence of currents in this region, where hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the potential for drifting migrants. The isolated nature of the Tanzanian population lowers the potential for its recovery from external threats; the population is not thought to maintain connectivity with other populations, and thus has no source for replacement of individuals lost outside of its own reproductive processes. Fast-moving currents along the Eastern coast of Africa are thought to prevent connectivity among populations in the region (Nikaido et al., 2011). This may be particularly true for Tanzania. We consider current evidence for the Tanzanian population's high isolation from the rest of the species to contribute to a moderate risk of extinction, as these are natural factors (relevant under section 4(a)(1)(E)) that may increase vulnerability of this population by preventing its replacement and recovery from external threats and mortality events, and increase the potential for extinction.

    Genomic analyses of individuals from the Tanzanian population and other representatives of the species reveal that divergence and diversity within and among populations is very low (Nikaido et al., 2013). Low levels of diversity reflect low adaptive and evolutionary potential, making the Tanzanian population particularly vulnerable to environmental change and episodic events. These events may reduce diversity further, and result in a significant change or loss of variation in life history characteristics (such as reproductive fitness and fecundity), morphology, behavior, or other adaptive characteristics. Due to the Tanzanian population's low diversity, this population may be at an increased risk of random genetic drift and could experience the fixing of recessive detrimental genes that could further contribute to the species' extinction risk (Musick, 2011).

    Regarding habitat threats to the Tanzanian population, loss and degradation of coelacanth habitat can take the form of pollution, dynamite fishing, sedimentation, and direct loss through development. Future human population growth and land use changes off the coast of Tanzania increase these threats to the Tanzanian population, but their trends and impacts are highly uncertain. In general, the coelacanth is largely buffered from habitat impacts due to its occurrence in deep water, and general effects of pollution and development are similar to those described for the rest of the species. However, specifically related to the Tanzanian population, direct loss of habitat is likely to occur if the deep port of Mwambami Bay is developed. The port is planned to be built just 8 km south of the original old Tanga Port, and this would include submarine blasting and channel dredging and destruction of known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands—the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth catches. The new port is scheduled to be built in the middle of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. The construction of Mwambani port is part of a large project to develop an alternative sea route for Uganda and other land-locked countries that have been depending on the port of Mombasa. The plans for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea port construction appear to be ongoing, despite conservation concerns, and thus it is reasonable to conclude that it poses a likely threat to the species. Whether plans to build this port will come to fruition remains uncertain, but if built, the deep port could significantly impact the Tanzanian population of coelacanths by destroying habitat directly. For the Tanzanian population, the construction of this deep-water port could be catastrophic, and it is clear that the boundaries of the new Tanga Marine Park are insufficient in halting plans for the port's development.

    As for impacts from overutilization, bycatch has historically been thought to pose the greatest threat to the coelacanth. While survey data from the Comoros show there is no observed link between coelacanth bycatch and population decline, since 2003 in Tanzania, coelacanth catch rates have been more than 3 times greater than ever observed in the Comoros, at over 10 fish per year. It is unclear whether this catch rate is sustainable due to limited information on trends and abundance of the Tanzanian population. The further expansion of a shark gill net fishery in Tanzania, as has been observed over the last decade, could result in additional coelacanth bycatch. Bycatch in Tanzania is an ongoing threat. While direct data assessing Tanzanian coelacanth population decline are not available, the relatively high and persistent catch rate in this region has the potential to deplete this small and isolated population, which has life history characteristics that greatly impede its recovery and resiliency to mortality.

    We consider the threat of overutilization for scientific purposes, public display, or for the curio trade as low for reasons described above, as they apply to the rest of the species.

    We consider the threat of inadequate regulatory mechanisms as low for the Tanzanian population for the same reasons described above for the rest of the species. Additionally, we classify the risk of climate change as low for the Tanzanian population for the same reasons described above for the rest of the species.

    Overall, the Tanzanian population's demographic factors make it particularly vulnerable to ongoing and future threats, which pose a moderate risk to the species. Based on the best available information, threats of bycatch to the Tanzanian population appear to be persistent, and the potential development of a deep port within this population's habitat could be catastrophic to the population in the foreseeable future. Thus, we find that the Tanzanian population is at a moderate risk of extinction due to current and projected threats.

    Therefore, we conclude that the Tanzanian population is at moderate risk of extinction in a significant portion of the African coelacanth's range of the species.

    Distinct Population Segment Analysis

    In accordance with the SPR policy, if a species is determined to be threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. Because the Tanzanian population represents a significant portion of the range of the species, and this population is at a moderate risk of extinction, we performed a DPS analysis on that population.

    As defined in the ESA (Sec. 3(15)), a “species” includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature. The joint NMFS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) policy on identifying distinct population segments (DPS) (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996) identifies two criteria for DPS designations: (1) The population must be discrete in relation to the remainder of the taxon (species or subspecies) to which it belongs; and (2) the population must be “significant” (as that term is used in the context of the DPS policy, which is different from its usage under the SPR policy) to the remainder of the taxon to which it belongs.

    Discreteness: A population segment of a vertebrate species may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) “It is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation”; or (2) “it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D)” of the ESA (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996).

    Significance: If a population segment is found to be discrete under one or both of the above conditions, then its biological and ecological significance to the taxon to which it belongs is evaluated. This consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) “Persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that the loss of the discrete population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of a taxon; (3) evidence that the discrete population segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historic range; and (4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics” (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996).

    Discreteness

    The Tanzanian population cannot be differentiated from other populations based on its morphology. In fact, no coelacanth population exhibits significant distinguishing morphological characteristics, and morphological differences within the Latimeria genus as a whole have been debated (Pouyad et al., 1999, Holder et al., 1999; Erdmann et al., 1999). No unique behavioral, physical, or ecological characteristics have been identified for the Tanzanian population to set it apart from the rest of the taxon. Only a single dedicated survey of the Tanzanian population is available; thus, future surveys may reveal distinguishing ecological features of the population.

    As stated above, genetic data on coelacanth population structure are limited and known distribution of coelacanth populations is potentially biased by targeted survey efforts and fishery catch data. However, recent whole-genome sequencing and genetic data available for multiple coelacanth specimens can be used to cautiously infer some patterns of population structure and connectivity across the coelacanth's known range (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). Intraspecific population structure has been examined using L. chalumnae specimens from Tanzania, the Comoros, and southern Africa (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). These studies suggest that L. chalumnae comprises multiple isolated and reproductively independent populations distributed across the Western Indian Ocean, only three which have been confirmed (inhabiting waters off of Tanzania, the Comoros, and South Africa).

    While population structure of the taxon, described earlier, is not fully resolved, all genetic data available suggest that the Tanzanian population represents a single isolated population of the species. Multiple genetic studies corroborate a significant divergence between Tanzanian individuals, and individuals from the South African and Comoros populations (Nikaido et al.; 2011, Lampert et al., 2012). This includes evidence from both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (Nikaido et al., 2011, Lampert et al., 2012, Nikaido et al., 2013). The Tanzanian population is the most diverged of all coelacanth populations (Lampert et al., 2012). Differentiation of individuals from the Tanzanian population may relate to divergence of currents in this region, where hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the potential for drifting migrants (Nikaido et al., 2011). All available data suggest that the Tanzanian population does not likely maintain connectivity with other populations, and likely has no source for replacement of individuals outside of its own reproductive processes.

    The Tanzanian population is geographically isolated from the Comoran and South African populations. The Tanzanian population is approximately 1,000 km away from the Comoran population and over 4,000 km away from the South African population, with oceanic currents further reducing their potential for connectivity. While it is thought that the Comoran population is the source of other populations along the Western Indian Ocean, the Tanzanian and South African populations may have been established as many as 200,000 years ago, as genetic data suggest (Nikaido et al., 2011).

    Based on genetic evidence, and the clear geographic isolation of the Tanzanian population, we determined that the Tanzanian population of L. chalumnae is discrete from other populations within the species.

    Significance

    The Tanzanian population does not persist in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon. Although the Tanzanian individuals are thought to inhabit limestone ledges rather than volcanic caves where Comoran and South African individuals are found, the depth, prey, temperature, and shelter requirements are remarkably similar among the known coelacanth populations (Hissman et al., 2006). We found no evidence to suggest that differences in the ecological setting of the Tanzanian population have led to any adaptive or behavioral characteristics that set the population apart from the rest of the taxon, or contribute significant adaptive diversity to the species.

    The Tanzanian population is one of only three known populations within the species. Although it is not the only surviving natural occurrence of the taxon, we determined that loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the taxon's range for the following reasons: Although coelacanth populations are not thought to maintain reproductive connectivity, loss of one population would make the other two populations more vulnerable to catastrophic events, as explained earlier. The extent of the Tanzanian population's range is not known, but given the existence of only three known coelacanth populations considered to be small and isolated, loss of the Tanzanian population would constitute a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and thus we consider this population to be significant to the taxon as a whole.

    We determined that the Tanzanian population is discrete based on evidence for its genetic and geographic isolation from the rest of the taxon. The population also meets the significance criterion set forth by the DPS policy, as its loss would constitute a significant gap in the taxon's range. Because it is both discrete and significant to the taxon as a whole, we identify the Tanzanian population as a valid DPS.

    Proposed Determination

    We assessed the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors and conclude that the species, viewed across its entire range, experiences a low risk of extinction. However, we determined that the Tanzanian population constitutes a significant portion of the range of the species, as defined by the SPR policy (79 FR 37577; July 1, 2014). The Tanzanian population faces ongoing or future threats from overutilization and habitat destruction, with the species' natural biological vulnerability to overexploitation exacerbating the severity of the threats. The Tanzanian population faces demographic risks, such as population isolation with low productivity, which make it likely to be influenced by stochastic or depensatory processes throughout its range, and place the population at an increased risk of extinction from the aforementioned threats within the foreseeable future. In our consideration of the foreseeable future, we evaluated how far into the future we could reliably predict the operation of the major threats to this population, as well as the population's response to those threats. We are confident in our ability to predict out several decades in assessing the threats of overutilization and habitat destruction, and their interaction with the life history of the coelacanth, with its lifespan of 40 or more years. With regard to habitat destruction, we evaluated the likelihood of the deep water port being constructed. If the port is to be developed, the results could significantly impact the Tanzanian coelacanth population. Evidence suggests that the plans for its construction are moving forward; its construction is not certain, but likely. If built, the construction of the port would likely occur within the next decade. With bycatch, and its interaction with the fish's demographic characteristics, we feel that defining the foreseeable future out to several decades is appropriate. Based on this information, we find that the Tanzanian population is at a moderate risk of extinction within the foreseeable future. Therefore, we consider the Tanzanian population to be threatened.

    In accordance with the our SPR policy, if a species is determined to be threatened or endangered across a significant portion of its range, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. Based on the best available scientific and commercial information as presented in the status report and this finding, we do not find that the African coelacanth L. chalumnae is currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range, nor is it likely to become so in the foreseeable future. However, because the Tanzanian population represents a significant portion of the range of the species, and this population is threatened, we conclude that the African coelacanth is threatened in a significant portion of its range. Because the population in the significant portion of the range is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies.

    Therefore, we propose to list the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth as threatened under the ESA.

    Similarity of Appearance

    The petition requested that, if the African coelacanth were listed under the ESA, the Indonesian coelacanth also be listed due to its “similarity of appearance.” The ESA provides for treating any species as an endangered species or a threatened species even if it is not listed as such under the ESA if: (1) Such species so closely resembles in appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to section 4 of the ESA that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species; (2) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat to the listed species; and (3) such treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of the ESA.

    While the African and Indonesian species exhibit morphological similarities, they are clearly geographically and genetically separated. Enforcement personnel would have no difficulty in differentiating between the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth and the Indonesian coelacanth because of similarity of appearance because their geographic separation (in the Western Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific, respectively) should facilitate regulation of taking. The species experience no overlap in range and catch of both species is relatively low, and well-documented. We do not deem ESA protection for the Indonesian coelacanth to be advisable at this time, as the clear genetic and geographic differences between the two species set them apart in a way that allows for easy identification, regardless of their similar appearance.

    Because we are proposing to list the Tanzanian DPS as a threatened species under the ESA, we also considered any potential similarity of appearance issues that may arise in differentiating between the proposed DPS and other populations of the species. No morphological characteristics separate the Tanzanian DPS from other populations of the species. However, we do not conclude that listing the South African or Comoran populations based on similarity of appearance is warranted. First, outside of Tanzania, coelacanth catches are infrequent, and well documented. Second, the three known coelacanth populations do not overlap geographically. Differentiation between the African and Indonesian coelacanth, and likewise between the Tanzanian DPS and other populations of the species, could potentially pose a problem for enforcement of section 9 prohibitions on trade, should any be applied. However, that issue is addressed, at least with respect to imports and exports, by the inclusion of coelacanth in CITES Appendix I.

    Effects of Listing

    Conservation measures provided for species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA include recovery plans (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)); concurrent designation of critical habitat, if prudent and determinable (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)) and consistent with implementing regulations; Federal agency requirements to consult with NMFS under section 7 of the ESA to ensure their actions do not jeopardize the species or result in adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat should it be designated (16 U.S.C. 1536); and, for endangered species, prohibitions on taking (16 U.S.C. 1538). Recognition of the species' plight through listing promotes conservation actions by Federal and state agencies, foreign entities, private groups, and individuals.

    Identifying Section 7 Conference and Consultation Requirements

    Section 7(a)(2) (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2)) of the ESA and NMFS/USFWS regulations require Federal agencies to consult with us to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Section 7(a)(4) (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(4)) of the ESA and NMFS/USFWS regulations also require Federal agencies to confer with us on actions likely to jeopardize the continued existence of species proposed for listing, or that result in the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat of those species. It is unlikely that the listing of this DPS under the ESA will increase the number of section 7 consultations, because the DPS occurs outside of the United States and is unlikely to be affected by Federal actions.

    Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532(5)) as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the ESA, on which are found those physical or biological features (a) essential to the conservation of the species and (b) that may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. “Conservation” means the use of all methods and procedures needed to bring the species to the point at which listing under the ESA is no longer necessary. Section 4(a)(3)(A) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)) requires that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, critical habitat be designated concurrently with the listing of a species. However, critical habitat shall not be designated in foreign countries or other areas outside U.S. jurisdiction (50 CFR 424.12(h)).

    The best available scientific data as discussed above identify the geographical area occupied by the species as being entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, so we cannot designate critical habitat for this species. We can designate critical habitat in areas in the United States currently unoccupied by the species, if the area(s) are determined by the Secretary to be essential for the conservation of the species. Based on the best available information, we have not identified unoccupied area(s) in U.S. water that are currently essential to the species proposed for listing. Thus, as we discussed above, we will not propose critical habitat for this species.

    Identification of Those Activities That Would Constitute a Violation of Section 9 of the ESA

    On July 1, 1994, NMFS and FWS published a policy (59 FR 34272) that requires NMFS to identify, to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the ESA.

    Because we are proposing to list the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth as threatened, no prohibitions of Section 9(a)(1) of the ESA will apply to this species.

    Protective Regulations Under Section 4(d) of the ESA

    We are proposing to list Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth, L. chalumnae as threatened under the ESA. In the case of threatened species, ESA section 4(d) leaves it to the Secretary's discretion whether, and to what extent, to extend the section 9(a) “take” prohibitions to the species, and authorizes us to issue regulations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species. Thus, we have flexibility under section 4(d) to tailor protective regulations, taking into account the effectiveness of available conservation measures. The 4(d) protective regulations may prohibit, with respect to threatened species, some or all of the acts which section 9(a) of the ESA prohibits with respect to endangered species. These 9(a) prohibitions apply to all individuals, organizations, and agencies subject to U.S. jurisdiction. We will consider potential protective regulations pursuant to section 4(d) for the proposed threatened coelacanth DPS. We seek public comment on potential 4(d) protective regulations (see below).

    Public Comments Solicited

    To ensure that any final action resulting from this proposed rule to list the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth will be as accurate and effective as possible, we are soliciting comments and information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties on information in the status review and proposed rule. Comments are encouraged on this proposal (See DATES and ADDRESSES). We must base our final determination on the best available scientific and commercial information. We cannot, for example, consider the economic effects of a listing determination. Before finalizing this proposed rule, we will consider the comments and any additional information we receive, and such information may lead to a final regulation that differs from this proposal or result in a withdrawal of this listing proposal. We particularly seek:

    (1) Information concerning the threats to the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth proposed for listing;

    (2) Taxonomic information on the species;

    (3) Biological information (life history, genetics, population connectivity, etc.) on the species;

    (4) Efforts being made to protect the species throughout its current range;

    (5) Information on the commercial trade of the species;

    (6) Historical and current distribution and abundance and trends for the species; and

    (7) Information relevant to potential ESA section 4(d) protective regulations for the proposed threatened DPS, especially the application, if any, of the ESA section 9 prohibitions on import, take, possession, receipt, and sale of the African coelacanth.

    We request that all information be accompanied by: (1) Supporting documentation, such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications; and (2) the submitter's name, address, and any association, institution, or business that the person represents.

    Role of Peer Review

    In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing a minimum peer review standard. Similarly, a joint NMFS/FWS policy (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994) requires us to solicit independent expert review from qualified specialists, in addition to a public comment period. The intent of the peer review policy is to ensure that listings are based on the best scientific and commercial data available. We solicited peer review comments on the African coelacanth status review report, including from: Five scientists with expertise on the African coelacanth. We incorporated these comments into the status review report for the African coelacanth and this 12-month finding.

    References

    A complete list of the references used in this proposed rule is available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

    Classification National Environmental Policy Act

    The 1982 amendments to the ESA, in section 4(b)(1)(A), restrict the information that may be considered when assessing species for listing. Based on this limitation of criteria for a listing decision and the opinion in Pacific Legal Foundation v. Andrus, 675 F. 2d 825 (6th Cir. 1981), NMFS has concluded that ESA listing actions are not subject to the environmental assessment requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (See NOAA Administrative Order 216-6).

    Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act

    As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the ESA, economic impacts cannot be considered when assessing the status of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. In addition, this proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    In accordance with E.O. 13132, we determined that this proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects and that a Federalism assessment is not required. In keeping with the intent of the Administration and Congress to provide continuing and meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual state and Federal interest, this proposed rule will be given to the relevant governmental agencies in the countries in which the species occurs, and they will be invited to comment. We will confer with the U.S. Department of State to ensure appropriate notice is given to foreign nations within the range the DPS (Tanzania). As the process continues, we intend to continue engaging in informal and formal contacts with the U.S. State Department, giving careful consideration to all written and oral comments received.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 223

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and record keeping requirements, Transportation.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch, III. Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend 50 CFR part 223 as follows:

    PART 223—THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; subpart B, § 223.201-202 also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for § 223.206(d)(9).

    2. In § 223.102, amend the table in paragraph (e) by adding a new entry for one species in alphabetical order under the “Fishes” table subheading to read as follows:
    § 223.102 Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

    (e) * * *

    Species 1 Common name Scientific name Description of listed entity Citation(s) for listing determination(s) Critical habitat ESA rules *         *         *         *         *         *         * Fishes Coelacanth, African (Tanzanian DPS) Latimeria chalumnae African coelacanth population inhabiting deep waters off the coast of Tanzania [Insert Federal Register citation and date when published as a final rule] NA NA *         *         *         *         *         *         * 1 Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56 FR 58612, November 20, 1991).
    [FR Doc. 2015-04405 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224 [Docket No. 141219999-5132-01] RIN 0648-XD680 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Common Thresher Shark as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of 90-day petition finding, request for information, and initiation of status review.

    SUMMARY:

    We, NMFS, announce the 90-day finding for a petition to list the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) as either endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) either worldwide or as one or more distinct population segments (DPSs) identified by the petitioners. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted for the species worldwide. We find that the petition fails to present substantial scientific or commercial information to support the identification of DPSs of the common thresher suggested by the petitioners, and, as such, we find that the petitioned action of listing one or more of these DPSs is not warranted. Accordingly, we will initiate a review of the status of the common thresher shark at this time. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this species.

    DATES:

    Information and comments on the subject action must be received by May 4, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, information, or data, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2015-0025” by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0025. Click the “Comment Now” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail or hand-delivery: Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chelsey Young, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources (OPR), (301) 427-8491 or Marta Nammack, NMFS, OPR, (301) 427-8469.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On August 26, 2014, we received a petition from Friends of Animals requesting that we list the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) as endangered or threatened under the ESA, or, in the alternative, delineate six distinct population segments (DPSs) of the common thresher shark, as described in the petition, and list them as endangered or threatened. Friends of Animals also requested that critical habitat be designated for this species in U.S. waters concurrent with final ESA listing.

    The petitioner states that the common thresher shark merits listing as an endangered or threatened species under the ESA because of the following: (1) The species faces threats from historical and continued fishing for both commercial and recreational purposes; (2) life history characteristics and limited ability to recover from fishing pressure makes the species particularly vulnerable to overexploitation; and (3) there is a lack of regulations that specifically protect the common thresher shark.

    ESA Statutory Provisions and Policy Considerations

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA of 1973, as amended (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires, to the maximum extent practicable, that within 90 days of receipt of a petition to list a species as threatened or endangered, the Secretary of Commerce make a finding on whether that petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted, and promptly publish the finding in the Federal Register (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)). When we find that substantial scientific or commercial information in a petition and in our files indicates the petitioned action may be warranted (a “positive 90-day finding”), we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species concerned, which includes conducting a comprehensive review of the best available scientific and commercial information. Within 12 months of receiving the petition, we must conclude the review with a finding as to whether, in fact, the petitioned action is warranted. Because the finding at the 12-month stage is based on a significantly more thorough review of the available information, a “may be warranted” finding at the 90-day stage does not prejudge the outcome of the status review.

    Under the ESA, a listing determination may address a “species,” which is defined to also include subspecies and, for any vertebrate species, any DPS that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). A joint NMFS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) policy clarifies the agencies' interpretation of the phrase “distinct population segment” for the purposes of listing, delisting, and reclassifying a species under the ESA (“DPS Policy”; 61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). A species, subspecies, or DPS is “endangered” if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and “threatened” if it is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range (ESA sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively; 16 U.S.C. 1532(6) and (20)). Pursuant to the ESA and our implementing regulations, the determination of whether a species is threatened or endangered shall be based on any one or a combination of the following five section 4(a)(1) factors: The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; disease or predation; inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and any other natural or manmade factors affecting the species' existence (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1), 50 CFR 424.11(c)).

    ESA-implementing regulations issued jointly by NMFS and USFWS (50 CFR 424.14(b)) define “substantial information” in the context of reviewing a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species as the amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted. When evaluating whether substantial information is contained in a petition, we must consider whether the petition: (1) Clearly indicates the administrative measure recommended and gives the scientific and any common name of the species involved; (2) contains detailed narrative justification for the recommended measure, describing, based on available information, past and present numbers and distribution of the species involved and any threats faced by the species; (3) provides information regarding the status of the species over all or a significant portion of its range; and (4) is accompanied by the appropriate supporting documentation in the form of bibliographic references, reprints of pertinent publications, copies of reports or letters from authorities, and maps (50 CFR 424.14(b)(2)).

    At the 90-day stage, we evaluate the petitioner's request based upon the information in the petition including its references, and the information readily available in our files. We do not conduct additional research, and we do not solicit information from parties outside the agency to help us in evaluating the petition. We will accept the petitioner's sources and characterizations of the information presented, if they appear to be based on accepted scientific principles, unless we have specific information in our files that indicates the petition's information is incorrect, unreliable, obsolete, or otherwise irrelevant to the requested action. Information that is susceptible to more than one interpretation or that is contradicted by other available information will not be dismissed at the 90-day finding stage, so long as it is reliable and a reasonable person would conclude that it supports the petitioner's assertions. Conclusive information indicating the species may meet the ESA's requirements for listing is not required to make a positive 90-day finding. We will not conclude that a lack of specific information alone negates a positive 90-day finding, if a reasonable person would conclude that the unknown information itself suggests an extinction risk of concern for the species at issue.

    To make a 90-day finding on a petition to list a species, we evaluate whether the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the subject species may be either threatened or endangered, as defined by the ESA. First, we evaluate whether the information presented in the petition, along with the information readily available in our files, indicates that the petitioned entity constitutes a “species” eligible for listing under the ESA. Next, we evaluate whether the information indicates that the species at issue faces extinction risk that is cause for concern; this may be indicated in information expressly discussing the species' status and trends, or in information describing impacts and threats to the species. We evaluate any information on specific demographic factors pertinent to evaluating extinction risk for the species at issue (e.g., population abundance and trends, productivity, spatial structure, age structure, sex ratio, diversity, current and historical range, habitat integrity or fragmentation), and the potential contribution of identified demographic risks to extinction risk for the species. We then evaluate the potential links between these demographic risks and the causative impacts and threats identified in ESA section 4(a)(1).

    Information presented on impacts or threats should be specific to the species and should reasonably suggest that one or more of these factors may be operative threats that act or have acted on the species to the point that it may warrant protection under the ESA. Broad statements about generalized threats to the species, or identification of factors that could negatively impact a species, do not constitute substantial information that listing may be warranted. We look for information indicating that not only is the particular species exposed to a factor, but that the species may be responding in a negative fashion; then we assess the potential significance of that negative response.

    Many petitions identify risk classifications made by non-governmental organizations, such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the American Fisheries Society, or NatureServe, as evidence of extinction risk for a species. Risk classifications by other organizations or made under other Federal or state statutes may be informative, but such classification alone may not provide the rationale for a positive 90-day finding under the ESA. For example, as explained by NatureServe, their assessments of a species' conservation status do “not constitute a recommendation by NatureServe for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act” because NatureServe assessments “have different criteria, evidence requirements, purposes and taxonomic coverage than government lists of endangered and threatened species, and therefore these two types of lists should not be expected to coincide” (http://www.natureserve.org/prodServices/statusAssessment.jsp). Thus, when a petition cites such classifications, we will evaluate the source of information that the classification is based upon in light of the standards on extinction risk and impacts or threats discussed above.

    Species Description Distribution

    The common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) is a large highly migratory pelagic species of shark found throughout the world in temperate and tropical seas. In the North Atlantic, common thresher sharks occur from Newfoundland, Canada, to Cuba in the west and from Norway and the British Isles to the African coast in the east (Gervelis, 2013). Landings along the South Atlantic coast of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico are rare. Common thresher sharks also occur along the Atlantic coast of South America from Venezuela to southern Argentina. In the eastern Atlantic, A. vulpinus ranges from the central coast of Norway south to, and including, the Mediterranean Sea and down the African coast to the Ivory Coast. They appear to be most abundant along the Iberian coastline, particularly during spring and fall. Specimens have also been recorded at Cape Province, South Africa (Goldman, 2009). In the Indian Ocean, A. vulpinus is found along the east coast of Somalia, and in waters adjacent to the Maldive Islands and Chagos archipelago. They are also present off Australia (Tasmania to central Western Australia), Sumatra, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, Kenya, the northwestern coast of Madagascar and South Africa. A few specimens have been taken from southwest of the Chagos archipelago, the Gulf of Aden, and northwest Red Sea. In the western Pacific Ocean, the range of A. vulpinus includes southern Japan, Korea, China, parts of Australia and New Zealand. They are also present around several Pacific Islands, including New Caledonia, Society Islands, Fanning Islands and Hawaii. In the Northeast Pacific Ocean, the geographic range of common thresher sharks extends from Goose Bay, British Columbia, Canada to the Baja Peninsula, Mexico and out to about 200 miles from the coast (Goldman, 2009). Additionally, they are found off Chile and records exist from Panama (Campagno, 1984).

    Physical Characteristics

    The common thresher shark possesses an elongated upper caudal lobe almost equal to its body length, which is unique to this family. It has a moderately large eye, a broad head, short snout, narrow tipped pectoral fins, no grooves on the head above the gills, and lateral teeth without distinct cusplets. The origin of the pelvic fins is well behind the insertion of the first dorsal fin. While some of the above characteristics may be shared by other thresher shark species, diagnostic features separating this species from the other two thresher shark species (bigeye thresher, A. superciliosus, and pelagic thresher, A. pelagicus) are the presence of labial furrows, the origin of the second dorsal fin posterior to the end of the pelvic fin free rear tip, and the white color of the abdomen extending upward over the pectoral fin bases, and again rearward of the pelvic fins. In living specimens, dorsal coloration may vary from brown, blue slate, slate gray, blue gray, and dark lead to nearly black, with a metallic, often purplish, luster. The lower surface of the snout (forward of the nostrils) and pectoral fin bases are generally not white and may be the same color as the dorsal surface (Goldman, 2009).

    Habitat

    Surveys of the common thresher shark from our Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) demonstrate habitat separation between juveniles and adults (PMFC, 2003; Smith et al., 2008). Juveniles occupy relatively shallow water over the continental shelf, while adults are found in deeper water, but rarely range beyond 200 miles (321.87 km) from the coast (PMFC, 2003; Smith et al., 2008). Both adults and juveniles are associated with highly biologically productive waters, found in regions of upwelling or intense mixing.

    Feeding Ecology

    Common thresher sharks feed at mid-trophic levels on small pelagic fish and squid. Given their more specialized diet compared to other local pelagic sharks, they are more likely to exert top-down effects on their prey, although this remains to be demonstrated. Based on studies at the SWFSC, the top six prey species, in order, are northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, Pacific hake, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel, and market squid (Preti et al., 2001, 2004). Thresher sharks are unique, in that they use their tail in a whip-like fashion to disorient and incapacitate their prey (Oliver, 2013).

    Life History

    The life span of the common thresher shark is estimated between 15 and 50 years, although additional research to confirm this is necessary (Gervalis, 2013). Thresher sharks reach maturity at approximately 5 years of age and at around 166 cm fork length for both sexes. They grow approximately 30 cm per year for the first 5 years of their lives (Gervalis, 2013; Smith et al., 2008). Maximum size has been estimated for thresher sharks along the U.S. West Coast at 550 cm (Gervalis, 2013; Smith et al., 2008). Their mode of reproduction is aplacental ovoviviparous and oophagous, and a typical litter size is 2-4 pups, with gestation thought to be around 9 months (NMFS Common Thresher Shark Fact Sheet; PMFC, 2003; Smith et al., 2008). Pupping is thought to occur in the springtime, with mating thought to occur in the summer, and nursery grounds for pups are in shallow continental shelf waters 90 m deep or less (NMFS Common Thresher Shark Fact Sheet).

    Analysis of DPS Information

    The petition requests that we list the common thresher shark throughout its range, or list the species as six DPSs. The petitioner identifies six subpopulations that it believes may qualify for listing: Eastern Central Pacific, Indo-West Pacific, Northwest and Western Central Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Northeast Atlantic. To meet the definition of a DPS, a population must be both discrete from other populations of the species and significant to the species as a whole (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996).

    The petition does not provide biological evidence to support the existence of the six “subpopulations” identified; however, the petition states that six subpopulations of the common thresher shark are discrete. The petition goes on to define this discreteness according to the second discreteness factor listed in the NMFS/USFWS joint DPS policy, where a population can be considered discrete if it “is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.” The petitioner maintains that the “broad and varied spectrum of harvest control, habitat management, conservation status, and regulatory mechanisms” addressing the species may qualify different “subpopulations” as discrete under this discreteness factor, asserting that, “due to broad differences in regulation of their management and capture, the subpopulations of common thresher sharks should be considered sufficiently discrete for protection as DPSs under the ESA.”

    The petition does not propose any boundaries for the six suggested DPSs, nor does the petition describe in any detail the ways in which different management relating to international governmental boundaries may delineate the species into boundaries aligning with the six suggested DPSs. Specific gaps in management or intergovernmental boundaries are not described as they relate to any of the six proposed DPSs. We were also unable to find information to define the six subpopulations as discrete on biological grounds. In our files, only a single preliminary study was available to suggest population structure of the common thresher shark. This study examined mitochondrial control region DNA, which demonstrated significant population structure between most pairwise comparisons, but the sample sizes were extremely low, and thus the results could not be interpreted with confidence. The data support separate Atlantic vs. Pacific populations (or at least female philopatry) (Trejo, 2005). However, based on the preliminary nature of these data, and low sample size throughout the study, these results cannot be relied upon to divide the common thresher shark into the six subpopulations proposed by the petition.

    Based on information in the petition and readily available in our files, we were unable to find evidence to support the discreteness of any of the six DPSs proposed. Because of this, arguments made by the petitioner describing the potential significance of any suggested DPS are irrelevant. Thus, we conclude that the petition provides insufficient evidence to identify any DPSs of the common thresher shark at this time.

    Analysis of Petition and Information Readily Available in NMFS Files

    The following sections contain information found in the petition and readily available in our files to determine whether a reasonable person would conclude that an endangered or threatened listing may be warranted as a result of any of the factors listed under section 4(a)(1) of the ESA.

    Common Thresher Shark Status and Trends

    The petition does not provide a population abundance estimate for common thresher sharks, but points to its “vulnerable” status on the IUCN Red List, and quotes extensively from the Encyclopedia of Life, an online collaborative database intended for documenting information on all species of life. The petition asserts that a global decline of common thresher sharks has been caused mainly by commercial and recreational fishing (both direct harvest and bycatch), particularly during the 1970s and early 1980s. The petition references high commercial catch rates for common threshers along the U.S. West Coast during the 1980s, and declines in catch by the mid-1990s, indicative of overexploitation (Goldman et al., 2009). In the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic, the petition cites the Encyclopedia of Life for asserting 50-80 percent declines in common thresher shark abundance occurring from 1986-2005. The petition describes likely declines of common thresher sharks in the Mediterranean due to high fishing pressure. In the Northeast Atlantic, the petition describes variable landings prior to 2000 and a decline in landings since 2002 (ICES, 2006). Finally, the petition points to increased interest in recreational fishing of the common thresher shark, with the potential for high post-release mortality. The petition does not provide information on estimates of abundance across the range of the species.

    Although historical overfishing of the common thresher shark led to serious declines in population abundance, particularly during the 1980s, regulations since the early 1990s have contributed to trends of rebuilding of the species over the past two decades in some portions of its range, particularly in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (PFMC, 2011; NMFS Common Thresher Shark Fact Sheet). However, in other portions of the species' global range, declines due to overutilization (bycatch, recreation, and directed catch) may be ongoing, leading to declines in abundance. The threat of commercial fishing is discussed in more detail below (see “Overutilization”).

    The last IUCN assessment of the common thresher shark was completed in 2009 and since then several estimates of global and subpopulation trends and status have been made. Perhaps most heavily studied have been common thresher sharks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, where the shark has historically been most heavily fished. Commercial fishing of thresher sharks in the U.S. was eliminated by gill net regulations by 1990, and within a decade, the population began to slowly rebuild to just below 50 percent of the initial subpopulation size (Camhi et al., 2007). A preliminary examination of trends in the catch-per-unit-effort and total catch of common thresher sharks in this region is consistent with earlier conclusions that the population is increasing from its decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s (PMFC, 2011). Efforts to conduct a full stock assessment have been initiated by NMFS. Based on preliminary stock assessment results, there appears to be an initial period of decline from 1981 to 1986, followed by a gradual recovery of the stock. The index is highly variable after 2000, which is possibly due to regulatory and operational changes in the fishery (SWFSC, unpublished data).

    In the Northwest Atlantic, declines in relative abundance cited by the petitioner were derived from analyses of logbook data, reported in Cortés (2007). This study reported a 63 percent decline of thresher sharks (on the genus level) based on logbook data, occurring between 1986 and 2006 (Cortés, 2007). The observer index data from the same study shows an opposite trend in relative abundance, with a 28 percent increase of threshers in the Northwest Atlantic since 1992. Logbook data over the same period (1992-2006) showed a 50 percent decline in thresher sharks. The logbook dataset is the largest available for the western North Atlantic Ocean, but the observer dataset is generally more reliable in terms of consistent identification and reporting. According to observer data, relative abundance of thresher sharks (again, only at the genus level) in the western North Atlantic Ocean appears to have stabilized or even be increasing since the late 1990s (Cortés, 2007). A more recent analysis using logbook data between 1996 and 2005 provides some supporting evidence that the abundance of thresher sharks has stabilized over this time period (Baum, 2010). However, the conflicting evidence between logbook and observer data showing opposite trends in thresher shark abundance cannot be fully resolved at this time. Data are not available in the petition or in our own files to assess the trend in population abundance in this region since 2006, or to assess the trend specific to the common thresher shark. Because the logbook data from this region shows consistent evidence of a significant and continued decline in thresher sharks, we must consider this information in our 90-day determination.

    For the Northeast Atlantic, there are no population abundance estimates available, but data indicate that the species is taken in driftnets and gillnets. In the Mediterranean Sea, estimates show significant declines in thresher shark abundance during the past two decades, reflecting data up to 2006; according to historical data compiled using a generalized linear model, thresher sharks have declined between 96 and 99 percent in abundance and biomass in the Mediterranean Sea (Ferretti et al., 2008).

    In other areas of the world, estimates of thresher shark abundance are limited. For the Indo-West Pacific, little information is currently available on common thresher sharks. Although pelagic fishing effort in this region is high, with reported increases in recent years, the common thresher shark is more characteristic of cooler waters, and further information needs to be collected on records and catches of the species in this region (IUCN assessment, 2009).

    In conclusion, trends throughout the Eastern Pacific Ocean portion of the species' range suggest that the population there is rebuilding from historical overexploitation. However, across the rest of its global range, we find evidence suggesting that population abundance of common thresher sharks has continued to decline or, as in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, may be stable at a diminished abundance. While data are still limited with respect to population size and trends, we find the petition and our files sufficient in presenting substantial information on common thresher shark abundance, trends, or status to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted.

    ESA Section 4(a)(1) Factors

    The petition indicated three main categories of threats to the common thresher shark: Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We discuss each of these below, as well as an additional evaluation of other 4(a)(1) factors based on information in the petition, and the information readily available in our files.

    Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification or Curtailment of Habitat or Range

    The petition does not list threats to habitat as impacting the common thresher shark. In our files, we were also unable to find evidence that destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range were negatively impacting the species. Supporting this conclusion, in our files, we found evidence demonstrating that habitat pollution has not resulted in high concentrations of pollutants in the bodies of common thresher sharks. For example, Suk et al. (2009) demonstrated that the level of mercury measured in the muscle of individual thresher sharks was quite low (mean 0.13 ± 0.15 μg/g), with no traces of mercury detected in the liver. Mercury concentration increased with shark size to a maximum of 0.7 μg/g for a 241 cm fork length (~ 425 lb) individual, still far lower than for other sharks examined in the study, including the shortfin mako and the sevengill shark (Suk et al., 2009). Although data are unavailable to assess the impact of these mercury levels on the health of the common thresher shark, low mercury levels exhibited by the common thresher shark likely relate to its tendency to feed on small schooling fish and cephalopods, at lower trophic levels than the prey consumed by other sharks studied.

    In summary, the petition, references cited, and information in our files do not comprise substantial information indicating there is present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the common thresher shark's habitat or range such that listing may be warranted.

    Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes

    The petition states that “historical and continued trends of fishing of this commercially and recreationally valuable shark remain a threat,” listing commercial exploitation as the first threat of overutilization of the species. Historically, common thresher sharks were primarily caught in the drift gillnet fishery established off the West Coast of the United States, which targeted the species in the late 1970s. The fishery had shifted its focus to a swordfish fishery by the mid-1980s due to economic drivers, but also to protect pupping female thresher sharks (PFMC, 2003). Since that time, common thresher sharks have only been targeted secondarily or caught incidentally in the drift gillnet fishery there. West Coast commercial landings are down from 1,800 metric tons (mt) in the early 1980s to below 200 mt in 2008 and 2009 (PFMC, 2010). As stated above, based on preliminary stock assessment results, there appears to be an initial period of decline from 1981 to 1986, followed by a gradual rebuilding of the stock (NMFS SWFSC, unpublished data). Average annual landings since 2004 have been about 200 mt (PFMC, 2011), well below an established sustainable and precautionary harvest level of 450 mt, and this level of landings has allowed the population to further rebuild. Regulations on commercial fishing operations (e.g., time and area closures) to protect gravid females during the pupping season (March through August), combined with a switch in the primary target of the driftnet fishery from thresher sharks to swordfish, have likely contributed to the rebuilding of the common thresher shark in the Eastern Pacific Ocean over the past 25 years (PMFC, 2003).

    The petition states that in addition to broad commercial harvest of the species, direct catch related to the shark fin trade has resulted in population decline. No information connecting population declines as a result of this direct catch is provided in the petition. The petition states that common thresher shark fins are valuable due to their large size and longer fin needles. Evidence suggests that the three thresher shark species, collectively, may account for approximately 2.3 percent of the fins auctioned in Hong Kong, the world's largest fin-trading center (Clarke, 2006). This translates to 0.4 million to 3.9 million threshers that may enter the global fin trade each year (Clarke, 2006). However, information on the species-specific impact of this harvest on common thresher shark abundance is not provided by the petitioner, and is not available in our files. The bigeye thresher shark is of higher value and vulnerability to fishing than the common thresher shark (Cortez, 2010); however, the relative proportion of each thresher shark species comprising the shark-fin trade is not available in this genus-level assessment. Overall, evidence that common thresher sharks (and threshers in general) are highly valued for their fins and comprise a portion of the Hong Kong fin-trading auction suggests that this threat may impact the species.

    Indirect catch is another category of overutilization identified by the petition, which states that post-release mortality may be high in the species. However, no information is provided in the petition to connect the effect of bycatch on population declines of the species. In our own files, we found evidence to support that adults and juveniles of common thresher shark are caught as bycatch in longline, purse seine and mid-water fisheries (IATTC, 2006). As stated in the petition, in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean prior to 2000, estimated landings fluctuated at 13-17 t, and in 2000-2001 they exceeded 100 t, after which they dropped to 4 t in 2002 and have not exceeded 7 t since (ICES, 2006). In the Mediterranean, there are no large-scale fisheries targeting pelagic sharks and rays, but these species are taken as bycatch in surface longline fisheries (Cahmi, 2009). In our files, we found evidence that, in the last two decades, common thresher sharks have declined between 96 and 99 percent in abundance and biomass in the Mediterranean Sea (Ferretti, 2008). Currently, there is no commercial fishery for common thresher sharks on the East Coast of the United States, but they are taken as bycatch on pelagic longlines and in gillnets; here, commercial bycatch landings averaged 19,958 kg (dressed weight) from 2003 to 2011, with landings peaking at 27,801 kg (dressed weight) in 2010 (NMFS, 2012; Gervalis et al., 2013). These landings may be linked to declines in the species across the Northwest Atlantic portion of its range; however, as discussed earlier, conflicting logbook and observer data decrease the certainty of these trends (Cortés, 2007; Baum, 2010). In the Southwest Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Brazil, big eye thresher sharks represent almost 100 percent of thresher sharks caught, and only occasionally are common thresher sharks caught in the longline fishery (Amorin, 1998).

    The petition identified recreational fishing as the fourth category of overutilization. In our files, we found evidence that common thresher sharks are valued by recreational sport fishermen throughout the species' U.S. East Coast and West Coast range, and those that are caught are generally landed; the common thresher shark is considered one of the better species for human consumption (Compagno, 2001). The species appears to be increasing in importance at shark tournaments in the Northeastern United States. As described in the petition, at one major tournament, common thresher shark numbers increased steadily such that the percent of total catch increased from 0.1 percent to 4.8 from 1965 to 1995 and jumped to 27.8 percent of the total catch in 2004 (Gervalis et al., 2013). Heberer (2010) identified the potential negative impact of recreational fishing on the survival of the common thresher shark by assessing post-release survivorship of sharks captured using the caudal-fin-based techniques used by most recreational fishermen. Since common thresher sharks use their elongate upper caudal lobe to immobilize prey before it is consumed, the majority of thresher sharks captured in the recreational fishery are hooked in the caudal fin and hauled-in backwards (Heberer, 2010). The common thresher is an obligate ram ventilator that requires forward motion to ventilate the gills (Heberer, 2010). The reduced ability to extract oxygen from the water during capture as well as the stress induced from these capture methods may influence recovery following release. The findings of Heberer (2010) demonstrate that large tail-hooked common thresher sharks with prolonged fight times (≥85 min) exhibit a heightened stress response, which may contribute to an increased mortality rate. This work suggests, especially for larger thresher sharks, that recreational catch-and-release may not be an effective conservation-based strategy for the species. A recent paper by Sepulveda (2014) found similar evidence for high post-release mortality of recreationally caught common thresher sharks in the California recreational shark fishery. Their results demonstrated that caudal-fin-based angling techniques, which often result in trailing gear left embedded in the shark, can negatively affect post-release survivorship. This work suggests that mouth-based angling techniques can, when performed properly, result in a higher survivorship of released sharks. However, these techniques are not a common practice. Recreational catch varies widely from year to year but has averaged roughly 20 mt annually in recent years (CDFG, 2008). The estimated level of catch in this fishery may be imprecise because the fishery is patchy and sporadic. Although recreational catch rate data are unavailable or highly unreliable, evidence for high post-release mortality suggests that increases in recreational fishing may pose a threat to the common thresher shark.

    Overall, trends throughout the Eastern Pacific Ocean suggest that the species either may be rebuilding from historical overexploitation, or may be stable. Elsewhere across the species' range, information in the petition and in our files suggests that the species may continue to experience declines as a result of overutilization. While measures may be implemented to improve post-release mortality of a recreational common thresher shark fishery, and to reduce bycatch, we found no evidence that these measures have been incorporated into common practice. In summary, the petition, references cited, and information in our files comprise substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted because of overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific or educational purposes.

    Disease and Predation

    The petitioner does not identify predation and disease as a threat to the common thresher shark, and we were unable to find any information in our files to suggest that this factor is affecting the continued survival of the species.

    Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petition states that “the U.S. does not provide adequate protection for this species. Additionally, this global species lacks international protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and regional management mechanisms remain ineffective.”

    On the contrary, we found that national fishing regulations on common thresher shark fishing in the United States are precautionary, and have led to the rebuilding of the species in U.S. waters over the last two decades. The Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species includes an annual harvest guideline of 340 mt for thresher shark. This is a precautionary harvest guideline for commercial catch, which is estimated to be 75 percent of the regional maximum sustainable yield for this population. Time and area restrictions in the pelagic drift gillnet fishery were imposed off California in the mid-1980s to protect thresher sharks, and more regulations were added in 2000 to protect sea turtles, resulting in reduced effort. In the United States Atlantic Ocean, the species has been managed as part of the pelagic shark complex under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. Management measures include the following: Commercial quotas, limited entry, time-area closures, and recreational bag limits. Sharks are required to be landed with fins naturally attached to the carcass. Overfishing and overfished status is currently unknown (NMFS HMS 3rd Qtr 2011 stock status), but preliminary stock assessment data suggest that the species is rebuilding in U.S. waters due to management measures to conserve the species (SWFSC, unpublished).

    Since we received the petition, the common thresher shark has been listed in Appendix II under the International Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The petitioner stated that there are no laws specifically addressing the needs of the common thresher shark; however, a CMS Appendix II listing now encourages international cooperation towards conservation of the species.

    We agree with the petition that the majority of other international regulations provide general protection for all sharks, and that includes the common thresher shark. The petition asserts that finning regulations are “inadequate” for protecting the common thresher shark species because common thresher sharks may still be caught, either directly or indirectly as bycatch. The petition also cites several regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) that implement a 5-percent fin-to-carcass ratio regulation, describes what the petitioner contends are potential loopholes in those regulations, and states that these general regulations are inadequate for the common thresher shark, whose larger fins make it a more targeted species. We agree with the petitioner that the common thresher shark is highly valued for its fins, and can be identified in the shark fin market, although only to the genus level. However, we do not find that national and international regulations are inadequate for protecting the common thresher shark.

    Finning regulations are a common form of shark management regulation and have been adopted by far more countries and regional fishery management organizations than the petition lists (see HSI, 2012). While the petitioner asserts that there may be some loopholes in regulations using a 5% fin-to-carcass ratio, we find that the common thresher shark is rebuilding in broad portions of its range and is of lower vulnerability due to its demographic characteristics, such that current regulations are not considered inadequate. In addition, a number of countries have also enacted complete shark fishing bans, with the Bahamas, Marshall Islands, Honduras, Sabah (Malaysia), and Tokelau (an island territory of New Zealand) added to the list in 2011, and an area of 1.9 million km off the Cook Islands added in 2012. The petition states that Tokelau and the Cook Islands have only partial fishing bans, but this statement appears to be based on incomplete information. Shark sanctuaries can also be found in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (which encompasses around 2,000,000 km2 and includes the Galapagos, Cocos, and Malpelo Islands), and in waters off the Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, and French Polynesia. Countries, states, and territories that prohibit the sale or trade of shark fins or products include the Bahamas, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Egypt, French Polynesia, Guam, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Sabah. Several U.S. States prohibit the sale or trade of shark fins/products as well, including Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Massachusetts. The U.S. Shark Conservation Act of 2010 protects all shark species, making it illegal to remove any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) at sea; to have custody, control, or possession of any such fin aboard a fishing vessel unless it is naturally attached to the corresponding carcass; to transfer any such fin from one vessel to another vessel at sea, or to receive any such fin in such transfer, without the fin naturally attached to the corresponding carcass; or to land any such fin that is not naturally attached to the corresponding carcass, or to land any shark carcass without such fins naturally attached. Additionally, many cities in Canada also prohibit the sale or trade of shark fins/products. All of these measures provide protections for the global common thresher shark population.

    The petition also mentions the lack of CITES protections for the common thresher shark. The common thresher shark is not a CITES listed species, however, a CITES listing would only address threats associated with the international trade of the species, and would not address such impacts as bycatch or recreational catch-and-release of the species. Although a CITES Appendix II listing or international reporting requirements would provide better data on the global catch and trade of the common thresher shark, the lack of a CITES listing or requirements would not suggest that current regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the common thresher shark population from becoming endangered under the ESA.

    In summary, the petition, references cited, and information in our files do not comprise substantial information indicating that the species is impacted by inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms such that listing may be warranted.

    Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Existence

    The petition states that the biological constraints of the common thresher shark, such as its low reproduction rate (typically 2-4 pups a year), coupled with the time required to reach maturity (approximately 5 years), contribute to the species' vulnerability to harvesting and its inability to recover rapidly. It is true that the common thresher shark and pelagic sharks, in general, exhibit relatively slow growth rates and low fecundity; however, not all species are equally vulnerable to fishing pressure due to these life history characteristics.

    An ecological risk assessment conducted to inform the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) categorized the relative risk of overexploitation of the 11 major species of pelagic sharks, including the common thresher shark (Cortés et al., 2010, 2012). The study derived an overall vulnerability ranking for each of the 11 species, which was defined as “a measure of the extent to which the impact of a fishery [Atlantic long line] on a species will exceed its biological ability to renew itself” (Cortés et al., 2010, 2012). This robust assessment found that common thresher sharks, along with pelagic stingrays, are relatively productive species that show very low susceptibility to the combined pelagic longline fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean (Cortés et al., 2010, 2012). In fact, of 11 species examined, common thresher sharks exhibited one of the lowest vulnerability rankings. The relatively low vulnerability of the common thresher shark is further supported by a recent comparison of demographic models which ranked 26 pelagic sharks according to their potential growth rate and rebound potential (Chapple et al., 2013). The common thresher shark was found to rank 9 out of 26 overall in terms of its egg production, rebound potential, potential for population increase, and for its stochastic growth rate; again ranking among the highest in productivity when compared with other pelagic sharks (Chapple et al., 2013). Even within the genus Alopiidae, the common thresher shark is considered the fastest-growing and earliest-maturing of the three species, and attains the largest size (Smith et al., 2008).

    In summary, the petition, references cited, and information in our files do not comprise substantial information indicating that the species is impacted by “other natural or manmade factors,” including the life history trait of slow productivity, such that listing of the species may be warranted.

    Summary of Section 4(a)(1) Factors

    We conclude that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the ESA section (4)(a)(1) threats of “other manmade or natural factors” or “inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms” may be causing or contributing to an increased risk of extinction for the global population of the common thresher shark. In addition, neither the petition nor information in our files indicated that the “present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range,” or “disease or predation” are threats to the species. However, we do conclude that the petition and information in our files present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the section 4(a)(1) factor “overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes” may be causing or contributing to an increased risk of extinction for the species.

    Petition Finding

    Based on the above information and the criteria specified in 50 CFR 424.14(b)(2), we find that the petition and information readily available in our files presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action of listing the common thresher shark worldwide as threatened or endangered may be warranted. Therefore, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA and NMFS' implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.14(b)(2)), we will commence a status review of the species. During the status review, we will determine whether the species is in danger of extinction (endangered) or likely to become so within the foreseeable future (threatened) throughout all or a significant portion of its range. We now initiate this review, and thus, we consider the common thresher shark to be a candidate species (69 FR 19975; April 15, 2004). Within 12 months of the receipt of the petition (August 26, 2015), we will make a finding as to whether listing the species as endangered or threatened is warranted as required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA. If listing the species is found to be warranted, we will publish a proposed rule and solicit public comments before developing and publishing a final rule.

    Information Solicited

    To ensure that the status review is based on the best available scientific and commercial data, we are soliciting information relevant to whether the common thresher shark is endangered or threatened. Specifically, we are soliciting information in the following areas: (1) Historical and current distribution and abundance of this species throughout its range; (2) historical and current population trends; (3) life history in marine environments, including identified nursery grounds; (4) historical and current data on common thresher shark bycatch and retention in industrial, commercial, artisanal, and recreational fisheries worldwide; (5) historical and current data on common thresher shark discards in global fisheries; (6) data on the trade of common thresher shark products, including fins, jaws, meat, and teeth; (7) any current or planned activities that may adversely impact the species; (8) ongoing or planned efforts to protect and restore the species and its habitats; (9) population structure information, such as genetics data; and (10) management, regulatory, and enforcement information. We request that all information be accompanied by: (1) Supporting documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications; and (2) the submitter's name, address, and any association, institution, or business that the person represents.

    References Cited

    A complete list of references is available upon request to the Office of Protected Resources (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority;

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04409 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 41 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Notices JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Hearing of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure; Federal Register Citation of Previous Announcements: 79 FR 48250 and 79 FR 72702. AGENCY:

    Judicial Conference of the United States, Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure.

    ACTION:

    Revised Notice of Proposed Amendments and Open Hearing.

    Please note:

    The public hearing on the amendments to the Appellate Rules and Forms previously scheduled in Washington, DC for February 17, 2015, was canceled due to weather conditions. That public hearing has been rescheduled for March 6, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the Mecham Center of the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, One Columbus Circle NE., Washington, DC 20544.

    SUMMARY:

    The Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure has proposed amendments to the following rules and forms:

    Appellate Rules 4, 5, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28.1, 29, 32, 35, and 40, and Forms 1, 5, 6, and New Form 7.

    Written comments and suggestions with respect to the proposed amendments were accepted from August 15, 2014 through February 17, 2015. In accordance with established procedures, all comments submitted are available for public inspection and can be found along with the text of the proposed rules amendments and the accompanying Committee Notes at the United States Federal Courts' Web site at http://www.uscourts.gov/rulesandpolicies/rules/proposed-amendments.aspx. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Secretary, Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States, Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, One Columbus Circle NE., Suite 7-240, Washington, DC 20544, Telephone (202) 502-1820.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Julie Wilson, Attorney Advisor, Rules Committee Support.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04329 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 2210-55-P
    AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records AGENCY:

    United States Agency for International Development.

    ACTION:

    New system of records notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is issuing new public notice for a system of records entitled “USAID-1 Foreign Service Personnel Records”. This action is necessary to meet the requirements of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 522a(e)(4), to publish in the Federal Register notice of the existence and character of record systems maintained by the agency.

    DATES:

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 522a(e)(4) and (11), the public is given a 30-day period in which to comment. Therefore, any comments must be received on or before April 2, 2015. Unless comments are received that would require a revision, this altered system of records will become effective on April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments:

    Electronic

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

    Email: [email protected]

    Paper

    Fax: (703) 666-5670.

    Mail: Chief Privacy Officer, United States Agency for International Development, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The USAID Privacy Office at United States Agency for International Development, Bureau for Management, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Information Assurance Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523; or via email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    USAID has recently conducted a review of systems of records notices and has determined that it deleted USAID-1 Foreign Service Personnel Records in error at 72 FR 50096 (August 30, 2007). USAID-1 was last published at 42 FR 47371 (Sept. 20, 1977). USAID will create a new USAID-1 with the same title, Foreign Service Personnel Records. Also, USAID has determined that USAID-6 Recruiting, Examining and Placement Records and USAID-7 Foreign Service Personnel Evaluation Records were deleted in error on August 30, 2007 (72 FR 50096). In addition, USAID has determined that the portions of USAID-11 Employee Conduct and Discipline Records, USAID-12 Executive Assignment Records, USAID-13 Orientation and Training Records, and USAID-24 Emergency Case File that cover Foreign Service personnel records were deleted in error on August 30, 2007 (72 FR 50096). In order to reflect the current status of the USAID Foreign Service personnel system of records, the new USAID-1 Foreign Service Personnel Records will incorporate the Foreign Service personnel records from USAID-1, USAID-6, USAID-7, USAID-11, USAID-12, USAID-13, and USAID-24.

    Dated: February 5, 2015. William Morgan, Chief Privacy Officer, United States Agency for International Development. USAID-1 SYSTEM NAME:

    Foreign Service Personnel Records.

    SYSTEM LOCATION:

    United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523 and other USAID offices in the United States and throughout the world; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Finance Center (NFC), New Orleans, LA 70129; U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, IRS-Enterprise Computing Center-Detroit, Detroit, MI 48232; Washington National Records Center, 4205 Suitland Road, Suitland, MD 20746-8001; and National Personnel Records Center, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 111 Winnebago Street, St. Louis, MO 63118.

    CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE SYSTEM:

    The system encompasses all individuals who are current or former employees hired under the Foreign Service Act authority by 1) USAID or 2) another federal agency and on detail to USAID.

    CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

    This system consists of records created or compiled for Foreign Service Act personnel actions, including official personnel files; work experience, education level achieved, and specialized education or training obtained both inside and outside of Foreign Service; Federal service, past and present positions held, grades, salaries, duty station locations; notices of all personnel actions, such as appointments, transfers, reassignments, details, promotions, demotions, reductions-in-force, resignations, separations, suspensions, and removals; life and health insurance benefits; position classification; recruiting, examining, and placement; disability, race/ethnicity, and national origin classification data; evaluation and performance management; employee conduct and discipline; executive assignments; orientation and training; awards and incentives; workers compensation; designations for lump-sum death benefits; classified information nondisclosure agreements; Thrift Savings Plan; and ethics pledges and all pledge waiver certifications. Medical records, forms, and reports are included when they are related to the application for and employment as a Foreign Service position, including health records related to workers' compensation claims, employee health promotion and wellness activities, and drug testing. All categories of records may include identifying information, such as name, Social Security Number, mailing address, home telephone number, cell phone number, resume, clearance level, pay grade, salary, direct-deposit financial information, position title, and position number.

    AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF RECORDS:

    The system was established and is maintained pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 301, Departmental Regulations; 5 U.S.C. 302, Delegation of Authority; 22 U.S.C. Ch. 32, Foreign Assistance, Subchapter I, International Development; 22 U.S.C. Ch. 52, Foreign Service.

    PURPOSE(S):

    The records are collected, used, maintained, and disseminated for the purpose of documenting all processes associated with individual Foreign Service employment histories and career progression, including screening qualifications of employees; determining status, eligibility, and employee's rights and benefits; computing length of service; other Foreign Service personnel services; and making personnel management determinations about Foreign Service personnel throughout their Foreign Service careers.

    ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND PURPOSEs OF SUCH USE:

    In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b), all or a portion of the records contained in this system of records may be disclosed outside USAID as a routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as follows:

    (1) To a court, magistrate, or other administrative body in the course of presenting evidence, including disclosures to counsel or witnesses in the course of civil discovery, litigation, or settlement negotiations or in connection with criminal proceedings, when USAID is a party to the proceeding or has a significant interest in the proceeding, to the extent that the information is determined to be relevant and necessary.

    (2) To the Department of Justice or other appropriate Federal Government agency when the records are arguably relevant to a proceeding in a court or other tribunal in which USAID or a USAID official in his or her official capacity is a party or has an interest, or when the litigation is likely to affect USAID.

    (3) To a Federal Government agency or entity that furnished the record or information for the purpose of permitting that agency or entity to make a decision as to access to or correction of the record or information.

    (4) In the event of an indication of a violation or potential violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by statute or particular program pursuant thereto, to the appropriate agency, whether federal, state, local or foreign, charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation or charged with enforcing or implementing the statute, or rule, regulation, or order issued pursuant thereto.

    (5) To the Department of State and its posts abroad for the purpose of transmission of information between organizational units of the Agency, or for purposes related to the responsibilities of the Department of State in conducting United States foreign policy or protecting United States citizens, such as the assignment of employees to positions abroad, the reporting of accidents abroad, evacuation of employees and dependents, and other purposes for which officers and employees of the Department of State have a need for the records in the performance of their duties.

    (6) To a foreign government or international agency in response to its request for information to facilitate the conduct of U.S. relations with that government or agency through the issuance of such documents as visas, country clearances, identification cards, drivers' licenses, diplomatic lists, licenses to import or export personal effects, and other official documents and permits routinely required in connection with the official service or travel abroad of the individual and his or her dependents.

    (7) To Federal agencies with which USAID has entered into an agreement to provide services to assist USAID in carrying out its functions under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. Such disclosures would be for the purpose of transmission of information between organizational units of USAID; of providing to the original employing agency information concerning the services of its employee while under the supervision of USAID, including performance evaluations, reports of conduct, awards and commendations, and information normally obtained in the course of personnel administration and employee supervision; or of providing other information directly related to the purposes of the inter-agency agreement as set forth therein, and necessary and relevant to its implementation.

    (8) To appropriate officials and employees of a Federal Government agency or entity when the information is relevant to a decision concerning the hiring, appointment, or retention of an employee; the assignment, detail or deployment of an employee; the issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a security clearance; the execution of a security or suitability investigation; the letting of a contract; or the issuance of a grant or benefit.

    (9) To a committee or subcommittee of Congress and the Government Accountability Office for the purposes of responding to inquiries.

    (10) To the National Archives and Records Administration, Information Security Oversight Office, Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, for the purpose of adjudicating an appeal from a USAID denial of a request for mandatory declassification review of records, made under the applicable executive order(s) governing classification.

    (11) To the National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), to the extent necessary to fulfill its responsibilities in 5 U.S.C. 552(h), to review administrative agency policies, procedures, and compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, and to facilitate OGIS' offering of mediation services to resolve disputes between persons making FOIA requests and administrative agencies.

    (12) To the National Archives and Records Administration for the purposes of records management inspections conducted under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.

    (13) To a former employee of USAID for purposes of responding to an official inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government entity or professional licensing authority, in accordance with applicable agency regulations; or facilitating communications with a former employee that may be necessary for personnel-related or other official purposes where USAID requires information and/or consultation assistance from the former employee regarding a matter within that person's former area of responsibility.

    (14) To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) USAID suspects or has confirmed that the security or confidentiality of information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) USAID has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by the USAID or another agency, entity, or person) that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) the disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist in connection with USAID's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.

    (15) To attorneys, union representatives, or other persons designated by USAID employees in writing to represent them in complaints, grievance, appeal, or litigation cases.

    (16) To requestors in determining a former spouse's entitlement to benefits and other inquiries related to retirement benefits.

    (17) To labor organization officials when such information is relevant to personnel policies affecting employment conditions and necessary for exclusive representation by the labor organization.

    (18) To officials of foreign governments and other U.S. government agencies for clearance before a Federal employee is assigned to that country as well as for the procurement of necessary services for American personnel assigned overseas, such as permits of free entry and identity cards.

    (19) To the Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, Department of Defense, or any other Federal agencies that have special civilian employee retirement and disability programs; or to a national, state, county, municipal, or other publicly recognized income administration agency (e.g. State unemployment compensation agencies), when necessary to adjudicate a claim under the retirement, insurance, unemployment or health benefits programs of USAID or an agency cited above, or to an agency to conduct an analytical study or audit of benefits being paid under such programs.

    (20) To the Office of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, information necessary to verify election, declination, or waiver of regular and/or optional life insurance coverage, or eligibility for payment of a claim for life insurance.

    (21) To health insurance carriers contracting with the Federal government to provide a health benefits plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, information necessary to identify enrollment in a plan, to verify eligibility for payment of a claim for health benefits, or to carry out the coordination or audit of benefit provisions of such contracts.

    (22) To any person who is responsible for the care of an individual to whom a record pertains who is mentally incompetent or under other legal disability. Information in the individual's record may be disclosed to said person to the extent necessary to assure payment of benefits to which the individual is entitled.

    (23) To public and private organizations, including news media, which grant or publicize employee recognition to consider and select employees for incentive awards and other honors and to publicize awards and honors granted.

    (24) To the Department of Justice in connection with proceedings before a court, adjudicative body, or other administrative body when any of the following is a party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation and USAID determines that the use of such records is arguably relevant and necessary to the litigation of (1) the USAID or any component thereof, (2) any employee of the USAID in his or her official capacity, (3) any employee of the USAID in his or her individual capacity where the Department of Justice or the USAID has agreed to represent the employee, or (4) the United States, when the USAID determines that litigation is likely to affect the USAID or any of its components.

    (25) To implement court decisions and/or terms of settlement agreements reached by the parties.

    (26) To prepare reports to the courts in compliance with monitoring requirements.

    (27) To courts or federal agencies including, but not limited to, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Foreign Service Grievance Board, and the Merit Systems Protection Board, in response to an order directing the production of personnel records.

    (28) To other Government agencies and private organizations, institutions or individuals to verify employment, to process security clearances and to request record or credit checks.

    (29) To officials of other Federal agencies for purposes of performance of official duties in support of the functions for which the records were collected and maintained.

    (30) To disclose information to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselors and EEO investigators in connection with EEO complaints and to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when requested in connection with investigations of alleged or possible discrimination practices in the Federal sector, examination of Federal affirmative employment programs, compliance by Federal agencies with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, or other functions vested in the Commission.

    (31) To the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation programs relating to benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

    (32) To disclose information to the news media and the public when a matter involving the USAID has become public knowledge; the Assistant Administrator Under Secretary for Management determines that in response to the matter in the public domain, disclosure is necessary to provide an accurate factual record on the matter; and the Assistant Administrator for Management determines that there is a legitimate public interest in the information disclosed.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORING, RETRIEVING, ACCESSING, RETAINING, AND DISPOSING OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM: STORAGE:

    Paper and microfiche records are maintained by USAID and are safeguarded in secured cabinets within secured rooms. The electronic records are stored in the HR Connect system, Electronic Official Personnel File (eOPF) system, and National Finance Center Payroll/Personnel System, which are safeguarded in accordance with applicable rules and policies, including all applicable USAID automated systems security and access policies. Strict controls have been imposed to minimize the risk of compromising the information that is being stored. Access to the records is limited to those individuals who have a need to know the information for the performance of their official duties and who have appropriate clearances or permissions.

    RETRIEVABILITY:

    Records are retrieved by the name of the Foreign Service personnel and numeric identifier.

    SAFEGUARDS:

    Information in this system is safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws, rules and policies, including the agency's automated directive system. In general, records and technical equipment are maintained in buildings with restricted access. The required use of password protection identification features and other system protection methods also restrict access. Access is limited to those officers and authorized USAID employees who have an official need to access the records in the performance of their official duties.

    RETENTION AND DISPOSAL:

    Records are retained and disposed of in accordance with the National Archives Records Administration's General Records Disposition Schedules and the agency's approved disposition schedules.

    SYSTEM MANAGER(S) AND ADDRESS:

    Director, Foreign Service Center, Human Capital and Talent Management, United States Agency for International Development, Office of Human Resources, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523.

    NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE:

    Same as Record Access Procedures.

    RECORDS ACCESS PROCEDURES:

    Under the Privacy Act, individuals may request access to records about themselves. If an agency or a person, who is not the individual who is the subject of the records, requests access to records about an individual, the written consent of the individual who is the subject of the records is required.

    Requesters may submit requests for records under the Privacy Act: (1) By mail to the USAID FOIA Office, Bureau for Management, Office of Management Services, Information and Records Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Room 2.07C-RRB, Washington, DC 20523-2701; (2) via Facsimile to 202-216-3070; (3) via email to [email protected]; (4) on the USAID Web site at www.usaid.gov/foia-requests; or (5) in person during regular business hours at USAID, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523-2701, or at USAID overseas missions.

    Requesters using 1 through 4 may provide a written statement or may complete and submit USAID Form 507-1, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Record Request Form, which can be obtained: (a) On the USAID Web site at www.usaid.gov/foia-requests; (b) by email request to [email protected]; or (c) by writing to the USAID FOIA Office, Bureau for Management, Office of Management Services, Information and Records Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Room 2.07C-RRB, Washington, DC 20523-2701, and provide information that is necessary to identify the records, including the following: Requester's full name; present mailing address; home telephone; work telephone; name of subject, if other than requester; requester relationship to subject; description of type of information or specific records; and purpose of requesting information. Requesters should provide the system of record identification name and number, if known; and, to facilitate the retrieval of records contained in those systems of records which are retrieved by Social Security Numbers, the Social Security Number of the individual to whom the record pertains.

    In addition, requesters using 1 through 4 must include proof of identity information by providing copies of two (2) source documents that must be notarized by a valid (un-expired) notary public. Acceptable proof-of-identity source documents include: An unexpired United States passport; Social Security Card (both sides); unexpired United States Government employee identity card; unexpired driver's license or identification card issued by a state or United States possession, provided that it contain a photograph; certificate of United States citizenship; certificate of naturalization; card showing permanent residence in the United States; United States alien registration receipt card with photograph; United States military card or draft record; or United States military dependent's identification card.

    Requesters using 1 through 4 must also provide a signed and notarized statement that they are the person named in the request; that they understand that any falsification of their statement is punishable under the provision of 18 U.S.C. 1001 by a fine, or by imprisonment of not more than five years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisonment of not more than eight years, or both; and that requesting or obtaining records under false pretenses is punishable under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3) as a misdemeanor and by a fine of not more than $5,000.

    Requesters using 5 must provide such personal identification as is reasonable under the circumstances to verify the requester's identity, including the following: An unexpired United States passport; Social Security Card; unexpired United States Government employee identity card; unexpired driver's license or identification card issued by a state or United States possession, provided that it contain a photograph; certificate of United States citizenship; certificate of naturalization; card showing permanent residence in the United States; United States alien registration receipt card with photograph; United States military card or draft record; or United States military dependent's identification card.

    CONTESTING RECORDS PROCEDURES:

    Individuals seeking to contest or amend records maintained on himself or herself must clearly and concisely state that information is being contested, and the proposed amendment to the information sought. Requests to amend a record must follow the Record Access Procedures above.

    RECORDS SOURCE CATEGORIES:

    These records contain information provided directly by the individuals who are the subject of these records; and from administrative officers in USAID bureaus and missions, Office of Human Resources employees, and other sources of records maintained in the official personnel files of Foreign Service personnel.

    EXEMPTIONS CLAIMED FOR THE SYSTEM:

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(1), subject to the provisions of section 552(b)(1), records are exempted from 5 U.S.C. 552a (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I), and (f) to protect material required to be kept Secret. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(4), records contained within this system that are maintained solely for statistical purposes are also exempted from 5 U.S.C. 552a (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I), and (f). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(5) and (k)(7), certain records contained within this system contain confidential source information and are exempted from 5 U.S.C. 552a (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I), and (f). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(6), records that contain testing or examination material the release of which may compromise testing or examination procedures are also exempted from 5 U.S.C. 552a (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I), and (f). See USAID Rules published in 22 CFR 215.13 and 215.14.

    [FR Doc. 2015-04305 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6116-02-P
    AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records AGENCY:

    United States Agency for International Development.

    ACTION:

    New system of records.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is issuing public notice for a new system of records entitled, “USAID-34 Personal Services Contracts Records”. This action is necessary to meet the requirements of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 522a(e)(4), to publish in the Federal Register notice of the existence and character of record systems maintained by the agency.

    DATES:

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 522a(e)(4) and (11), the public is given a 30-day period in which to comment. Therefore, any comments must be received on or before April 2, 2015. Unless comments are received that would require a revision, this new system of records will become effective on April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments:

    Electronic

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

    Email: [email protected]

    Paper

    Fax: (703) 666-5670.

    Mail: Chief Privacy Officer, United States Agency for International Development, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The USAID Privacy Office at United States Agency for International Development, Bureau for Management, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Information Assurance Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523; or via email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    USAID has recently conducted a review of systems of records notices and has determined that a new system of records “USAID-34 Personal Services Contracts Records” is needed to document records created during the development, operation, and conclusion of personal services contracts by USAID. A personal services contract creates an employer-employee relationship between USAID and the contractor, requires continuous monitoring of the contractor by USAID, and must be specifically authorized by a statute applicable to USAID. The new USAID-34 Personal Services Contracts Records will read as set forth below.

    Dated: February 5, 2015. William Morgan, Chief Privacy Officer, United States Agency for International Development. USAID-34 SYSTEM NAME:

    Personal Services Contracts Records.

    SYSTEM LOCATION:

    United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523; Terremark, 50 NE 9th Street, Miami, FL 33132; U.S. Department of State COOP Beltsville (BIMC), 8101 Odell Road, Floor/Room—173, Beltsville, MD 20705; U.S. Department of State, Global Financial Service Center (GFSC—DoS), 1969 Dyess Ave., Building A, Computer Room 2A228, Charleston, SC 29405; and other USAID offices in the United States and throughout the world that have personal services contractor hiring authority.

    CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE SYSTEM:

    The system encompasses all individuals who are personal services contractors with USAID.

    CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

    This system consists of records created or compiled for contract actions related to personal services contractors, including personal services contractor files and contract documents. A personal services contractor file includes name, Social Security Number, address, citizenship, resume, education, professional experience, other qualifications, Selective Service registration data, language proficiencies, licenses and certifications, clearance level, salary, direct-deposit financial information, contract number, position title, travel availability, training received, assignments, position number, applicable medical clearances, and performance evaluations. Contract documents include applications, salary worksheet computations, statements of work, qualifications approval memoranda, final offer letters, contract, performance evaluations, correspondence, advanced leave requests, training certifications, release forms, and out-processing checklists.

    AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF RECORDS:

    The system was established and is maintained pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act, Public Law 87-165, as amended; 48 CFR 37.104, Personal services contracts; 48 CFR Ch. 7, App. D, Direct USAID Contracts with a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Resident Alien for Personal Services Abroad.

    PURPOSE(S):

    The records are collected, used, maintained, and disseminated for the purposes of documenting personal services contracts processing, including personal services contracts records, pay and benefits determinations and processing, determining accountability and liability of contract parties, reports of contractor actions, and the records required in connection with the personal services contractor during the contract cycle.

    ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND PURPOSEs OF SUCH USE:

    In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b), all or a portion of the records contained in this system of records may be disclosed outside USAID as a routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as follows:

    (1) To the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration for the purposes of reporting earnings information.

    (2) To a court, magistrate, or other administrative body in the course of presenting evidence, including disclosures to counsel or witnesses in the course of civil discovery, litigation, or settlement negotiations or in connection with criminal proceedings, when USAID is a party to the proceeding or has a significant interest in the proceeding, to the extent that the information is determined to be relevant and necessary.

    (3) To the Department of Justice or other appropriate Federal Government agency when the records are arguably relevant to a proceeding in a court or other tribunal in which USAID or a USAID official in his or her official capacity is a party or has an interest, or when the litigation is likely to affect USAID.

    (4) To a Federal Government agency or entity that furnished the record or information for the purposes of permitting that agency or entity to make a decision as to access to or correction of the record or information.

    (5) In the event of an indication of a violation or potential violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by statute or particular program pursuant thereto, to the appropriate agency, whether federal, state, local or foreign, charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation or charged with enforcing or implementing the statute, or rule, regulation, or order issued pursuant thereto.

    (6) To the Department of State and its posts abroad for the purposes of transmission of information between organizational units of the Agency, or for the purposes related to the responsibilities of the Department of State in conducting United States foreign policy or protecting United States citizens, such as the assignment of employees to positions abroad, the reporting of accidents abroad, evacuation of employees and dependents, and for other purposes for which officers and employees of the Department of State have a need for the records in the performance of their duties.

    (7) To a foreign government or international agency in response to its request for information to facilitate the conduct of U.S. relations with that government or agency through the issuance of such documents as visas, country clearances, identification cards, drivers' licenses, diplomatic lists, licenses to import or export personal effects, and other official documents and permits routinely required in connection with the official service or travel abroad of the individual and his or her dependents.

    (8) To Federal agencies with which USAID has entered into an agreement to provide services to assist USAID in carrying out its functions under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. Such disclosures would be for the purpose of transmission of information between organizational units of USAID; of providing to the original employing agency information concerning the services of its employee while under the supervision of USAID, including performance evaluations, reports of conduct, awards and commendations, and information normally obtained in the course of personnel administration and employee supervision; or of providing other information directly related to the purposes of the inter-agency agreement as set forth therein, and necessary and relevant to its implementation.

    (9) To appropriate officials and employees of a Federal Government agency or entity when the information is relevant to a decision concerning the hiring, appointment, or retention of an employee; the assignment, detail or deployment of an employee; the issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a security clearance; the execution of a security or suitability investigation; the letting of a contract; or the issuance of a grant or benefit.

    (10) To the National Archives and Records Administration, Information Security Oversight Office, Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, for the purposes of adjudicating an appeal from a USAID denial of a request for mandatory declassification review of records, made under the applicable executive order(s) governing classification.

    (11) To the National Archives and Records Administration for the purposes of records management inspections conducted under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.

    (12) To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) USAID suspects or has confirmed that the security or confidentiality of information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) USAID has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by the USAID or another agency, entity, or person) that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) the disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist in connection with USAID's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.

    (13) To a Federal, State, or local agency maintaining civil, criminal, or other relevant enforcement information or other pertinent information, or to private individuals, for the purposes of requesting information relevant to a USAID decision concerning the hiring, retention, or promotion of a personal services contractor, the issuance of a security clearance, or other decision within the purposes of this system of records.

    (14) To a prospective employer of a current or former USAID personal services contractor for the purposes of providing the following information to prospective employers: Job descriptions, dates of contract, and reason for termination of contract.

    (15) To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons for the purposes of confirming the qualifications of an applicant for the award of a personal services contract.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORING, RETRIEVING, ACCESSING, RETAINING, AND DISPOSING OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM: STORAGE:

    Records in this system are stored on paper and/or electronic form; and are maintained in locked cabinets and/or user-authenticated, password-protected systems.

    RETRIEVABILITY:

    Records are retrieved by the name of the personal services contractor and the contract number.

    SAFEGUARDS:

    Information in this system is safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws, rules and policies, including the agency's automated directive system. In general, records and technical equipment are maintained in buildings with restricted access. The required use of password protection identification features and other system protection methods also restrict access. Paper records and Sensitive But Unclassified records are kept in an approved security container at the USAID Washington headquarters, and at the relevant locations where USAID has a program. The electronic records are stored in the Agency Secure Image and Storage Tracking (ASIST) or other document management systems, which are safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and policies, including USAID's automated systems security and access policies. Access to the records is restricted to those authorized USAID personnel and authorized contractors who have an official need to access the records in the performance of their official duties.

    RETENTION AND DISPOSAL:

    Records are retained and disposed of in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations and/or the National Archives Records Administration's General Records Disposition Schedules, and the agency's approved disposition schedules.

    SYSTEM MANAGER(S) AND ADDRESS:

    USAID Contracting Officers or Heads of Contracting Activities, United States Agency for International Development, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523; and USAID Missions throughout the world.

    NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE:

    Same as Record Access Procedures.

    RECORDS ACCESS PROCEDURES:

    Under the Privacy Act, individuals may request access to records about themselves. If an agency or a person, who is not the individual who is the subject of the records, requests access to records about an individual, the written consent of the individual who is the subject of the records is required.

    Requesters may submit requests for records under the Privacy Act: (1) By mail to the USAID FOIA Office, Bureau for Management, Office of Management Services, Information and Records Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Room 2.07C-RRB, Washington, DC 20523-2701; (2) via Facsimile to 202-216-3070; (3) via email to [email protected]; (4) on the USAID Web site at www.usaid.gov/foia-requests; or (5) in person during regular business hours at USAID, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523-2701, or at USAID overseas missions.

    Requesters using 1 through 4 may provide a written statement or may complete and submit USAID Form 507-1, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Record Request Form, which can be obtained: (a) On the USAID Web site at www.usaid.gov/foia-requests; (b) by email request to [email protected]; or (c) by writing to the USAID FOIA Office, Bureau for Management, Office of Management Services, Information and Records Division, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Room 2.07C-RRB, Washington, DC 20523-2701, and provide information that is necessary to identify the records, including the following: Requester's full name; present mailing address; home telephone; work telephone; name of subject, if other than requester; requester relationship to subject; description of type of information or specific records; and purpose of requesting information. Requesters should provide the system of record identification name and number, if known; and, to facilitate the retrieval of records contained in those systems of records which are retrieved by Social Security Numbers, the Social Security Number of the individual to whom the record pertains.

    In addition, requesters using 1 through 4 must include proof of identity information by providing copies of two (2) source documents that must be notarized by a valid (un-expired) notary public. Acceptable proof-of-identity source documents include: An unexpired United States passport; Social Security Card (both sides); unexpired United States Government employee identity card; unexpired driver's license or identification card issued by a state or United States possession, provided that it contain a photograph; certificate of United States citizenship; certificate of naturalization; card showing permanent residence in the United States; United States alien registration receipt card with photograph; United States military card or draft record; or United States military dependent's identification card.

    Requesters using 1 through 4 must also provide a signed and notarized statement that they are the person named in the request; that they understand that any falsification of their statement is punishable under the provision of 18 U.S.C. 1001 by a fine, or by imprisonment of not more than five years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisonment of not more than eight years, or both; and that requesting or obtaining records under false pretenses is punishable under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3) as a misdemeanor and by a fine of not more than $5,000.

    Requesters using 5 must provide such personal identification as is reasonable under the circumstances to verify the requester's identity, including the following: An unexpired United States passport; Social Security Card; unexpired United States Government employee identity card; unexpired driver's license or identification card issued by a state or United States possession, provided that it contain a photograph; certificate of United States citizenship; certificate of naturalization; card showing permanent residence in the United States; United States alien registration receipt card with photograph; United States military card or draft record; or United States military dependent's identification card.

    CONTESTING RECORDS PROCEDURES:

    Individuals seeking to contest or amend records maintained on himself or herself must clearly and concisely state that information is being contested, and the proposed amendment to the information sought. Requests to amend a record must follow the Record Access Procedures above.

    RECORDS SOURCE CATEGORIES:

    These records contain information directly from the individuals who are the subject of these records; as well as from contracting officers and contracting officers' representatives in USAID bureaus and missions, and Office of Human Resources employees.

    EXEMPTIONS CLAIMED FOR THE SYSTEM:

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5) and as specified in 22 CFR 215.14(a)(5) and (c)(5), certain records in this system of records are exempt from the following provisions of the Privacy Act: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1); (e)(4)(G); (H); (I); and (f).

    [FR Doc. 2015-04307 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6116-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board (Board) will meet in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Board is established consistent with the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C. App. II), the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1612), and the Federal Public Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (Pub. L. 108-447). Additional information concerning the Board, including the meeting summary/minutes, can be found by visiting the Board's Web site at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/blackhills/workingtogether/advisorycommittees.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.

    All meetings are subject to cancellation. For updated status of meeting prior to attendance, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Mystic Ranger District, 8221 South Highway 16, Rapid City, South Dakota. Written comments may be submitted as described under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. All comments, including names and addresses, when provided, are placed in the record and available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments received at the Black Hills National Forest Supervisor's Office. Please call ahead to facilitate entry into the building.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Scott Jacobson, Committee Coordinator, by phone at 605-673-9216, or by email at [email protected]

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the meeting is to provide:

    (1) Climate Change and Forest Management presentation.

    (2) Motorized Travel Fees for FY 16—Working Group Update;

    (3) Over Snow Use—Subpart c discussion; and

    (4) Lakes Enhancement Project Update;

    The meeting is open to the public. The agenda will include time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should submit a request in writing by March 9, 2015 to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the Board may file written statements with the Board's staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and time requests for oral comments must be sent to Scott Jacobson, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor's Office, 1019 North Fifth Street, Custer, South Dakota 57730; by email to [email protected], or via facsimile to 605-673-9208.

    Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices or other reasonable accommodation for access to the facility or proceedings by contacting the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04359 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Sunshine Act Meeting Notice AGENCY:

    United States Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Briefing notice.

    DATES:

    Date and Time: Monday, March 16, 2015; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. EST.

    ADDRESSES:

    Place: 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Suite 1150, Washington, DC.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lenore Ostrowsky, Acting Chief, Public Affairs Unit (202) 376-8591.

    Hearing-impaired persons who will attend the briefing and require the services of a sign language interpreter should contact Pamela Dunston at (202) 376-8105 or at [email protected] at least seven business days before the scheduled date of the meeting.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This briefing is open to the public.

    Topic: Examining Workplace Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans I. Introductory Remarks by Chairman Castro II. Panel I—9 a.m.-10:45 a.m.: General Issues; Speakers' Remarks and Questions from Commissioners III. Panel II—10:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: Economic Issues; Speakers' Remarks and Questions from Commissioners IV. LUNCH—12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. V. Panel III—1:30 p.m.-3:10 p.m.: Transgender Issues; Speakers' Remarks and Questions from Commissioners VI. Panel IV—3:10 p.m.-5 p.m.: Religious Exemption Issues; Speakers' Remarks and Questions from Commissioners VII. Adjourn Briefing—5 p.m. Dated: February 27, 2015. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04430 Filed 2-27-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE First Responder Network Authority First Responder Network Authority Board Meetings AGENCY:

    First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will convene an open public meeting of the Board on March 25, 2015, preceded by meetings of the Board Committees on March 24, 2015.

    DATES:

    On March 24, 2015 between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time there will be sequential meetings of FirstNet's four Board Committees: (1) Governance and Personnel; (2) Technology; (3) Outreach; and (4) Finance. The full FirstNet Board will hold a meeting on March 25, 2015 between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings on March 24 and 25, 2015 will be held in the auditorium of the Herbert C. Hoover Building, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Uzoma Onyeije, Secretary, FirstNet, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M/S 243, Reston, VA 20192; telephone: (703) 648-4165; email: [email protected] Please direct media inquiries to Ryan Oremland at (703) 648-4114.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This notice informs the public that the Board of FirstNet will convene an open public meeting of the Board on March 25, 2015, preceded by meetings of the Board Committees on March 24, 2015.

    Background: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act), Public Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012), established FirstNet as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that is headed by a Board. The Act directs FirstNet to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The FirstNet Board is responsible for making strategic decisions regarding FirstNet's operations. The FirstNet Board held its first public meeting on September 25, 2012.

    Matters To Be Considered: FirstNet will post detailed agendas of each meeting on its Web site, http://www.firstnet.gov, prior to the meetings. The agenda topics are subject to change. Please note that the subjects that will be discussed by the Committees and the Board may involve commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential, personnel matters, or other legal matters affecting FirstNet. As such, the Committee chairs and Board Chair may call for a vote to close the meetings only for the time necessary to preserve the confidentiality of such information, pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 1424(e)(2).

    Times and Dates of March 2015 Meetings: On March 24, 2015, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time there will be sequential meetings of FirstNet's four committees. The full FirstNet Board meeting will be held on March 25, 2015, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    Place: The meetings on March 24 and 25, 2015 will be held in the auditorium of the Herbert C. Hoover Building, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC.

    Other Information: These meetings are open to the public and press on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. In order to get an accurate headcount, all expected attendees are asked to provide notice of intent to attend by sending an email to [email protected] If the number of RSVPs indicates that expected attendance has reached auditorium capacity, FirstNet will respond to all subsequent notices indicating that auditorium capacity has been reached and that in-person viewing may no longer be available but that the meeting may still be viewed by webcast as detailed below. For access to the meetings, valid government issued photo identification may be requested for security reasons.

    The meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other ancillary aids, are asked to notify Uzoma Onyeije, Secretary, FirstNet, at (703) 648-4165 or [email protected] at least five (5) business days before the meeting.

    The meetings will also be webcast. Please refer to FirstNet's Web site at www.firstnet.gov for webcast instructions and other information. The meetings will also be available to interested parties by phone. To be connected to the meetings in listen-only mode by telephone, please dial (888) 997-9859 and passcode 3572169. If you have technical questions regarding the webcast, please contact Margaret Baldwin at (703) 648-4161 or by email at [email protected]

    Records: FirstNet maintains records of all Board proceedings. Minutes of the Board Meeting and the Committee meetings will be available at www.firstnet.gov.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Stuart Kupinsky, Chief Counsel, First Responder Network Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04367 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-TL-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE First Responder Network Authority First Responder Network Authority Board Special Meeting AGENCY:

    First Responder Network Authority, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Public meeting notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will hold a Special Meeting via telephone conference (teleconference) on March 9, 2015.

    DATES:

    The Special Meeting will be held on Thursday, March 9, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Special Meeting will be conducted via teleconference. Members of the public may listen to the meeting by dialing toll-free 1-888-997-9859 and using passcode 3572169. Due to the limited number of ports, attendance via teleconference will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Uzoma Onyeije, Secretary, FirstNet, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192; telephone: (703) 648-4165; email: [email protected] Please direct media inquiries to Ryan Oremland at (703) 648-4114.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act), Public Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012), created FirstNet as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The Act directs FirstNet to establish a single nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The FirstNet Board is responsible for making strategic decisions regarding FirstNet's operations. As provided in section 4.08 of the FirstNet Bylaws, the Board through this Notice provides at least two days' notice of a Special Meeting of the Board to be held March 9, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Board may, by a majority vote, close a portion of the Special Meeting as necessary to preserve the confidentiality of commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential, to discuss personnel matters, or to discuss legal matters affecting FirstNet, including pending or potential litigation. See 47 U.S.C. 1424(e)(2).

    Matters To Be Considered: FirstNet will post an agenda for the Special Meeting on its Web site at www.firstnet.gov prior to the meeting. The agenda topics are subject to change.

    Time and Date: The Special Meeting will be held on March 9, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The times and dates are subject to change. Please refer to FirstNet's Web site at www.firstnet.gov for the most up-to-date information.

    Other Information: The teleconference for the Special Meeting is open to the public. On the date and time of the Special Meeting, members of the public may call toll-free 1-888-997-9859 and use passcode 1849005 to listen to the meeting. If you experience technical difficulty, please contact Margaret Baldwin by telephone (703) 648-4161 or via email [email protected] Public access will be limited to listen-only. Due to the limited number of ports, attendance via teleconference will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The Special Meeting is accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations are asked to notify Mr. Onyeije, by telephone at (703) 648-4165 or email at [email protected], at least two (2) business days before the meeting.

    Records: FirstNet maintains records of all Board proceedings. Minutes of the meetings will be available at www.firstnet.gov.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Stuart Kupinsky, Chief Counsel, First Responder Network Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04413 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-TL-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-143-2014] Approval of Subzone Status; Spenco Medical Corporation; Waco, Texas

    On November 17, 2014, the Executive Secretary of the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board docketed an application submitted by the City of Waco, grantee of FTZ 246, requesting subzone status subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 246, on behalf of Spenco Medical Corporation, in Waco, Texas.

    The application was processed in accordance with the FTZ Act and Regulations, including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (79 FR 69424, November 21, 2014). The FTZ staff examiner reviewed the application and determined that it meets the criteria for approval.

    Pursuant to the authority delegated to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary (15 CFR Sec. 400.36(f)), the application to establish Subzone 246A is approved, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.13, and further subject to FTZ 246's 412-acre activation limit.

    Dated: February 23, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04393 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-001-2015] Approval of Subzone Status; Red Wing Shoe Company; Salt Lake City, Utah

    On January 8, 2015, the Executive Secretary of the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board docketed an application submitted by the Salt Lake City Corporation, grantee of FTZ 30, requesting subzone status subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 30, on behalf of Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc., in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    The application was processed in accordance with the FTZ Act and Regulations, including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (80 FR 1894, 01/14/2015). The FTZ staff examiner reviewed the application and determined that it meets the criteria for approval. Pursuant to the authority delegated to the FTZ Board Executive Secretary (15 CFR 400.36(f)), the application to establish Subzone 30A is approved, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including section 400.13, and further subject to FTZ 30's 55-acre activation limit.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04390 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-891] Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Initiation and Preliminary Results of Changed Circumstances Review, and Intent To Revoke Order In Part AGENCY:

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

    SUMMARY:

    In response to a request by Positec USA, Inc., and RQ Direct, Inc. (collectively, Positec), and pursuant to section 751(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), and 19 CFR 351.216 and 351.221(c)(3)(ii), the Department of Commerce (the Department) is initiating a changed circumstances review (CCR) of the antidumping duty (AD) order on hand trucks and certain parts thereof (hand trucks) from the People's Republic of China (PRC). Based on the information received, we preliminarily intend to revoke, in part, the Order. 1 Interested parties are invited to comment on these preliminary results.

    1See Notice of Antidumping Duty Order: Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China, 69 FR 70122 (December 2, 2004) (Order).

    DATES:

    Effective Date: December 1, 2012.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Scott Hoefke, or Robert James, 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) 482-4947 or (202) 482-0649, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On December 2, 2004, the Department published in the Federal Register the AD order on hand trucks from the PRC.2 On December 9, 2014, in accordance with sections 751(b) and 751(d)(1) of the Act, 19 CFR 351.216(b), and 19 CFR 351.222(g)(1), Positec, an interested party, requested revocation, in part, of the Order with respect to its WORX Aerocart (Aerocart) as part of a changed circumstances review. Positec requested that the Department conduct the changed circumstances review on an expedited basis pursuant to 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii). On December 10, 2014, Gleason Industrial Products, Inc. and Precision Products, Inc. (collectively, Petitioners) submitted a statement asserting that Petitioners have no interest in the patented and trademarked product known as the WORX Aerocart being subject to the Order. 3 On January 30, 2015, Positec clarified the language for revoking the Order, in part, with respect to Aerocart for this changed circumstances review.4 On February 2, 2015, Petitioners assented to the revised description.5 On February 12, 2015, Positec, in consultation with Petitioners, further modified the language for revoking the Order, in part, with respect to Aerocart for this changed circumstance review.6

    2Id.

    3See Petitioners' submission, “Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Petitioner's Statement That It Has No Interest In the WORX Aerocart Being Subject to the Order,” dated December 10, 2014 at 1.

    4See Positec's submission, “Changed Circumstances Review—Modification Antidumping Duty Order on Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China,” dated 1/30/2015.

    5 See Petitioners' submission, “Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Petitioner's Statement That It Has No Interest In the WORX Aerocart Being Subject to the Order,” dated February 2, 2015.

    6See Positec's submission, “Changed Circumstances Review—Modification Antidumping Duty Order on Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China,” dated February 12, 2015.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to this AD order consists of hand trucks manufactured from any material, whether assembled or unassembled, complete or incomplete, suitable for any use, and certain parts thereof, namely the vertical frame, the handling area and the projecting edges or toe plate, and any combination thereof.

    A complete or fully assembled hand truck is a hand-propelled barrow consisting of a vertically disposed frame having a handle or more than one handle at or near the upper section of the vertical frame; at least two wheels at or near the lower section of the vertical frame; and a horizontal projecting edge or edges, or toe plate, perpendicular or angled to the vertical frame, at or near the lower section of the vertical frame. The projecting edge or edges, or toe plate, slides under a load for purposes of lifting and/or moving the load.

    That the vertical frame can be converted from a vertical setting to a horizontal setting, then operated in that horizontal setting as a platform, is not a basis for exclusion of the hand truck from the scope of this petition. That the vertical frame, handling area, wheels, projecting edges or other parts of the hand truck can be collapsed or folded is not a basis for exclusion of the hand truck from the scope of the petition. That other wheels may be connected to the vertical frame, handling area, projecting edges, or other parts of the hand truck, in addition to the two or more wheels located at or near the lower section of the vertical frame, is not a basis for exclusion of the hand truck from the scope of the petition. Finally, that the hand truck may exhibit physical characteristics in addition to the vertical frame, the handling area, the projecting edges or toe plate, and the two wheels at or near the lower section of the vertical frame, is not a basis for exclusion of the hand truck from the scope of the petition.

    Examples of names commonly used to reference hand trucks are hand truck, convertible hand truck, appliance hand truck, cylinder hand truck, bag truck, dolly, or hand trolley. They are typically imported under heading 8716.80.5010 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), although they may also be imported under heading 8716.80.5090. Specific parts of a hand truck, namely the vertical frame, the handling area and the projecting edges or toe plate, or any combination thereof, are typically imported under heading 8716.90.5060 of the HTSUS. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the Department's written description of the scope is dispositive.

    Excluded from the scope are small two-wheel or four-wheel utility carts specifically designed for carrying loads like personal bags or luggage in which the frame is made from telescoping tubular material measuring less than 5/8 inch in diameter; hand trucks that use motorized operations either to move the hand truck from one location to the next or to assist in the lifting of items placed on the hand truck; vertical carriers designed specifically to transport golf bags; and wheels and tires used in the manufacture of hand trucks.

    Initiation and Preliminary Results of Changed Circumstances Review

    Pursuant to section 751(b)(1) of the Act, the Department will conduct a changed circumstances review upon receipt of information concerning, or a request from an interested party for a review of, a final affirmative determination that resulted in an AD order which shows changed circumstances sufficient to warrant a review. Section 782(h)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.222(g)(1)(i) provide that the Department may revoke an order (in whole or in part) if it determines that producers accounting for substantially all of the production of the domestic like product have expressed a lack of interest in the order, in whole or in part. In addition, in the event the Department determines that expedited action is warranted, 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii) permits the Department to combine the notices of initiation and preliminary results.

    On December 9, 2014, Positec requested the Department conduct a changed circumstances review on an expedited basis. On December 10, 2014, Petitioners filed a letter stating that they did not oppose partial revocation of the Order that is limited to Positec's Aerocart. Petitioners claimed that they are producers accounting for substantially all of the production of the domestic like product and they have no interest in Positec's Aerocart being subject to the scope of the Order. On January 30, 2015, Positec clarified the description of the Aerocart for purposes of this changed circumstances review. On February 2, 2015, Petitioners assented to the revised description. On February 12, 2015, Positec, in consultation with Petitioners, further modified the exclusionary language of the Aerocart for purposes of this changed circumstances review.

    Therefore, at the request of Positec and in accordance with sections 751(b)(1) and 751(d)(1) of the Act, 19 CFR 351.216, and 19 CFR 351.222(g)(1), we are initiating this changed circumstances review of hand trucks to determine whether partial revocation of the Order is warranted with respect to this product. In addition, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii), we determine that expedited action is warranted.

    We find that Petitioners' affirmative statement of no interest constitutes a reasonable basis for the conduct of this review. Additionally, our decision to expedite this review pursuant to 19 CFR 351.221(c)(3)(ii) stems from the domestic industry's lack of interest in application of the Order to Positec's Aerocart.

    Based on the expression of no interest by Petitioners, and absent any objections by other domestic interested parties, we preliminarily determine that substantially all of the domestic producers have no interest in the continued application of the Order on hand trucks from the PRC to the merchandise that is subject to Positec's request. Therefore, we are notifying the public of our intent to revoke, in part, the Order as it relates to imports of Positec's Aerocart. If we make a final determination to revoke the Order in part, this partial revocation will be retroactively applied to entries of Positec's Aerocart entered or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption, on or after December 1, 2012, which corresponds to the day following the last day of the most recently completed administrative review under the order.7 We intend to modify the scope of the AD order to add the following:

    7See Hand Trucks and Certain Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2011-2012, 79 FR 44008 (July 29, 2014).

    Excluded from the scope of the order is a multifunction cart that combines, among others, the capabilities of a wheelbarrow and dolly. The product comprises a steel frame than can be converted from vertical to horizontal functionality, two wheels toward the lower end of the frame and two removable handles near the top. In addition to a foldable projection edge in its extended position, it includes a permanently attached steel tub or barrow. This product is currently available under proprietary trade names such as the `Aerocart'.

    Public Comment

    Interested parties are invited to comment on these preliminary results. Written comments may be submitted no later than 14 days after the publication of this notice. Rebuttals to written comments, limited to issues raised in such comments, may be filed no later than 21 days after the date of publication of this notice. Consistent with 19 CFR 351.309, parties who submit written comments or rebuttal comments in this changed circumstances review are requested to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), any interested party may request a hearing within 10 days after publication of this notice.8 Further, any hearing, if requested, will be held no later than 25 days after the date of publication of this notice, or the first business day thereafter. Parties will be notified of the time and date of any hearing if requested. All written comments and/or hearing requests must be filed electronically using Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).9 ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov. An electronically-filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the Department's electronic records system, ACCESS, by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the date the document is due.

    8See 19 CFR 351.303 for general filing requirements.

    9 On November 24, 2014, Enforcement and Compliance changed the name of Enforcement and Compliance's AD and CVD Centralized Electronic Service System (“IA ACCESS”) to AD and CVD Centralized Electronic Service System (“ACCESS”). The Web site location was changed from http://iaaccess.trade.gov to http://access.trade.gov. The Final Rule changing the references to the Regulations can be found at 79 FR 69046 (November 20, 2014).

    We intend to issue our final results of this changed circumstances review not later than 270 days after the date on which we initiated the changed circumstances review or within 45 days if all parties agree to our preliminary results, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.216(e).

    If final revocation, in part, occurs, we will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to end the suspension of liquidation for the merchandise covered by the revocation on the effective date of the notice of revocation and to release any cash deposit or bond. The current requirement for a cash deposit of estimated AD duties on all subject merchandise will continue unless and until it is modified pursuant to the final results of this changed circumstances review.

    This initiation, preliminary results of review and notice are published in accordance with sections 751(b)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.216, 351.221(b)(1) and (4), and 351.222(g).

    Dated: February 23, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04279 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD739 Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; receipt of EFP applications; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit (EFP) application for 2015 and 2016 that would continue work done in 2013 and 2014, and is considering issuance of EFPs for vessels participating in the EFP fishery. The EFPs are necessary to allow activities that are otherwise prohibited by Federal regulations. The EFPs would be effective no earlier than March 18, 2015, and would expire no later than December 31, 2016, but could be terminated earlier under terms and conditions of the EFPs and other applicable laws.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on March 18, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by 0648-XD739, by any one of the following methods:

    Email: [email protected]

    Fax: 206-526-6736, Attn: Colby Brady.

    Mail: William W. Stelle, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070, Attn: Colby Brady.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Colby Brady (West Coast Region, NMFS), phone: 206-526-6117, fax: 206-526-6736.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This action is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act provisions at 50 CFR 600.745, which states that EFPs may be used to authorize fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited. At the June 2014 Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting in Garden Grove, CA, the Council considered an EFP application from the San Francisco Community Fishing Association and Dan Platt. An opportunity for public testimony was provided during the Council meeting. For more details on this EFP application and to view a copy of the application, see the Council's Web site at www.pcouncil.org and browse the June 2014 Briefing Book. The Council recommended that NMFS consider issuing the following EFP, and that this EFP be issued for 2 years. The 2-year duration is intended to coincide with the 2015-2016 biennial harvest specifications and management measures process. Therefore, to reduce the administrative burden of issuing annual EFPs during the 2-year management cycle, NMFS is considering issuing the EFP described below for a 2-year period. The EFP issued for this 2-year period would expire no later than December 31, 2016, but could be terminated earlier under terms and conditions of the EFP and other applicable laws.

    Commercial Yellowtail EFP

    The San Francisco Community Fishing Association and Dan Platt submitted an application to continue their 2013-2014 EFP work for two more years. The primary purpose of the EFP is to test a commercial hook and line gear to target underutilized yellowtail rockfish, while keeping bycatch of overfished species low. During their work in 2013 and 2014, a total of approximately 3.6 mt (3,600 kg) of yellowtail rockfish was harvested with very little bycatch of co-occurring overfished species.

    Authority:

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

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04355 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD732 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Shell Ice Overflight Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS received an application from Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. (Shell) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Shell to take, by Level B harassment only, seven species of marine mammals during the specified activity.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is [email protected] NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size.

    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    A copy of the application, which contains several attachments used in this document, including Shell's marine mammal mitigation and monitoring plan (4MP) and Plan of Cooperation, may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 December 2, 2014, Shell submitted an application to NMFS for the taking of marine mammals incidental to ice overflight surveys the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska. After receiving comments and questions from NMFS, Shell revised its IHA application on January 13, 2015. NMFS determined that the application was adequate and complete on January 15, 2015.

    The proposed activity would occur between May 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016. The following specific aspects of the proposed activities are likely to result in the take of marine mammals: Ice overflight surveys using fixed and rotate winged aircraft when flying at low altitudes.

    Shell has requested an authorization to take seven marine mammal species by Level B harassment. These species include: Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas); bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus); gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus); bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus); ringed seal (Phoca hispida); spotted seal (P. largha); and ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata).

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    Shell plans to conduct two periods of ice overflight surveys during May 2015-April 2016: Break-up surveys and freeze-up surveys.

    Shell plans to conduct the overflight surveys from fixed wing and rotary aircraft. The aircraft to be used for the surveys are not currently under contract to Shell or a contractor to Shell. Ice and weather conditions will influence when and where the surveys can be conducted.

    Dates and Duration

    For initial planning purposes, Shell proposes to conduct the overflight surveys during May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016.

    Specified Geographic Region

    The ice overflight survey areas are the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska, as indicated in Figure 1-1 of Shell's IHA application. Aircraft supporting these surveys will operate out of Barrow and Deadhorse, Alaska.

    Detailed Description of Activities (1) Proposed Break-Up Surveys

    The break-up surveys will occur between June and July in either the Chukchi or Beaufort Sea and will include:

    • Up to five fixed-wing flights of approximately 1,500 nm total for up to approximately 13 hours total;

    • One helicopter flight totaling of approximately 200 nm total for up to approximately 3 hours total.

    Flight altitudes for fixed wing surveys will range from 30 to 610 m (100 to 2,000 ft) but will mostly be at or above 152 m (500 ft). For helicopter flights, the altitude will range from 15 to 152 m (50 to 500 ft) but will mostly be at or above 61 m (200 ft). Flights will occur when there is daylight. Aircraft are not scheduled to fly at the same time.

    (2) Proposed Freeze-Up Surveys

    The freeze-up surveys will occur between November 2015 and March 2016 in either the Chukchi or Beaufort Sea and will include:

    • Up to seven fixed-wing flights of approximately 2,500 nautical miles (nm) total in early winter for up to approximately 21 hours total;

    • One helicopter flight in the Beaufort of approximately 200 nm that will include approximately 4 landings to collect ice measurements during late freeze-up including sampling with a battery powered ice auger for up to approximately 3 hours total.

    Flight altitudes for fixed wing surveys will range from 30 to 610 m (100 to 2,000 ft) but will mostly be at or above 152 m (500 ft). For helicopter flights, the altitude will range from 15 to 152 m (50 to 500 ft) but will mostly be at or above 61 m (200 ft). Helicopter flights will also include landings. Flights will occur when there is daylight. Aircraft are not scheduled to fly at the same time.

    Proposed Aircraft To Conduct Ice Overflight Surveys

    Shell plans to conduct the ice overflight surveys with an Aero Commander (or similar) fixed winged aircraft and a Bell 412, AW 139, EC 145 (or similar) helicopter.

    Shell will also have a dedicated helicopter for Search and Rescue (SAR) for the spring 2015 surveys. The SAR helicopter is expected to be a Sikorsky S-92 (or similar). This aircraft will stay grounded at the Barrow shorebase location except during training drills, emergencies, and other non-routine events.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    The Chukchi and Beaufort Seas support a diverse assemblage of marine mammals, including: Bowhead, gray, beluga, killer, minke, humpback, and fin whales; harbor porpoise; ringed, ribbon, spotted, and bearded seals; narwhals; polar bears; and walruses. Both the walrus and the polar bear are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and are not considered further in this proposed IHA notice.

    Among the rest of marine mammal species, only beluga, bowhead, and gray whales, and ringed, spotted, bearded, and ribbon seals could potentially be affected by the proposed ice overflight activity. The remaining cetacean species are rare and not likely to be encountered during Shell's ice overflight surveys, which are planned either during winter when nearly 10/10 ice coverage is present, or during spring when sea ice also pre-dominants the study area. Therefore, these species are not further discussed.

    The bowhead whale is listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and as depleted under the MMPA. The ringed seal is listed as “threatened” under the ESA. Certain stocks or populations of gray and beluga whales and spotted seals are listed as endangered under the ESA; however, none of those stocks or populations occur in the proposed activity area.

    Shell's application contains information on the status, distribution, seasonal distribution, abundance, and life history of each of the species under NMFS' jurisdiction mentioned in this document. When reviewing the application, NMFS determined that the species descriptions provided by Shell correctly characterized the status, distribution, seasonal distribution, and abundance of each species. Please refer to the application for that information (see ADDRESSES). Additional information can also be found in the NMFS Stock Assessment Reports (SAR). The Alaska 2013 SAR is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/pdf/ak2013_final.pdf.

    Table 1 lists the seven marine mammal species under NMFS' jurisdiction with confirmed or possible occurrence in the proposed project area.

    Table 1—Marine Mammal Species and Stocks That Could Be Affected by Shell's Ice Overflight Surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas Common name Scientific name Status Occurrence Seasonality Range Abundance Odontocetes Beluga whale (Eastern Chukchi Sea stock) Dephinapterus leucas Common Mostly spring and fall with some in summer Russia to Canada 3,710 Beluga whale (Beaufort Sea stock) Delphinapterus leucas Common Mostly spring and fall with some in summer Russia to Canada 39,258 Mysticetes Bowhead whale Balaena mysticetus Endangered; Depleted Common Mostly spring and fall with some in summer Russia to Canada 19,534 Gray whale Eschrichtius robustus Somewhat common Mostly summer Mexico to the U.S. Arctic Ocean 19,126 Pinnipeds Bearded seal (Beringia distinct population segment) Erigathus barbatus Candidate Common Spring and summer Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas 155,000 Ringed seal (Arctic stock) Phoca hispida Threatened; Depleted Common Year round Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas 300,000 Spotted seal Phoca largha Common Summer Japan to U.S. Arctic Ocean 141,479 Ribbon seal Histriophoca fasciata Species of concern Occasional Summer Russia to U.S. Arctic Ocean 49,000 Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with the specified activity (e.g., aircraft overflight) have been observed to or are thought to impact marine mammals. This section may include a discussion of known effects that do not rise to the level of an MMPA take (for example, with acoustics, we may include a discussion of studies that showed animals not reacting at all to sound or exhibiting barely measurable avoidance). The discussion may also include reactions that we consider to rise to the level of a take and those that we do not consider to rise to the level of a take. This section is intended as a background of potential effects and does not consider either the specific manner in which this activity will be carried out or the mitigation that will be implemented or how either of those will shape the anticipated impacts from this specific activity. 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, the “Mitigation” section, and the “Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat” 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.

    The reasonably expected or reasonably likely impacts of the specified activities on marine mammals will be related primarily to localized, short-term acoustic disturbance from aircraft flying primarily over areas covered by sea ice with limited flight activity over open water and adjacent ice edges. The acoustic sense of marine mammals probably constitutes their most important distance receptor system. Potential acoustic effects relate to sound produced by helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

    Dominant tones in noise spectra from helicopters are generally below 500 Hz (Greene and Moore 1995). Harmonics of the main rotor and tail rotor usually dominate the sound from helicopters; however, many additional tones associated with the engines and other rotating parts are sometimes present. Because of Doppler shift effects, the frequencies of tones received at a stationary site diminish when an aircraft passes overhead. The apparent frequency is increased while the aircraft approaches and is reduced while it moves away.

    Aircraft flyovers are not heard underwater for very long, especially when compared to how long they are heard in air as the aircraft approaches an observer. Very few cetaceans, including the species in the proposed ice overflight survey areas, are expected to be encountered during ice overflights due to the low density of cetacean species in the winter survey area and small area to be flown over open water during spring. Most of these effects are expected in open-water where limited aircraft noise could penetrate into the water column. For cetaceans under the ice, the noise levels from the aircraft are expected to be dramatically reduced by floating ice. Long-term or population level effects are not expected.

    Evidence from flyover studies of ringed and bearded seals suggests that a reaction to helicopters is more common than to fixed wing aircraft, all else being equal (Born et al. 1999; Burns and Frost 1979). Under calm conditions, rotor and engine sounds are coupled into the water through ice within a 26° cone beneath the aircraft (Richardson et al. 1995). Scattering and absorption, however, will limit lateral propagation in the shallow water (Greene and Moore 1995). The majority of seals encountered by fixed wing aircraft are unlikely to show a notable disturbance reaction, and approximately half of the seals encountered by helicopters may react by moving from ice into the water (Born et al. 1999). Any potential disturbance from aircraft to seals in the area of ice overflights will be localized and short-term in duration with no population level effects.

    Historically, there have been far greater levels of aviation activity in the offshore Chukchi and Beaufort Seas compared with that of the proposed ice overflights. None of this previous offshore aviation activity is believed to have resulted in long-term impacts to marine mammals, as demonstrated by results from a wide range of monitoring programs and scientific studies. Impacts to marine mammals from aviation activities in Arctic offshore habitats have been shown to be, at most, short-term and highly-localized in nature (e.g., Funk et al. 2013; Richardson et al. 1985a, b; Patenaude et al. 2002; Born et al. 1999).

    The effect of aircraft overflight on marine mammals will depend on the behavior of the animal at the time of reception of the stimulus, as well as the distance from the aircraft and received level of sound. Cetaceans (such as bowhead, gray, and beluga whales) will only be present, and thus have the potential to be disturbed, when aircraft fly over open water in between ice floes; seals may be disturbed when aircraft are over open water or over ice on which seals may be present. Disturbance reactions are likely to vary among some of the seals in the general vicinity, and not all of the seals present are expected to react to fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

    Behavioral distances from marine mammals also depend on the altitudes of the aircraft overflight. Marine mammals are not likely to be affected by aircraft overflights that are above 1,000 ft. Therefore, behavioral harassments discussed above are only limited to those aircraft flying at lower altitudes. Proposed monitoring measures discussed below would further reduce potential affects from Shell's proposed ice overflight surveys.

    In light of the nature of the activities, and for the reasons described below, NMFS does not expect marine mammals will be injured or killed as a result of ice overflight surveys. In addition, due to the low received noise levels from aircraft overflights, NMFS does not expect marine mammals will experience hearing impairment such as TTS or PTS.

    Of the seal species which may be encountered, only ringed seals are abundant in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas during the winter and early spring when the overflights are scheduled to occur. In March-April, ringed seals give birth in subnivean lairs established on shorefast and stable pack ice (Smith and Stirling 1975; Smith 1973). Ringed seals in subnivean layers have been known to react to aircraft overhead by entering the water in some instances (Kelly et al. 1986); however, there is no evidence to indicate injurious effects to adults or pups from such a response.

    Bearded seals spend the winter season in the Bering Sea, and then follow the ice edge as it retreats in spring (MacIntyre and Stafford 2011). Large numbers of bearded seals are unlikely to be present in the project area during the time of planned operations. However, some individuals may be encountered. Spotted seals are found in the Bering Sea in winter and spring where they breed, molt, and pup in large groups (Quakenbush 1988; Rugh et al. 1997). Few spotted seals are expected to be encountered in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas until July. Even then, they are rarely seen on pack ice but are commonly observed hauled out on land or swimming in open water (Lowry et al. 1998). The ice overflights are designed to maximize flying over ice, avoiding coastal and terrestrial areas. Haul outs for spotted seals are generally known, and Shell will avoid these areas during the break up surveys.

    Based on extensive analysis of digital imagery taken during aerial surveys in support of Shell's 2012 operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, ice seals are very infrequently observed hauled out on the ice in groups of greater than one individual (Shell 2015). Tens of thousands of images from 17 flights that took place from July through October were reviewed in detail. Of 107 total observations of spotted or ringed seals on ice, only three of those sightings were of a group of two individuals (Shell 2015). Since seals typically are found as individuals or in very small groups when they are in the project area, the chance of a stampede event is very unlikely. Finally, ice seals are well adapted to move between ice and water without injury, including “escape reactions” to avoid predators.

    Ringed and bearded seals sometimes, but not always, dive when approached by low-flying aircraft (Burns and Frost 1979; Burns et al. 1982). Ringed and bearded seals may be more sensitive to helicopter sounds than to fixed-wing aircraft (Burns and Frost 1979). In 2000, during a study on the impacts of pipe-driving sounds on pinnipeds at Northstar in the Beaufort Sea which involved helicopter, only some of the ringed seals present exhibited a reaction to an approaching helicopter (Blackwell et al. 2001). Of 23 individuals, only 11 reacted; of those 11, 10 increased alertness and only 1 moved into the water (when the helicopter was 100 m away; Blackwell et al. 2004). Reactions of ringed seals while they are in subnivean lairs vary with the characteristics of the flyover, including lateral distance and altitude of aircraft (Kelly et al. 1986).

    The sound of aircraft is also reduced by the snow of the lair (Cummings and Holliday 1983). Spotted seals are sensitive to aircraft, reacting erratically at considerable distances which may result in mother-pup separation or injury to pups (Frost et al. 1993, Rugh et al. 1993). However, as previously noted, few spotted seals are expected to be present in the project area during the time of planned ice overflights, and overflights will focus on offshore areas as opposed to terrestrial habitat with potential spotted seal haulouts.

    Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    Shell's planned 2015/16 ice overflight surveys will not result in any permanent impact on habitats used by marine mammals, or to their prey sources. The primary potential impacts on marine mammal habitat and prey resources that are reasonably expected or reasonably likely are associated with elevated sound levels from the aircraft passing overhead. Effects on marine mammal habitat from the generation of sound from the planned surveys would be negligible and temporary, lasting only as long as the aircraft is overhead. Water column effects will be localized and ephemeral, lasting only the duration of the aircrafts presence. All effects on marine mammal habitat from the planned surveys are expected to be negligible and confined to very small areas within the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

    The primary effect of the sound energy generated by ice overflight survey activities on marine mammal habitat will be the ensonification of the water column and air at the surface. Sound energy can also affect invertebrates and fish that are marine mammal prey, and thereby indirectly impact the marine mammals.

    Levels and duration of sounds received by marine mammals underwater from a passing helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft are a function of the type of aircraft, orientation and altitude of the aircraft, depth of the animal, and water depth. Aircraft sounds are detectable underwater at greater distances when the receiver is in shallow rather than deep water. Generally, sound levels received underwater decrease as the altitude of the aircraft increases (Richardson et al. 1995a). The nature of sounds produced by aircraft activities does not pose a direct threat to the underwater marine mammal habitat or prey.

    Aircraft sounds are audible for much greater distances in air than in water. Under calm conditions, rotor and engine sounds are coupled into the water within a 26° cone beneath the aircraft. Some of the sound will transmit beyond the immediate area, and some sound will enter the water outside the 26 degree area when the sea surface is rough. However, scattering and absorption will limit lateral propagation in shallow water. Dominant tones in noise spectra from helicopters are generally below 500 Hz (Greene and Moore 1995). Because of Doppler shift effects, the frequencies of tones received at a stationary site diminish when an aircraft passes overhead. The apparent frequency is increased while the aircraft approaches and is reduced while it moves away. Sounds generated underwater from aircraft flyovers are of short duration.

    Helicopters will generally maintain straight-line routes, thereby limiting the sound levels at and below the surface. Given the timing and location of the proposed ice overflight activities, as well as the mitigation measures that will be implemented as a part of the program, any impacts from aircraft traffic on marine mammal habitat or prey will be localized and temporary with no anticipated population level effects.

    Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization (ITA) under sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA, NMFS must, where applicable, 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 (where relevant). This section summarizes the contents of Shell's Marine Mammal Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (4MP). Later in this document in the “Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization” section, NMFS lays out the proposed conditions for review, as they would appear in the final IHA (if issued).

    Shell submitted a 4MP as part of its application (see ADDRESSES). Shell proposes a suite of mitigation measures to minimize any adverse impacts associated with the ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea. These include, among others discussed in the 4MP (See Attachment A of Shell's IHA application), the following: (1) The timing and locations for active survey acquisition work; and (2) increasing altitude or deviating from survey tract when the protected species observers sight visually (from the aircraft) the presence of marine mammals. The mitigation measures are presented in the 4MP. To summarize:

    • A PSO will be aboard all flights recording all sightings/observations (e.g. including number of individuals, approximate age (when possible to determine), and any type of potential reaction to the aircraft). Environmental information the observer will record includes weather, air temperature, cloud and ice cover, visibility conditions, and wind speed.

    • The aircraft will maintain a 1 mi radius when flying over areas where seals appear to be concentrated in groups of ≥5 individuals;

    • The aircraft will not land on ice within 0.5 mi of hauled out pinnipeds or polar bears;

    • The aircraft will avoid flying over polynyas and along adjacent ice margins as much as possible to minimize potential disturbance to cetaceans; and

    • Shell will routinely engage with local communities and subsistence groups to ensure no disturbance of whaling or other subsistence activities.

    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 effecting the least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:

    • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals

    • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned, and

    • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation.

    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed 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 noises generated from ice overflight surveys, 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 noises generated from ice overflight surveys, 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 noises generated from ice overflight surveys, 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, NMFS has preliminarily determined 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 measures to ensure availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses are discussed later in this document (see “Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses” section).

    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. Shell submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan as part of the IHA application. It can be found in Appendix B of the Shell's IHA application. The plan may be modified or supplemented based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period or from the peer review panel (see the “Monitoring Plan Peer Review” section later in this document).

    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 noises generated from ice overflight surveys 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.

    Proposed Monitoring Measures (1) Protected Species Observers

    Aerial monitoring for marine mammals will be conducted by a trained protected species observer (PSO) aboard each flight. PSO duties will include watching for and identifying marine mammals, recording their numbers, distances from, and potential reactions to the presence of the aircraft, in addition to working with the helicopter pilots to identify areas for landings on ice that is clear of marine mammals.

    (2) Observer Qualifications and Training

    Observers will have previous marine mammal observation experience in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. All observers will be trained and familiar with the marine mammals of the area, data collection protocols, reporting procedures, and required mitigation measures.

    (3) Specialized Field Equipment

    The following specialized field equipment for use by the onboard PSO: Fujinon 7 X 50 binoculars for visual monitoring, a GPS unit to document the route of each ice overflight, a laptop computer for data entry, a voice recorder to capture detailed observations and data for post flight entry into the computer, and digital still cameras.

    (4) Field Data-Recording

    The observer on the aircraft will record observations directly into computers using a custom software package. The accuracy of the data entry will be verified in the field by computerized validity checks as the data are entered, and by subsequent manual checking following the flight. Additionally, observers will capture the details of sightings and other observations with a voice recorder, which will maximize observation time and the collection of data. These procedures will allow initial summaries of data to be prepared during and shortly after the surveys, and will facilitate transfer of the data to statistical, graphical or other programs for further processing.

    During the course of the flights, the observer will record information for each sighting including number of individuals, approximate age (when possible to determine), and any type of potential reaction to the aircraft. Environmental information the observer will record includes weather, air temperature, cloud and ice cover, visibility conditions, and wind speed.

    Monitoring Plan Peer Review

    The MMPA requires that monitoring plans be independently peer reviewed “where the proposed activity may affect the availability of a species or stock for taking for subsistence uses” (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)(ii)(III)). Regarding this requirement, NMFS' implementing regulations state, “Upon receipt of a complete monitoring plan, and at its discretion, [NMFS] will either submit the plan to members of a peer review panel for review or within 60 days of receipt of the proposed monitoring plan, schedule a workshop to review the plan” (50 CFR 216.108(d)).

    NMFS has established an independent peer review panel to review Shell's 4MP for ice overflight survey in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The panel is scheduled to meet in early March 2015, and will provide comments to NMFS shortly after they meet. After completion of the peer review, NMFS will consider all recommendations made by the panel, incorporate appropriate changes into the monitoring requirements of the IHA (if issued), and publish the panel's findings and recommendations in the final IHA notice of issuance or denial document.

    Reporting Measures (1) Final Report

    The results of Shell's ice overflight monitoring report will be presented in the “90-day” final report, as required by NMFS under the proposed IHA. The initial final report is due to NMFS within 90 days after the expiration of the IHA (if issued). The report will include:

    • Summaries of monitoring effort: Total hours, total distances flown, and environmental conditions during surveys;

    • Summaries of occurrence, species composition, and distribution of all marine mammal sightings including date, numbers, age/size/gender categories (when discernible), group sizes, ice cover and other environmental variables; data will be visualized by plotting sightings relative to the position of the aircraft; and

    • Analyses of the potential effects of ice overflights on marine mammals and the number of individuals that may have been disturbed by aircraft.

    The “90-day” report will be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS.

    (2) Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    Shell will be required to notify NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and NMFS' Stranding Network of any sighting of an injured or dead marine mammal. Based on different circumstances, Shell may or may not be required to stop operations upon such a sighting. Shell will provide NMFS with the species or description of the animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, observed behaviors (if alive), and photo or video (if available). The specific language describing what Shell must do upon sighting a dead or injured marine mammal can be found in the “Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization” section of this document.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Only take by Level B behavioral harassment is anticipated as a result of the proposed ice overflight surveys.

    As discussed earlier in this document, potential noise impacts to marine mammals from ice overflight surveys would be limited in a 26° cone under the flight path. The intensity of noise enters the water depends on the altitude of the aircraft (Richardson et al. 1995). Scattering and absorption, however, will limit lateral propagation in the shallow water (Greene and Moore 1995).

    Basis for Estimating “Take by Harassment”

    Exposures were calculated in the following sections for cetaceans and seals. The methods used to estimate exposure for each species group was fundamentally the same with minor differences as described below. Exposure estimates for cetaceans were calculated by multiplying the anticipated area to be flown over open water each season (winter and spring) by the expected densities of cetaceans that may occur in the survey area.

    Exposures of seals were calculated by multiplying the anticipated area to be flown over open water and ice in each season (winter and spring) by the expected densities of seals that may occur in the survey area by the proportion of seals on ice that may actually show a disturbance reaction to each type of aircraft (Born et al. 1999).

    Marine Mammal Density Estimates

    Marine mammal density estimates in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas have been derived for two time periods: The winter period covering November through April, and the spring period including May through early July.

    There is some uncertainty about the representativeness of the data and assumptions used in the calculations. To provide some allowance for uncertainties, “average” as well as “maximum” estimates of the numbers of marine mammals potentially affected have been derived. For a few species, several density estimates were available. In those cases, the mean and maximum estimates were determined from the reported densities or survey data. In other cases, only one or no applicable estimate was available, so correction factors were used to arrive at “average” and “maximum” estimates. These are described in detail in the following sections.

    In Polar Regions, most pinnipeds are associated with sea ice and typical census methods involve counting pinnipeds when they are hauled out on ice. In the Beaufort Sea, abundance surveys typically occur in spring when ringed seals emerge from their lairs (Frost et al. 2004). Depending on the species and study, a correction factor for the proportion of animals hauled out at any one time may or may not have been applied (depending on whether an appropriate correction factor was available for the particular species, area, and time period). By applying a correction factor, the density of the pinniped species in an area can be estimated.

    Detectability bias, quantified in part by f(0), is associated with diminishing sightability with increasing lateral distance from the survey trackline. Availability bias, g(0), refers to the fact that there is <100 percent probability of sighting an animal that is present along the survey trackline. Some sources below included these correction factors in the reported densities (e.g. ringed seals in Bengtson et al. 2005) and the best available correction factors were applied to reported results when they had not already been included (e.g. bearded seals in Bengtson et al. 2005).

    (1) Cetaceans: Winter (A) Beluga Whales

    Beluga whale density estimates were calculated based on aerial survey data collected in October in the eastern Alaskan Beaufort Sea by the NMML (as part of the BWASP program funded by BOEMRE) in 2007-2010. They reported 31 sightings of 66 individual whales during 1597 km of on-transect effort over waters 200-2000 m deep. An f(0) value of 2.326 was applied and it was calculated using beluga whale sightings data collected in the Canadian Beaufort Sea (Innes et al. 2002). A g(0) value of 0.419 was used that represents a combination of ga(0) = 0.55 (Innes et al. 2002) and gd(0) = 0.762 (Harwood et al. 1996). The resulting densities were then multiplied by 0.10 because the Beaufort Sea and north-eastern Chukchi Sea is believed to be at the edge of the species' range in by November. Belugas typically migrate into the Bering Sea for the winter (Allen and Angliss 2014) and are not expected to be present in the study area in the winter. Satellite tagging data support this and indicate belugas migrate out of the Beaufort Sea in the October-November period (Suydam et al. 2005).

    (B) Bowhead Whales

    Bowhead whale density estimates in the winter in the planned ice overflight area are expected to be quite low. Miller et al. (2002) presented a 10-day moving average of bowhead whale abundance in the eastern Beaufort Sea using data from 1979-2000 that showed a decrease of ~90% from early to late October. Based on these data, it is expected that almost all whales that had been in the Chukchi Sea during early October would likely have migrated beyond the survey areas by November-December. In addition, kernel density estimates and animal tracklines generated from satellite-tagged bowhead whales, along with acoustic monitoring data, suggest that few bowhead whales are present in the proposed survey area in November (near Point Barrow), and no whales were present in December (ADFG 2010; Moore et al. 2010). Therefore, minimal density estimates (0.0001 whales/km2) were used.

    (C) Gray whales

    Gray whales may be encountered as they have been detected near Pt. Barrow throughout the winter (Moore et al. 2006, Stafford et al. 2007), but they are expected to be very rare. Thus no density estimate is available.

    (2) Cetaceans: Spring (A) Beluga Whales

    Spring densities of beluga whales in offshore waters are expected to be low, with somewhat higher densities in ice-margin and nearshore areas. Past aerial surveys have recorded few belugas in the offshore Chukchi Sea during the summer months and belugas are most likely encountered in offshore waters of the eastern Alaskan Beaufort Sea (Moore et al. 2000). More recent aerial surveys from 2008-2012 flown by the National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) as part of the Chukchi Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA) project, now part of the Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (ASAMM) project, reported 10 beluga sightings (22 individuals) in offshore waters during 22,154 km of on-transect effort. Larger groups of beluga whales were recorded in nearshore areas, especially in June and July during the spring migration (Clarke and Ferguson in prep; Clarke et al. 2012, 2013). Effort and sightings reported by Clarke and Ferguson (in prep.) and Clarke et al. (2012, 2013) were used to calculate the average open-water density estimate.

    Those aerial surveys recorded 10 on-transect beluga sightings (22 individuals) during 22,154 km of on transect effort in waters 36-50 m deep in the Chukchi Sea during July and August. The mean group size of the sightings was 2.2. An f(0) value of 2.841 and g(0) value of 0.58 from Harwood et al. (1996) were also used in the density calculation resulting in an average open-water density of 0.0024 belugas/km2. Specific data on the relative abundance of beluga whales in open-water versus ice-margin habitat during the summer in the Chukchi Sea is not available. However, belugas are commonly associated with ice, particularly ice edges and adjacent polynyas, so an inflation factor of 4 was used to estimate the ice-margin densities from the open-water densities.

    (B) Bowhead Whales

    Eastward migrating bowhead whales were recorded during industry aerial surveys of the continental shelf near Camden Bay in 2008 until 12 July (Christie et al. 2010). No bowhead sightings were recorded again, despite continued flights, until 19 August. Aerial surveys by industry operators did not begin until late August of 2006 and 2007, but in both years bowheads were also recorded in the region before the end of August (Lyons et al. 2009). The late August sightings were likely of bowheads beginning their fall migration so the densities calculated from those surveys were not used to estimate summer densities in this region. The three surveys in July of 2008 resulted in density estimates of 0.0099, 0.0717, and 0.0186 bowhead whales/km2, respectively (Christie et al. 2010). The estimate of 0.0186 whales/km2 was used as the average nearshore density and the estimate of 0 0.0717 whales/km2 was used as the maximum. Sea ice was not present during these surveys. Moore et al. (2000) reported that bowhead whales in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea were distributed uniformly relative to sea ice.

    (C) Gray Whales

    Gray whales are expected to be present in the Chukchi Sea but are unlikely in the Beaufort Sea. Moore et al. (2000) found the distribution of gray whales in Chukchi Sea was scattered and limited to nearshore areas where most whales were observed in water less than 35 m deep. The average open-water summer density (Table 2) was calculated from 2008-2012 aerial survey effort and sightings in Clarke and Ferguson (in prep) and Clarke et al. (2012, 2013) for water depths 36-50 m including 98 sightings (137 individuals) during 22,154 km of on-transect effort. The average group size of those sightings was 1.4. Correction factors f(0) = 2.49 (Forney and Barlow 1998) and g(0) = 0.30 (Forney and Barlow 1998, Mallonee 1991) were used to calculate and average open-water density of 0.0253 gray whales/km2 (Table 2). The highest density from the survey periods reported in Clarke and Ferguson (in prep) and Clarke et al. (2012, 2013) was 0.0268 gray whales/km2 in 2012 and this was used as the maximum open-water density.

    (3) Pinnipeds: Winter (A) Ringed Seals

    Ringed seal densities were taken from offshore aerial surveys of the pack ice zone conducted in spring 1999 and 2000 (Bengtson et al. 2005). Seal distribution and density in spring, prior to break-up, are thought to reflect distribution patterns established earlier in the year (i.e., during the winter months; Frost et al. 2004). The average density from those two years (weighted by survey effort) was 0.4892 seals/km2. This value served as the average density while the highest density from the two years (0.8100 seals/km2 in 1999) was used as the maximum density.

    (B) Other Seal Species

    Other seal species are not expected to be present in the ice overflight survey area in large numbers during the winter period of the ice overflights. Bearded, spotted, and ribbon seals would be present in the area in smaller numbers than ringed seals during spring through fall summer, but these less common seal species generally migrate into the southern Chukchi and Bering Seas during fall and remain there through the winter (Allen and Angliss 2014). Few satellite-tagging studies have been conducted on these species in the Beaufort Sea, winter surveys have not been conducted, and a few bearded seals have been reported over the continental shelf in spring prior to general break-up. However, the tracks of three bearded seals tagged in 2009 moved south into the Bering Sea along the continental shelf by November (Cameron and Boveng 2009). These species would be more common in the area during spring through fall, but it is possible that some individuals, bearded seals in particular, may be present in the area surveyed in winter. Ribbon seals are unlikely to be present in the survey area during winter as they also migrate southward from the northeastern Chukchi Sea during this period. In the absence of better information from the published literature or other sources that would indicate that significant numbers of any of these species might be present during winter, minimal density estimates were used for these species. Estimates for bearded seals were assumed to be slightly higher than those for spotted and ribbon seals.

    (4) Pinnipeds: Spring

    Three species of pinnipeds under NMFS' jurisdiction are likely to be encountered in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas during planned ice overflights in spring of 2015: Ringed, bearded, and spotted seals. Ringed and bearded seals are associated with both the ice margin and the nearshore open water area during spring. Spotted seals are often considered to be predominantly a coastal species except in the spring when they may be found in the southern margin of the retreating sea ice. However, satellite tagging has shown that some individuals undertake long excursions into offshore waters during summer (Lowry et al. 1994, 1998). Ribbon seals have been reported in very small numbers within the Chukchi Sea by observers on industry vessels (Patterson et al. 2007, Hartin et al. 2013).

    (A) Ringed Seal and Bearded Seal

    Ringed seal and bearded seal “average” and “maximum” spring densities were available in Bengtson et al. (2005) from spring surveys in the offshore pack ice zone (zone 12P) of the northern Chukchi Sea. However, corrections for bearded seal availability, g(0), based on haulout and diving patterns were not available.

    (B) Spotted Seal

    Little information on spotted seal densities in offshore areas of the Alaskan Arctic is available. Spotted seal densities in the spring were estimated by multiplying the ringed seal densities by 0.02. This was based on the ratio of the estimated occurrence of the two species during ice overflight surveys and the assumption that the vast majority of seals present in areas of pack ice would be ringed seals (Funk et al., 2010; 2013).

    (C) Ribbon Seal

    Four ribbon seal sightings were reported during industry vessel operations in the Chukchi Sea in 2006-2010 (Hartin et al. 2013). The resulting density estimate of 0.0007/km2 was used as the average density and 4 times that was used as the maximum for the spring season.

    Estimated Areas Where Cetaceans May Be Encountered by Aircraft

    Encounters that may result in potential disturbance of cetaceans will likely occur only in open water. Flight paths over open water and adjacent ice edges will be minimized by the objectives of the program as an effort to reduce encounters with cetaceans. It is estimated that five to ten percent of distance flown in winter will be over open water, and ten to twenty percent of distance flown in spring will be over open water. We applied the most conservative of these percentages to the proposed tracklines in winter and spring to estimate the area of open water exposed by planned ice overflights.

    The potential disturbance area for each season was based on flight altitude and lateral distance of cetaceans from the center trackline. Based on known air-to-water propagation paths, cetaceans may be exposed to sounds produced by the aircraft when individuals are up to 13 degrees from the aircraft's center (Snell's law; Urick 1972 in Richardson et al. 1995). It was assumed that cetaceans in open water could be disturbed within 13 degrees of vertical (i.e., a 26-degree cone) from the location of an aircraft when aircraft are 305 m (1,000 ft) or lower. NMFS considers aircraft above this altitude would not appreciably disturb cetaceans in open water below. This 305-m maximum disturbance altitude and Snell's law results in a maximum potential disturbance radius of approximately 70 m. Based on Snell's law (Richardson et al. 1995) and a 305 m flight altitude, we used a conservative radius of 75 m to calculate the potential disturbance area beneath an aircraft for cetaceans in open-water conditions.

    Table 2 summarizes potential disturbance radii, maximum flight distances over open water, and potential disturbance areas for cetaceans from fixed wing aircraft and helicopters during Shell's proposed ice overflights program in winter (November through April) and spring (May through early July). Maximum percentage of total trackline over open water, as based on previous surveys, is 10% and 20% of the total trackline for winter and spring, respectively. Based on maximum flight distances, percent open water, and a potential disturbance radius of 75 m for fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, a total of 169 km2 of open-water could be disturbed. Approximately 45% of this total estimated open-water area would be surveyed in winter and the remaining 55% would be surveyed during spring.

    EN03MR15.010 Estimated Areas Where Seals May Be Encountered by Aircraft

    Fixed wing and helicopter flights over ice at ice overflight survey altitudes have the potential to disturb seals hauled out on ice, although the flight altitude and lateral distances at which seals may react to aircraft are highly variable (Born et al. 1999; Burns et al. 1982; Burns and Frost 1979). The probability of a seal hauled out on ice reacting to a fixed wing aircraft or helicopter is influenced by a combination of variables such as flight altitude, lateral distance from the aircraft, ambient conditions (e.g., wind chill), activity, and time of day (Born et al. 1999). Evidence from flyover studies of ringed and bearded seals suggests that a reaction to helicopters is more common than to fixed wing aircraft, all else being equal (Born et al. 1999; Burns and Frost 1979).

    Born et al. (1999) investigated the reactions of ringed seals hauled out on ice to aircraft. The threshold lateral distances from the aircraft trackline out to which the vast majority of reactions were observed were 600 and 1500 m for fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, respectively. Many individual ringed seals within these distances; however, did not react (Born et al. 1999). Results indicated ~6% and ~49% of total seals observed reacted to fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, respectively, by entering the water when aircraft were flown over ice at altitudes similar to those proposed for Shell's ice overflight surveys as described in the Description of the Specific Activity section. These lateral distances and reaction probabilities were used as guidelines for estimating the area of sea ice habitat within which hauled out seals may be disturbed by aircraft and the number of seals that might react. Born et al. 1999, also was used as a guideline in a similar fashion for estimating the numbers of seals that would react to helicopters during U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service polar bear tagging in 2011 and 2012, in which an IHA was issued by NMFS (NMFS 2011).

    Table 3 summarizes potential disturbance radii, maximum flight distances, and potential disturbance areas for seals from fixed wing aircraft and helicopters during Shell's proposed ice overflights program in winter (November through April) and spring (May through early July). Based on maximum flight distances and potential disturbance radii of 600 and 1500 m for fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, respectively, a total of 11,112 km2 (of sea ice could be disturbed. Based on Born et al.'s (1999) observations, however, it is estimated that only ~6 and ~49% of seals in these areas will exhibit a notable reaction to fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, respectively, by entering the water. Approximately 60% of this total area would be surveyed in winter and the remaining 40% would be surveyed during spring.

    EN03MR15.011 Potential Number of “Takes by Harassment” (1) Cetaceans

    This subsection provides estimates of the number of individual cetaceans that could potentially be disturbed by aircraft during Shell's proposed ice overflights. The estimates are based on an estimate of the anticipated open-water area that could be subjected to disturbance from overflights, proximity of cetaceans in open water to the aircraft, and expected cetacean densities in those areas during each season.

    The number of individuals of each cetacean species potentially disturbed by fixed wing aircraft or helicopters was estimated by multiplying:

    • The potential disturbance area from each aircraft (fixed wing and helicopter) for each season (winter and spring), by • The percentage of survey area expected to be over open water as opposed to ice in each season, by • The expected cetacean density for each season.

    The numbers of individual cetaceans potentially disturbed were then summed for each species across the two seasons.

    Estimates of the average and maximum number of individual cetaceans that may be disturbed are shown by season in Table 4. Less than one individual of each cetacean species was estimated to be disturbed in winter. This was due to the low density of cetaceans in the survey area in winter and extensive ice cover during this period. In spring, a few beluga whales, bowhead whales, and gray whales are estimated to potentially be disturbed during ice overflights when aircraft transit over open water for short periods. The numbers of individuals exposed represent very small proportions of their populations.

    (2) Pinnipeds

    This subsection provides estimates of the number of individual ice seals that could potentially be disturbed by aircraft during Shell's proposed ice overflights. The estimates are based on a consideration of the proposed flight distances, proximity of seals to the aircraft trackline, and the proportion of ice seals present that might actually be disturbed appreciably (i.e. moving from the ice into the water) by flight operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the anticipated area that could be subjected to disturbance from overflights.

    The number of individuals of each ice seal species potentially disturbed by fixed wing aircraft or helicopters was estimated by multiplying:

    • The potential disturbance area from each aircraft (fixed wing and helicopter) for each season (winter and spring), by • The expected seal density in each season, and by • The expected proportion of seals expected to react to each type of aircraft in a way that could be interpreted as disturbance.

    The numbers of individuals potentially disturbed were then summed for each species across the two seasons.

    Estimates of the average number of individual seals that may be disturbed are shown by season in Table 4. The estimates shown represent proportions of the total number of seals encountered that may actually demonstrate a disturbance reaction to each type of aircraft. Estimates shown in Table 4 were based on Born et al. 1999, which assumed that ~6 and ~49% of seals would react within lateral distances of 600 and 1,500 m of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, respectively.

    Ringed seal is by far the most abundant species expected to be encountered during the planned ice overflights. The best (average) estimate of the numbers of ringed seals potentially disturbed during ice overflights is 793 individuals, which represents only a small proportion of the estimated population of ringed seals in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Fewer individuals of other pinniped species are estimated to be encountered during ice overflights, also representing very small proportions of their populations.

    Table 4—The Total Number of Potential Exposures of Marine Mammals During the Shell's Proposed Ice Overflight Surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska, 2015-2016 [Estimates are also shown as a percent of each population] Species Abundance Number
  • potential
  • exposure
  • Estimated
  • population
  • (percent)
  • Beluga (E. Chukchi Sea) 3,710 1 0.027 Beluga whale (Beaufort Sea) 39,258 1 0.003 Bowhead whale 19,534 2 0.010 Gray whale 19,126 2 0.010 Bearded seal 155,000 11 0.007 Ribbon seal 49,000 1 0.002 Ringed seal 300,000 793 0.264 Spotted seal 141,479 7 0.005
    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.

    No injuries or mortalities are anticipated to occur as a result of Shell's proposed ice overflight surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and none are proposed to be authorized. Additionally, animals in the area are not expected to incur hearing impairment (i.e., TTS or PTS) or non-auditory physiological effects. Instead, any impact that could result from Shell's activities is most likely to be behavioral harassment and is expected to be of brief duration and the aircraft flies by. Although it is possible that some individuals may be exposed to sounds from aircraft overflight more than once, during the migratory periods it is less likely that this will occur since animals will continue to move across the Chukchi Sea towards their wintering grounds.

    Aircraft flyovers are not heard underwater for very long, especially when compared to how long they are heard in air as the aircraft approaches an observer. Very few cetaceans are expected to be encountered during ice overflights due to the low density of cetacean species in the winter survey area and small area to be flown over open water during spring. Long-term or population level effects are not expected. The majority of seals encountered by fixed wing aircraft will unlikely show a notable disturbance reaction, and approximately half of the seals encountered by helicopters may react by moving from ice into the water. Any potential disturbance from aircraft to seals in the area of ice overflights will be localized and short-term in duration with no population level effects.

    Of the seven marine mammal species likely to occur in the proposed ice overflight survey area, only the bowhead whale and ringed seal are listed as endangered under the ESA. These two species are also designated as “depleted” under the MMPA. Despite these designations, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock of bowheads has been increasing at a rate of 3.4% annually for nearly a decade (Allen and Angliss, 2011), even in the face of ongoing industrial activity. Additionally, during the 2001 census, 121 calves were counted, which was the highest yet recorded. The calf count provides corroborating evidence for a healthy and increasing population (Allen and Angliss, 2011). Certain stocks or populations of gray and beluga whales and spotted seals are listed as endangered or are proposed for listing under the ESA; however, none of those stocks or populations occur in the proposed activity area. Ringed seals were recently listed under the ESA as threatened species. On July 25, 2014 the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska vacated the rule listing to the Beringia bearded seal DPS and remanded the rule to NMFS to correct the deficiencies identified in the opinion. None of the other species that may occur in the project area is listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. There is currently no established critical habitat in the proposed project area for any of these seven species.

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see the “Anticipated Effects on Habitat” section). Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of marine mammals, the impacts are anticipated to be minor. Based on the vast size of the Arctic Ocean where feeding by marine mammals occurs versus the localized area of the ice overflight surveys, any missed feeding opportunities in the direct project area would be of little consequence, as marine mammals would have access to other feeding grounds.

    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 Shell's proposed 2015 ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    The estimated takes proposed to be authorized represent less than 0.3% of the affected population or stock for all species in the survey area.

    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 mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds 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 or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses Potential Impacts to Subsistence Uses

    NMFS has defined “unmitigable adverse impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 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.

    Subsistence hunting continues to be an essential aspect of Inupiat Native life, especially in rural coastal villages. The Inupiat participate in subsistence hunting activities in and around the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The animals taken for subsistence provide a significant portion of the food that will last the community through the year. Marine mammals represent on the order of 60-80% of the total subsistence harvest. Along with the nourishment necessary for survival, the subsistence activities strengthen bonds within the culture, provide a means for educating the younger generation, provide supplies for artistic expression, and allow for important celebratory events.

    Bowhead Whale

    Activities associated with Shell's planned ice overflight survey program is not likely to have an un-mitigable adverse impact on the availability of bowhead whales for taking for subsistence uses. Ice overflight surveys that may occur near Point Lay, Wainwright, Barrow, Nuiqsut, and Kaktovik would traverse bowhead subsistence areas. Most flights would take place after the date of fall and prior to spring bowhead whale hunting from the villages. The most commonly observed reactions of bowheads to aircraft traffic are hasty dives, but changes in orientation, dispersal, and changes in activity are sometimes noted. Such reactions could potentially affect subsistence hunts if the flights occurred near and at the same time as the hunt. Shell has developed and proposes to implement a number of mitigation measures to avoid such impacts. These mitigation measures include minimum flight altitudes, use of Village Community Liaison Officers (CLOs), Subsistence Advisors (SAs), and Communication Centers in order to avoid conflicts with subsistence activities. SA calls will be held while subsistence activities are underway during the ice overflight survey program and are attended by operations staff, logistics staff, and CLOs. Aircraft flights are adjusted as needed and planned in a manner that avoids potential impacts to bowhead whale hunts and other subsistence activities. With these mitigation measures any effects on the bowhead whale as a subsistence resource, or effects on bowhead subsistence hunts would be minimal.

    Beluga Whale

    Activities associated with Shell's planned ice overflight survey program will not have an un-mitigable adverse impact on the availability of beluga whales for taking for subsistence uses.

    Ice overflight surveys may occur near Point Lay, Wainwright, Barrow, Nuiqsut, and Kaktovik would and traverse beluga whale hunt subsistence areas. Most flights would take place when belugas are not typically harvested. Survey activities could potentially affect subsistence hunts if the flights occurred near and at the same time as the hunt. Shell has developed and proposes to implement a number of mitigation measures to avoid such impacts. These mitigation measures include minimum flight altitudes, use of CLOs, SAs, and Communication Centers. SA calls will be held while subsistence activities are underway during the ice overflight survey program and are attended by operations staff, logistics staff, and CLOs. Aircraft flights are adjusted as needed and planned in a manner that avoids potential impacts to beluga whale hunts and other subsistence activities. With these mitigation measures any effects on the beluga whale as a subsistence resource, or effects on beluga subsistence hunts would be minimal.

    Seals

    Seals are an important subsistence resource with ringed and bearded seals making up the bulk of the seal harvest. The survey areas are far outside of areas reportedly utilized for the harvest of seals by the villages of Point Hope, thus the ice overflight surveys will not have an un-mitigable adverse impact on the availability of ice seals for taking for subsistence uses. The survey areas encompass some areas utilized by residents of Point Lay, Wainwright, Barrow, Nuiqsut and Kaktovik for the harvest of seals. Most ringed and bearded seals are harvested in the winter and a harvest of seals could possibly be affected by Shell's planned activities. Spotted seals are harvested during the summer and may overlap briefly with Shell's planned activities. Most seals are harvested in coastal waters, with available maps of recent and past subsistence use areas indicating that seal harvests have occurred only within 30-40 mi (48-64 km) off the coastline. Some of the planned ice overflight surveys would take place in areas used by the village residents for the harvest of seals. The survey aircraft could potentially travel over areas used by residents for seal hunting and could potentially disturb seals and, therefore, subsistence hunts for seals. Any such effects from the survey activities would be minimal due to the infrequency of the planned surveys. Shell has developed and proposes to implement a number of mitigation measures which include a proposed 4MP, use of CLOs, SAs, operation of Communication Centers, and minimum altitude requirements. SA calls will be held while subsistence activities are underway during the ice overflight survey program and are attended by operations staff, logistics staff, and CLOs. Aircraft movements and activities are adjusted as needed and planned in a manner that avoids potential impacts to subsistence activities. With these mitigation measures any effects on ringed, bearded, and spotted seals as subsistence resources, or effects on subsistence hunts for seals, would be minimal.

    Plan of Cooperation or Measures To Minimize Impacts to Subsistence Hunts

    Regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(12) require IHA applicants for activities that take place in Arctic waters to provide a Plan of Cooperation (POC) or information that identifies what measures have been taken and/or will be taken to minimize adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence purposes.

    Shell is preparing to implement a POC in accordance with NMFS' regulations. The POC relies upon the Chukchi Sea Communication Plans to identify the measures that Shell has developed in consultation with North Slope subsistence communities and will implement during its planned 2015/2016 ice overflight surveys to minimize any adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses. In addition, the POC will detail Shell's communications and consultations with local subsistence communities concerning its planned 2015/2016 program, potential conflicts with subsistence activities, and means of resolving any such conflicts (50 CFR 216.104(a)(12)(i), (ii), and (iv)). Shell continues to document its contacts with the North Slope subsistence communities, as well as the substance of its communications with subsistence stakeholder groups.

    The POC identifies and documents potential conflicts and associated measures that will be taken to minimize any adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence use. Outcomes of POC meetings are typically included in updates attached to the POC as addenda and distributed to federal, state, and local agencies as well as local stakeholder groups that either adjudicate or influence mitigation approaches for Shell's activities.

    Shell will engage with the villages potentially impacted by the 2015/2016 ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in 2014 and early 2015. Meetings were held in Barrow and Point Lay in early November 2014 and additional engagements are scheduled with other villages in early 2015. Throughout 2015, and 2016 Shell anticipates continued engagement with the marine mammal commissions and committees active in the subsistence harvests and marine mammal research.

    Following the 2015/2016 season, Shell intends to have a post-season co-management meeting with the commissioners and committee heads to discuss results of mitigation measures and outcomes of the preceding season. The goal of the post-season meeting is to build upon the knowledge base, discuss successful or unsuccessful outcomes of mitigation measures, and possibly refine plans or mitigation measures if necessary.

    In addition to the POC, the following subsistence mitigation measures will be implemented for Shell's proposed ice overflight surveys.

    (1) Communications

    • Shell has developed a Communication Plan and will implement this plan before initiating ice overflight survey operations to coordinate activities with local subsistence users, as well as Village Whaling Captains' Associations, to minimize the risk of interfering with subsistence hunting activities, and keep current as to the timing and status of the bowhead whale hunt and other subsistence hunts.

    • Shell will employ local CLOs and/or SAs from the Chukchi Sea villages that are potentially impacted by Shell's ice overflight surveys. The CLOs and SAs will provide consultation and guidance regarding the whale migration and subsistence activities. There will be one per village. The CLO and/or SA will use local knowledge (Traditional Knowledge) to gather data on the subsistence lifestyle within the community and provide advice on ways to minimize and mitigate potential negative impacts to subsistence resources during the survey season. Responsibilities include reporting any subsistence concerns or conflicts; coordinating with subsistence users; reporting subsistence-related comments, concerns, and information; and advising how to avoid subsistence conflicts.

    (2) Aircraft Travel

    • The aircraft will maintain a 1 mi (1.6 km) radius when flying over areas where seals appear to be concentrated in groups of ≥5 individuals.

    • The aircraft will not land on ice within 0.5 mi (805 m) of hauled out pinnipeds.

    • The aircraft will avoid flying over polynyas and along adjacent ice margins as much as possible to minimize potential disturbance to cetaceans.

    • Aircraft shall not operate below 1,500 ft (457 m) in areas of active whale hunting; such areas to be identified through communications with the Com Centers and SAs.

    • Shell will routinely engage with local communities and subsistence groups to ensure no disturbance of whaling or other subsistence activities.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determination

    NMFS considers that these mitigation measures including measures to reduce overall impacts to marine mammals in the vicinity of the proposed ice overflight survey area and measures to mitigate any potential adverse effects on subsistence use of marine mammals are adequate to ensure subsistence use of marine mammals in the vicinity of Shell's proposed ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

    Based on the description of the specified activity, the measures described to minimize adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence purposes, and the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that there will not be an unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses from Shell's proposed activities.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    There are two marine mammal species listed as endangered under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the proposed project area: The bowhead whale and ringed seal. NMFS' Permits and Conservation Division will initiate consultation with NMFS' Endangered Species Division under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA to Shell 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 preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA), pursuant to NEPA, to determine whether the issuance of an IHA to Shell for its 2015/2016 ice overflight surveys may have a significant impact on the human environment. NMFS has released a draft of the EA for public comment along with this proposed IHA.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to Shell for conducting ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas during 2015/2016, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is provided next.

    This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    (1) This Authorization is valid from May 1, 2015, through April 30, 2016.

    (2) This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with Shell's 2015/2016 Chukchi and Beaufort Seas ice overflight surveys. The specific areas where Shell's ice overflight surveys will be conducted are the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska, as indicated in Figure 1-1 of Shell's IHA application.

    (3)(a) The incidental taking of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the following species: Bowhead whale; gray whale; beluga whale; ringed seal; bearded seal; spotted seal; and ribbon seal.

    (3)(b) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in Condition 3(a) or the taking of any kind of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension or revocation of this Authorization.

    (4) The authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the following activities:

    Ice overflight surveys during freeze-up, winter, and break-up periods in 2015 and 2016 by aircraft.

    (5) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported immediately to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS or her designee.

    (6) The holder of this Authorization must notify the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, at least 48 hours prior to the start of ice overflight surveys (unless constrained by the date of issuance of this Authorization in which case notification shall be made as soon as possible).

    (7) Ice Overflight Mitigation and Monitoring Requirements: The Holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation and monitoring requirements when conducting the specified activities to achieve the least practicable impact on affected marine mammal species or stocks:

    (a) A PSO will be aboard all flights recording all sightings/observations (e.g. including number of individuals, approximate age (when possible to determine)), and any type of potential reaction to the aircraft. Environmental information the observer will record includes weather, air temperature, cloud and ice cover, visibility conditions, and wind speed.

    (b) The aircraft will maintain a 1 mi radius when flying over areas where seals appear to be concentrated in groups of ≥5 individuals;

    (c) The aircraft will not land on ice within 0.5 mi of hauled out pinnipeds or polar bears; and

    (d) The aircraft will avoid flying over polynyas and along adjacent ice margins as much as possible to minimize potential disturbance to cetaceans.

    (8) Subsistence Mitigation Measures: To ensure no unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses of marine mammals, the Holder of this Authorization shall:

    (a) Develop and implement a Communication Plan before initiating ice overflight survey operations to coordinate activities with local subsistence users, as well as Village Whaling Captains' Associations, to minimize the risk of interfering with subsistence hunting activities, and keep current as to the timing and status of the bowhead whale hunt and other subsistence hunts.

    (b) Employ local Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) and/or Subsistence Advisors (SAs) from the Chukchi Sea villages that are potentially impacted by the ice overflight surveys.

    (A) The CLOs and SAs will provide consultation and guidance regarding the whale migration and subsistence activities.

    (B) The CLOs and SAs will also report any subsistence concerns or conflicts; coordinate with subsistence users; report subsistence-related comments, concerns, and information; and advise how to avoid subsistence conflicts.

    (c) Routinely engage with local communities and subsistence groups to ensure no disturbance of whaling or other subsistence activities.

    (9) Monitoring Measures:

    (a) Protected Species Observers:

    (A) Aerial monitoring for marine mammals will be conducted by a trained protected species observer (PSO) aboard each flight.

    (B) PSO duties will include watching for and identifying marine mammals, recording their numbers, distances from, and potential reactions to the presence of the aircraft, in addition to working with the helicopter pilots to identify areas for landings on ice that is clear of marine mammals.

    (b) Observer Qualifications and Training:

    (A) Observers will have previous marine mammal observation experience in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

    (B) All observers will be trained and familiar with the marine mammals of the area, data collection protocols, reporting procedures, and required mitigation measures.

    (c) Specialized Field Equipment:

    (A) Fujinon 7 × 50 binoculars for visual monitoring,

    (B) GPS unit to document the route of each ice overflight,

    (C) Laptop computer for data entry,

    (D) Voice recorder to capture detailed observations and data for post flight entry into the computer,

    (E) Digital still cameras.

    (d) Field Data-Recording

    (A) The observer on the aircraft will record observations directly into computers using a custom software package.

    (B) The accuracy of the data entry will be verified in the field by computerized validity checks as the data are entered, and by subsequent manual checking following the flight.

    (C) Observers will capture the details of sightings and other observations with a voice recorder, which will maximize observation time and the collection of data.

    (D) During the course of the flights, the observer will record information for each sighting including:

    • Number of individuals,

    • Approximate age (when possible to determine),

    • Any type of potential reaction to the aircraft.

    • Weather, air temperature, wind speed, cloud and ice cover, and

    • Visibility conditions.

    (10) Reporting Requirements:

    (a) Final Report: The results of Shell's ice overflight monitoring report will be presented in the “90-day” final report, as required by NMFS under the proposed IHA. The initial final report is due to NMFS within 90 days after the expiration of the IHA. The report will include:

    (A) Summaries of monitoring effort: Total hours, total distances flown, and environmental conditions during surveys;

    (B) Summaries of occurrence, species composition, and distribution of all marine mammal sightings including date, numbers, age/size/gender categories (when discernible), group sizes, ice cover and other environmental variables; data will be visualized by plotting sightings relative to the position of the aircraft; and

    (C) Analyses of the potential effects of ice overflights on marine mammals and the number of individuals that may have been disturbed by aircraft.

    (b) The “90-day” report will be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS.

    (11)(a) In the unanticipated event that the ice overflight surveys clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this Authorization, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury or mortality, Shell shall immediately cease operations and immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, by phone or email and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must include the following information: (i) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident; (ii) the name and type of vessel involved; (iii) the vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident; (iv) description of the incident; (v) status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (vi) water depth; (vii) environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); (viii) description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (ix) species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; (x) the fate of the animal(s); (xi) and photographs or video footage of the animal (if equipment is available).

    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with Shell to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Shell may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (b) In the event that Shell discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO 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), Shell will immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, by phone or email and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must include the same information identified in Condition 12(a) above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with Shell to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (c) In the event that Shell discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in Condition 2 of this Authorization (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Shell shall report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, by phone or email and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators, within 24 hours of the discovery. Shell shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident.

    (12) The Plan of Cooperation outlining the steps that will be taken to cooperate and communicate with the native communities to ensure the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses must be implemented.

    (13) Shell is required to comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Incidental Take Statement (ITS) corresponding to NMFS's Biological Opinion issued to NMFS's Office of Protected Resources.

    (14) A copy of this Authorization and the ITS must be in the possession of all contractors and PSOs operating under the authority of this Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    (15) Penalties and Permit Sanctions: Any person who violates any provision of this Incidental Harassment Authorization is subject to civil and criminal penalties, permit sanctions, and forfeiture as authorized under the MMPA.

    (16) This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the Holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein or if the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals, or if there is an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for subsistence uses.

    Request for Public Comment

    As noted above, NMFS requests comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of the Notice of Proposed IHA for Shell's 2015/2016 Chukchi and Beaufort Seas ice overflight surveys. Please include, with your comments, any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on Shell's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04345 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMISSION OF FINE ARTS Notice of Meeting

    The next meeting of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is scheduled for 19 March 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in the Commission offices at the National Building Museum, Suite 312, Judiciary Square, 401 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20001-2728. Items of discussion may include buildings, parks and memorials.

    Draft agendas and additional information regarding the Commission are available on our Web site: www.cfa.gov. Inquiries regarding the agenda and requests to submit written or oral statements should be addressed to Thomas Luebke, Secretary, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, at the above address; by emailing [email protected]; or by calling 202-504-2200. Individuals requiring sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired should contact the Secretary at least 10 days before the meeting date.

    Dated: February 24, 2015, in Washington, DC. Thomas Luebke, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04272 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6330-01-M
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Transmittal Nos. 15-09] 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification AGENCY:

    Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing the unclassified text of a section 36(b)(1) arms sales notification. This is published to fulfill the requirements of section 155 of Public Law 104-164 dated July 21, 1996.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

    The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 15-09 with attached transmittal, policy justification, and Sensitivity of Technology.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN03MR15.012 Transmittal No. 15-09 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

    (i) Prospective Purchaser: Slovakia

    (ii) Total Estimated Value:

    Major Defense Equipment * $250 million Other $200 million Total $450 million * as defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act

    (iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: Nine UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters in standard U.S. Government configuration with designated unique equipment and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE); twenty T700-GE-701D Engines (18 installed and 2 spares); twenty Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigation Systems; two Aviation Mission Planning Systems; one Aviation Ground Power Unit; eleven AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe Transponders; twenty Very High Frequency/Digitally Selective Calling AN/ARC-231 radios; eleven ARN-147 VHF Omni Ranging/Instrument Landing System (VOR/ILS); eleven AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation Systems; and eleven AN/ARC-201D Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems radios. Also included are aircraft warranty, ammunition, air worthiness support, facility construction, spare and repair parts, support equipment, communication equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, site surveys, tool and test equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related element of program and logistics support.

    (iv) Military Department: Army (UCI)

    (v) Prior Related Cases, if any: None

    (vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense

    Services Proposed to be Sold: See Attached Annex

    (viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 18 February 2015

    POLICY JUSTIFICATION Slovakia—UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters

    The Government of Slovakia has requested a possible sale of nine UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters in standard U.S. Government configuration with designated unique equipment and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE); twenty T700-GE-701D Engines (18 installed and 2 spares); twenty Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigation Systems; two Aviation Mission Planning Systems; one Aviation Ground Power Unit; eleven AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe Transponders; twenty Very High Frequency (VHF)/Digitally Selective Calling AN/ARC-231 radios; eleven ARN-147 VHF Omni Ranging/Instrument Landing System (VOR/ILS); eleven AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation Systems; and eleven AN/ARC-201D Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems radios. Also included are aircraft warranty, ammunition, air worthiness support, facility construction, spare and repair parts, support equipment, communication equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, site surveys, tool and test equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related element of program and logistics support. The estimated cost is $450 million.

    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally.

    The proposed sale will improve Slovakia's capability to deter regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense, as well as support counter-terrorism operations. The sale of these UH-60 helicopters will bolster Slovakia's ability to provide border patrol, rapid reaction, and field expedient fire fighting capability for its air and ground forces in counter-terrorism, border security, and humanitarian operations. Slovakia will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The principal contractors will be the Sikorsky Aircraft Company in Stratford, Connecticut; and General Electric Aircraft Company in Lynn, Massachusetts. There are no known offset agreements in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of an additional three U.S. Government and five contractor representatives in Slovakia to support the delivery and training for approximately two-five years.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    Transmittal No. 15-09 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act Annex Item No. vii

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology:

    1. The UH-60M aircraft is a medium lift aircraft which is equipped with two T-701D Engines, and the integrated flight and management system, which provides aircraft system, flight, mission, and communication management systems. The cockpit includes five Multifunction Displays (MFDs), two General Purpose Processor Units (GPPUs), two Control Display Units (CDUs) and two Data Concentrator Units (DCUs). The Navigation System will have Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation System (INS) (EGIs), and two Digital Advanced Flight Control Systems (DAFCS).

    2. The H764-G EGI unit provides GPS and INS capabilities to the aircraft. The EGI will include Selective Availability anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) security modules to be used for secure GPS PPS if required.

    3. If a technologically advanced adversary were to obtain knowledge of the specific hardware and software elements, the information could be used to develop countermeasures or equivalent systems which might reduce weapon system effectiveness or be used in the development of a system with similar or advanced capabilities.

    4. A determination has been made that the recipient country can provide the same degree of protection for the sensitive technology being released as the U.S. Government. This sale is necessary in furtherance of the U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives outlined in the Policy Justification.

    5. All defense articles and services listed in this transmittal have been authorized for release and export to the Government of Slovakia.

    [FR Doc. 2015-04335 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem Rates AGENCY:

    Defense Travel Management Office, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Revised Non-Foreign Overseas Per Diem Rates.

    SUMMARY:

    The Defense Travel Management Office is publishing Civilian Personnel Per Diem Bulletin Number 295. This bulletin lists revisions in the per diem rates prescribed for U.S. Government employees for official travel in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and Possessions of the United States when applicable. AEA changes announced in Bulletin Number 194 remain in effect. Bulletin Number 295 is being published in the Federal Register to assure that travelers are paid per diem at the most current rates.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: March 1, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Sonia Malik, 571-372-1276.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document gives notice of revisions in per diem rates prescribed by the Defense Travel Management Office for non-foreign areas outside the contiguous United States. It supersedes Civilian Personnel Per Diem Bulletin Number 294. Per Diem Bulletins published periodically in the Federal Register now constitute the only notification of revisions in per diem rates to agencies and establishments outside the Department of Defense. For more information or questions about per diem rates, please contact your local travel office. Civilian Bulletin 295 includes updated rates for Alaska.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN03MR15.000 EN03MR15.001 EN03MR15.002 EN03MR15.003 EN03MR15.004 EN03MR15.005 EN03MR15.006 EN03MR15.007 EN03MR15.008 EN03MR15.009
    [FR Doc. 2015-04363 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID: USA-2015-0009] Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works Directorate, Department of Army.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works Directorate, Department of Army announces a proposed public information collection and seeks public comment on the provisions thereof. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by May 4, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

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

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

    Mail: Federal Docket Management System Office, 4800 Mark Center Drive, East Tower, Suite 02G09, Alexandria, VA 22350-3100.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, docket 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. Any associated form(s) for this collection may be located within this same electronic docket and downloaded for review/testing. Follow the instructions at http://www.regulations.gov for submitting comments. Please submit comments on any given form identified by docket number, form number, and title.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on this proposed information collection or to obtain a copy of the proposal and associated collection instruments, please write to U.S. Army Engineer District, Mobile; ATTN: PM-IC (Linda Peterson); 109 Saint Joseph Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602 or call 251.694.3848.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title; Associated Form; and OMB Number: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works Program Evaluation; 0702-XXXX.

    Needs and Uses: We in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are sincerely interested in meeting the expectations of our customers and stakeholders. To determine how we are doing, we conduct our annual Civil Works Program Evaluation. The purpose of this survey is to assess the quality of products and services we deliver during the previous calendar year. The information collected will help determine which areas of services need improvement and where we are doing well.

    Affected Public: Civil Works Program customers and stakeholders.

    Annual Burden Hours: 250.

    Number of Respondents: 1500.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Average Burden per Response: 10 minutes.

    Frequency: Annually.

    Respondents include all organizational representatives who participated in the planning or execution of a Civil Works (CW) project within the targeted calendar year. These are external agents with whom Corps staff has had significant interaction who can potentially impact or influence the successful execution of a Corps CW project. This includes `traditional customers' i.e., representatives of agencies that are direct recipients of Corps services who directly or indirectly provide a source of income for the District. In addition to traditional customers as defined below, the CECW Survey population includes stakeholder agencies. Stakeholder agencies are not direct recipients of Corps services but participate in the project execution process. Their staff interacts with Corps staff and participates in a significant degree in project planning, oversight and/or execution.

    Dated: February 26, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04356 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of Navy Notice of Intent To Grant an Exclusive License; Survival Innovations LLC AGENCY:

    Department of the Navy, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of the Navy hereby gives notice of its intent to grant to Survival Innovations, LLC located at 59 Bradley Branch Road, Arden, North Carolina 28704-9472, a revocable, nonassignable, exclusive license throughout the United States (U.S.) in all the fields of use in the Government-Owned invention described in U.S. Patent number 8,056,196 B2 issued on November 15, 2001 entitled “Quick Release Fitting”.

    DATES:

    Anyone wishing to object to the grant of this license must file written objections along with supporting evidence, if any, within fifteen (15) days of the date of this published notice.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written objections are to be filed with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Technology Transfer Office, Attention Michelle Miedzinski, Code 5.0H, 22473 Millstone Road, Building 505, Room 117, Patuxent River, Maryland 20670.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michelle Miedzinski, 301-342-1133, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, 22473 Millstone Road, Building 505, Room 117, Patuxent River, Maryland 20670.

    Authority:

    (35 U.S.C. 207, 37 CFR part 404.)

    Dated: February 24, 2015. N.A. Hagerty-Ford, Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04331 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810-FF-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:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-495-000.

    Applicants: Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: AGT Statements of Negotiated Rates Tariff Volume to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5070.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-496-000.

    Applicants: Midwestern Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate PAL Agreement—Duke Energy Indiana, Inc. to be effective 2/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5123.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-497-000.

    Applicants: East Tennessee Natural Gas, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Move Neg Rate for Contract 661310 to be effective 3/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5154.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-498-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.403(d)(2): 2015 Annual Fuel Tracker to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5198.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-499-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/23/15 Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/20/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5216.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-500-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/23/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Trading Gas LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective 2/20/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5235.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-501-000.

    Applicants: Guardian Pipeline, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate PAL Agreement—MIECO, Inc. to be effective 2/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5240.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-502-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/23/15 Negotiated Rates—Sequent Energy Management (HUB) 3075-89 to be effective 2/20/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5241.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-503-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/23/15 Negotiated Rates—United Energy Trading, LLC (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/21/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5243.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    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: RP15-23-002.

    Applicants: Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Compliance with RP15-23-001 Order on Rehearing to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150223-5122.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Any person desiring to protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rule 211 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04317 Filed 3-2-15; 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:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-504-000.

    Applicants: Golden Pass Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Golden Pass Pipeline Annual Retainage Report for 2015 to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5032.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-505-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Neg Rate Agmt Filing (Southwest Energy 44054 Short term PAL) to be effective 2/21/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5033.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-506-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/24/15 Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5090.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-507-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/24/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Trading Gas LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective 2/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5097.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-508-000.

    Applicants: Rockies Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Neg Rate 2015-02-24 Encana to be effective 2/24/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5102.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-509-000.

    Applicants: Kern River Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 2015 Daggett Surcharges to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5195.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-510-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 20150224 Negotiated Rate to be effective 2/25/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5196.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-511-000.

    Applicants: Guardian Pipeline, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate PAL Agreement—Koch Energy Services, L.L.C. to be effective 2/25/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5221.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-512-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate—BP Energy 911147 to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5060.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/9/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified 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: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04361 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-486-002.

    Applicants: Peninsula Power, LLC.

    Description: Tariff Amendment per 35.17(b): Peninsula Power, LLC (FERC Electric Tariff) to be effective 1/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5223.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1119-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): 2015-02-25_SA 2751 GRE-OTP T-L IA Gorton Tap to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5194.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1120-000.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Service Agreement No. 14-00081 NPC and Aiya LGIA Amded and Restated to be effective 2/13/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5275.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1121-000.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Initial rate filing per 35.12 Service Agreement No. 12-00082 NPC and Moapa LGIG to be effective2/13/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5278.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1122-000.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Initial rate filing per 35.12 Service Agreement No. 14-00076 NPC and Playa LGIA to be effective2/13/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5283.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following PURPA 210(m)(3) filings:

    Docket Numbers: QM15-2-000.

    Applicants: Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation.

    Description: Application for Relief from Obligation to Purchase Output of Twin Cities Hydro Plant of Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5126.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/24/15.

    Docket Numbers: QM15-2-000.

    Applicants: Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation.

    Description: Amendment to February 18, 2015 Application for Relief from Obligation to Purchase Output of Twin Cities Hydro Plant of Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5264.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/24/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04370 Filed 3-2-15; 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:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: PR15-20-000.

    Applicants: Wisconsin Power and Light Company.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(b)(1) + (g): Statement of Operating Conditions Reflecting New Rates to be effective 2/16/2015; Filing Type: 1300.

    Filed Date: 2/13/15.

    Accession Number: 20150213-5256.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/6/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET4/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: PR15-21-000.

    Applicants: Bay Gas Storage Company, Ltd.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(e)/.224: Bay Gas Annual Adjustment to Company Use Percentage to be effective 3/1/2012; Filing Type: 770.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5072.

    Comments/Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET3/11/15.

    Docket Numbers: PR15-22-000.

    Applicants: Kinder Morgan Keystone Gas Storage LLC.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(e) + (g): Operating Statement Update Filing to be effective 4/1/2015; Filing Type: 1280.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5094.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET3/13/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/21/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-461-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Pro Forma Rate Schedule FTP.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5046.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-462-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company,

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Woodbridge Delivery Lateral Initial Rate Filing to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5053.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-463-000.

    Applicants: PGPipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Annual Adjustment of Fuel and Gas Loss Retention Percentage to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5065.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-464-000.

    Applicants: LA Storage, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.402: LA Storage Annual Adjustment of Fuel Retainage Percentage to be effective 10/1/2013.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5079.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-465-000.

    Applicants: Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Vol 2—Negotiated and Non-Conforming Rate Agreement-BP Energy Company to be effective2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5170.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-466-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/18/15 Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/13/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5194.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-467-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/18/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Trading Gas LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective2/13/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5199.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-468-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/18/15 Negotiated Rates—Nextera Energy Power Marketing, LLC (RTS) 4015-07 to be effective 2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5200.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-469-000.

    Applicants: Cheyenne Plains Gas Pipeline Company, L.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.601: Negotiated Rate TSA Update (Mieco) to be effective2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5216.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-470-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 20150218 Negotiated Rate to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5265.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-471-000.

    Applicants: Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Zone 1 Supply Area Pooling Area Revisions to be effective4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5293.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-472-000.

    Applicants: Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate Service Agreement—Exelon to be effective2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/18/15.

    Accession Number: 20150218-5316.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/2/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-473-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Mobile Bay South III Expansion Initial Rate Filing to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5031.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-474-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: TETLP Statements of Negotiated Rates Tariff Volume to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5036.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-475-000.

    Applicants: Southeast Supply Header, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rates Filing—Tenaska Marketing Ventures K940006 to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5041.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-476-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Amendments to Neg Rate Agmts (Pivotal 34691-8 & VaNat 34695-10) to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5053.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-477-000.

    Applicants: Southern Natural Gas Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Fuel Retention Rates—Spring 2015 to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5074.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-478-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/19/15 Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5113.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-479-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/19/15 Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Trading Gas LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5115.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-480-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/19/15. Negotiated Rates—Sequent Energy Management (HUB) 3075-89 to be effective 2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5116.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-481-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/19/15. Negotiated Rates—United Energy Trading, LLC (HUB) 5095-89 to be effective 2/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5120.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-482-000.

    Applicants: Midwestern Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate PAL Agreements—Tenaska Marketing & Exelon Generation to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5166.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-483-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 20150219 Negotiated Rate to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5180.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-484-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Annual Report of Operational Purchases and Sales of Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5200.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-485-000.

    Applicants: Guardian Pipeline, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate PAL Agreement—Exelon Generation Company, LLC to be effective 2/20/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5060.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-486-000.

    Applicants: Hess Corporation, Hess Trading Corporation.

    Description: Petition of Hess Corporation and Hess Trading Corporation for Waiver and Non-Conforming Contract Authorization.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5207.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 2/27/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-487-000.

    Applicants: Millennium Pipeline Company, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: RAM 2015 to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5084.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-488-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/20/15. Negotiated Rates—ConEdison Energy Inc. (HUB) 2275-89 to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5138.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-489-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/20/15. Negotiated Rates—Mercuria Energy Trading Gas LLC (HUB) 7540-89 to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5141.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-490-000.

    Applicants: East Tennessee Natural Gas, LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02-21-2015 Eastman release to Atmos to be effective 2/21/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5151.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-491-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/20/15. Negotiated Rates—Sequent Energy Management (HUB) 3075-89 to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5155.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-492-000.

    Applicants: Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 02/20/15. Negotiated Rates—United Energy Trading, LLC (HUB) 5095-89 to be effective 2/19/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5157.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-493-000.

    Applicants: Kern River Gas Transmission Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 2015 WIC Virtual Receipt Points to be effective 3/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5194.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-494-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: 20150220 Negotiated Rate to be effective 2/21/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150220-5216.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/4/15.

    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: RP15-262-001.

    Applicants: American Midstream (Midla), LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: Midla Compliance Filing in RP15-262 to be effective 2/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/19/15.

    Accession Number: 20150219-5032.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/3/15.

    Any person desiring to protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rule 211 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: February 23, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04316 Filed 3-2-15; 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 exempt wholesale generator filings:

    Docket Numbers: EG15-54-000.

    Applicants: Alexander Wind Farm, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Self-Certification of Exempt Wholesale Generator Status of Alexander Wind Farm, LLC.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5229.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/17/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER13-1079-002; ER12-348-003.

    Applicants: Mercuria Commodities Canada Corporation, Mercuria Energy America, Inc.

    Description: Updated Market Power Analysis for the Southeast Region of Mercuria Commodities Canada Corporation, et al.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5093.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1095-000.

    Applicants: Arthur Kill Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5094.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1096-000.

    Applicants: Astoria Gas Turbine Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5095.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1097-000.

    Applicants: Conemaugh Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5096.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1098-000.

    Applicants: Connecticut Jet Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5097.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1099-000.

    Applicants: Devon Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5099.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1100-000.

    Applicants: Dunkirk Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5100.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1101-000.

    Applicants: GenConn Devon LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5102.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1102-000.

    Applicants: GenConn Middletown LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5104.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1103-000.

    Applicants: Huntley Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5106.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1104-000.

    Applicants: Indian River Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5108.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1105-000.

    Applicants: Keystone Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5112.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1106-000.

    Applicants: Middletown Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5115.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1107-000.

    Applicants: Midwest Generation LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5119.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1108-000.

    Applicants: Montville Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5124.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1109-000.

    Applicants: NEO Freehold-Gen LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5134.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1110-000.

    Applicants: NRG Energy Center Dover LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5136.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1111-000.

    Applicants: NRG Energy Center Paxton LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5137.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1112-000.

    Applicants: NRG Power Midwest LP.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5139.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1113-000.

    Applicants: NRG Rockford LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5142.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1114-000.

    Applicants: NRG Rockford II LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5145.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1115-000.

    Applicants: Oswego Harbor Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5147.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1116-000.

    Applicants: Vienna Power LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5149.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1117-000.

    Applicants: NRG Chalk Point LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5150.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1118-000.

    Applicants: NRG Potomac River LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Market-Based Rate Tariff Revisions to be effective 2/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 2/25/15.

    Accession Number: 20150225-5151.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/18/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following public utility holding company filings:

    Docket Numbers: PH15-11-000.

    Applicants: New Jersey Resources Corporation.

    Description: New Jersey Resources Corporation submits FERC 65-A Material Change in Facts of Exemption Notification.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5260.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: PH15-12-000.

    Applicants: Energy Transfer Equity, L.P.

    Description: Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. submits FERC 65-A Exemption Notification.

    Filed Date: 2/24/15.

    Accession Number: 20150224-5263.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 3/17/15.

    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: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04369 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. OR15-18-000] Sunoco Pipeline L.P.; Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order

    Take notice that on February 23, 2015, pursuant to Rule 207(a)(2) of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.207(a)(2) (2014), Sunoco Pipeline L.P. filed a petition for a declaratory order approving the proposed tariff rate structure, proration policy, and various aspects of the Transportation Service Agreement for the Delaware Basin Extension project, as more fully explained in the petition.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Petitioner.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on March 23, 2015.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04373 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CD15-19-000] Cub River Irrigation Company; Notice of Preliminary Determination of a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility and Soliciting Comments and Motions To Intervene

    On February 10, 2015, the Cub River Irrigation Company filed a notice of intent to construct a qualifying conduit hydropower facility, pursuant to section 30 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), as amended by section 4 of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (HREA). The proposed Middle Ditch Hydroelectric Project would have an installed capacity of 480 kilowatts (kW) and would be located on the existing Middle Ditch Canal, which transports water for agricultural irrigation purposes. The project would be located near the Town of Franklin in Franklin County, Idaho.

    Applicant Contact: Don Baldwin, P.O. Box 215, Lewiston, UT 84320, Phone No. (435) 512-4672.

    FERC Contact: Robert Bell, Phone No. (202) 502-6062, email: [email protected]

    Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility Description: The proposed project would consist of: (1) Four proposed intake structures with 16-inch butterfly valves attached directly to the 42-inch-diameter main pipeline; (2) a proposed 60- by 40-foot powerhouse containing four turbine generator units with a total installed capacity of 480 kW; (3) three proposed 17-foot-long, 16-inch-diameter pipes which return water to the 42-inch main pipeline and, for the fourth unit that only operates when the other three units are not, a proposed 17-foot-long, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that returns water to Middle Ditch Canal; and (4) appurtenant facilities. The proposed project would have an estimated annual generating capacity of 756 megawatt-hours.

    A qualifying conduit hydropower facility is one that is determined or deemed to meet all of the criteria shown in the table below.

    Table 1—Criteria for Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility Statutory provision Description Satisfies
  • (Y/N)
  • FPA 30(a)(3)(A), as amended by HREA The conduit the facility uses is a tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity Y FPA 30(a)(3)(C)(i), as amended by HREA The facility is constructed, operated, or maintained for the generation of electric power and uses for such generation only the hydroelectric potential of a non-federally owned conduit Y FPA 30(a)(3)(C)(ii), as amended by HREA The facility has an installed capacity that does not exceed 5 megawatts Y FPA 30(a)(3)(C)(iii), as amended by HREA On or before August 9, 2013, the facility is not licensed, or exempted from the licensing requirements of Part I of the FPA Y

    Preliminary Determination: Based upon the above criteria, Commission staff preliminarily determines that the proposal satisfies the requirements for a qualifying conduit hydropower facility, which is not required to be licensed or exempted from licensing.

    Comments and Motions to Intervene: Deadline for filing comments contesting whether the facility meets the qualifying criteria is 45 days from the issuance date of this notice.

    Deadline for filing motions to intervene is 30 days from the issuance date of this notice.

    Anyone may submit comments or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210 and 385.214. Any motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified deadline date for the particular proceeding.

    Filing and Service of Responsive Documents: All filings must (1) bear in all capital letters the “COMMENTS CONTESTING QUALIFICATION FOR A CONDUIT HYDROPOWER FACILITY” or “MOTION TO INTERVENE,” as applicable; (2) state in the heading the name of the applicant and the project number of the application to which the filing responds; (3) state the name, address, and telephone number of the person filing; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of sections 385.2001 through 385.2005 of the Commission's regulations.1 All comments contesting Commission staff's preliminary determination that the facility meets the qualifying criteria must set forth their evidentiary basis.

    1 18 CFR 385.2001-2005 (2014).

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file motions to intervene and comments using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. A copy of all other filings in reference to this application must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed in the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    Locations of Notice of Intent: Copies of the notice of intent can be obtained directly from the applicant or such copies can be viewed and reproduced at the Commission in its Public Reference Room, Room 2A, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The filing may also be viewed on the web at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number (e.g., CD15-19-000) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, call toll-free 1-866-208-3676 or email [email protected] For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04368 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14650-000] Paul Greyshock; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On December 4, 2014, Paul Greyshock 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 Ft. Pierce Pilot Project (Ft. Pierce Project or project) to be located in the Fort Pierce Inlet, near the City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, Florida. 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 consist of the following: A prototype sub-surface propeller generator encased within 6-foot-diameter, 2-foot-wide tube, screened on both ends to protect marine life and protect the mechanism from debris. The generator has a capacity of 40 kilowatts, and will be suspended in 18-foot-deep water near the mouth of the inlet. Anchors on each end of the generator housing will secure it to the inlet floor. A transmission cable will connect the generator to a series of batteries located behind the Manatee Bar and Grill to monitor load and output. The estimated annual generation of the Ft. Pierce Project would be 80.0 megawatt-hours.

    Applicant Contact: Mr. Paul Greyshock, Cyclo-Ocean Inc., 670 16th St., Vero Beach, Florida 32960; phone: (772) 501-4865 or Mr. David Cox, 2044 14th Ave., Suite 24, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; phone: (772) 564 0540.

    FERC Contact: Michael Spencer; phone: (202) 502-6093.

    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-14650-000.

    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-14650) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04371 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. OR15-16-000] Enable Bakken Crude Services, LLC; Notice of Request for Waiver

    Take notice that on February 13, 2015, Enable Bakken Crude Services, LLC requested waiver of the verified statement requirements under 18 CFR 342.4(c), consistent with the declaratory order authorization granted in Docket No. OR14-24-000.1

    1Enable Bakken Crude Services, LLC, 148 FERC ¶ 61,048 (2014).

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Petitioner.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on February 27, 2015.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04372 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-1150] 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 Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Written PRA comments should be submitted on or before May 4, 2015. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contact listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email to [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: 3060-1150.

    Title: Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Second Report and Order and Order, CG Docket No. 10-51.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 15 respondents; 91 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: .017 hours (1 minute) to 25 hours.

    Frequency of Response: Annual, one-time and semi-annually reporting requirements; Third party disclosure requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for the information collections is found at section 225 of the Act, 47 U.S.C. 225. The law was enacted on July 26, 1990, as Title IV of the ADA, Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat. 327, 366-69.

    Total Annual Burden: 419 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: None.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: An assurance of confidentiality is not offered because this information collection does not require the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) from individuals.

    Privacy Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: On July 28, 2011, in document FCC 11-118, the Commission released a Second Report and Order and Order, published at 76 FR 47469, August 5, 2011, and at 76 FR 47476, August 5, 2011, adopting final and interim rules—designed to help prevent fraud and abuse, and ensure quality service, in the provision of Internet-based forms of Telecommunications Relay Services (iTRS). The Second Report and Order and Order amends the Commission's process for certifying Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS) providers as eligible for payment from the Interstate TRS Fund (Fund) for their provision of iTRS, as proposed in the Commission's April 2011 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Video Relay Service (VRS) reform proceeding, CG Docket No. 10-51, published at 76 FR 24437, May 2, 2011. The Commission adopted the newly revised certification process to ensure that iTRS providers receiving certification are qualified to provide iTRS in compliance with the Commission's rules, and to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse through improved oversight of such providers. The Second Report and Order and Order contains information collection requirements with respect to the following eight requirements, all of which aims to ensure that providers are qualified to provide iTRS and that the services are provided in compliance with the Commission's rules with no or minimal service interruption.

    (A) Required Evidence for Submission for Eligibility Certification. The Second Report and Order and Order requires that potential iTRS providers must provide full and detailed information in its application for certification that show its ability to comply with the Commission's rules. The Second Report and Order and Order requires that applicants must provide a detailed description of how the applicant will meet all non-waived mandatory minimum standards applicable to each form of TRS offered, including documentary and other evidence, and in the case of VRS, such documentary and other evidence shall demonstrate that the applicant leases, licenses or has acquired its own facilities and operates such facilities associated with TRS call centers and employees communications assistants, on a full or part-time basis, to staff such call centers at the date of the application. Such evidence shall include but not be limited to:

    1. For VRS applicants operating five or fewer call centers within the United States, a copy of each deed or lease for each call center operated by the applicant within the United States;

    2. For VRS applicants operating more than five call centers within the United States, a copy of each deed or lease for a representative sampling (taking into account size (by number of communications assistants) and location) of five call centers operated by the applicant within the United States;

    3. For VRS applicants operating call centers outside of the United States, a copy of each deed or lease for each call center operated by the Applicant outside of the United States;

    4. For all applicants, a list of individuals or entities that hold at least a 10 percent equity interest in the applicant, have the power to vote 10 percent or more of the securities of the applicant, or exercise de jure or de facto control over the applicant, a description of the applicant's organizational structure, and the names of its executives, officers, members of its board of directors, general partners (in the case of a partnership), and managing members (in the case of a limited liability company);

    5. For all applicants, a list of the number of applicant's full-time and part-time employees involved in TRS operations, including and divided by the following positions: Executives and officers; video phone installers (in the case of VRS), communications assistants, and persons involved in marketing and sponsorship activities;

    6. Where applicable, a description of the call center infrastructure, and for all core call center functions (automatic call distribution, routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation from the TRS fund, and registration) a statement whether such equipment is owned, leased or licensed (and from whom if leased or licensed) and proofs of purchase, leases or license agreements, including a complete copy of any lease or license agreement for automatic call distribution;

    7. For all applicants, copies of employment agreements for all of the provider's employees directly involved in TRS operations, executives and communications assistants, and a list of names of employees directly involved in TRS operations, need not be submitted with the application, but must be retained by the applicant and submitted to the Commission upon request; and

    8. For all applicants, a list of all sponsorship arrangements relating to Internet-based TRS, including any associated written agreements.

    (B) Submission of Annual Report. The Second Report and Order and Order requires that providers submit annual reports that include updates to the information listed under Section A above or certify that there are no changes to the information listed under Section A above.

    (C) Requiring Providers To Seek Prior Authorization of Voluntary Interruption of Service. The Second Report and Order and Order requires that a VRS provider seeking to voluntarily interrupt service for a period of 30 minutes or more in duration must first obtain Commission authorization by submitting a written request to the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) at least 60 days prior to any planned service interruption, with detailed information of:

    (i) Its justification for such interruption;

    (ii) Its plan to notify customers about the impending interruption; and

    (iii) Its plans for resuming service, so as to minimize the impact of such disruption on consumers through a smooth transition of temporary service to another provider, and restoration of its service at the completion of such interruption.

    (D) Reporting of Unforeseen Service Interruptions. With respect to brief, unforeseen service interruptions or in the event of a VRS provider's voluntary service interruption of less than 30 minutes in duration, the Second Report and Order and Order requires that the affected provider submit a written notification to CGB within two business days of the commencement of the service interruption, with an explanation of when and how the provider has restored service or the provider's plan to do so imminently. In the event the provider has not restored service at the time such report is filed, the provider must submit a second report within two business days of the restoration of service with an explanation of when and how the provider has restored service.

    (E) Applicant Certifying Under Penalty of Perjury for Certification Application. The chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other senior executive of an applicant for Internet-based TRS certification with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the information provided, when submitting an application for certification for eligibility to receive compensation from the Intestate TRS Fund, must certify under penalty of perjury that all application information required under the Commission's rules and orders has been provided and that all statements of fact, as well as all documentation contained in the application submission, are true, accurate, and complete.

    (F) Certified Provider Certifying Under Penalty of Perjury for Annual Compliance Filings. The Second Report and Order and Order requires the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other senior executive of an Internet-based TRS provider with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the information provided, when submitting an annual compliance report under paragraph (g) of § 64.606 of the Commission's rules, must certify under penalty of perjury that all information required under the Commission's rules and orders has been provided and all statements of fact, as well as all documentation contained in the annual compliance report submission, are true, accurate, and complete.

    (G) Notification of Service Cessation. The Second Report and Order and Order requires the applicant for certification must give its customers at least 30 days notice that it will no longer provide service should the Commission determine that the applicant's certification application does not qualify for certification under paragraph (a)(2) of § 64.606 of the Commission's rules.

    (H) Notification on Web site. The Second Report and Order and Order requires the provider must provide notification of temporary service outages to consumers on an accessible Web site, and the provider must ensure that the information regarding service status is updated on its Web site in a timely manner.

    On October 17, 2011, in document FCC 11-155, the Commission released a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O), published at 76 FR 67070, October 31, 2011, addressing the petition for reconsideration filed by Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson). Sorenson concurrently filed a PRA comment challenging two aspects of the information collection requirements as being too burdensome. The Commission modified two aspects of information collection requirements contained in the July 28, 2011 Second Report and Order and Order to lessen the burdens on applicants for VRS certification and VRS providers to provide certain documentation to the Commission. In the MO&O, the Commission revised the language in the rules to require that providers that operate five or more domestic call centers only submit copies of proofs of purchase, leases or license agreements for technology and equipment used to support their call center functions for five of their call centers that constitute a representative sample of their centers, rather than requiring copies for all call centers. Further, the Commission clarifies that the rule requiring submission of a list of all sponsorship arrangements relating to iTRS only requires that a certification applicant include on the list associated written agreements, and does not require the applicant to provide copies of all written agreements.

    Therefore, the information collection requirements listed above in section (A) 6 and 8 were revised to read as follows:

    6. A description of the technology and equipment used to support their call center functions—including, but not limited to, automatic call distribution, routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation from the TRS Fund, and registration—and for each core function of each call center for which the applicant must provide a copy of technology and equipment proofs of purchase, leases or license agreements in accordance with paragraphs (a)-(d) listed below, a statement whether such technology and equipment is owned, leased or licensed (and from whom if leased or licensed);

    (a) For VRS providers operating five or fewer call centers within the United States, a copy of each proof of purchase, lease or license agreement for all technology and equipment used to support their call center functions—for each call center operated by the applicant within the United States;

    (b) For VRS providers operating more than five call centers within the United States, a copy of each proof of purchase, lease or license agreement for technology and equipment used to support their call center functions for a representative sampling (taking into account size (by number of communications assistants) and location) of five call centers operated by the applicant within the United States; a copy of each proof of purchase, lease or license agreement for technology and equipment used to support their call center functions for all call centers operated by the applicant within the United States must be retained by the applicant for three years from the date of the application, and submitted to the Commission upon request;

    (c) For VRS providers operating call centers outside of the United States, a copy of each proof of purchase, lease or license agreement for all technology and equipment used to support their call center functions for each call center operated by the applicant outside of the United States; and

    (d) A complete copy of each lease or license agreement for automatic call distribution.

    8. For all applicants, a list of all sponsorship arrangements relating to Internet-based TRS, including on that list a description of any associated written agreements; copies of all such arrangements and agreements must be retained by the applicant for three years from the date of the application, and submitted to the Commission upon request.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Office of the Secretary, Office of the Managing Director.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04339 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-1174] Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Written PRA comments should be submitted on or before May 4, 2015. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contact listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email to [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: 3060-1174.

    Title: Section 73.503, Licensing requirements and service; Section 73.621, Noncommercial educational TV stations; Section 73.3527, Local public inspection file of noncommercial educational stations.

    Form Number: Not applicable.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Not for profit institutions.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 2,200 respondents and 30,800 responses.

    Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement; Annual reporting requirement; One-time reporting requirement; Third party disclosure requirement.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.25-1.5 hours.

    Total Annual Burden: 17,050 hours.

    Total Annual Cost to Respondents: $330,000.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 303, 307 and 308.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no assurance of confidentiality provided to respondents.

    Privacy Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: On April 25, 2012, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) in MB Docket 12-106, FCC 12-43, In the Matter of Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third-Party Non-Profit Organizations. Under the Commission's existing rules, a noncommercial educational (“NCE”) broadcast station may not conduct fundraising activities to benefit any entity besides the station itself if the activities would substantially alter or suspend regular programming. The NPRM proposes to relax the rules to allow NCE stations to spend up to one percent of their total annual airtime conducting on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations.

    A final rulemaking has not been adopted by the Commission to date. The Commission would like to keep this collection in OMB's inventory. We will receive OMB final approval once the final rulemaking is adopted by the Commission.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Office of the Secretary, Office of the Managing Director.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04338 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-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 March 27, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Dennis Denney, Assistant Vice President) 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64198-0001:

    1. UniBanc Corp., Maywood, Nebraska; to acquire 100 percent of the voting shares of Bank of Stapleton, Stapleton, Nebraska:

    In connection with this proposal, UniBanc Corp. has applied to acquire Stapleton Investment Company, and thereby engage in general insurance activities in a town greater than 5,000 in population, pursuant to section 225.28(b)(11)(iii)(A).

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, February 25, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04375 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION [File No. 132 3211] Health Discovery Corporation; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment AGENCY:

    Federal Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed consent agreement.

    SUMMARY:

    The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before March 25, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/melappsconsent/ online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Health Discovery Corporation—Consent Agreement; File No. 1323211” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/melappsconsent/ by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “Health Discovery Corporation—Consent Agreement; File No. 1323211” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen Mandel, Bureau of Consumer Protection, (202) 326-2491, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for February 23, 2015), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm.

    You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before March 25, 2015. Write “Health Discovery Corporation—Consent Agreement; File No. 1323211” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

    Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

    If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).1 Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

    1 In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

    Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/melappsconsent/ by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

    If you file your comment on paper, write “Health Discovery Corporation—Consent Agreement; File No. 1323211” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

    Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before March 25, 2015. For information on the Commission's privacy policy, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.htm.

    Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

    The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order as to Health Discovery Corporation (hereafter “the company”).

    The proposed consent order (“proposed order”) has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the proposed order and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw or make final the agreement's proposed order.

    This matter involves the company's advertising for the MelApp mobile device software application. The Commission's complaint alleges that the company violated Sections 5(a) and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by representing that MelApp accurately analyses moles and other skin lesions for melanoma and increases consumers' chances of detecting melanoma in early stages, because such claims were false or misleading, or were not substantiated at the time the representations were made. The complaint also alleges that the company violated Sections 5(a) and 12 by making the false or misleading representation that scientific testing proves that MelApp accurately detects melanoma.

    The proposed order includes injunctive relief that prohibits these alleged violations and fences in similar and related violations. The proposed order covers any Device, as the term is used within the meaning of Sections 12 and 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 52, 55. As additional fencing-in relief, the proposed order requires the company to follow appropriate recordkeeping and compliance reporting requirements, as well as document preservation requirements for human clinical studies that it conducts or sponsors on the Device.

    Part I prohibits any representation that a Device detects or diagnoses melanoma or risk factors of melanoma, or increases users' chances of detecting melanoma in early stages, unless it is non-misleading and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Such evidence must consist of human clinical testing of the Device that is sufficient in quality and quantity, based on standards generally accepted by experts in the field, is blinded, conforms to actual use conditions, includes a representative range of skin lesions, and is conducted by researchers qualified by training and experience to conduct such testing. In addition, the company must maintain all underlying or supporting data that experts in the relevant field generally would accept as relevant to an assessment of such testing.

    Part II prohibits any representation about the health benefits or health efficacy of a Device, unless it is non-misleading and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence that is sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant scientific fields, when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable scientific evidence, to substantiate that the representation is true. For purposes of this Part, competent and reliable scientific evidence means tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted by a qualified person in an objective manner and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. When that evidence consists of a human clinical trial, the company must maintain all underlying or supporting data and documents that experts in the relevant field generally would accept as relevant to an assessment of such testing.

    Part III triggered when the human clinical testing requirement in Parts I or II applies, requires the company to secure and preserve all underlying or supporting data and documents generally accepted by experts in the relevant field as relevant to an assessment of the test, such as protocols, instructions, participant-specific data, statistical analyses, and contracts with the test's researchers. There is an exception for a “Reliably Reported” test, defined as a test that is published in a peer-reviewed journal and that was not conducted, controlled, or sponsored by any proposed respondent or supplier. Also, the published report must provide sufficient information about the test for experts in the relevant field to assess the reliability of the results.

    Part IV prohibits the company from misrepresenting, including through the use of a product or service name, endorsement, depiction, or illustration, the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions, or interpretations of any test, study, or research, or that any benefits of such product or service are scientifically proven, including, but not limited to, that studies, research, testing, or trials prove that a product or service detects or diagnoses a disease or the risks of a disease.

    Part V provides the company will pay an equitable monetary payment of Seventeen Thousand Six Hundred Ninety-three Dollars ($17,693).

    Part VI contains recordkeeping requirements for advertisements and substantiation relevant to representations covered by Parts I through III, as well as order receipts covered by Part VII.

    Parts VII through IX require the company to deliver a copy of the order to officers, employees, and representatives having managerial responsibilities with respect to the order's subject matter, notify the Commission of changes in corporate structure that might affect compliance obligations, and file compliance reports with the Commission.

    Part X provides that, with exceptions, the order will terminate in twenty years.

    The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the complaint or proposed order, or to modify the proposed order's terms in any way.

    By direction of the Commission, Commissioner Ohlhausen dissenting.

    Donald S. Clark, Secretary.
    Statement of Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioner Brill, and Commissioner McSweeny In the Matter of Health Discovery Corporation, File No. 132 3211, and FTC v. Avrom Boris Lasarow, et al., File No. 132 3210 February 23, 2015

    Today the Commission is announcing actions in two matters challenging the advertising for the mobile apps MelApp and Mole Detective.1 Both of these apps claimed to provide an automated analysis of moles and skin lesions for symptoms of melanoma and increase consumers' chances of detecting melanoma in its early stages.

    1 The Commission has voted to accept for public comment a consent agreement with the sole respondent in In the Matter of Health Discovery Corporation (addressing the MelApp mobile app). In FTC v. Avrom Boris Lasarow, et al. (addressing the Mole Detective mobile app), the Commission has authorized the filing of a federal court complaint against four defendants and approved a proposed settlement with two of those defendants, Kristi Zuhlke Kimball and New Consumer Solutions LLC.

    Advertising for MelApp stated that it used “patent protected state-of-the-art mathematical algorithms and image-based pattern recognition technology to analyze the uploaded image [of a skin lesion],” to “provide a risk analysis of the uploaded picture being a melanoma” and “assist[ ] in the early detection of melanoma.” 2 Advertising for Mole Detective stated that it “is the first and only app to calculate symptoms of melanoma right on the phone,” and that it could “analyze[] your mole using the dermatologist ABCDE method and give[] you a risk factor based on the symptoms your mole may or may not be showing,” “increase the chance of detecting skin cancer in early stages,” and “save[] lives through the early detection of potentially fatal melanoma,” using “shape recognition software.” 3

    2 See MelApp Complaint ¶ 6(A).

    3 See Mole Detective Complaint ¶¶ 18(A)-(B), 18(D); Ex. A-2.

    The claims that these apps would provide an accurate, automated analysis of skin lesions were the central selling points for both MelApp and Mole Detective, and these claims needed to be substantiated.4 Although Commissioner Ohlhausen does not appear to disagree with this assessment, she believes the Commission's complaint needs to articulate a comparative reference point for any “accuracy” claim to set an appropriate level of substantiation in the accompanying orders. Absent extrinsic evidence, she believes it is reasonable to read the ads as claiming that the automated assessment is more accurate than unaided self-assessment, and that it is not reasonable to read the ads as claiming that the automated assessment is as accurate as a dermatologist.

    4 FTC Policy Statement Regarding Advertising Substantiation, 104 F.T.C. 839 (1984) (appended to Thompson Med. Co., 104 F.T.C. 648 (1984)) (“[W]e reaffirm our commitment to the underlying legal requirement of advertising substantiation—that advertisers and ad agencies have a reasonable basis for advertising claims before they are disseminated.”), aff'd, 791 F.2d 189, 193 & 196 (D.C. Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1086 (1987).

    We disagree. We think the powerful language of the advertising, such as that quoted above, is clear on its face, so no extrinsic evidence of consumer interpretation is needed to support the challenged representations that the apps accurately analyze moles for symptoms of melanoma and increase the chance of detecting skin cancer in its early stages. Because the defendants and the respondent lacked substantiation for those claims, we have reason to believe they violated Section 5. Thus, it is not necessary to hypothesize about what implied claims, such as the accuracy relative to different types of assessments, consumers may have read into the advertising.

    Commissioner Ohlhausen also suggests that the orders would, de facto, require any future app the advertisers market to be as accurate as a dermatologist or biopsy. Again, we respectfully disagree. The orders do not prescribe a particular level of accuracy the apps must achieve prior to being marketed; rather, they require scientific testing demonstrating accuracy at a level appropriate to the claims being made.5 Thus, if scientific testing demonstrates that the app is accurate 60% of the time, the advertisers would be able to make a 60% accuracy claim. It would be incumbent upon these marketers to make sure that their advertising conveyed that level of accuracy and did not suggest a stronger level of science to reasonable consumers.

    5 Based on our application of the factors set out in Pfizer, 81 F.T.C. 23, 64 (1970), if these advertisers make future claims that any device detects or diagnoses melanoma, or increases a user's chances of detecting melanoma in its early stages, the orders would require that such claims be substantiated by human clinical testing. The orders specify that such testing must be blinded, conform to actual use conditions, include a representative range of skin lesions, and be conducted by researchers qualified by training and experience to conduct such testing. These conditions are designed to ensure the accuracy and reliability of testing used to support a narrow and clearly defined set of claims relating specifically to the detection and diagnosis of melanoma, a serious and progressively deadly disease.

    If these advertisers make other claims about the health benefits or efficacy of any product or service, the orders require such claims to be non-misleading and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The orders further describe what constitutes competent and reliable scientific evidence and make it quite clear that the evidence required is directly tied to the claim made, expressly or implicitly, by the advertiser.

    Technologies such as health-related mobile apps have the potential to provide tremendous conveniences and benefits to consumers. However, the same rules of the road apply to all media and technologies—advertisers must have substantiation to back up their claims. The Commission will continue to hold advertisers accountable for the promises they make to consumers, especially when they pertain to diseases and other serious health conditions.

    For the foregoing reasons, we have reason to believe that the complaint allegations and proposed relief reached by consent of the settling parties are appropriate.

    Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen In the Matter of Health Discovery Corporation, File No. 132-3211 and FTC v. Avrom Boris Lasarow, et al., File No. 132-3210 February 23, 2015

    These matters are another example of the Commission using an unduly expansive interpretation of advertising claims to justify imposing an inappropriately high substantiation requirement on a relatively safe product.1 As I have previously stated, “We must keep in mind . . . that if we are too quick to find stronger claims than the ones reasonable consumers actually perceive, then we will inadvertently, but categorically, require an undue level of substantiation for those claims.” 2 Because I fear this course of action will inhibit the development of beneficial products and chill the dissemination of useful health information to consumers, I dissent.

    1 See Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen Dissenting in Part and Concurring in Part In the Matter of GeneLink, Inc. and foru International Corp., (Jan. 7, 2014); Concurring Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, POM Wonderful, Docket No. 9344, at 3 (Jan. 10, 2013). These statements are available at http://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/biographies/maureen-k-ohlhausen#speeches.

    2 Concurring Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, POM Wonderful, at 3.

    I do not dispute that companies must have adequate substantiation to support the claims that they make, and I thus would have supported complaints and substantiation requirements based on the app developers' claims that their apps automatically assessed cancer risk more accurately than a consumer's unaided self-assessment using the ABCDE factors.3

    3 I agree with the majority that the companies claimed, without substantiation, that the apps' automated risk assessments were more accurate than a user's unaided self-assessment using the ABCDE factors, and I therefore would support complaints narrowly challenging this claim. Further, I would support orders prohibiting claims that an app “detects melanoma or risk factors of melanoma, thereby increasing, as compared to unaided self-assessment, users' chances of detecting melanoma in early stages,” unless substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

    However, the complaints and orders in these cases go further, demanding a high level of substantiation for a wide range of potential advertising claims. Specifically, the orders require rigorous, well-accepted, blinded, human clinical tests to substantiate any claim that the app increases consumers' chances of detecting skin cancer in the early stages.4 Both orders also impose the same high substantiation standard on any claim that an app “detects or diagnoses melanoma or risk factors of melanoma.” 5 The orders could thus be read to require the app developers to demonstrate that their apps assess cancer risk as well as dermatologists, even if their ads make much more limited claims.

    4 Mole Detective Order at 5. The MelApp Order includes a similar prohibition. See MelApp Order at 3.

    5 Mole Detective Order at 5; MelApp Order at 3.

    Substantiation requirements must flow from the claims made by the advertiser. Under Pfizer, the Commission should require a high level of substantiation if the advertiser expressly claimed or implied that the apps provide dermatologist-level accuracy and efficacy, and a lower level of substantiation if the advertiser claims a lower level of capability.6 The majority's statement appears to agree with that approach:

    6 Under Pfizer, the Commission determines the level of evidence an advertiser must have to substantiate its product efficacy claims by examining six factors: (1) The type of product advertised; (2) the type of claim; (3) the benefits of a truthful claim; (4) the cost of developing substantiation for the claim; (5) the consequences of a false claim; and (6) the amount of substantiation that experts in the field would require. Pfizer, Inc., 81 F.T.C. 23, 64 (1970).

    “[I]f scientific testing demonstrates that the app is accurate 60% of the time, the advertisers would be able to make a 60% accuracy claim. It would be incumbent upon these marketers to make sure that their advertising conveyed that level of accuracy and did not suggest a stronger level of science to reasonable consumers.” 7

    7 Statement of Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioner Brill, and Commissioner McSweeny at 2.

    Yet, having acknowledged that the app developers need only ensure that their advertising conveys the appropriate level of accuracy, the majority still supports complaints that do not specify what claimed level of accuracy their advertisements conveyed to consumers. Instead, the complaints describe the allegedly unlawful advertising claims amorphously. The Mole Detective complaint, for example, characterizes the defendants' ads as claiming that the app “accurately analyzes moles for the ABCDE symptoms of melanoma; and/or increases consumers' chances of detecting skin cancer in early stages.” 8

    8 Mole Detective Complaint ¶ 23. The MelApp complaint contains similar language. See MelApp Complaint at 4.

    This amorphous claim construction leaves two unresolved questions: “Accurate compared to what?” and “Increases chances compared to what?” We must know how reasonable consumers answered those questions—and thus establish what claims consumers likely took from the ads—before we can determine whether defendants provided the appropriate level of substantiation for those claims.9

    9 Because the ads do not expressly quantify (in absolute terms or by comparison) the accuracy or efficacy of the apps, any purported claims by the ads about accuracy or efficacy must be implied, not express.

    There is little reason to think that consumers interpreted the ads to promise early detection as accurate and efficacious as a dermatologist. The ads never claim that the apps substitute for a dermatologist exam. In fact, the ads describe the apps as tools to enhance self-assessment in conjunction with visits to dermatologists, and both apps emphasize the importance of regular dermatologist visits. Without extrinsic evidence, I do not have reason to believe that a reasonable consumer would take away the implied claim that using these apps would increase their chances of detecting skin cancer in the early stages as compared to an examination by a dermatologist.10

    10 When the FTC cannot “conclude with confidence” that a specific implied claim is being made—for example, if the ad contains “conflicting messages”—the FTC “will not find the ad to make the implied claim unless extrinsic evidence allows us to conclude that such a reading of the ad is reasonable.” In re Thompson Med. Co., 104 F.T.C. 648, 788-89 (1984).

    Thus, the orders impose a high level of substantiation despite lacking evidence that the marketing claims require such substantiation, and the complaints' vague claim construction obscures this flawed approach.11 Despite the assurances in the majority's statement as to what the orders require, the complaints imply—and the majority appears to agree 12 —that reasonable consumers expected the apps to substitute for professional medical care. This disconnect raises the possibility that the Commission may use vague complaints to impose very high substantiation standards on health-related apps even if the advertising claims for those apps are more modest.

    11 These onerous substantiation requirements cannot be defended as “fencing-in.” The FTC does not traditionally fence in companies by requiring a heightened level of substantiation. Instead, past FTC decisions fence in companies by extending the scope of a substantiation requirement beyond the specific product, parties, or type of conduct involved in the actual violation. See Federal Trade Commission v. Springtech 77376, LLC, et al. (“Cedarcide Industries”), Matter No. X120042, Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen at 3 (July 16, 2013). Requiring past violators to meet a higher burden of substantiation would not fence them in—it would only make it more difficult for them to make truthful claims that could be useful to consumers. Id.

    12 “Commissioner Ohlhausen . . . believes . . . that it is not reasonable to read the ads as claiming that the automated assessment is as accurate as a dermatologist. We disagree.” Statement of Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioner Brill, and Commissioner McSweeny at 1.

    This approach concerns me. Health-related apps have enormous potential to improve access to health information for underserved populations and to enable individuals to monitor more effectively their own well-being, thereby improving health outcomes. Health-related apps need not be as accurate as professional care to provide significant value for many consumers. The Commission should not subject such apps to overly stringent substantiation requirements, so long as developers adequately convey the limitations of their products. In particular, the Commission should be very wary of concluding that consumers interpret marketing for health-related apps as claiming that those apps substitute for professional medical care, unless we can point to express claims, clearly implied claims, or extrinsic evidence. If the Commission continues to adopt such conclusions without any evidence of consumers' actual interpretations, and thus requires a very high level of substantiation for health-related apps, we are likely to chill innovation in such apps, limit the potential benefits of this innovation, and ultimately make consumers worse off.13

    13 See, e.g., Scott Gottlieb and Coleen Klasmeier, “Why Your Phone Isn't as Smart as It Could Be,” Wall Street Journal (Aug. 7, 2014) (blaming heavy regulation of consumer-directed health apps and devices for smartphones that are “purposely dumbed down” and “products that are never created because mobile-tech entrepreneurs choose to direct their talents elsewhere”), available at http://online.wsj.com/articles/scott-gottlieb-and-coleen-klasmeier-why-your-phone-isnt-as-smart-as-it-could-be-1407369163.

    I therefore respectfully dissent.

    [FR Doc. 2015-04348 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6750-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Meeting of the National Preparedness and Response Science Board AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    As stipulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is hereby giving notice that the National Preparedness and Response Science Board (NPRSB), also known as the National Biodefense Science Board, will be holding a public teleconference.

    DATES:

    The NPRSB will hold a public meeting on March 30, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST. The agenda is subject to change as priorities dictate.

    ADDRESSES:

    Individuals who wish to participate should send an email to [email protected] with “NPRSB Registration” in the subject line. The meeting will occur by teleconference. To attend via teleconference and for further instructions, please visit the NPRSB Web site at WWW.PHE.GOV/NPRSB.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Please submit an inquiry via the NPRSB Contact Form located at www.phe.gov/NBSBComments.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to section 319M of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-7f) and section 222 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 217a), HHS established the NPRSB. The Board shall provide expert advice and guidance to the Secretary on scientific, technical, and other matters of special interest to HHS regarding current and future chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological agents, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate. The NPRSB may also provide advice and guidance to the Secretary and/or the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) on other matters related to public health emergency preparedness and response.

    Background: This public meeting via teleconference will be dedicated to the NPRSB's deliberation and vote on the findings from the ASPR Future Strategies Working Group. Subsequent agenda topics will be added as priorities dictate. Any additional agenda topics will be available on the NPRSB March 30, 2015, meeting Web page, available at WWW.PHE.GOV/NPRSB.

    Availability of Materials: The meeting agenda and materials will be posted prior to the meeting on the March 30th meeting Web page at WWW.PHE.GOV/NPRSB.

    Procedures for Providing Public Input: Members of the public are invited to attend by teleconference via a toll-free call-in phone number which is available on the NPRSB Web site at WWW.PHE.GOV/NPRSB. All members of the public are encouraged to provide written comment to the NPRSB. All written comments must be received prior to March 29, 2015, and should be sent by email to [email protected] with “NPRSB Public Comment” as the subject line. Public comments received by close of business one week prior to each teleconference will be distributed to the NPRSB in advance.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04303 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

    Correction: This notice was published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2015, Volume 80, Number 20, Page 5116-5117. Due to inclement weather in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the first day of the meeting scheduled for February 25 and 26, 2015 was not held. The second day of the meeting will take place as follows:

    Times and Dates: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., February 26, 2015.

    The meeting will be webcast live via the World Wide Web; for instructions and more information on ACIP please visit the ACIP Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/index.html.

    Matters To Be Discussed: The shortened agenda will include discussions and votes on: Influenza LAIV use, serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines use in high risk groups, including outbreaks, and the use of 9vHPV vaccine.

    Agenda items are subject to change as priorities dictate.

    Contact Person for More Information: Stephanie B. Thomas, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-A27, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, telephone: (404) 639-8836; Email [email protected]

    The Director, Management Analysis and Services Office, has been delegated the authority to sign Federal Register notices pertaining to announcements of meetings and other committee management activities for both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

    Catherine Ramadei, Acting Director, Management Analysis and Services Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04330 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    Title: Grant Reviewer Recruitment Form.

    OMB No.: NEW.

    Description: The Administration for Children and Families' Children's Bureau (CB) is responsible for administering the review of eligible grant applications submitted in response to funding opportunity announcements issued by CB. CB ensures that the objective review process is independent, efficient, effective, economical, and complies with the applicable statutes, regulations, and policies. Applications are reviewed by subject experts knowledgeable in child welfare and related fields. Review findings are advisory to CB; CB is responsible for making award decisions.

    This announcement is a request for approval of the proposed information collection system, the Reviewer Recruitment Module (RRM). CB will use a web-based data collection form and database to gather critical reviewer information in drop down menu format for data such as: degree, occupation, affiliations with organizations and institutions that serve special populations, and demographic information that may be voluntarily provided by a potential reviewer.

    These data elements will help CB find and select expert grant reviewers for objective review committees. The web-based system will permit reviewers to access and update their information at will and as needed. The RRM will be accessible by the general public via https://rrm.grantsolutions.gov/AgencyPortal/cb.aspx.

    Respondents: Generally, our reviewers are current or retired professionals with backgrounds in child welfare and related fields and in some instances current or former foster care parents or clients.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Average
  • burden hours per response
  • Total burden hours
    Reviewer recruitment module 500 1 .25 125

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 125.

    Additional Information

    Copies of the proposed collection may be obtained by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection. Email address: [email protected]

    OMB Comment

    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent directly to the following: Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project, Email: [email protected], Attn: Desk Officer for the Administration for Children and Families.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04320 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment Request Proposed Projects

    Title: ORR-2 Quarterly Report on Expenditures and Obligations.

    OMB No.: 0970-0407.

    Description: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) reimburses, to the extent of available appropriations, certain non-federal costs for the provision of cash and medical assistance to refugees, along with allowable expenses for the administration of the refugee resettlement program at the State level. States (and Wilson/Fish projects; i.e., alternative projects for the administration of the refugee resettlement program) currently submit the ORR-2 Quarterly Report on Expenditures and Obligations, which provides aggregate expenditure and obligation data. This proposed data collection collects expenditures and obligations data separately for each of the four CMA program components: Refugee cash assistance, refugee medical assistance, cash and medical assistance administration, and services for unaccompanied minors. This breakdown of financial status data allows ORR to track program expenditures in greater detail to anticipate any funding issues and to meet the requirements of ORR regulations at CFR 400.211 to collect these data for use in estimating future costs of the refugee resettlement program. ORR must implement the methodology at CFR 400.211 each year after receipt of its annual appropriation to ensure that appropriated funds will be adequate for reimbursement to States of the costs for assistance provided to entering refugees. The estimating methodology prescribed in the regulations requires the use of actual past costs by program component. In the event that the methodology indicates that appropriated funds are inadequate, ORR must take steps to reduce federal expenses, such as by limiting the number of months of eligibility for Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance. This proposed single-page financial report allows ORR to collect the necessary data to ensure that funds are adequate for the projected need and thereby meet the requirements of both the Refugee Act and ORR regulations.

    Respondents: State governments, Wilson/Fish Alternative Projects.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden hours
  • per response
  • Total burden
  • hours
  • ORR Financial Status Report 58 4 0.50 116

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 116.

    In compliance with the requirements of Section 506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Administration for Children and Families is soliciting public comment on the specific aspects of the information collection described above. Copies of the proposed collection of information can be obtained and comments may be forwarded by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. Email address: [email protected] All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection.

    The Department specifically requests comments on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted within 60 days of this publication.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04365 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0535] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Notification of a Health Claim or Nutrient Content Claim Based on an Authoritative Statement of a Scientific Body AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that a proposed collection of information has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Fax written comments on the collection of information by April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To ensure that comments on the information collection are received, OMB recommends that written comments be faxed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: FDA Desk Officer, FAX: 202-395-7285, or emailed to [email protected] All comments should be identified with the OMB control number 0910-0374. Also include the FDA docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    FDA PRA Staff, Office of Operations, Food and Drug Administration, 8455 Colesville Rd., COLE-14526, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002 [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In compliance with 44 U.S.C. 3507, FDA has submitted the following proposed collection of information to OMB for review and clearance.

    Notification of a Health Claim or Nutrient Content Claim Based on an Authoritative Statement of a Scientific Body—(OMB Control Number 0910-0374)—Extension

    Section 403(r)(2)(G) and (r)(3)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 343(r)(2)(G) and (r)(3)(C)), as amended by the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, provides that any person may market a food product whose label bears a nutrient content claim or a health claim that is based on an authoritative statement of a scientific body of the U.S. Government or the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Under this section of the FD&C Act, a person that intends to use such a claim must submit a notification of its intention to use the claim 120 days before it begins marketing the product bearing the claim. In the Federal Register of June 11, 1998 (63 FR 32102), we announced the availability of a guidance entitled “Guidance for Industry: Notification of a Health Claim or Nutrient Content Claim Based on an Authoritative Statement of a Scientific Body.” The guidance provides the Agency's interpretation of terms central to the submission of a notification and the Agency's views on the information that should be included in the notification. We believe that the guidance will enable persons to meet the criteria for notifications that are established in section 403(r)(2)(G) and (r)(3)(C) of the FD&C Act. In addition to the information specifically required by the FD&C Act to be in such notifications, the guidance states that the notifications should also contain information on analytical methodology for the nutrient that is the subject of a claim based on an authoritative statement. We intend to review the notifications we receive to ensure that they comply with the criteria established by the FD&C Act.

    In the Federal Register of November 21, 2014 (79 FR 69494), FDA published a 60-day notice requesting public comment on the proposed collection of information. No comments were received in response to the notice.

    FDA estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

    Table 1—Estimated Annual Reporting Burden 1 Section of the FD&C Act Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total annual responses Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • Total hours
    403(r)(2)(G) (nutrient content claims) 1 1 1 250 250 403(r)(2)(C) (health claims) 1 1 1 450 450 Guidance for notifications 2 1 2 1 2 Total 702 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information.

    These estimates are based on our experience with health claims, nutrient content claims, and other similar notification procedures that fall under our jurisdiction. To avoid estimating the number of respondents as zero, we estimate that there will be one or fewer respondents annually for nutrient content claim and health claim notifications. We estimate that we will receive one nutrient content claim notification and one health claim notification per year over the next 3 years.

    Section 403(r)(2)(G) and (r)(3)(C) of the FD&C Act requires that the notification include the exact words of the claim, a copy of the authoritative statement, a concise description of the basis upon which such person relied for determining that this is an authoritative statement as outlined in the FD&C Act, and a balanced representation of the scientific literature relating to the relationship between a nutrient and a disease or health-related condition to which a health claim refers or to the nutrient level to which the nutrient content claim refers. This balanced representation of the scientific literature is expected to include a bibliography of the scientific literature on the topic of the claim and a brief, balanced account or analysis of how this literature either supports or fails to support the authoritative statement.

    Since the claims are based on authoritative statements of a scientific body of the U.S. Government or NAS, we believe that the information that is required by the FD&C Act to be submitted with a notification will be readily available to a respondent. However, the respondent will have to collect and assemble that information. Based on communications with firms that have submitted notifications, we estimate that one respondent will take 250 hours to collect and assemble the information required by the statute for a nutrient content claim notification. Further, we estimate that one respondent will take 450 hours to collect and assemble the information required by the statute for a health claim notification.

    Under the guidance, notifications should also contain information on analytical methodology for the nutrient that is the subject of a claim based on an authoritative statement. The guidance applies to both nutrient content claim and health claim notifications. We have determined that this information should be readily available to a respondent and, thus, we estimate that it will take a respondent 1 hour to incorporate the information into each notification. We expect there will be two respondents for a total of 2 hours.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04380 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2005-N-0161] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Related Regulations for Blood and Blood Components; and Requirements for Donor Testing, Donor Notification, and “Lookback” AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that a proposed collection of information has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Fax written comments on the collection of information by April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To ensure that comments on the information collection are received, OMB recommends that written comments be faxed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: FDA Desk Officer, FAX: 202-395-7285, or emailed to [email protected] All comments should be identified with the OMB control number 0910-0116. Also include the FDA docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    FDA PRA Staff, Office of Operations, Food and Drug Administration, 8455 Colesville Rd., COLE-14526, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In compliance with 44 U.S.C. 3507, FDA has submitted the following proposed collection of information to OMB for review and clearance.

    Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Related Regulations for Blood and Blood Components; and Requirements for Donor Testing, Donor Notification, and “Lookback”—(OMB Control Number 0910-0116)—Extension

    All blood and blood components introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce are subject to section 351(a) of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) (42 U.S.C. 262(a)). Section 351(a) requires that manufacturers of biological products, which include blood and blood components intended for further manufacture into injectable products, have a license, issued upon a demonstration that the product is safe, pure, and potent and that the manufacturing establishment meets all applicable standards, including those prescribed in the FDA regulations designed to ensure the continued safety, purity, and potency of the product. In addition, under section 361 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. 264), by delegation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, FDA may make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession.

    Section 351(j) of the PHS Act states that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act also applies to biological products. Blood and blood components for transfusion or for further manufacture into injectable products are drugs, as that term is defined in section 201(g)(1) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)). Because blood and blood components are drugs under the FD&C Act, blood and plasma establishments must comply with the substantive provisions and related regulatory scheme of the FD&C Act. For example, under section 501 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 351(a)), drugs are deemed “adulterated” if the methods used in their manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding do not conform to current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) and related regulations.

    The CGMP regulations for blood and blood components (21 CFR part 606) and related regulations implement FDA's statutory authority to ensure the safety, purity, and potency of blood and blood components. The public health objective in testing human blood donors for evidence of infection due to communicable disease agents and in notifying donors is to prevent the transmission of communicable disease. For example, the “lookback” requirements are intended to help ensure the continued safety of the blood supply by providing necessary information to users of blood and blood components and appropriate notification of recipients of transfusion who are at increased risk for transmitting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

    The information collection requirements in the CGMP, donor testing, donor notification, and “lookback” regulations provide FDA with the necessary information to perform its duty to ensure the safety, purity, and potency of blood and blood components. These requirements establish accountability and traceability in the processing and handling of blood and blood components and enable FDA to perform meaningful inspections.

    The recordkeeping requirements serve preventive and remedial purposes. The third-party disclosure requirements identify the various blood and blood components and important properties of the product, demonstrate that the CGMP requirements have been met, and facilitate the tracing of a product back to its original source. The reporting requirements inform FDA of certain information that may require immediate corrective action.

    Under the reporting requirements, § 606.170(b), in brief, requires that facilities notify FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), as soon as possible after confirming a complication of blood collection or transfusion to be fatal. The collecting facility is to report donor fatalities, and the compatibility testing facility is to report recipient fatalities. The regulation also requires the reporting facility to submit a written report of the investigation within 7 days after the fatality. In fiscal year 2013, FDA received 72 of these reports.

    Section 610.40(g)(2) (21 CFR 610.40(g)(2)) requires an establishment to obtain written approval from FDA to ship human blood or blood components for further manufacturing use prior to completion of testing for evidence of infection due to certain communicable disease agents.

    Section 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(A), in brief, requires an establishment to obtain written approval from FDA to use or ship human blood or blood components found to be reactive by a screening test for evidence of certain communicable disease agent(s) or collected from a donor with a record of a reactive screening test.

    Under the third-party disclosure requirements, § 610.40(c)(1)(ii), in brief, requires that each donation dedicated to a single identified recipient be labeled as required under § 606.121 and with a label containing the name and identifying information of the recipient. The information collection requirements under § 606.121 are part of usual and customary business practice.

    Sections 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(C) and (h)(2)(ii)(D), in brief, require an establishment to label certain reactive human blood and blood components with the appropriate screening test results, and, if they are intended for further manufacturing use into injectable products, to include a statement on the label indicating the exempted use specifically approved by FDA. Also, § 610.40(h)(2)(vi) requires each donation of human blood or blood components, excluding Source Plasma, that tests reactive by a screening test for syphilis and is determined to be a biological false positive to be labeled with both test results.

    Section 610.42(a) requires a warning statement “indicating that the product was manufactured from a donation found to be reactive by a screening test for evidence of infection due to the identified communicable disease agent(s)” in the labeling for medical devices containing human blood or a blood component found to be reactive by a screening test for evidence of infection due to a communicable disease agent(s) or syphilis.

    In brief, §§ 610.46 and 610.47 require blood collecting establishments to establish, maintain, and follow an appropriate system for performing HIV and HCV prospective “lookback” when: (1) A donor tests reactive for evidence of HIV or HCV infection or (2) the collecting establishment becomes aware of other reliable test results or information indicating evidence of HIV or HCV infection (prospective “lookback”) (see §§ 610.46(a)(1) and 610.47(a)(1)). The requirement for “an appropriate system” requires the collecting establishment to design standard operating procedures (SOPs) to identify and quarantine all blood and blood components previously collected from a donor who later tests reactive for evidence of HIV or HCV infection, or when the collecting establishment is made aware of other reliable test results or information indicating evidence of HIV or HCV infection. Within 3 calendar days of the donor testing reactive by an HIV or HCV screening test or the collecting establishment becoming aware of other reliable test results or information, the collecting establishment must, among other things, notify consignees to quarantine all identified previously collected in-date blood and blood components (§§ 610.46(a)(1)(ii)(B) and 610.47(a)(1)(ii)(B)) and, within 45 days, notify the consignees of supplemental test results, or the results of a reactive screening test if there is no available supplemental test that is approved for such use by FDA (§§ 610.46(a)(3) and 610.47(a)(3)).

    Consignees also must establish, maintain, and follow an appropriate system for performing HIV and HCV “lookback” when notified by the collecting establishment that they have received blood and blood components previously collected from donors who later tested reactive for evidence of HIV or HCV infection, or when the collecting establishment is made aware of other reliable test results or information indicating evidence of HIV or HCV infection in a donor (§§ 610.46(b) and 610.47(b)). This provision for a system requires the consignee to establish SOPs for, among other things, notifying transfusion recipients of blood and blood components, or the recipient's physician of record or legal representative, when such action is indicated by the results of the supplemental (additional, more specific) tests or a reactive screening test if there is no available supplemental test that is approved for such use by FDA, or if under an investigational new drug application (IND) or an investigational device exemption (IDE), is exempted for such use by FDA. The consignee must make reasonable attempts to perform the notification within 12 weeks of receipt of the supplemental test result or receipt of a reactive screening test result when there is no available supplemental test that is approved for such use by FDA, or if under an IND or IDE, is exempted for such use by FDA (§§ 610.46(b)(3) and 610.47(b)(3)).

    Section 630.6(a) (21 CFR 630.6(a)) requires an establishment to make reasonable attempts to notify any donor who has been deferred as required by § 610.41, or who has been determined not to be eligible as a donor. Section 630.6(d)(1) requires an establishment to provide certain information to the referring physician of an autologous donor who is deferred based on the results of tests as described in § 610.41.

    Under the recordkeeping requirements, § 606.100(b), in brief, requires that written SOPs be maintained for all steps to be followed in the collection, processing, compatibility testing, storage, and distribution of blood and blood components used for transfusion and further manufacturing purposes. Section 606.100(c) requires the review of all records pertinent to the lot or unit of blood prior to release or distribution. Any unexplained discrepancy or the failure of a lot or unit of final product to meet any of its specifications must be thoroughly investigated, and the investigation, including conclusions and followup, must be recorded.

    In brief, § 606.110(a) provides that the use of plateletpheresis and leukapheresis procedures to obtain a product for a specific recipient may be at variance with the additional standards for that specific product if, among other things, the physician certifies in writing that the donor's health permits plateletpheresis or leukapheresis. Section 606.110(b) requires establishments to request prior approval from CBER for plasmapheresis of donors who do not meet donor requirements. The information collection requirements for § 606.110(b) are approved under OMB control number 0910-0338 and, therefore, are not reflected in tables 1 and 2.

    Section 606.151(e) requires that SOPs for compatibility testing include procedures to expedite transfusion in life-threatening emergencies; records of all such incidents must be maintained, including complete documentation justifying the emergency action, which must be signed by a physician.

    So that each significant step in the collection, processing, compatibility testing, storage, and distribution of each unit of blood and blood components can be clearly traced, § 606.160 requires that legible and indelible contemporaneous records of each such step be made and maintained for no less than 10 years. Section 606.160(b)(1)(viii) requires records of the quarantine, notification, testing and disposition performed under the HIV and HCV “lookback” provisions. Furthermore, § 606.160(b)(1)(ix) requires a blood collection establishment to maintain records of notification of donors deferred or determined not to be eligible for donation, including appropriate followup. Section 606.160(b)(1)(xi) requires an establishment to maintain records of notification of the referring physician of a deferred autologous donor, including appropriate followup.

    Section 606.165, in brief, requires that distribution and receipt records be maintained to facilitate recalls, if necessary.

    Section 606.170(a) requires records to be maintained of any reports of complaints of adverse reactions arising as a result of blood collection or transfusion. Each such report must be thoroughly investigated, and a written report, including conclusions and followup, must be prepared and maintained. Section 606.170(a) also requires that when an investigation concludes that the product caused the transfusion reaction, copies of all such written reports must be forwarded to and maintained by the manufacturer or collecting facility.

    Section 610.40(g)(1) requires an establishment to appropriately document a medical emergency for the release of human blood or blood components prior to completion of required testing.

    In addition to the CGMP regulations in part 606, there are regulations in 21 CFR part 640 that require additional standards for certain blood and blood components as follows: Sections 640.3(a)(1), (a)(2), and (f); 640.4(a)(1) and (a)(2); 640.25(b)(4) and (c)(1); 640.27(b); 640.31(b); 640.33(b); 640.51(b); 640.53(b) and (c); 640.56(b) and (d); 640.61; 640.63(b)(3), (e)(1), and (e)(3); 640.65(b)(2); 640.66; 640.71(b)(1); 640.72; 640.73; and 640.76(a) and (b). The information collection requirements and estimated burdens for these regulations are included in the part 606 burden estimates, as described in tables 1 and 2.

    Respondents to this collection of information are licensed and unlicensed blood establishments that collect blood and blood components, including Source Plasma and Source Leukocytes, inspected by FDA, and other transfusion services inspected by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Based on information received from CBER's database systems, there are approximately 416 licensed Source Plasma establishments with multiple locations and approximately 1,265 licensed blood collection establishments, for an estimated total of 1,681 licensed blood collection establishments. Also, there are an estimated total of 680 unlicensed, registered blood collection establishments for an approximate total of 2,361 collection establishments (416 + 1,265 + 680 = 2,361 establishments). Of these establishments, approximately 990 perform plateletpheresis and leukapheresis. These establishments annually collect approximately 40 million units of Whole Blood and blood components, including Source Plasma and Source Leukocytes, and are required to follow FDA “lookback” procedures. In addition, there are another 4,961 establishments that fall under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) (Pub. L. 100-578) (formerly referred to as facilities approved for Medicare reimbursement) that transfuse blood and blood components.

    The following reporting and recordkeeping estimates are based on information provided by industry, CMS, and FDA experience. Based on information received from industry, we estimate that there are approximately 25 million donations of Source Plasma from approximately 2 million donors and approximately 15 million donations of Whole Blood, including approximately 225,000 (approximately 1.5 percent of 15 million) autologous donations, from approximately 10.9 million donors. Assuming each autologous donor makes an average of 2 donations, FDA estimates that there are approximately 112,500 autologous donors.

    FDA estimates that approximately 5 percent (3,600) of the 72,000 donations that are donated specifically for the use of an identified recipient would be tested under the dedicated donors' testing provisions in § 610.40(c)(1)(ii).

    Under §§ 610.40(g)(2) and (h)(2)(ii)(A), Source Leukocytes, a licensed product that is used in the manufacture of interferon, which requires rapid preparation from blood, is currently shipped prior to completion of testing for evidence of certain communicable disease agents. Shipments of Source Leukocytes are preapproved under a biologics license application (BLA) and each shipment does not have to be reported to the Agency. Based on information from CBER's database system, FDA receives less than one application per year from manufacturers of Source Leukocytes. However, for calculation purposes, we are estimating one application annually.

    Under §§ 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(C) and (h)(2)(ii)(D), FDA estimates that each manufacturer would ship an estimated 1 unit of human blood or blood components per month (12 per year) that would require two labels; one as reactive for the appropriate screening test under § 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(C), and the other stating the exempted use specifically approved by FDA under § 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(D). According to CBER's database system, there are approximately 40 licensed manufacturers that ship known reactive human blood or blood components.

    Based on information we received from industry, we estimate that approximately 18,000 donations: (1) Annually test reactive by a screening test for syphilis; (2) are determined to be biological false positives by additional testing; and (3) are labeled accordingly (§ 610.40(h)(2)(vi)).

    Human blood or a blood component with a reactive screening test, as a component of a medical device, is an integral part of the medical device, e.g., a positive control for an in vitro diagnostic testing kit. It is usual and customary business practice for manufacturers to include on the container label a warning statement that identifies the communicable disease agent. In addition, on the rare occasion when a human blood or blood component with a reactive screening test is the only component available for a medical device that does not require a reactive component, then a warning statement must be affixed to the medical device. To account for this rare occasion under § 610.42(a), we estimate that the warning statement would be necessary no more than once a year.

    FDA estimates that approximately 3,500 repeat donors will test reactive on a screening test for HIV. We also estimate that an average of three components was made from each donation. Under §§ 610.46(a)(1)(ii)(B) and (a)(3), this estimate results in 10,500 (3,500 × 3) notifications of the HIV screening test results to consignees by collecting establishments for the purpose of quarantining affected blood and blood components, and another 10,500 (3,500 × 3) notifications to consignees of subsequent test results.

    We estimate that § 610.46(b)(3) will require 4,961 consignees to notify transfusion recipients, their legal representatives, or physicians of record an average of 0.35 times per year resulting in a total number of 1,755 (585 confirmed positive repeat donors × 3) notifications. Also under § 610.46(b)(3), we estimate and include the time to gather test results and records for each recipient and to accommodate multiple attempts to contact the recipient.

    Furthermore, we estimate that approximately 7,800 repeat donors per year would test reactive for antibody to HCV. Under §§ 610.47(a)(1)(ii)(B) and 610.47(a)(3), collecting establishments would notify the consignee 2 times for each of the 23,400 (7,800 × 3 components) components prepared from these donations, once for quarantine purposes and again with additional HCV test results for a total of 46,800 notifications as an annual ongoing burden. Under § 610.47(b)(3), we estimate that approximately 4,961 consignees would notify approximately 2,050 recipients or their physicians of record annually.

    Based on industry estimates, approximately 13 percent of approximately 10 million potential donors (1.3 million donors) who come to donate annually are determined not to be eligible for donation prior to collection because of failure to satisfy eligibility criteria. It is the usual and customary business practice of approximately 1,945 (1,265 + 680) blood collecting establishments to notify onsite and to explain why the donor is determined not to be suitable for donating. Based on such available information, we estimate that two-thirds (1,297) of the 1,945 blood collecting establishments provided onsite additional information and counseling to a donor determined not to be eligible for donation as usual and customary business practice. Consequently, we estimate that only one-third, or 648, approximately, blood collecting establishments would need to provide, under § 630.6(a), additional information and onsite counseling to the estimated 433,333 (one-third of approximately 1.3 million) ineligible donors.

    It is estimated that another 4.5 percent of 10 million potential donors (450,000 donors) are deferred annually based on test results. We estimate that approximately 95 percent of the establishments that collect 99 percent of the blood and blood components notify donors who have reactive test results for HIV, Hepatitis B Virus, HCV, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus, and syphilis as usual and customary business practice. Consequently, 5 percent of the 1,681 establishments (84) collecting 1 percent (4,500) of the deferred donors (450,000) would notify donors under § 630.6(a).

    As part of usual and customary business practice, collecting establishments notify an autologous donor's referring physician of reactive test results obtained during the donation process required under § 630.6(d)(1). However, we estimate that approximately 5 percent of the 1,265 blood collection establishments (63) may not notify the referring physicians of the estimated 2 percent of 112,500 autologous donors with the initial reactive test results (2,250) as their usual and customary business practice.

    The recordkeeping chart reflects the estimate that approximately 95 percent of the recordkeepers, which collect 99 percent of the blood supply, have developed SOPs as part of their customary and usual business practice. Establishments may minimize burdens associated with CGMP and related regulations by using model standards developed by industries' accreditation organizations. These accreditation organizations represent almost all registered blood establishments.

    Under § 606.160(b)(1)(ix), we estimate the total annual records based on the approximately 1.3 million donors determined not to be eligible to donate and each of the estimated 1.75 million (1.3 million + 450,000) donors deferred based on reactive test results for evidence of infection because of communicable disease agents. Under § 606.160(b)(1)(xi), only the 1,945 registered blood establishments collect autologous donations and, therefore, are required to notify referring physicians. We estimate that 4.5 percent of the 112,500 autologous donors (5,063) will be deferred under § 610.41, which in turn will lead to the notification of their referring physicians.

    FDA has concluded that the use of untested or incompletely tested but appropriately documented human blood or blood components in rare medical emergencies should not be prohibited. We estimate the recordkeeping under § 610.40(g)(1) to be minimal with one or fewer occurrences per year. The reporting of test results to the consignee in § 610.40(g) is part of the usual and customary business practice or procedure to finish the testing and provide the results to the manufacturer responsible for labeling the blood products.

    The average burden per response (hours) and average burden per recordkeeping (hours) are based on estimates received from industry or FDA experience with similar reporting or recordkeeping requirements.

    In the Federal Register of October 20, 2014 (79 FR 62629), FDA published a 60-day notice requesting public comment on the proposed collection of information. FDA received five comments; however, the comments were not responsive to the comment request on the four specified aspects of the collection of information and did not provide any data or explanation that would support a change regarding the information collection estimates.

    FDA estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

    Table 1—Estimated Annual Reporting Burden 1 21 CFR section Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total annual responses Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • Total hours
    606.170(b) 2 72 1 72 20 1,440 610.40(g)(2) 1 1 1 1 1 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(A) 1 1 1 1 1 Total 1,442 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information. 2 The reporting requirement in § 640.73, which addresses the reporting of fatal donor reactions, is included in the estimate for § 606.170(b).
    Table 2—Estimated Annual Recordkeeping Burden 1 21 CFR section Number of recordkeepers Number of records per recordkeeper Total annual records Average burden per recordkeeping Total hours 606.100(b) 2 5 366 1 366 24 8,784 606.100(c) 5 366 10 3,660 1 3,660 606.110(a) 3 6 50 1 50 0.5 (30 minutes) 25 606.151(e) 5 366 12 4,392 0.08 (5 minutes) 351 606.160 4 5 366 1,046.45 383,000 0.75 (45 minutes) 287,250 606.160(b)(1)(viii) 1,945 10.80 21,000 0.17 (10 minutes) 3,570 HIV consignee notification 4,961 4.23 21,000 0.17 (10 minutes) 3,570 606.160(b)(1)(viii) 1,945 24.06 46,800 0.17 (10 minutes) 7,956 HCV consignee notification 4,961 9.43 46,800 0.17 (10 minutes) 7,956 HIV recipient notification 4,961 0.35 1,755 0.17 (10 minutes) 298 HCV recipient notification 4,961 0.41 2,050 0.17 (10 minutes) 349 606.160(b)(1)(ix) 2,361 741.21 1,750,000 0.05 (3 minutes) 87,500 606.160(b)(1)(xi) 1,945 2.6 5,063 0.05 (3 minutes) 253 606.165 5 366 1,046.45 383,000 0.08 (5 minutes) 30,640 606.170(a) 5 366 12 4,392 1 4,392 610.40(g)(1) 2,361 1 2,361 0.5 (30 minutes) 1,180 Total 447,734 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information. 2 The recordkeeping requirements in §§ 640.3(a)(1), 640.4(a)(1), and 640.66, which address the maintenance of SOPs, are included in the estimate for § 606.100(b). 3 The recordkeeping requirements in § 640.27(b), which address the maintenance of donor health records for the plateletpheresis, are included in the estimate for § 606.110(a). 4 The recordkeeping requirements in §§ 640.3(a)(2) and (f); 640.4(a)(2); 640.25(b)(4) and (c)(1); 640.31(b); 640.33(b); 640.51(b); 640.53(b) and (c); 640.56(b) and (d); 640.61; 640.63(b)(3), (e)(1), and (e)(3); 640.65(b)(2); 640.71(b)(1); 640.72; and 640.76(a) and (b), which address the maintenance of various records, are included in the estimate for § 606.160. 5 Five percent of establishments that fall under CLIA that transfuse blood and components and FDA-registered blood establishments (0.05 × 4,961 + 2,361 = 366). 6 Five percent of plateletpheresis and leukapheresis establishments (0.05 × 990 = 50). Table 3—Estimated Annual Third-Party Disclosure Burden 1 21 CFR section Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Total annual responses Average burden per response Total hours
    606.170(a) 2 366 1.2 439 0.5 (30 minutes) 220 610.40(c)(1)(ii) 2,361 1.52 3,600 0.08 (5 minutes) 288 610.40(h)(2)(ii)(C) and (h)(2)(ii)(D) 40 12 480 0.2 (12 minutes) 96 610.40(h)(2)(vi) 2,361 7.62 18,000 0.08 (5 minutes) 1,440 610.42(a) 1 1 1 1 1 610.46(a)(1)(ii)(B) 1,945 5.40 10,500 0.17 (10 minutes) 1,785 610.46(a)(3) 1,945 5.40 10,500 0.17 (10 minutes) 1,785 610.46(b)(3) 4,961 0.35 1,755 1 1,755 610.47(a)(1)(ii)(B) 1,945 12.03 23,400 0.17 (10 minutes) 3,978 610.47(a)(3) 1,945 12.03 23,400 0.17 (10 minutes) 3,978 610.47(b)(3) 4,961 0.41 2,050 1 2,050 630.6(a) 3 648 668.72 433,333 0.08 (5 minutes) 34,667 630.6(a) 4 84 53.57 4,500 1.5 (90 minutes) 6,750 630.6(d)(1) 63 35.71 2,250 1 2,250 Total 61,043 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information. 2 Five percent of establishments that fall under CLIA that transfuse blood and components and FDA-registered blood establishments (0.05 × 4,961 + 2,361 = 366). 3 Notification of donors determined not to be eligible for donation based on failure to satisfy eligibility criteria. 4 Notification of donors deferred based on reactive test results for evidence of infection due to communicable disease agents.
    Dated: February 25, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04381 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2014-N-1721] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Investigational New Drug Applications AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that a proposed collection of information has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Fax written comments on the collection of information by April 2, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To ensure that comments on the information collection are received, OMB recommends that written comments be faxed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: FDA Desk Officer, FAX: 202-395-7285, or emailed to [email protected] All comments should be identified with the OMB control number 0910-0014. Also include the FDA docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    FDA PRA Staff, Office of Operations, Food and Drug Administration, 8455 Colesville Rd., COLE-14526, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In compliance with 44 U.S.C. 3507, FDA has submitted the following proposed collection of information to OMB for review and clearance.

    Investigational New Drug (IND) Regulations—21 CFR Part 312 (OMB Control Number 0910-0014)—Extension

    FDA is requesting OMB approval for the reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in FDA regulations entitled “Investigational New Drug Application” in part 312 (21 CFR part 312). Part 312 implements provisions of section 505(i) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 355(i)) to issue regulations under which the clinical investigation of the safety and effectiveness of unapproved new drugs and biological products can be conducted.

    FDA is charged with implementing statutory requirements that drug products marketed in the United States be shown to be safe and effective, properly manufactured, and properly labeled for their intended uses. Section 505(a) of the FD&C Act provides that a new drug may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce in the United States unless FDA has previously approved a new drug application (NDA). FDA approves an NDA only if the sponsor of the application first demonstrates that the drug is safe and effective for the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the product's labeling. Proof must consist, in part, of adequate and well-controlled studies, including studies in humans, that are conducted by qualified experts. The IND regulations establish reporting requirements that include an initial application as well as amendments to that application, reports on significant revisions of clinical investigation plans, and information on a drug's safety or effectiveness. In addition, the sponsor is required to give FDA an annual summary of the previous year's clinical experience.

    Submissions are reviewed by medical officers and other Agency scientific reviewers assigned responsibility for overseeing the specific study. The IND regulations also contain recordkeeping requirements that pertain to the responsibilities of sponsors and investigators. The detail and complexity of these requirements are dictated by the scientific procedures and human subject safeguards that must be followed in the clinical tests of investigational new drugs.

    The IND information collection requirements provide the means by which FDA can monitor the clinical investigation of the safety and effectiveness of unapproved new drugs and biological products, including the following: (1) Monitor the safety of ongoing clinical investigations; (2) determine whether the clinical testing of a drug should be authorized; (3) ensure production of reliable data on the metabolism and pharmacological action of the drug in humans; (4) obtain timely information on adverse reactions to the drug; (5) obtain information on side effects associated with increasing doses; (6) obtain information on the drug's effectiveness; (7) ensure the design of well-controlled, scientifically valid studies; and (8) obtain other information pertinent to determining whether clinical testing should be continued, and information related to the protection of human subjects. Without the information provided by industry as required under the IND regulations, FDA cannot authorize or monitor the clinical investigations which must be conducted prior to authorizing the sale and general use of new drugs. These reports enable FDA to monitor a study's progress, to assure subject safety, to assure that a study will be conducted ethically, and to increase the likelihood that the sponsor will conduct studies that will be useful in determining whether the drug should be marketed and available for use in medical practice.

    There are two forms that are required under part 312:

    Form FDA-1571—“Investigational New Drug Application.” A person who intends to conduct a clinical investigation submits this form to FDA. It includes the following information:

    (1) A cover sheet containing background information on the sponsor and investigator;

    (2) A table of contents;

    (3) An introductory statement and general investigational plan;

    (4) An investigator's brochure describing the drug substance;

    (5) A protocol for each planned study;

    (6) Chemistry, manufacturing, and control information for each investigation;

    (7) Pharmacology and toxicology information for each investigation; and

    (8) Previous human experience with the investigational drug.

    Form FDA-1572—“Investigator Statement.” Before permitting an investigator to begin participation in an investigation, the sponsor must obtain and record this form. It includes background information on the investigator and the investigation, and a general outline of the planned investigation and the study protocol.

    FDA is requesting OMB approval for the following reporting and recordkeeping requirements in part 312.

    I. Reporting Requirements Section 312.2(e)—Requests for FDA advice on the applicability of part 312 to a planned clinical investigation. Section 312.6—Labeling of an investigational new drug. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.23(a)(7)(iv)(d). Section 312.8—Charging for investigational drugs under an IND. Section 312.10—Applications for waiver of requirements under part 312. As indicated in § 312.10(a), estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under §§ 312.23 and 312.31. In addition, other waiver requests under § 312.10 are estimated in table 1. Section 312.20(c)—Applications for investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24 (21 CFR 50.24). Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.23. Section 312.23—IND (content and format). Section 312.23(a)(1)—Cover sheet FDA-1571. Section 312.23(a)(2)—Table of Contents. Section 312.23(a)(3)—Investigational plan for each planned study. Section 312.23(a)(5)—Investigator's brochure. Section 312.23(a)(6)—Protocols—Phase 1, 2, and 3. Section 312.23(a)(7)—Chemistry, manufacturing, and control information. Section 312.23(a)(7)(iv)(a),(b),(c)—A description of the drug substance, a list of all components, and any placebo used. Section 312.23(a)(7)(iv)(d)—Labeling: Copies of labels and labeling to be provided each investigator. Section 312.23(a)(7)(iv)(e)—Environmental impact analysis regarding drug manufacturing and use. Section 312.23(a)(8)—Pharmacological and toxicology information. Section 312.23(a)(9)—Previous human experience with the investigational drug. Section 312.23(a)(10)—Additional information. Section 312.23(a)(11)—Relevant information. Section 312.23(f)—Identification of exception from informed consent. Section 312.30—Protocol amendments. § 312.30(a)—New protocol § 312.30(b)—Changes in protocol § 312.30(c)—New investigator. § 312.30(d)—Content and format. § 312.30(e)—Frequency. Section 312.31—Information amendments. § 312.31(b)—Content and format. — Chemistry, toxicology, or technical information. Section 312.32—Safety reports. § 312.32(c)(1)—Written reports to FDA and to investigators. § 312.32(c)(2)—Telephone reports to FDA for fatal or life-threatening experience. § 312.32(c)(3)—Format or frequency. § 312.32(d)—Followup submissions. Section 312.33—Annual reports. § 312.33(a)—Individual study information. § 312.33(b)—Summary information. § 312.33(b)(1)—Adverse experiences. § 312.33(b)(2)—Safety report summary. § 312.33(b)(3)—List of fatalities and causes of death. § 312.33(b)(4)—List of discontinuing subjects. § 312.33 (b)(5)—Drug action. § 312.33 (b)(6)—Preclinical studies and findings. § 312.33 (b)(7)—Significant changes. § 312.33(c)—Next year general investigational plan. § 312.33(d)—Brochure revision. § 312.33(e)—Phase I protocol modifications. § 312.33(f)—Foreign marketing developments. Section 312.38(b) and (c)—Notification of withdrawal of an IND. Section 312.41—Comment and advice on an IND. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.23. Section 312.42—Sponsor requests that a clinical hold be removed, and submits a complete response to the issues identified in the clinical hold order. Section 312.44(c) and (d)—Opportunity for sponsor response to FDA when IND is terminated. Section 312.45(a) and (b)—Sponsor request for, or response to, an inactive status determination of an IND. Section 312.47—Meetings, including “End-of-Phase 2” meetings and “Pre-NDA” meetings. Section 312.48—Dispute resolution. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.47. Section 312.53(c)—Investigator information. Investigator report (Form FDA-1572) and narrative; Investigator's background information; Phase 1 outline of planned investigation and Phase 2 outline of study protocol. Section 312.54(a) and (b)—Sponsor submissions concerning investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24. § 312.55(b)—Sponsor reports to investigators on new observations, especially adverse reactions and safe use. Only “new observations” are estimated under this section; investigator brochures are included under § 312.23. Section 312.56(b), (c), and (d)—Sponsor monitoring of all clinical investigations, investigators, and drug safety; notification to FDA and others. Section 312.58(a)—Sponsor's submission of records to FDA on request. Section 312.64—Investigator reports to the sponsor. § 312.64(a)—Progress reports. § 312.64(b)—Safety reports § 312.64(c)—Final reports. § 312.64(d)—Financial disclosure reports. Section 312.66—Investigator reports to institutional review board (IRB). Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.53. Section 312.70—Investigator disqualification; opportunity to respond to FDA. Section 312.83—Sponsor submission of treatment protocol. Estimates for this requirement are included under § 312.320. Section 312.85—Sponsors conducting phase 4 studies. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.23, and under §§ 314.50, 314.70, and 314.81 in OMB control number 0910-0001. Section 312.110(b)—Requests to export an investigational drug. Section 312.120—Submissions related to foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND. Section 312.130—Requests for disclosable information in an IND and from investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24. Sections 312.310(b); 312.305(b)—Submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an individual patient. Section 312.310(d)—Submissions related to emergency use of an investigational new drug. Sections 312.315(c); 312.305(b)—Submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an intermediate-size patient population. Section 312.320—Submissions related to a treatment IND or treatment protocol. II. Recordkeeping Requirements Section 312.52(a)—Transfer of obligations to a contract research organization. Section 312.57—Sponsor recordkeeping on the investigational drug. Section 312.59—Sponsor recordkeeping of disposition of unused supply of drugs. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.57. Section 312.62(a)—Investigator recordkeeping of disposition of drugs. Section 312.62(b)—Investigator recordkeeping of case histories of individuals. Section 312.120(d)—Recordkeeping requirements for submissions related to foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND. Estimates for the information collection in this requirement are included under § 312.57. Section 312.160(a)(3)—Records pertaining to the shipment of drugs for investigational use in laboratory research animals or in vitro tests. Section 312.160(c)—Shipper records of alternative disposition of unused drugs.

    In the Federal Register of November 5, 2014 (79 FR 65663), FDA published a 60-day notice requesting public comment on the proposed collection of information. FDA received 24 comments, however, these comments did not address the information collection.

    FDA estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

    Table 1—Estimated Annual Reporting Burden for Human Drugs 1 21 CFR section Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total annual responses Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • Total hours
    312.2(e), Requests for FDA advice on the applicability of part 312 to a planned clinical investigation 800 1 800 24 19,200 312.8, Requests to charge for an investigational drug 56 1.25 70 48 3,360 312.10, Requests to waive a requirement in part 312 50 1.76 88 24 2,112 312.23(a) through (f), IND content and format (including Form FDA 1571) 1,689 1.57 2,648 1,600 4,236,800 312.30(a) through (e), Protocol amendments 3,739 5.77 21,588 284 6,130,992 312.31 (b), Information amendments 4,537 3.39 15,377 100 1,537,700 312.32(c) and (d), IND Safety reports 755 24.28 18,332 32 586,624 312.33(a) through (f), IND Annual reports 2,877 2.76 7,953 360 2,863,080 312.38(b) and (c), Notifications of withdrawal of an IND 862 1.54 1,328 28 37,184 312.42, Sponsor requests that a clinical hold be removed, including sponsor submission of a complete response to the issues identified in the clinical hold order 158 1.30 205 284 58,220 312.44(c) and (d), Sponsor responses to FDA when IND is terminated 12 1 12 16 192 312.45(a) and (b), Sponsor requests for or responses to an inactive status determination of an IND by FDA 260 1.73 451 12 5,412 312.47, Meetings, including “End-of-Phase 2” meetings and “Pre-NDA” meetings 225 1.86 419 160 67,040 312.53(c), Investigator reports submitted to the sponsor, including Form FDA 1572, curriculum vitae, clinical protocol, and financial disclosure. (Third party disclosure) 1,444 8.38 12,087 80 966,960 312.54(a), Sponsor submissions to FDA concerning investigations involving an exception from informed consent under 21 CFR 50.24 7 5 35 48 1,680 312.54(b), Sponsor notifications to FDA and others concerning an IRB determination that it cannot approve research because it does not meet the criteria in the exception from informed consent in § 50.24(a). (Includes third party disclosure) 7 1 7 48 336 312.55(a), Investigator brochures submitted by the sponsor to each investigator. (Third party disclosure) 590 3.50 2,067 48 99,216 312.55(b), Sponsor reports to investigators on new observations, especially adverse reactions and safe use. (Third party disclosure) 590 3.50 2,067 48 99,216 312.56(b),(c), and (d), Sponsor notifications to FDA and others resulting from: (1) The sponsor's monitoring of all clinical investigations and determining that an investigator is not in compliance with the investigation agreements; (2) the sponsor's review and evaluation of the evidence relating to the safety and effectiveness of the investigational drug; and (3) the sponsor's determination that the investigational drug presents an unreasonable and significant risk to subjects. (Includes third party disclosure) 3,584 6.52 23,355 80 1,868,400 312.58(a), Sponsor's submissions of clinical investigation records to FDA on request during FDA inspections 60 1 60 8 480 312.64, Investigator reports to the sponsor, including progress reports, safety reports, final reports, and financial disclosure reports. (Third party disclosure) 1,444 1 1,444 24 34,656 312.70, During the disqualification process of a clinical investigator by FDA, the number of investigator responses or requests to FDA following FDA's notification to an investigator of its failure to comply with investigation requirements 4 1 4 40 160 312.110(b)(4) and (b)(5), Written certifications and written statements submitted to FDA relating to the export of an investigational drug 11 26.28 289 75 21,675 312.120(b), Submissions to FDA of “supporting information” related to the use of foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND 1,414 8.63 12,198 32 390,336 312.120(c), Waiver requests submitted to FDA related to the use of foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND 35 2.34 82 24 1,968 312.130, Requests for disclosable information in an IND and for investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24 3 1 3 8 24 312.310(b) and 312.305(b), Submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an individual patient 228 1.76 401 8 3,208 312.310(d), Submissions related to emergency use of an investigational new drug 410 2.19 899 16 14,384 312.315(c) and 312.305(b), Submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an intermediate-size patient population 44 7.07 311 120 37,320 312.320(b), Submissions related to a treatment IND or treatment protocol 12 12.67 152 300 45,600 Total 19,134,039 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information.
    Table 2—Estimated Annual Recordkeeping Burden for Human Drugs 1 21 CFR section Number of
  • recordkeepers
  • Number of records per
  • recordkeeper
  • Total annual records Average
  • burden per
  • recordkeeping
  • Total hours
    312.52(a), Sponsor records for the transfer of obligations to a contract research organization 335 1.50 503 2 1,006 312.57, Sponsor recordkeeping showing the receipt, shipment, or other disposition of the investigational drug, and any financial interests 1,689 1 1,689 100 168,900 312.62(a), Investigator recordkeeping of the disposition of drugs 1,444 1 1,444 40 57,760 312.62(b), Investigator recordkeeping of case histories of individuals 1,444 1 1,444 40 57,760 312.160(a)(3), Records pertaining to the shipment of drugs for investigational use in laboratory research animals or in vitro tests 547 1.40 782 * 0.50 391 312.160(c), Shipper records of alternative disposition of unused drugs 547 1.40 782 * 0.50 391 Total 286,190 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information. * Thirty (30) minutes.
    Table 3—Estimated Annual Reporting Burden for Biologics 1 21 CFR section Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total annual responses Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • Total hours
    312.2(e), Requests for FDA advice on the applicability of part 312 to a planned clinical investigation 217 1.18 255 24 6,120 312.8, Requests to charge for an investigational drug 20 1.50 30 48 1,440 312.10, Requests to waive a requirement in part 312 2 1 2 24 48 312.23(a) through (f), IND content and format 335 1.35 452 1,600 723,200 312.30(a) through (e), Protocol amendments 694 5.84 4,050 284 1,150,200 312.31(b), Information amendments 77 2.43 187 100 18,700 312.32(c) and (d), IND Safety reports 161 8.83 1,421 32 45,472 312.33(a) through (f), IND Annual reports 745 2.14 1,595 360 574,200 312.38(b) and (c), Notifications of withdrawal of an IND 134 1.69 227 28 6,356 312.42, Sponsor requests that a clinical hold be removed, including sponsor submission of a complete response to the issues identified in the clinical hold order 67 1.30 87 284 24,708 312.44(c) and (d), Sponsor responses to FDA when IND is terminated 34 1.15 39 16 624 312.45(a) and (b), Sponsor requests for or responses to an inactive status determination of an IND by FDA 55 1.38 76 12 912 312.47, Meetings, including “End-of-Phase 2” meetings and “Pre-NDA” meetings 88 1.75 154 160 24,640 312.53(c), Investigator reports submitted to the sponsor, including Form FDA-1572, curriculum vitae, clinical protocol, and financial disclosure 453 6.33 2,869 80 229,520 312.54(a), Sponsor submissions to FDA concerning investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24 1 1 1 48 48 312.54(b), Sponsor notifications to FDA and others concerning an IRB determination that it cannot approve research because it does not meet the criteria in the exception from informed consent in § 50.24(a) 1 1 1 48 48 312.55(a), Number of investigator brochures submitted by the sponsor to each investigator 239 1.91 457 48 21,936 312.55(b), Number of sponsor reports to investigators on new observations, especially adverse reactions and safe use 243 4.95 1,203 48 57,744 312.56(b), (c), and (d), Sponsor notifications to FDA and others resulting from: (1) The sponsor's monitoring of all clinical investigations and determining that an investigator is not in compliance with the investigation agreements; (2) the sponsor's review and evaluation of the evidence relating to the safety and effectiveness of the investigational drug; and (3) the sponsor's determination that the investigational drug presents an unreasonable and significant risk to subjects 108 2.21 239 80 19,120 312.58(a), Number of sponsor's submissions of clinical investigation records to FDA on request during FDA inspections 7 1 7 8 56 312.64, Number of investigator reports to the sponsor, including progress reports, safety reports, final reports, and financial disclosure reports 2,728 3.82 10,411 24 249,864 312.70, During the disqualification process of a clinical investigator by FDA, the number of investigator responses or requests to FDA following FDA's notification to an investigator of its failure to comply with investigation requirements 5 1 5 40 200 312.110(b)(4) and (b)(5), Number of written certifications and written statements submitted to FDA relating to the export of an investigational drug 18 1 18 75 1,350 312.120(b), Number of submissions to FDA of “supporting information” related to the use of foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND 280 9.82 2,750 32 88,000 312.120(c), Number of waiver requests submitted to FDA related to the use of foreign clinical studies not conducted under an IND 7 2.29 16 24 384 312.130, Number of requests for disclosable information in an IND and for investigations involving an exception from informed consent under § 50.24 350 1.34 470 8 3,760 312.310(b) and 312.305(b), Number of submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an individual patient 78 1.08 84 8 672 312.310(d), Number of submissions related to emergency use of an investigational new drug 76 2.76 210 16 3,360 312.315(c) and 312.305(b), Number of submissions related to expanded access and treatment of an intermediate-size patient population 9 1 9 120 1,080 312.320(b), Number of submissions related to a treatment IND or treatment protocol 1 1 1 300 300 Total 3,254,062 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information.
    Table 4—Estimated Annual Recordkeeping Burden for Biologics 1 21 CFR section Number of recordkeepers Number of records per
  • recordkeeper
  • Total annual records Average
  • burden per
  • recordkeeping
  • Total hours
    312.52(a), Sponsor records for the transfer of obligations to a contract research organization 75 1.40 105 2 210 312.57, Sponsor recordkeeping showing the receipt, shipment, or other disposition of the investigational drug, and any financial interests 335 2.70 904 100 90,400 312.62(a), Investigator recordkeeping of the disposition of drugs 453 1 453 40 18,120 312.62(b), Investigator recordkeeping of case histories of individuals 453 1 453 40 18,120 312.160(a)(3), Records pertaining to the shipment of drugs for investigational use in laboratory research animals or in vitro tests 111 1.40 155 * 0.50 78 312.160(c), Shipper records of alternative disposition of unused drugs 111 1.40 155 * 0.50 78 Total 127,006 1 There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection of information. * Thirty (30) minutes.
    Dated: February 24, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04379 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0430] Measuring Dystrophin in Dystrophinopathy Patients and Interpreting the Data; Public Scientific Workshop; Request for Comments AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public scientific workshop; request for comments.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public scientific workshop to discuss dystrophin protein quantification methodologies for human tissue. This workshop is being cosponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The purpose of the workshop is to discuss currently available methodologies and to identify scientific knowledge gaps and opportunities for improving dystrophin protein detection in the context of drug development. The intended audiences for this workshop are scientists and clinicians involved in the acquisition, measurement, and analysis of proteins associated with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

    DATES:

    Dates and Time: The scientific workshop will be held on March 20, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The scientific workshop will be held at FDA's White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31 Conference Center, the Great Room (Rm. 1503A), Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Participants must enter through Building 1 and undergo security screening. For parking and security information, please refer to http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/BuildingsandFacilities/WhiteOakCampusInformation/ucm241740.htm.

    Contact Persons: Mary Gross, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-3519, [email protected]; or Georgiann Ienzi, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-3515, [email protected]

    If you need special accommodations due to a disability, contact Mary Gross or Georgiann Ienzi at least 7 days in advance.

    Registration: The scientific workshop is free and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. It may be necessary to limit both the number of attendees from individual organizations and the total number of attendees based on space limitations. Email registrations should be sent to [email protected] by March 17, 2015. If you cannot attend in person, the meeting will be Webcast live. Information about how to access the Webcast will be located at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/NewsEvents/ucm432429.htm.

    Comments and Meeting Summary: Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov by May 20, 2015. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Please identify your comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document. It is only necessary to send one set of comments. Received comments may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will be posted to the docket at http://www.regulations.gov.

    A summary of the scientific workshop's highlights will be made available for review at the Division of Dockets Management and at http://www.regulations.gov. You may submit a request to obtain a hard copy by sending a request to the Division of Freedom of Information (ELEM-1029), Office of Management Programs, Food and Drug Administration, 12420 Parklawn Dr., Element Bldg., Rockville, MD 20857.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    FDA and NIH are cosponsoring this scientific workshop to discuss current methodologies being used in drug development and scientific research for DMD. Recent scientific advances present an opportunity for the development and validation of robust methods for the objective, reliable, and quantitative measurement of DMD-associated proteins.

    I. Background

    Dystrophinopathies result from genetic mutations in the dystrophin gene that decrease dystrophin protein expression levels and result in altered dystrophin function. These changes can lead to muscle degeneration and, in many patients, downstream pathologies including inflammation and fibrosis that interfere with muscle regeneration, loss of movement, orthopedic complications, and ultimately respiratory and cardiac failure.

    II. Scope of the Scientific Workshop

    The workshop will include sessions which will focus on current technologies used in the detection of dystrophin. Presentations will provide overviews of the technologies (including limitations, detection sensitivities, linearity, and reproducibility). A panel discussion will help identify development challenges for each method. Muscle biopsy collection, sample handling, reference materials, and image analysis will also be discussed.

    FDA will post the agenda and other background material approximately 2 days before the public scientific workshop at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/NewsEvents/ucm432429.htm.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04384 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0001] Pediatric Neurocognitive Workshop; Advancing the Development of Pediatric Therapeutics Public Workshop AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public workshop.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Division of Gastroenterology and Inborn Errors Products Division and Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and the Office of Pediatric Therapeutics in the Office of the Commissioner are announcing a 2-day public workshop. Day 1 of the workshop is entitled “Assessment of Neurocognitive Outcomes in the Inborn Errors of Metabolism”. Day 2 of the workshop is entitled, “Advancing the Development of Pediatric Therapeutics: Assessment of Pediatric Neurocognitive Outcomes”. The purpose of this 2-day workshop is to provide a forum to consider issues related to advancing pediatric regulatory science in the evaluation of neurocognitive outcomes in pediatric patients.

    DATES:

    The public workshop will be held on April 16 and 17, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public workshop will be held in the FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31 Conference Center, the Great Room (Rm. 1503A), Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Entrance for the public workshop participants (non-FDA employees) is through Building 1 where routine security check procedures will be performed. For parking and security information, please refer to http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/BuildingsandFacilities/WhiteOakCampusInformation/ucm241740.htm.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For questions regarding Day 1 of the workshop, contact Richard (Wes) Ishihara, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-0069, [email protected].

    For questions regarding Day 2 of the workshop, contact Denise Pica-Branco, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002,Telephone: 301-796-1732, FAX: 301-796-9858, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The first day of the workshop will focus on approaches for assessing the efficacy of therapeutic products on neurocognitive outcomes in patients diagnosed with inborn errors of metabolism disorders. The session will address the role of natural history studies and methodological approaches for selecting appropriate assessment scales and standardizing neurocognitive assessments. The second day of the workshop will discuss identification of signals in animal studies and clinical trials that warrant further clinical investigation and testing that may be predictive of neurocognitive outcome in children. Additionally, strategies and methods to address the challenges of assessing long-term neurocognitive outcomes for products used to treat pediatric patients will be discussed.

    Participation in the Public Workshop

    Registration: There is no fee to attend the public workshop, but attendees should register in advance. Space is limited, and registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Persons interested in attending this workshop must register online at [email protected] before March 31, 2015. For those without Internet access, please contact Denise Pica-Branco (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) to register. Onsite registration will not be available.

    If you need special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Denise Pica-Branco (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) at least 7 days in advance.

    Transcripts: Transcripts of the workshop will be available for review at the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, and at http://www.regulations.gov approximately 30 days after the workshop. A transcript will also be available in either hard copy or on CD-ROM, after submission of a Freedom of Information request. Send written requests to the Division of Freedom of Information (ELEM-1029), Food and Drug Administration, 12420 Parklawn Dr., Element Bldg., Rockville, MD 20857. Send faxed requests to 301-827-9267.

    Dated: February 24, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04376 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; Immunobiology of Xenotransplantation (U01, U19).

    Date: March 23-24, 2015.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 3F100, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Nancy Vazquez-Maldonado, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, DEA/NIAID/NIH/DHHS, 6700B Rockledge Drive, MSC-7616, Bethesda, MD 20892-7616, 301-496-3253, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; Mucosal Environment and HIV Prevention (MEHP II (R01)).

    Date: March 23-24, 2015.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 3C100, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Kelly Y. Poe, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, DEA/NIAID/NIH/DHHS, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, 240-669-5036, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; Innovative Assays to Quantify the Latent HIV Reservoir (R01).

    Date: March 26, 2015.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 4F100, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Jay R Radke, Ph.D., AIDS Review Branch, Scientific Review Program, DEA/NIAID/NIH/DHHS, Room 3G11B, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, 240-669-5046, [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: February 25, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04328 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Project: Structure/Function studies of Secondary Transporters in a Lipid Environment.

    Date: March 23-25, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Albert Wang, Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4146, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1016, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: AIDS and AIDS Related Research.

    Date: March 24-25, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Kenneth A. Roebuck, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5106, MSC 7852, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1166, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Autoimmune Diseases.

    Date: March 24, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Rajiv Kumar, Ph.D., Chief, MOSS IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4216, MSC 7802, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1212, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Project: Biological Labeling Neutrons and Computing Resource.

    Date: March 24-26, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 8640 Nano Center Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.

    Contact Person: Mike Radtke, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4176, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1728, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, Fellowship: Physiology and Pathobiology of Musculoskeletal, Oral, and Skin Systems.

    Date: March 25, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road NW., Washington, DC 20015.

    Contact Person: Anshumali Chaudhari, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4124, MSC 7802, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1210, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Cognition and Perception.

    Date: March 25, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Biao Tian, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3089B, MSC 7848, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 402-4411, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Biological Chemistry and Macromolecular Biophysics.

    Date: March 26, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Michael Eissenstat, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, BCMB IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4166, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1722, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Fellowships: Oncology.

    Date: March 26-27, 2015.

    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Juraj Bies, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Dr., Rm. 4205, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1258, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR Panel: Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging.

    Date: March 26, 2015.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Robert Freund, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5216, MSC 7852, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1050, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; National Primate Research Centers Application.

    Date: March 27, 2015.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Biao Tian, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3089B, MSC 7848, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 402-4411, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: February 25, 2015. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04323 Filed 3-2-15; 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; AIDS Research Review Committee Independent Special Emphasis Panel.

    Date: March 24, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Vasundhara Varthakavi, DVM, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, DEA/NIAID/NIH/DHHS, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892, 240-669-5020, [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: February 25, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04326 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR14-008: Psychiatric Disease, Genetics and RDoC Framework.

    Date: March 16, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person:Julius Cinque, MS, Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5186, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892. (301) 435-1252. [email protected]

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR Panel: NIDDK Translational Research.

    Date: March 18, 2015.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person:John Bleasdale, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6170, MSC 7892, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-4514, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning, and Ethology.

    Date: March 27, 2015.

    Time: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person:Andrea B Kelly, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3182, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 455-1761, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: February 25, 2015 David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04325 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflicts: Cardiovascular Sciences.

    Date: March 3-4, 2015.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Lawrence E Boerboom, Ph.D., Chief, CVRS IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4130, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-8367, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Cardiovascular Sciences.

    Date: March 4-5, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Kimm Hamann, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4118A, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-5575, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Molecular Pathways in Eye Diseases.

    Date: March 5, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Alessandra C Rovescalli, Scientific Review Officer, National Institutes of Health, Center for Scientific Review, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Rm 5205 MSC7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1021, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences AREA.

    Date: March 12-13, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Sara Ahlgren, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Rm 4136, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0904, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: February 25, 2015. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04324 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; 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 Dental and Craniofacial Research Special Emphasis Panel; Review of Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Clinical (L30) and Pediatric (L40) applications.

    Date: April 2, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, One Democracy Plaza, 6701 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Victor Henriquez, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, DEA/SRB/NIDCR, 6701 Democracy Blvd., Room 668, Bethesda, MD 20892-4878, 301-451-2405, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.121, Oral Diseases and Disorders Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: February 25, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04322 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel.

    Date: March 19-20, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Dennis E. Leszczynski, Ph.D., Scientific Review Administrator, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Exeuctive Blvd., Rm. 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-6884, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel; Primary Complex Motor Stereotypies.

    Date: March 27, 2015.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Joanna Kubler-Kielb, Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892-7510, 301-435-6916, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel; “Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS).”

    Date: April 1, 2015.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Rita Anand, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Blvd. Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-1487, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.864, Population Research; 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children; 93.929, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 93.209, Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, HHS)

    imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Dated: February 25, 2015. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-04327 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Ideation Prize Competition AGENCY:

    Science and Technology Directorate, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gives notice of the availability of the “Where am I, Where is my Team?” ideation prize competition and rules. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) is seeking innovative methods for real-time, robust indoor tracking of the next generation first responder. The development of sensors and communications able to perform well across a variety of indoor environments is one of the biggest challenges in first responder tracking research and development. This prize competition seeks personalized, modular and scalable approaches to track the next generation of first responders indoors using current and emerging technologies, sensors, and techniques. Submissions should consist of a concept/design for a low cost, robust, real-time indoor tracking capability. The total cash prize payout for this competition is $25,000 (USD) consisting of a first place award of $20,000 (USD) and a second place award of $5,000 (USD). The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker.

    This prize competition consists of the following unique features:

    • Terminology

    ○ Seeker: DHS S&T First Responders Group

    ○ Solvers: Ideation Prize competition submitters

    • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker. Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal.

    DATES:

    Submission Period Beginning Date: March 3, 2015.

    Submission Period Ending Date: All submissions must be received electronically as indicated in this announcement by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, April 2, 2015. Late submissions will not be considered. All dates are subject to change. For more details please visit the www.challenge.gov Web site.

    ADDRESSES:

    Questions about this prize competition may be emailed to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Prize Competition Manager: Mr. Stephen Hancock; Phone: 202-254-6909; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010 (The America COMPETES Act), Public Law 111-358, enacted January 4, 2011, authorizes Federal agencies to issue competitions to stimulate innovations that could advance their missions. Interested persons can find full details about the competition rules and register to participate online at www.challenge.gov. Contest rules are subject to change.

    Subject of the Prize Competition: Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responder.

    Eligibility Rules: To be eligible to win a prize under this competition, an individual or entity—

    (1) Shall have registered to participate in the competition under the rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate and in accordance with the description provided, below, under “Registration Information;”

    (2) Shall have complied with all of the requirements under this section;

    (3) Pursuant to the America COMPETES Act of 2010, awards for this Prize competition may only be given to an individual that is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States, or an entity that is incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States, subject to verification by the Seeker before Prizes are awarded. An individual or private entity must be the registered entrant to be eligible to win a prize. Further restrictions apply—see the Ideation Challenge-Specific Agreement found at the competition registration Web site and this Federal Register Notice for full details.

    (4) Contestants must own or have access at their own expense to a computer, an Internet connection, and any other electronic devices, documentation, software, or other items that Contestants may deem necessary to create and enter a Submission;

    (5) The following individuals (including any individuals participating as part of an entity) are not eligible regardless of whether they meet the criteria set forth above:

    (i) any individual under the age of 18;

    (ii) any individual who employs an evaluator on the Judging Panel (hereafter, referenced simply as a “Judge”) or otherwise has a material business relationship or affiliation with any Judge;

    (iii) any individual who is a member of any Judge's immediate family or household;

    (iv) any individual who has been convicted of a felony;

    (v) the Seeker, Participating Organizations, and any advertising agency, contractor or other individual or organization involved with the design, production, promotion, execution, or distribution of the Contest; all employees, representatives and agents thereof; and all members of the immediate family or household of any such individual, employee, representative, or agent;

    (vi) any Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment, or as may otherwise be prohibited by Federal law (employees should consult their agency ethics officials);

    (vii) any individual or entity that used Federal facilities or relied upon significant consultation with Federal employees to develop a Submission, unless the facilities and employees were made available to all Contestants participating in the Contest on an equal basis; and

    (viii) any individual or entity that used Federal funds to develop a Submission, unless such use is consistent with the grant award, or other applicable Federal funds awarding document. If a grantee using Federal funds enters and wins this Contest, the prize monies will need to be treated as program income for purposes of the original grant in accordance with applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop a Submission for this competition.

    (ix) Employees and contractors of the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate are ineligible to compete in this competition. Likewise, members of their immediate family (spouses, children, siblings, parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in any portion of this competition, shall not work on their submission during assigned duty hours. Note: Federal ethical conduct rules may restrict or prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain outside activities, so any federal employee not excluded under the prior paragraph seeking to participate in this competition outside the scope of employment should consult his/her agency's ethics official prior to developing a submission; and

    (x) Individuals, contractors and educational institutions currently participating in or pending participation in a DHS program of the same subject of the competition or connected to or aligned with the competition subject are ineligible to compete in this competition.

    (6) For purposes hereof:

    (i) the members of an individual's immediate family include such individual's spouse, children and step-children, parents and step-parents, and siblings and step-siblings; and

    (ii) the members of an individual's household include any other person who shares the same residence as such individual for at least three (3) months out of the year.

    (7) Per 15 U.S.C. 3719(h), an individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible under these eligibility rules because the individual or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the competition on an equitable basis; and

    (8) Use of Marks: Except as expressly set forth in the Participant Agreement or the contest rules, participants shall not use the names, trademarks, service marks, logos, insignias, trade dress, or any other designation of source or origin subject to legal protection, copyrighted material or similar intellectual property (“Marks”) of the organizers or other prize competition partners, sponsors, or collaborators in any way without such party's prior written permission in each instance, which such party may grant or withhold in its sole and absolute discretion.

    (9) An individual or entity that is currently on the Excluded Parties List will not be selected as a Finalist or prize winner.

    Registration Information: To be eligible to win a prize under this competition, the Solver shall have registered to participate in the contest under the process identified on the central Federal Web site where government competitions are advertised (Challenge.gov). Access the www.challenge.gov We