Federal Register Vol. 80, No.82,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 82 (April 29, 2015)

Page Range23673-24190
FR Document

80_FR_82
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 23826 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend NASDAQ Rules 7014 and 7018PDF
80 FR 23824 - Sunshine Act Meeting of the National Museum and Library Services BoardPDF
80 FR 23787 - Change to Internet Usage Policy To Permit Oral Authorization for Video Conferencing Tools by Patent ExaminersPDF
80 FR 23771 - Foreign-Trade Zone 231-Stockton, California; Application for Subzone Expansion Subzone 231A, Medline Industries, Inc., Lathrop, CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 23771 - Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China; Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review in Part and Rescission of New Shipper Review; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 23689 - Authority of DOE Protective Force Officers That Are Federal Employees To Make Arrests Without a Warrant for Certain CrimesPDF
80 FR 23847 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 23818 - Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Oil and Gas Lease Sales for 2017-2022PDF
80 FR 23797 - Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 23808 - Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Program: Mortgagee Optional Election Assignment for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) With FHA Case Numbers Assigned Prior to August 4, 2014-Response to CommentsPDF
80 FR 23711 - Safety Zone, Southern Branch Elizabeth River; Chesapeake, VAPDF
80 FR 23806 - Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee; VacanciesPDF
80 FR 23742 - Proposed Expansion, Regulatory Revision and New Management Plan for the Public HearingsPDF
80 FR 23769 - Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) in Cooperation With the Bureau of Land Management for the Green River Diversion Rehabilitation Project, Green River, UtahPDF
80 FR 23768 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II (CN-OPS-II)PDF
80 FR 23796 - Notice of Agreements FiledPDF
80 FR 23856 - Pricing for the 2015 Coin and Chronicles Sets for Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. JohnsonPDF
80 FR 23756 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Minor New Source Review RequirementsPDF
80 FR 23757 - National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan National Priorities List: Deletion of the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund SitePDF
80 FR 23765 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Special Milk Program for ChildrenPDF
80 FR 23785 - Broadband Opportunity Council Notice and Request for CommentPDF
80 FR 23767 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Annual State Report on Verification of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ParticipationPDF
80 FR 23788 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0097, Process for Review of Swaps for Mandatory ClearingPDF
80 FR 23855 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments; Clearance of a New Information Collection(s): U.S. Department of Transportation, Individual Complaint of Employment Discrimination FormPDF
80 FR 23850 - Information Collection Activities: Submission for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Review; Request for CommentPDF
80 FR 23849 - Reports, Forms, and Record Keeping RequirementsPDF
80 FR 23850 - Reports, Forms, and Record Keeping Requirements; Agency Information Collection Activity Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 23826 - Public Meeting on Executive Order 12333 at the National Constitution CenterPDF
80 FR 23822 - Temporary Labor Camps; Extension of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Approval of Information Collection (Paperwork) RequirementsPDF
80 FR 23820 - Reports of Injuries to Employees Operating Mechanical Power Presses; Extension of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Approval of an Information Collection (Paperwork) RequirementPDF
80 FR 23735 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Greenland Turbot in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management AreaPDF
80 FR 23796 - Information Collection; Corporate Aircraft CostsPDF
80 FR 23823 - Proposed Extension of Existing Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 23848 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; Airlines for AmericaPDF
80 FR 23856 - Unblocking of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons Pursuant to Executive Order 13448PDF
80 FR 23784 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 23789 - National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity MeetingPDF
80 FR 23770 - Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment AssistancePDF
80 FR 23769 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 23817 - Notice of Meeting, Front Range Resource Advisory CouncilPDF
80 FR 23772 - Visiting Committee on Advanced TechnologyPDF
80 FR 23814 - Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 23794 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 23793 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 23793 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 23773 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Evaluation Support ServicesPDF
80 FR 23803 - Addressing Inadequate Information on Important Health Factors in Pharmacoepidemiology Studies Relying on Healthcare Databases; Public Workshop; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 23826 - Deutsche Bank AG, et al.; Notice of Application and Temporary OrderPDF
80 FR 23846 - Hartford Funds NextShares Trust, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 23830 - Gabelli ETMF Trust, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 23855 - Open Meeting of the Community Development Advisory BoardPDF
80 FR 23826 - Product Change-Priority Mail and First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service AgreementPDF
80 FR 23680 - Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignment and Study by F-2 and M-2 NonimmigrantsPDF
80 FR 23673 - Single Family Housing Direct Loan ProgramPDF
80 FR 23761 - Risk-Based Sampling of Beef Manufacturing Trimmings for Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7PDF
80 FR 23791 - National Assessment Governing Board Quarterly Board MeetingPDF
80 FR 23815 - Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians Tribal Code (CLUSITC)-Liquor ControlPDF
80 FR 23807 - Agency Information Collection Activities: E-Verify Program Data Collections: 2015 Survey of E-Verify Employers; Reinstatement, With Change, of a Previously Approved Collection for Which Approval Has ExpiredPDF
80 FR 23847 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; Last Frontier Aviation GroupPDF
80 FR 23792 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; U.S. Department of Education Pre-Authorized Debit Account Brochure and ApplicationPDF
80 FR 23790 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS: 2017) Recruitment for Item Validation and Operational Field TestsPDF
80 FR 23825 - New Postal ProductPDF
80 FR 23824 - New Postal ProductPDF
80 FR 23851 - Hazardous Materials: Safety Advisory-Unauthorized Certification of Compressed Gas CylindersPDF
80 FR 23789 - Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
80 FR 23841 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Delete Outdated Rule Language Contained in Rule 1019 and Options Floor Procedures AdvicesPDF
80 FR 23831 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 Thereto, Relating to the Listing and Trading of the Shares of 18 Eaton Vance NextShares ETMFs of Either the Eaton Vance ETMF Trust or the Eaton Vance ETMF Trust IIPDF
80 FR 23838 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Order Granting Approval of Proposed Rule Change To Eliminate Additional Order Type Combinations, Delete Related Rule Text, Restructure the Remaining Rule Text in NYSE Arca Equities Rule 7.31, and Make Other Clarifying Changes to Its RulesPDF
80 FR 23839 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Postpone Implementation of Changes to Rules 4751(h) and 4754(b) Relating to the Closing ProcessPDF
80 FR 23844 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to Submission of Financial ReportsPDF
80 FR 23774 - Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Construction of the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay BridgePDF
80 FR 23803 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Financial Disclosure by Clinical InvestigatorsPDF
80 FR 23801 - Determination of Regulatory Review Period for Purposes of Patent Extension; Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent SystemPDF
80 FR 23852 - Hazardous Materials: Information Collection ActivitiesPDF
80 FR 23796 - Notice to All Interested Parties of the Termination of the Receivership of 10318, Paramount Bank Farmington Hills, MichiganPDF
80 FR 23692 - Transferred OTS Regulations and Regulations Regarding Disclosure and Reporting of CRA-Related AgreementsPDF
80 FR 23820 - Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH)PDF
80 FR 23721 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Washington: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Visibility ProtectionPDF
80 FR 23795 - Full SFIREG; Notice of Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 23857 - Agency Information Collection (Rehabilitation Needs Inventory) Activity Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 23857 - Agency Information Collection (One-VA Identification Verification Card) Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 23798 - Retrospective Review of Premarket Approval Application Devices; Striking the Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data CollectionPDF
80 FR 23713 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Indiana; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)PDF
80 FR 23806 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 23806 - National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 23804 - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 23805 - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 23805 - National Cancer Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 23710 - Amendment of Class E Airspace; Livingston, MTPDF
80 FR 23708 - Establishment of Class E Airspace; Encinal, TXPDF
80 FR 23707 - Establishment of Class E Airspace; Alma, NEPDF
80 FR 23709 - Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Baltimore, MDPDF
80 FR 23802 - Environmental Assessment: Questions and Answers Regarding Drugs With Estrogenic, Androgenic, or Thyroid Activity; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 23737 - Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan EnginesPDF
80 FR 23741 - Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan EnginesPDF
80 FR 23854 - Pipeline Safety: Information Collection ActivitiesPDF
80 FR 23739 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
80 FR 23730 - Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-; Exemption From the Requirement of a TolerancePDF
80 FR 23754 - Proposed Elimination of Visa Page Insert Service for U.S. Passport Book HoldersPDF
80 FR 23859 - National Hazardous Materials Route RegistryPDF
80 FR 24011 - Privacy Act of 1974: Republication of Notice of Systems of RecordsPDF
80 FR 24041 - Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment of H-2B Aliens in the United StatesPDF
80 FR 24145 - Wage Methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B ProgramPDF
80 FR 23743 - Black Lung Benefits Act: Disclosure of Medical Information and Payment of BenefitsPDF
80 FR 23699 - Airworthiness Directives; Various Aircraft Equipped With Wing Lift StrutsPDF

Issue

80 82 Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Food and Nutrition Service

See

Food Safety and Inspection Service

See

Natural Resources Conservation Service

See

Rural Housing Service

See

Rural Utilities Service

Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Safety Zones: Southern Branch Elizabeth River; Chesapeake, VA, 23711-23713 2015-10018 NOTICES Applications: Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee; Vacancies, 23806-23807 2015-10016 Commerce Commerce Department See

Economic Development Administration

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Institute of Standards and Technology

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: National Survey of Children's Health, 23769-23770 2015-09975
Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Process for Review of Swaps for Mandatory Clearing, 23788 2015-09994 Community Development Community Development Financial Institutions Fund NOTICES Meetings: Community Development Advisory Board, 23855-23856 2015-09962 Defense Department Defense Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Corporate Aircraft Costs, 23796-23797 2015-09983 Meetings: Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors, 23789 2015-09936 Economic Development Economic Development Administration NOTICES Trade Adjustment Assistance; Petitions, 23770-23771 2015-09976 2015-09977 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 Recruitment for Item Validation and Operational Field Tests, 23790-23791 2015-09946 Pre-Authorized Debit Account Brochure and Application, 23792-23793 2015-09947 Meetings: National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, 23789-23790 2015-09978 National Assessment Governing Board Quarterly Board, 23791-23792 2015-09956 Employment and Training Employment and Training Administration RULES Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment of H-2B Aliens in the United States, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Wage Methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B Program, 24146-24190 2015-09692 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

RULES Authority of DOE Protective Force Officers That are Federal Employees To Make Arrests Without a Warrant for Certain Crimes, 23689-23692 2015-10042
Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Indiana; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 23713-23721 2015-09883 Washington: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Visibility Protection, 23721-23730 2015-09889 Pesticide Tolerances; Exemptions From Requirements: Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, 23730-23735 2015-09740 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Maryland; Minor New Source Review Requirements, 23756-23757 2015-10008 National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan National Priorities List: Deletion of the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund Site, 23757-23760 2015-10001 NOTICES Meetings: Full SFIREG, 23795 2015-09887 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Various Aircraft Equipped With Wing Lift Struts, 23699-23707 2015-08732 Amendments of Class E Airspace: Baltimore, MD, 23709-23710 2015-09870 Class E Airspace: Livingston, MT, 23710-23711 2015-09874 Establishment of Class E Airspace: Alma, NE, 23707-23708 2015-09871 Encinal, TX, 23708-23709 2015-09873 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines, 23737-23739, 23741-23742 2015-09815 2015-09816 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 23739-23741 2015-09793 NOTICES Petition for Exemption; Summaries, 23847-23848 2015-09949 Petitions for Exemption: Airlines for America, 23848 2015-09981 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation RULES Transferred Office of Thrift Supervision Regulations and Regulations Regarding Disclosure and Reporting of Community Reinvestment Act-Related Agreements; Correction, 23692-23699 2015-09894 NOTICES Terminations of Receivership: Paramount Bank, Farmington Hills, MI, 23796 2015-09895 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 2015-09968 23793-23795 2015-09969 2015-09970 2015-09971 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Agreements Filed, 23796 2015-10011 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NOTICES National Hazardous Materials Route Registry, 23860-24009 2015-09701 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Meetings: Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, 23814-23815 2015-09972 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Financial Disclosure by Clinical Investigators, 23803-23804 2015-09908 Guidance: Environmental Assessment: Questions and Answers Regarding Drugs With Estrogenic, Androgenic, or Thyroid Activity, 23802-23803 2015-09869 Meetings: Addressing Inadequate Information on Important Health Factors in Pharmacoepidemiology Studies Relying on Healthcare Databases; Public Workshop; Correction, 23803 2015-09966 Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee, 23797-23798 2015-10026 Patent Extension Regulatory Review Periods: XIENCE XPEDITION EVEROLIMUS ELUTING CORONARY STENT SYSTEM, 23801-23802 2015-09902 Retrospective Review of Premarket Approval Application Devices; Striking the Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection, 23798-23801 2015-09884 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Annual State Report on Verification of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation, 23767-23768 2015-09995 Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II, 23768-23769 2015-10012 Special Milk Program for Children, 23765-23767 2015-09997 Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service NOTICES Risk-Based Sampling of Beef Manufacturing Trimmings for Escherichia coli (E. coli), 23761-23765 2015-09957 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties:, 23856 2015-09980 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Applications for Subzone Expansions: Foreign-Trade Zone 231, Medline Industries, Inc., Stockton, CA, 23771 2015-10047 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Corporate Aircraft Costs, 23796-23797 2015-09983 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

RULES Student and Exchange Visitor Program: Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignment and Study by F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants, 23680-23689 2015-09959 Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment of H-2B Aliens in the United States, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Wage Methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B Program, 24146-24190 2015-09692
Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program: Mortgagee Optional Election Assignment for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages With FHA Case Numbers Assigned Prior to August 4, 2014, 23808-23814 2015-10019 Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau NOTICES Liquor Control: Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians Tribal Code, 23815-23817 2015-09954 Institute of Museum and Library Services Institute of Museum and Library Services NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 23824 2015-10114 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Land Management Bureau

See

Ocean Energy Management Bureau

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China, 23771-23772 2015-10046 Labor Department Labor Department See

Employment and Training Administration

See

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

See

Wage and Hour Division

See

Workers Compensation Programs Office

Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Front Range Resource Advisory Council, 23817-23818 2015-09974 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Corporate Aircraft Costs, 23796-23797 2015-09983 National Foundation National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities See

Institute of Museum and Library Services

National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Characterizing Ambulance Driver Training in EMS Systems, 23850 2015-09991 Evaluation of Correct Child Restraint System Installations, 23850-23851 2015-09989 Survey of Law Enforcement Officers/Agencies; Attitudes Toward and Resources for Traffic Safety Enforcement, 23849-23850 2015-09990 National Institute National Institute of Standards and Technology NOTICES Meetings: Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, 23772-23773 2015-09973 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: National Cancer Institute, 23805 2015-09875 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Amendments, 23806 2015-09879 National Institute of Mental Health, 23806 2015-09878 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 23805 2015-09876 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Amendments, 23804-23805 2015-09877 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Greenland Turbot in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Closure, 23735-23736 2015-09984 PROPOSED RULES Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: Regulatory Revision and New Management Plan, Expansion; Public Hearings, 23742-23743 2015-10015 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 23784-23785 2015-09979 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Evaluation Support Services, 23773-23774 2015-09967 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Construction of the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, 23774-23784 2015-09915 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration NOTICES Broadband Opportunity Council, 23785-23787 2015-09996 National Resources Natural Resources Conservation Service NOTICES Records of Decisions: Green River Diversion Rehabilitation Project, Green River, UT, 23769 2015-10014 Occupational Safety Health Adm Occupational Safety and Health Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Reports of Injuries to Employees Operating Mechanical Power Presses, 23820-23822 2015-09986 Temporary Labor Camps, 23822-23823 2015-09987 Charter Renewals: Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, 23820 2015-09893 Ocean Energy Management Ocean Energy Management Bureau NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Outer Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, Oil and Gas Lease Sales for 2017-2022, 23818-23820 2015-10035 Patent Patent and Trademark Office NOTICES Change to Internet Usage Policy To Permit Oral Authorization for Video Conferencing Tools by Patent Examiners, 23787-23788 2015-10051 Pipeline Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 23854 2015-09804 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Hazardous Materials, 23852-23854 2015-09896 Safety Advisories: Unauthorized Certification of Compressed Gas Cylinders, 23851-23852 2015-09937 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 23824-23826 2015-09943 2015-09944 2015-09945 Postal Service Postal Service NOTICES Product Changes: Priority Mail and First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service Agreement, 23826 2015-09960 Privacy Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board NOTICES Meetings: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, 23826 2015-09988 Rural Housing Service Rural Housing Service RULES Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program, 23673-23680 2015-09958 Rural Utilities Rural Utilities Service NOTICES Broadband Opportunity Council, 23785-23787 2015-09996 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: Deutsche Bank AG, et al.; Temporary Order, 23826-23830 2015-09965 Gabelli ETMF Trust, et al., 23830-23831 2015-09963 Hartford Funds NextShares Trust, et al., 23846-23847 2015-09964 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 23847 2015-10037 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 23844-23846 2015-09916 NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC, 23841-23843 2015-09920 NASDAQ Stock Market LLC, 23826 C1--2015--08941 NYSE Arca, Inc., 23838-23839 2015-09918 The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC, 23831-23841 2015-09917 2015-09919 State Department State Department PROPOSED RULES Elimination of Visa Page Insert Service for U.S. Passport Book Holders, 23754-23755 2015-09719 Tennessee Tennessee Valley Authority NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 24012-24039 2015-09696 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

See

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Individual Complaint of Employment Discrimination Form, 23855 2015-09992
Treasury Treasury Department See

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

United States Mint

U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 23807-23808 2015-09953 U.S. Mint United States Mint NOTICES Pricing for the 2015 Coin and Chronicles Sets: Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, 23856-23857 2015-10010 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: One-VA Identification Verification Card, 23857 2015-09885 Rehabilitation Needs Inventory, 23857 2015-09886 Wage Wage and Hour Division RULES Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment of H-2B Aliens in the United States, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Workers' Workers Compensation Programs Office PROPOSED RULES Black Lung Benefits Act; Disclosure of Medical Information and Payment of Benefits, 23743-23754 2015-09573 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Rehabilitation Maintenance Certificate, 23823-23824 2015-09982 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Transportation Department, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 23860-24009 2015-09701 Part III Tennessee Valley Authority, 24012-24039 2015-09696 Part IV Homeland Security Department, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Labor Department, Employment and Training Administration, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Labor Department, Wage and Hour Division, 24042-24144 2015-09694 Part V Homeland Security Department, 24146-24190 2015-09692 Labor Department, Employment and Training Administration, 24146-24190 2015-09692 Reader Aids

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80 82 Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service 7 CFR Part 3550 RIN 0575-AC88 Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program AGENCY:

Rural Housing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Housing Service (RHS or Agency) published a proposed rule on August 23, 2013, to amend its regulations for the section 502 direct single family housing loan program to create a certified loan application packaging process. Through this action, revisions are being made to the rule based on an evaluation of the public comments received as well as the results of the pilot program RHS began in 2010 to test changes to the loan application packaging process. This final rule will impose reasonable experience, training, structure, and performance requirements on eligible service providers; and it will regulate the packaging fee permitted under the process.

By establishing a vast network of competent, experienced, and committed Agency-certified packagers, this action is intended to benefit low- and very low-income people who wish to achieve homeownership in rural areas by increasing their awareness of the Agency's housing program, increasing specialized support available to them to complete the application for assistance, and improving the quality of loan application packages submitted on their behalf.

DATES:

The effective date for the final rule is July 28, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brooke Baumann, Branch Chief, Single Family Housing Direct Loan Division, USDA Rural Development, Stop 0783, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0783, Telephone: 202-690-4250. Email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Statutory Authority

Title V, Section 1480(k) of the Housing Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate rules and regulations as deemed necessary to carry out the purpose of that title.

Executive Order 12866

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has designated this rule as not significant under Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. Except where specified, all State and local laws and regulations that are in direct conflict with this rule will be preempted. Federal funds carry Federal requirements. No person is required to apply for funding under this program, but if they do apply and are selected for funding, they must comply with the requirements applicable to the Federal program funds. This rule is not retroactive. It will not affect packaged loan applications received prior to the effective date of the rule. Before any judicial action may be brought regarding the provisions of this rule, the administrative appeal provisions of 7 CFR part 11 must be exhausted.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), Public Law 104-4, establishes requirements for Federal agencies to assess the effect of their regulatory actions on State, local, and tribal governments and the private sector. Under section 202 of the UMRA, the Agency generally must prepare a written statement, including a cost-benefit analysis, for proposed and final rules with “Federal mandates” that may result in expenditures to State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $100 million, or more, in any one year. When such a statement is needed for a rule, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires the Agency to identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and adopt the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule.

This final rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provisions of Title II of the UMRA) for State, local, and tribal governments or the private sector. Therefore, this rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the UMRA.

Environmental Impact Statement

This document has been reviewed in accordance with 7 CFR part 1940, subpart G, “Environmental Program.” It is the determination of the Agency that this action does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, and, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Public Law 91-190, neither an Environmental Assessment nor an Environmental Impact Statement is required.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

The policies contained in this rule do not have any substantial direct effect on States, on the relationship between the national government and States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nor does this rule impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments. Therefore, consultation with the States is not required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) the undersigned has determined and certified by signature of this document that this rule, while affecting small entities, will not have an adverse economic impact on small entities. The Agency made this determination based on the fact that this regulation only impacts those who choose to participate in the certified loan application packaging process. Small entities engaged in this process will not be affected to a greater extent than large entities engaged in this process.

Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs

This program/activity is not subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372, which require intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. (See the Notice related to 7 CFR part 3015, subpart V, at 48 FR 29112, June 24, 1983; 49 FR 22675, May 31, 1984; 50 FR 14088, April 10, 1985).

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

This executive order imposes requirements on Rural Development in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications or preempt tribal laws. Rural Development has determined that the final rule does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribe(s) or on either the relationship or the distribution of powers and responsibilities between the Federal Government and the Indian tribes. Thus, this final rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13175. However, in an effort to raise Tribal and Tribal Housing Authority awareness and interest in the proposed rule published on August 23, 2013, RHS co-hosted a webinar and teleconference with the National American Indian Housing Council on November, 6, 2013, during the extension of the public comment period. Thirty-nine Indian Housing and Tribal staff from around the country registered for the webinar and teleconference to learn about the proposed certified loan application packaging process. Participants were encouraged to provide feedback during the webinar and teleconference as well.

Programs Affected

This program is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under Number 10.410, Very Low to Moderate Income Housing Loans (Section 502 Rural Housing Loans).

Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) requires that OMB approve all collections of information by a Federal agency before they can be implemented. Under the proposed rule, qualified employers were required to provide monthly reports to the Agency outlining the packaging activities of their Agency-certified packager(s). The estimated total annual burden on respondents was 6,300 hours.

After gauging the benefits and limitations of the reporting under the packaging pilot program and in light of public comments received, the monthly reporting requirement outlined in § 3550.75 (b)(2)(iv) was removed. This rule does not impose any new or modified information collection requirements.

E-Government Act Compliance

RHS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, 44 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., 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.

I. Background

The section 502 direct single family housing loan program provides subsidized mortgage loans for modest homes in rural areas to primarily first-time homebuyers who are low- and very low-income. While loan approval and underwriting are functions of the Agency staff, the Agency's nonprofit and public partners often play a role in educating potential homebuyers in homeownership and in originating section 502 loans.

Loan application packaging, which is an optional service, is not new to the program; it has been permitted under the program for decades. Loan application packagers, who are separate and independent from the Agency, play an important role in increasing awareness of the section 502 program among potential homeowners and provide a valuable service to potential homeowners.

To address weaknesses in the existing loan application process and to integrate the lessons learned from the packaging pilot program, which began in Fiscal Year 2010 and introduced the use of intermediaries in the packaging process, RHS published a proposed rule on August 23, 2013, (78 FR 52460-52464) to amend its regulations for the section 502 direct single family housing loan program to create a certified loan application packaging process.

II. Discussion of Relevant Public Comments Received on August 23, 2013, Proposed Rule

The original 60-day comment period for the proposed rule, which ended on October 22, 2013, was extended to November 22, 2013, due to the lapse in Federal funding that caused a partial closing of Federal government operations from October 1 through October 16, 2013. Notice of the extension was published on November 1, 2013 (78 FR 65582). A total of 34 comments were received. Commenters included affordable housing nonprofit organizations, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, the National Rural Housing Coalition, and the general public.

Comments on the role of the intermediaries. The Agency received several comments on the role of the intermediaries in the process. As outlined in the proposed rule, intermediaries would perform quality assurance reviews and monitoring activities on individuals seeking or who have been designated as an Agency-certified loan application packager and their qualified employers. Some called for the complete removal of the intermediaries while some called for a tightening of the requirements to become one (i.e. require the organization to demonstrate financial viability, have at least one recommendation from a Rural Development State Office, etc.) and/or expanding their role (i.e. allow them to order critical items, require their involvement in all packaged loan applications, allow them to perform quality assurance reviews on self-help loans, etc.).

Agency Response: In light of the intermediaries' overall performance under the pilot, which included successes and shortcomings, the Agency will strengthen the requirements to be an intermediary while relaxing the requirements to be a qualified employer to allow startups to participate in the certified loan application packaging process. An intermediary will be involved in the process unless a qualified employer and their certified packaging staff obtains approval from the applicable Rural Development State Director to opt not to go through an intermediary based on the quality of the loan application packages submitted by the qualified employer and their certified packaging staff. The “opt out” request is optional. Qualified employers and their certified packaging staff that are performing at or above the required standards may choose to continue to funnel their packaged loan applications through an intermediary for their own reasons.

For qualified employers and their certified packaging staff that received approval to “opt out,” the State Director will determine if they must subsequently submit through an intermediary instead of directly to the Agency if performance issues should occur. Guidelines for State Directors will be included in the program's handbook to ensure uniformity.

The criteria to be an intermediary will be revised to clarify that intermediaries will be required to provide supplemental training, technical assistance, and support to those qualified employers and their Agency-certified packaging staff that are required to funnel their packages through them since one of the primary goals of an intermediary is to cultivate high performance. As further detailed in the program's handbook, supplemental training and technical assistance will address, among other things, any areas for improvement discovered during the quality assurance reviews and explain any changes to program guidance.

The criteria will also be revised to require an intermediary to be, to the Agency's satisfaction, a Section 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization or public agency in good standing in the State(s) of its operation with the capacity to promptly serve (as detailed in the program's handbook) multiple qualified employers and their Agency-certified loan application packagers throughout an entire State or preferably throughout entire States; be financially viable as evidenced by an audit paid for by the applicant seeking to be an intermediary; and demonstrate that their quality assurance staff has experience with packaging, originating, or underwriting affordable housing loans. After the initial application process, intermediaries may be required to periodically demonstrate that they still meet specified criteria.

An intermediary will continue to be prohibited from having a financial interest in the property for which the application package is submitted since this helps ensure an unbiased and objective quality assurance review. A qualified employer and/or Agency-certified packager, however, will be permitted to have a financial interest in the property since many offer acquisition and rehabilitation programs or other programs that promote affordable housing and improve a community's housing stock. However, a qualified employer and/or Agency-certified packager must notify the Agency and applicant of any financial interest in the property. In addition, the Agency may prohibit a qualified employer and/or Agency-certified packager from receiving part or all of the packaging fee if the financial interest is improper or the qualified employer and/or Agency-certified packager has a history of improperly using its position when a financial interest exists.

To complement the above, the proficiency requirement outlined in § 3550.75(b)(1)(iv) was removed, although an individual must still meet the requirements in 3550.75(b)(1)(i) through (iv); and the experience requirement outlined in § 3550.75(b)(2)(iii) was removed, although a qualified employer must still meet the requirements in 3550.75(b)(2)(i) through now (v).

Following the publication of this rule, a Federal Register notice of the Agency's intent to accept applications to be an intermediary under the regulation will be published. Intermediaries operating under the packaging pilot program are not guaranteed an intermediary role beyond their participation in the pilot program (which ends at the earlier of either the end date of the agreement between the pilot intermediary and the Agency, or the effective date of this final rule) and will be subject to this application process should they wish to serve as an intermediary under the regulation. Periodically, the Agency will issue such notices to give interested parties an opportunity to apply to be an intermediary, require existing intermediaries to demonstrate that they still meet the requirements under the regulation, and ensure there are a sufficient number of qualified intermediaries engaged in the certified loan application packaging process.

Comments on the loan application packaging fee and compensation. The Agency received several comments on the packaging fee. Some called for the packaging fee to be reduced or eliminated. Some called for the packaging fee to be increased or a percent of the loan amount. Within this subset, it was also stated that compensation should be allowed even if the packaged loan application does not result in a closed loan and that the Agency should pay for all or a portion of the fee and provide technical assistance funding to the Agency-certified packagers for marketing, prescreening, and other related items.

Agency Response: The language under § 3550.52 will state that, “The fee may not exceed two percent of the national average area loan limit as determined by the Agency and may be limited further at the Agency's discretion.” However, the program's handbook will initially specify that the fee may be up to, but not exceed, $1,500. If the qualified employer and their certified packaging staff are required to go through an intermediary, the fee will remain the same but they will have to share a portion of the fee with the intermediary. The parties will negotiate how the fee is shared exclusive of any Agency involvement.

Comments were made that mortgage lenders and brokers traditionally earn a minimum of 250 basis points in originating private sector mortgages. Although these services share some similarities, packaging a section 502 loan and originating a private mortgage are not the same. For example, originating a private mortgage generally includes processing an application, underwriting and funding a loan, and other administrative services. Packagers in the section 502 program do not underwrite, approve, or fund loans on behalf of the Agency.

Compensation will only be allowed for closed loans. This condition is currently in effect for the protection it affords parties who wish to seek a section 502 loan but who are clearly ineligible.

Other than using program funds to include the packaging fee in the borrower's loan when permissible and travel funds for a designated Agency staff member to attend classroom sessions offered by non-Agency trainers, the Agency will not use funds to operate the certified loan application packaging process.

Comments on the adverse impact the rule will have on small nonprofits that have been effectively providing abbreviated packaging services to Agency applicants for years. Some commenters expressed concerns that the requirements of the certified loan application packaging process, such as the training component, would force out small nonprofits currently engaged in packaging.

Agency Response: Language will be added to § 3550.52, “Loan Purposes”, that states, “Nominal packaging fees not resulting from the certified loan application process are an eligible cost provided the fee is no more than $350; the loan application packager is a nonprofit, tax exempt partner that received an exception to all or part of the requirements outlined in § 3550.75 from the applicable Rural Development State Director; and the packager gathers and submits the information needed for the Agency to determine if the applicant is preliminarily eligible along with a fully completed and signed uniform residential loan application.”

Comments on whether loan applications packaged under this process should be considered as a fourth funding priority item. The Agency received several comments on the funding priority classification. Some stated that fourth funding priority or higher was critical to the success of the certified loan application packaging process. Within this subset, it was also stated that processing priority was imperative. Some stated that giving fourth funding priority to applications received under this process would be unethical and discriminatory.

Agency Response: After weighing the comments for and against, it was decided that loans packaged under this process will not receive fourth funding priority unless the Administrator decides that such a temporary classification is necessary nor will they receive processing priority though the Agency will examine the program's guidance to ensure that both tracks (packaged or non-packaged) are treated equitably. As noted by one commenter, “As it stands today, the items that receive fourth priority ultimately allow the agency to assist more income-limited persons by reducing the agency loan amount for transactions involving sweat equity or supplemental financing from outside sources. Giving fourth priority to applications packaged under this process only benefits a particular borrower and actually places them in a position where this service is not exactly optional.” However, § 3550.55 (c) will be revised to include the following guidance at the end of the paragraph: “Applications received through the certified loan application packaging process do not, by themselves, warrant a higher priority; though the Administrator may temporarily reclassify them as fourth priority when determined appropriate.” Any such reclassification will be published in a Federal Register notice.

Comments on the experience requirement placed on an individual who wishes to become an Agency-certified packager. One commenter suggested that the requirement be revised from “have at least one year of real estate and/or mortgage experience” to “have at least one year of affordable housing loan origination and/or affordable housing counseling experience”. One commenter asked for the rationale behind this experience requirement. One commenter suggested this requirement be removed.

Agency Response: The minimum relevant experience requirement (along with the other requirements), helps ensure that Agency-certified packagers have the needed knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide this service. The Agency agrees that experience with affordable housing loan origination and/or affordable housing counseling is more relevant given the nature of the section 502 direct single family housing loan program and the income categories it is designed to serve, and has revised § 3550.75(b)(1)(i) accordingly.

Comments on the employment relationship between the Agency-certified packager and the qualified employer. Some commenters requested clarity on the nature of the relationship and one requested that contract arrangements be permitted.

Agency Response: It will be clarified that employed means as an employee or as an independent contractor.

Comment specific to the States' Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs). One commenter suggested that the States' HFAs be allowed to serve as qualified employers or as intermediaries regardless of their composition (public agency or quasi-government entity established by the State as an independent authority and public corporation) and their experience with the Agency's programs.

Agency Response: Given the States' HFAs purpose, vision, and structure, the Agency agrees with this comment and is revising § 3550.75(b)(2) and (3) accordingly. A similar allowance will also be extended to tribal housing authorities though this allowance will be limited to serving as qualified employers since tribal housing authorities focus on Indian housing needs and not necessarily statewide housing needs.

Comments on compliance with the Secure and Fair Enforcement Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act). Several commenters expressed concern that compliance with the SAFE Act would be overwhelmingly burdensome and costly.

Agency Response: As noted in the Paperwork Reduction Act section, the monthly reporting requirement outlined in § 3550.75(b)(2)(iv) was removed and along with it the reference to the SAFE Act. The SAFE Act provides for the licensing and registration of mortgage loan originators, and includes provisions requiring all States to establish a licensing and registration scheme for mortgage loan originators who are not employed by federal agencies or Agency-regulated institutions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published regulations regarding the State requirements at 12 CFR part 1008 (Regulation H).

The Agency does not have the authority under the SAFE Act to enforce or monitor SAFE Act compliance. However, the Agency believes that certified loan application packagers meeting the requirements of this rule are not “mortgage loan originators” subject to the SAFE Act or Regulation H because certified loan application packagers do not “offer or negotiate terms” of loan and therefore do not meet the criteria of “mortgage loan originators”. See 12 CFR 1008.103(c)(2). Specifically, certified loan application packagers will not communicate with a borrower or prospective borrower “for the purpose of reaching a mutual understanding about prospective residential mortgage loan terms.” Rather, it is the Agency that underwrites the loan, makes a final decision about the loan terms, and communicates those terms to the borrower. The mutual understanding regarding the loan terms is between the borrower and the Agency—the certified loan packager is not a party to the mutual understanding.

Even if the activities of a certified loan application packager were to be considered those of a mortgage loan originator, a State may exempt an individual from the State requirements if that individual is an employee of a bona fide nonprofit organization who acts as a loan originator only as part of work duties to the nonprofit organization and with respect to residential mortgage loans with terms favorable to the borrower. See 12 CFR 1008.103(e)(7)(i).

Commenters were misinterpreting the reference to mean that the Agency would require SAFE Act compliance even when the State does not.

Comments on the Agency-approved loan application packaging course and continuing training. Comments included: Ensure that the training is readily available and not cost prohibitive; consider offering an online version; underscore the Agency's oversight role in the management of the curriculum development and revisions as well as participation records; add a continuing education requirement; and do not require attendees of past three-day classroom training sessions (offered since August 2009) to retake the training.

Agency Response: Reference to a “three-day classroom” session will be removed from the final rule to allow for flexibility in the training's delivery method and guidance will be added to the program's handbook to underscore the Agency's oversight role. In addition, § 3550.75(c)(3) will be changed from “Non-Agency trainers, who will be limited to housing nonprofit organizations . . .” to “Non-Agency trainers, who will generally be limited to housing nonprofit organizations but may in rare cases include public bodies such as public universities . . .” and from “. . . and course materials; and bear the cost of providing the training. The course schedule must be approved by RHS and each session will be attended by a designated Agency staff member. A list of eligible non-Agency trainers will be published on the Agency's Web site . . .” to “. . . and updated course materials; and bear the cost of providing the training though a reasonable tuition fee may be charged the course participants. The course content, schedule, and tuition must be approved by RHS and a designated Agency staff member will typically participate in each training session to ensure accuracy of the program information and to serve as a program resource. A list of eligible non-Agency trainers, which is subject to change based on the non-Agency trainers' performance, will be published by the Agency . . .” These changes are being made to increase the availability of the training and to clarify how the trainers will be compensated and the oversight that will be provided by the Agency.

In regards to continuing education, § 3550.75(e) states that the Agency will stipulate any training and performance requirements for retaining a designation. Additional guidance on this issue will be provided in the program's handbook.

The Agency will recognize the attendance of past training sessions provided the attendee fully attended a three-day classroom course jointly presented by the Agency and one of three sponsoring nonprofit organizations (NeighborWorks, the Housing Assistance Council, or the Rural Community Assistance Corporation), and passed the online exam. If the training was taken more than three years ago (from the effective date of this final rule), recognition will also be subject to the attendee having submitted at least one viable packaged loan application between passing the course and the effective date of this final rule.

Comment to require Agency-certified packagers to perform in a manner that does not adversely impact the Agency's ability to meet its statutory requirement to make 40 percent of the program funds available to very low-income persons nationwide and 30 percent on a state level.

Agency Response: The Agency agrees, and language was added under § 3550.75(f) to address this comment.

Comment to provide the acceptable rate of packaged loan applications in the regulation instead of referring to the program's handbook. A commenter believed the regulation should set forth the expectations.

Agency's Response: The Agency is not making changes to the final rule on this issue. The acceptable rate and the new rate added in response to the comment above will be published in the program's handbook so that the Agency may make appropriate and timely adjustments.

Comments pertaining to the rule as it relates to the section 523 self-help program. Comments included: Clarify if grantees are subject to the rule's requirements, allow intermediaries to perform quality assurance reviews on self-help loans, and allow grantees to charge a packaging fee on self-help transactions.

Agency Response: Self-help projects and loans are excluded from the certified loan application process and from charging a packaging fee since grantees receive grant funds to package (among other things) and are provided technical and management assistance. However, a grantee and its staff may participate in the process for non-self-help loans provided they meet all the rule's requirements (i.e., grantees or technical and management assistance contractors and their staff do not automatically qualify as intermediaries, qualified employers, or Agency-certified packagers under the process).

Comments on improving the lines of communication between the Agency-certified packagers and the Agency before and after loan closing. Some commenters called for improved communication to boost performance before and after closing. One commenter believed that if notification was sent to the intermediary or packager when a loan they packaged went into default, they could help the homeowner get back on track and avoid foreclosure.

Agency Response: The program's handbook currently instructs packagers to issue a prescribed disclosure letter to interested parties. The disclosure letter includes a waiver of provisions to the Privacy Act of 1974. If a party permits it, the Agency will release to and discuss with the packager any information they seek or request from the Agency's records concerning the person's application for Agency assistance. Under the packaging pilot program, this disclosure also includes the intermediary.

Clarification will be provided in the program's handbook that Agency staff should promptly contact the packager with specific information (e.g., the closing date once scheduled) regardless of the response to the Privacy Act waiver.

While the current waiver notes that the authorization will terminate upon loan closing or Agency denial of the loan application, appropriate changes may be made to extend this authorization beyond closing if/when the program's loan servicing system can be configured to issue servicing (i.e., delinquency) notifications to the packager as well.

Comments to allow packagers to obtain the residential mortgage credit report and the appraisal report that will be used in the Agency's decision. Several commenters thought this would streamline the process and expedite the Agency's decision making process.

Agency Response: While it is expected that the packager would do a preliminary check on a potential applicant's credit history (e.g., by having a process in place to order single repository infile reports at their own expense; by requesting the potential applicant to obtain a free report via www.annualcreditreport.com; etc.), the Agency must order the residential mortgage credit report through the program's loan origination system so that the reported liabilities and score can be automatically populated into the system. Having the credit report file in the system will become even more critical when the program implements an automated underwriting system.

The Agency must manage the ordering of the appraisal to ensure that orders are only made when funds are available to process the loan request and to ensure the equitable ordering of services among appraisers who have blanket purchase agreements with the Agency. The Agency can only accept an appraisal obtained from a third-party when that third-party is a lender participating in the transaction and has a risk of loss at stake.

Comments on whether limiting qualified employers and intermediaries to nonprofit entities (and public agencies) would provide better protection to borrowers and the government or increase the packaging fees by limiting competition.

Agency Response: The commenters that addressed this item were almost unanimously agreed that limiting the process to nonprofits (and public agencies) provided better protection while not adversely impacting the fee. The Agency agrees, and the program's handbook will elaborate on what constitutes a public agency and provide examples.

III. Discussion of Non-Relevant Public Comments Received on August 23, 2013, Proposed Rule

Comments on considering alternatives to how the Agency currently conducts the applicant orientation, which is generally handled on an individual application basis in person or over the phone (using Form RD 3550-23, Applicant Orientation Guide).

Agency Response: This suggestion will be taken under consideration but separate from this rulemaking.

Comments to allow qualified third-parties to complete the final inspection on new constructions.

Agency Response: The Agency is in the process of issuing a rule that consolidates and updates certain regulations dealing with constructions; one of those regulations is Rural Development Instruction 1924-A that outlines the final inspection requirements.

In the interim, internal guidance was approved on April 29, 2013, and on July 15, 2013, addressing alternative measures that may be used to fulfill the program's inspection requirements.

Comments to update the program's loan origination system, give packagers access to the system, and adopt industry-standard technologies.

Agency Response: The Agency launched a department wide initiative in 2009 to create an intuitive, integrated information technology platform to support its mission. Given the complexity of the initiative, implementation is multiphase and spans several years.

In the interim, projects are underway in the program to create an automated underwriting system for internal use and to modify an existing system to allow packagers to upload applications into program's loan origination system.

Comments to use tri-merged credit reports instead of residential mortgage credit reports in the program's decision making process.

Agency Response: The use of tri-merged credit reports will be considered when preparing the next solicitation for credit services, which will occur in Fiscal Year 2015, as part of the Agency's ongoing process improvements.

Comment to allow direct endorsement underwriting by Agency-approved third parties.

Agency Response: Currently, only agency staff may perform underwriting, loan approval and obligation of funds. Loan application packaging is permissible since packagers perform certain non-discretionary tasks in the origination process.

The agency is also removing the language concerning packaging fees for section 504 transactions from § 3550.52(d)(6), since this eligible cost is already covered under § 3550.102(d)(5).

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 3550

Administrative practice and procedure, Conflict of interests, Environmental impact statements, Equal credit opportunity, Fair housing, Accounting, Housing, Loan programs—Housing and community development, Low and moderate income housing, Manufactured homes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rural areas, Subsidies.

For the reasons stated in the preamble, chapter XXXV, Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, is amended as follows:

PART 3550—DIRECT SINGLE FAMILY HOUSING LOANS AND GRANTS 1. The authority citation for part 3550 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 301; 42 U.S.C. 1480.

Subpart A—General 2. Section 3550.10 is amended to add new definitions of “Agency-approved intermediary”, “Agency-certified loan application packager”, “National average area loan limit”, and “Qualified employer” to read as follows:
§ 3550.10 Definitions.

Agency-approved intermediary. An affordable housing nonprofit, public agency, or State Housing Finance Agency approved by RHS to perform quality assurance reviews on packages prepared by Agency-certified loan application packagers through their qualified employers. See § 3550.75 for further details.

Agency-certified loan application packager. An individual certified by RHS under this subpart to package section 502 loan applications while employed (either as an employee or as an independent contractor) by a qualified employer. See § 3550.75 for further details.

National average area loan limit. Across the nation, the average area loan limit as specified in § 3550.63(a). The national average is considered when determining the maximum packaging fee permitted under the certified loan application packaging process under the section 502 program.

Qualified employer. An affordable housing nonprofit organization, public agency, tribal housing authority, or State Housing Finance Agency that meets the requirements outlined in § 3550.75(b)(2) and is involved in the certified loan application packaging process under the section 502 program.

Subpart B—Section 502 Origination 3. Section 3550.52 paragraph (d)(6) is revised to read as follows:
§ 3550.52 Loan purposes.

(d) * * *

(6) Packaging fees resulting from the certified loan application packaging process outlined in § 3550.75. The fee may not exceed two percent of the national average area loan limit as determined by the Agency and may be limited further at the Agency's discretion. Nominal packaging fees not resulting from the certified loan application process are an eligible cost provided the fee is no more than $350; the loan application packager is a nonprofit, tax exempt partner that received an exception to all or part of the requirements outlined in § 3550.75 from the applicable Rural Development State Director; and the packager gathers and submits the information needed for the Agency to determine if the applicant is preliminarily eligible along with a fully completed and signed uniform residential loan application.

4. Section 3550.55 paragraph (c)(5) is revised to read as follows:
§ 3550.55 Applications.

(c) * * *

(5) Applications from applicants who do not qualify for priority consideration in paragraphs (c)(1), (2), (3), or (4) of this section will be selected for processing after all applications with priority status have been processed. The Administrator may temporarily reclassify applications received through the certified loan application packaging process as fourth priority when determined appropriate.

5. Section 3550.75 is added to read as follows:
§ 3550.75 Certified loan application packaging process.

Persons interested in applying for a section 502 loan may, but are not required to, submit an application through the certified loan application packaging process.

(a) General. The certified loan application packaging process involves individuals who have been designated as an Agency-certified loan application packager, their qualified employers, and, if required by the State Director, Agency-approved intermediaries.

(b) Process requirements. To package section 502 loan applications under this process, each of the following conditions must be met:

(1) Agency-certified loan application packager. An individual who wishes to acquire RHS certification as a loan application packager must meet all of the following conditions:

(i) Have at least one year of affordable housing loan origination and/or affordable housing counseling experience;

(ii) Be employed (either as an employee or as an independent contractor) by a qualified employer as outlined in paragraph (b)(2) of this section;

(iii) Complete an Agency-approved loan application packaging course and successfully pass the corresponding test as specified in paragraph (c) of this section; and

(iv) Submit applications to the Agency via an intermediary if determined necessary by a State Director.

(2) Qualified employer. Individuals who have been designated as an Agency-certified loan application packager must be employed (either as an employee or as an independent contractor) by a qualified employer. To be considered a qualified employer, the packager's employer must meet each of the conditions specified in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) through (v) of this section. Tribal housing authorities and the States' Housing Finance Agencies are eligible and are exempt from the conditions specified in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) through (ii) of this section.

(i) Be a nonprofit organization or public agency in good standing in the State(s) of its operation.

(ii) Be tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code and be engaged in affordable housing per their regulations, articles of incorporation, or bylaws.

(iii) Notify the Agency and the applicant if they or their Agency-certified packager(s) are the developer, builder, seller of, or have any other such financial interest in the property for which the application package is submitted. The Agency may disallow a particular qualified employer and/or Agency-certified packager from receiving part or all of a packaging fee if the Agency determines that the financial interest is improper or the qualified employer or Agency-certified packager has a history of improperly using its position when there has been a financial interest in the property.

(iv) Prepare an affirmative fair housing marketing plan for Agency approval as outlined in RD Instruction 1901-E (or in any superseding guidance provided in the impending RD Instruction 1940-D).

(v) Submit applications to the Agency via an intermediary if determined necessary by a State Director.

(3) Agency-approved intermediaries. To become an Agency-approved intermediary, an interested party must apply and demonstrate to the Agency's satisfaction that they meet each of the conditions specified below. The States' Housing Finance Agencies, however, are exempt from the conditions specified in paragraphs (b)(3)(i) through (v). After the initial application process, the Agency may require intermediaries to periodically demonstrate that they still meet the following criteria.

(i) Be a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or public agency in good standing in the State(s) of its operation with the capacity to serve multiple qualified employers and their Agency-certified loan application packagers throughout an entire State or preferably throughout entire States and with the capacity to perform quality assurance reviews on a large volume of packaged loan applications within an acceptable period of time as determined by the Agency;

(ii) Be engaged in affordable housing in accordance with their regulations, articles of incorporation, or bylaws;

(iii) Be financially viable and demonstrate positive operating performance as evidenced by an independent audit paid for by the applicant seeking to be an intermediary;

(iv) Have at least five years of verifiable experience with the Agency's direct single family housing loan programs;

(v) Demonstrate that their quality assurance staff has experience with packaging, originating, or underwriting affordable housing loans.

(vi) Develop and implement quality control procedures designed to prevent submission of incomplete or ineligible application packages to the Agency;

(vii) Ensure that their quality assurance staff complete an Agency-approved loan application packaging course and successfully pass the corresponding test;

(viii) Not be the developer, builder, seller of, or have any other such financial interest in the property for which the application package is submitted; and

(ix) Provide supplemental training, technical assistance, and support to certified loan application packagers and qualified employers to promote quality standards and accountability; and to address areas for improvement and any changes in program guidance.

(c) Loan application packaging courses. Prospective loan application packagers must successfully complete an Agency-approved course that covers the material identified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. Prospective intermediaries must also successfully complete an Agency-approved course as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

(1) Loan application packagers. At a minimum, the certification course for individuals who wish to become Agency-certified loan application packagers will provide:

(i) An in-depth review of the section 502 direct single family housing loan program and the regulations and laws that govern the program (including civil rights lending laws such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973);

(ii) A detailed discussion on the program's application process and borrower/property eligibility requirements;

(iii) An examination of the Agency's loan underwriting process which includes the use of payment subsidies; and

(iv) The roles and responsibilities of a loan application packager and the Agency staff.

(2) Intermediaries. The required course for an intermediary's quality assurance staff will cover the components described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section and other information relevant to undertaking quality assurance, technical assistance, and training functions in support of the qualified employers and their Agency-certified loan application packagers.

(3) Non-Agency trainers. Prior to offering the required course to packagers and intermediaries, non-Agency trainers must obtain approval from designated Agency staff. Non-Agency trainers, who will generally be limited to housing nonprofit organizations but may in rare cases include public bodies such as public universities, must provide proof of relevant experience and resources for delivery; present evidence that their individual trainers are competent and knowledgeable on all subject areas; submit course materials for Agency review; agree to maintain attendance records, test results, and updated course materials; and bear the cost of providing the training though a reasonable tuition fee may be charged the course participants. The course content, schedule, and tuition must be approved by RHS and a designated Agency staff member will typically participate in each training session to ensure accuracy of the program information and to serve as a program resource. A list of eligible non-Agency trainers, which is subject to change based on non-Agency trainers' performance, will be published by the Agency.

(d) Confidentiality. The Agency-certified loan application packager, qualified employer, Agency-approved intermediary and their agents must safeguard each applicant's personal and financial information.

(e) Retaining designation. The Agency will meet with the Agency-certified loan application packager, their qualified employer, and Agency-approved intermediary (if applicable) at least annually to maintain open lines of communication; discuss their packaging activities; identify and resolve deficiencies in the packaging process; and stipulate any training requirements for retaining designation (including but not limited to civil rights refresher training).

(f) Revocation. The designation as an Agency-certified loan application packager or Agency-approved intermediary is subject to revocation by the Agency under any of the following conditions:

(1) The rate of submitted packaged loan applications that receive RHS approval is below the acceptable limit as determined by the Agency;

(2) The rate of submitted packaged loan applications from very low-income applicants is below the acceptable level as determined by the Agency;

(3) Violation of applicable regulations, statutes and other guidance; or

(4) No viable packaged loan applications are submitted to the Agency in any consecutive 12-month period.

Dated: March 31, 2015. Tony Hernandez, Administrator, Rural Housing Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-09958 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XV-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 8 CFR Part 214 [DHS Docket No. ICEB-2011-0005] RIN 1653-AA63 Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignment and Study by F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants AGENCY:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Homeland Security is amending its regulations under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to improve management of international student programs and increase opportunities for study by spouses and children of nonimmigrant students. This rule grants school officials more flexibility in determining the number of designated school officials to nominate for the oversight of campuses. The rule also provides greater incentive for international students to study in the United States by permitting accompanying spouses and children of academic and vocational nonimmigrant students with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status to enroll in study at an SEVP-certified school so long as any study remains less than a full course of study. F-2 and M-2 spouses and children remain prohibited, however, from engaging in a full course of study unless they apply for, and DHS approves, a change of nonimmigrant status to a nonimmigrant status authorizing such study.

DATES:

This rule is effective May 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Comments and related materials received from the public, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket ICEB-2011-0005 and are available online by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting ICEB-2011-0005 in the “Search” box, and then clicking “Search.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this final rule, call or email Katherine Westerlund, Policy Chief (Acting), Student and Exchange Visitor Program, telephone 703-603-3400, email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Regulatory History and Information

On November 21, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignment and Study by F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants in the Federal Register (78 FR 69778). We received 37 comments on the proposed rule. No public meeting was requested, and none was held. DHS is adopting the rule as proposed, with minor technical corrections.

II. Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security DOS Department of State DSO Designated school official FR Federal Register HSPD-2 Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 2 ICE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement INA Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended INS Legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service IIRIRA Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 OMB Office of Management and Budget PDSO Principal designated school official SEVIS Student and Exchange Visitor Information System SEVP Student and Exchange Visitor Program §  Section symbol U.S.C. United States Code USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USA PATRIOT Act Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 III. Basis and Purpose A. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program

DHS's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) manages and oversees significant elements of the process by which educational institutions interact with F, J and M nonimmigrants to provide information about their immigration status to the U.S. Government. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to track and monitor schools, participants and sponsors in exchange visitor programs, and F, J and M nonimmigrants, as well as their accompanying spouses and children, while they are in the United States and participating in the educational system.

ICE derives its authority to manage these programs from several sources, including:

• Section 101(a)(15)(F)(i), (M)(i) and (J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i), (M)(i), and (J), under which a foreign national may be admitted to the United States in nonimmigrant status as a student to attend an academic school or language training program (F nonimmigrant), as a student to attend a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (M nonimmigrant), or as an exchange visitor (J nonimmigrant) in an exchange program designated by the Department of State (DOS), respectively. An F or M student may enroll in a particular school only if the Secretary of Homeland Security has certified the school for the attendance of F and/or M students. See 8 U.S.C. 1372; 8 CFR 214.3.

• Section 641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Public Law 104-208, Div. C, 110 Stat. 3009-546 (codified at 8 U.S.C. 1372), which authorized the creation of a program to collect current and ongoing information provided by schools and exchange visitor programs regarding F, J or M nonimmigrants during the course of their stays in the United States, using electronic reporting technology where practicable, and which further authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to certify schools to participate in F or M student enrollment.

• Section 416(c) of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, Public Law 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (USA PATRIOT Act), as amended, which provides for the collection of alien date of entry and port of entry information for aliens whose information is collected under 8 U.S.C. 1372.

• Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 2 (HSPD-2), which, following the USA PATRIOT Act, requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct periodic, ongoing reviews of schools certified to accept F, J and/or M nonimmigrants to include checks for compliance with recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and authorizing termination of institutions that fail to comply. See 37 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs. 1570, 1571-72 (Oct. 29, 2001); and

• Section 502 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, Public Law 107-173, 116 Stat. 543 (codified at 8 U.S.C. 1762), which directed the Secretary to review the compliance with recordkeeping and reporting requirements under 8 U.S.C. 1372 and INA section 101(a)(15)(F), (J) and (M), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F), (J) and (M), of all schools 1 approved for attendance by F, J and/or M students within two years of enactment, and every two years thereafter.

1 DHS oversees compliance of schools approved for attendance by J nonimmigrants; however, section 502(b) of this the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 assigns oversight of exchange visitor sponsors to the Secretary of State.

Accordingly, and as directed by the Secretary, ICE carries out the Department's ongoing obligation to collect data from, certify, review, and recertify schools enrolling these students. The specific data collection requirements associated with these obligations are specified in part in legislation, see 8 U.S.C. 1372(c), and more comprehensively in regulations governing SEVP found at 8 CFR 214.3.

B. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

SEVP carries out its programmatic responsibilities through SEVIS, a Web-based data entry, collection and reporting system. SEVIS provides authorized users, such as DHS, DOS, other government agencies, SEVP-certified schools, and DOS-designated exchange visitor programs, access to reliable information to monitor F, J and M nonimmigrants for the duration of their authorized period of stay in the United States. As discussed in the NPRM, schools must regularly update information on their approved F, J and M nonimmigrants to enable government agencies to fulfill their oversight and investigation responsibilities, such as enabling accurate port of entry screening, assisting in the adjudication of immigration benefit applications, ensuring and verifying eligibility for the appropriate nonimmigrant status, monitoring nonimmigrant status maintenance, and, as needed, facilitating timely removal.

C. Importance of International Students to the United States

On September 16, 2011, DHS announced a “Study in the States” initiative to encourage the best and the brightest international students to study in the United States. As described in the NPRM, the initiative took various steps to enhance and improve the Nation's nonimmigrant student programs.2 This rulemaking was initiated in support of the “Study in the States” initiative and to reflect DHS's commitment to those goals. The rule improves the capability of schools enrolling F and M students to assist their students in maintaining nonimmigrant status and to provide necessary oversight on behalf of the U.S. Government. The rule also increases the attractiveness of studying in the United States for foreign students by broadening study opportunities for their spouses and improving quality of life for visiting families.

2See 78 FR 69780; see also “Study in the States,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov (last visited April 28, 2014).

D. Removing the Limit on DSO Nominations

Designated school officials (DSOs) are essential to making nonimmigrant study in the United States attractive to international students and a successful experience overall. DHS charges DSOs with the responsibility of acting as liaisons between nonimmigrant students, the schools that employ the DSOs and the U.S. Government. Significantly, DSOs are responsible for making information and documents, including academic transcripts, relating to F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant students, available to DHS for the Department to fulfill its statutory responsibilities. 8 CFR 214.3(g).

When the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 2002 established a limit of ten DSOs in order to control access to SEVIS, the INS noted that once SEVIS was fully operational, it might reconsider the numerical limits on the number of DSOs. See 67 FR 76256, 76260. Since SEVIS is now fully operational and appropriate access controls are in place, DHS has reconsidered the DSO limitation, and, with this rule, eliminates the maximum limit of DSOs in favor of a more flexible approach. The rule sets no maximum limit on the number of DSOs per campus, and instead allows school officials to nominate an appropriate number of DSOs for SEVP approval based upon the specific needs of the school.

DHS believes that concerns raised within the U.S. educational community that the current DSO limit of ten per campus is too constraining are of strong merit. While the average SEVP-certified school has fewer than three DSOs, SEVP recognizes that F and M students often cluster at schools within States that attract a large percentage of nonimmigrant student attendance. As such, schools in the three States with the greatest F and M student enrollment represent 35 percent of the overall F and M nonimmigrant enrollment in the United States.3 In schools where F and M students are heavily concentrated or where campuses are in dispersed geographic locations, the limit of ten DSOs has been problematic. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC)—an advisory committee composed of prominent university and academic association presidents, which advises the Secretary and senior DHS leadership on academic and international student issues—included in its September 20, 2012 recommendations to DHS a recommendation to increase the number of DSOs allowed per school or eliminate the current limit of ten DSOs per school. Upon review, DHS concluded that, in many circumstances, the elimination of a DSO limit may improve the capability of DSOs to meet their liaison, reporting and oversight responsibilities, as required by 8 CFR 214.3(g). Therefore, removing the limit on the number of DSOs that a school official is able to nominate for SEVP approval provides the appropriate flexibility to enhance the attractiveness of nonimmigrant study in the United States for international students and increase the program's success.

3See Student and Exchange Visitor Program, SEVIS by the Numbers (July 2014), page 15, available at https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/by-the-numbers1.pdf.

This rule does not alter SEVP's authority to approve or reject a DSO or principal designated school official (PDSO) nomination. See 8 CFR 214.3(l)(2). SEVP reviews each DSO nomination as part of the school certification process, and requires proof of the nominee's U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. SEVP further considers whether the nominee has served previously as a DSO at another SEVP-approved school and whether the individual nominee should be referred to other ICE programs for further investigation. Until the school and the nominee have been approved by SEVP, access to SEVIS is limited solely to the school official submitting the certification petition, and is restricted to entry of information about the school and the DSO nominees necessary to permit the school to initiate the Form I-17 petition process for approval. The nominee, if he or she is not the submitting school official, has no access to SEVIS while the application is pending. Any greater access to SEVIS, prior to approval, would undermine the nomination process and open the SEVIS program to possible misuse. The rule codifies this limitation. See new 8 CFR 214.3(l)(1)(iii). The rule also maintains SEVP's authority to withdraw a previous DSO or PDSO designation by a school of an individual. See 8 CFR 214.3(l)(2). Reasons for withdrawal include change in or loss of employment, as well as noncompliance with SEVP regulations. In order to withdraw for noncompliance, SEVP would make a determination of noncompliance following suspension of a DSO's SEVIS access, individually or institutionally. DHS is of the opinion that the increased flexibility afforded by this rulemaking to nominate more than ten DSOs will permit schools to better meet students' needs as well as the Department's reporting and other school certification requirements.

E. Study by F-2 and M-2 Spouses and Children

This rulemaking also amends the benefits allowable for the accompanying spouse and children (hereafter referred to as F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants) of an F-1 or M-1 student. On May 16, 2002, the former INS proposed to prohibit full-time study by F-2 and M-2 spouses and to restrict such study by F-2 and M-2 children to prevent an alien who should be properly classified as an F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant from coming to the United States as an F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant and, without adhering to other legal requirements, attending school full-time. 67 FR 34862, 34871. The INS proposed to permit avocational and recreational study for F-2 and M-2 spouses and children and, recognizing that education is one of the chief tasks of childhood, to permit F-2 and M-2 children to be enrolled full-time in elementary through secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). Id. The INS believed it unreasonable to assume that Congress would intend that a bona fide nonimmigrant student could bring his or her children to the United States but not be able to provide for their primary and secondary education. Id.; see also 67 FR 76256, 76266. The INS further proposed that if an F-2 or M-2 spouse wanted to enroll full-time in a full course of study, the F-2 or M-2 spouse should apply for and obtain a change of his or her nonimmigrant classification to that of an F-1, J-1, or M-1 nonimmigrant. 67 FR 34862, 34871.

The INS finalized these rules on December 11, 2002. 67 FR 76256 (codified at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(17)(ii)). In the final rule, the INS noted that commenters suggested the INS remove the language “avocational or recreational” from the types of study that may be permitted by F-2 and M-2 dependents, as DSOs may have difficulty determining what study is avocational or recreational and what is not. In response to the comments, the INS clarified that if a student engages in study to pursue a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature, such study may be considered as avocational or recreational. 67 FR 76266.

DHS maintains the long-standing view that an F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant who wishes to engage in a full course of study in the United States, other than elementary or secondary school study (kindergarten through twelfth grade), should apply for and obtain approval to change his or her nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(17)(ii). However, as described in the NPRM, because DHS recognizes that the United States is engaged in a global competition to attract the best and brightest international students to study in our schools, permitting access of F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants to education while in the United States would help enhance the quality of life for many of these visiting families. The existing limitations on study to F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant education potentially deter high quality F-1 and M-1 students from studying in the United States.4

4See Letter of April 13, 2011 from NAFSA: Association of International Educators to DHS General Counsel Ivan Fong, available in the federal rulemaking docket for this rulemaking at www.regulations.gov, requesting that DHS eliminate the limitation on study by F-2 spouses to only “avocational or recreational” study because the limitation “severely restricts the opportunities for F-2 dependents, such as spouses of F-1 students, to make productive use of their time in the United States.”

Accordingly, DHS is relaxing its prohibition on F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrant study by permitting F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children to engage in study in the United States at SEVP-certified schools that does not amount to a full course of study. Under this rule, F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants are permitted to enroll in less than a “full course of study,” as defined at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i)-(iv), at an SEVP-certified school and in study described in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i)-(iv).5 Regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i) currently define full course of study at an undergraduate college or university (F nonimmigrants) or at a community college or junior college (M nonimmigrants) to include lesser course loads if the student needs fewer than 12 hours to complete a degree or specific educational objective. This limited exception, which defines a course load of less than 12 hours as a full course of study, only applies to F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants and will not apply to F-2 or M-2 dependents. Accordingly, an F-2 or M-2 dependent taking less than 12 hours cannot be deemed to be engaging in a full course of study. As stated in the NPRM, over time such enrollment in less than a full course of study could lead to attainment of a degree, certificate or other credential. To maintain valid F-2 or M-2 status, however, the F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant would not be permitted at any time to enroll in a total number of credit hours that would amount to a “full course of study,” as defined by regulation.

5 As a general matter, a full course of study for an F-1 academic student in an undergraduate program is 12 credit hours per academic term. Similarly, a full course of study for an M-1 vocational student consists of 12 credit hours per academic term at a community college or junior college. For other types of academic or vocational study, the term “full course of study” is defined in terms of “clock hours” per week depending on the specific program. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(D) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i)-(iv).

In addition, the change limits F-2 and M-2 study, other than avocational or recreational study, to SEVP-certified schools, in order to make it more likely that the educational program pursued by the F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant is a bona fide program and that studies at the school are unlikely to raise national security concerns. The F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants can still participate full-time in avocational or recreational study (i.e., hobbies and recreational studies). If an F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant wants to enroll in a full course of academic study, however, he or she needs to apply for and obtain approval to change his or her nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1 or M-1. Similarly, as noted, the rule does not change existing regulations allowing full-time study by children in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

This rule does not change the recordkeeping and reporting responsibilities of DSOs with regard to F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants to DHS. DSOs at the school the F-1 or M-1 student attends retain reporting responsibility for maintaining F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant personal information in SEVIS. See 8 CFR 214.3(g)(1). In addition, to facilitate maintenance of F or M nonimmigrant status and processing of future applications for U.S. immigration benefits, F and M nonimmigrants are encouraged to retain personal copies of the information supplied for admission, visas, passports, entry, and benefit-related documents indefinitely.6 Similarly, under this rule, DHS recommends, as it did in the NPRM, that an F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant should separately maintain (i.e., obtain and retain) his or her academic records. As F and M nonimmigrants already are encouraged to keep a number of immigration-related records, the suggested additional maintenance of academic records in an already existing file of immigration records will impose minimal marginal cost. This rule does not extend F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants' access to any other nonimmigrant benefits beyond those specifically identified in regulations applicable to F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(17).

6 ICE encourages retention of these records in the Supporting Statement for SEVIS, OMB No. 1653-0038, Question 7(d). Additionally, recordkeeping by F and M nonimmigrants is encouraged in existing regulation, in particular for the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student (F-1 or M-1) Status. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(2) and 214.2(m)(2). Moreover, nonimmigrant students may wish to retain a copy of the Form I-901, Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants, as proof of payment. See generally 8 CFR 214.13(g)(3).

IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Final Rule

DHS received a total of 37 comments on the proposed rule. After reviewing all the comments, DHS is adopting the rule as proposed, with minor technical corrections. Of the 37 comments received, 27 commenters supported the proposal to remove the limit on the number of DSO nominations per campus. These commenters noted that removing this limitation would permit schools to plan their staffing requirements more efficiently across campuses. In addition, the commenters suggested that permitting an increased number of DSOs would permit schools to better serve their students and would enhance their ability to meet SEVIS reporting and oversight requirements. Two commenters, however, recommended against the proposed change because of national security concerns. Because the commenters did not elaborate on the potential concerns they believed might result, and DHS does not consider removing the limitation on the number of DSOs per campus to negatively affect national security, DHS is adopting this provision as proposed.

The majority of comments DHS received in response to the proposed rule supported the proposal to permit F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to study at SEVP-approved schools on a less than full-time basis. Many of these commenters argued that the change would enhance the quality of life of F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants and would assist the United States in attracting the “best and brightest” students to U.S. institutions. Of these commenters, four asserted that the rule change would have a positive effect on the U.S. economy, particularly with more students paying tuition and buying books and supplies. Two of the commenters also noted that the proposed change would have the benefit of enabling F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to learn English at SEVP-approved schools, thereby facilitating their adjustment to life in the United States. One commenter specifically noted appreciation that DHS clarified that an F-2 nonimmigrant could complete a degree, so long as all study at SEVP-approved schools was completed on a less than full-time basis. DHS further notes that this same clarification also applies to an M-2 nonimmigrant, again, so long as all study at SEVP-approved schools occurs on a less than full-time basis.

Four commenters suggested that the regulation change would be improved if it permitted F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to study full-time, in addition to permitting them to engage in less than a full course of study. The commenters noted that dependents of other nonimmigrant categories are permitted to study full-time, for example, the J-2 spouses of J-1 exchange visitors. DHS appreciates these comments and has considered them carefully. However, DHS is of the opinion that permitting F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in a full course of study would blur fundamental distinctions between the F-1 and F-2, and M-1 and M-2 classifications, respectively. Moreover, it would be illogical to provide greater flexibility for study by F-2 or M-2 dependants than is afforded to F-1 or M-1 principals, respectively. The INA requires F-1 and M-1 principals to pursue a full course of study. INA sections 101(a)(15)(F)(i) and (M)(i); 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i) and (M)(i). Congress intended F-1 and M-1 principals to have greater educational opportunities, not fewer, than their F-2 and M-2 dependents. In establishing the F-1 and M-1 classifications for principal nonimmigrant students separate from the F-2 and M-2 classifications for spouses and children, respectively, Congress clearly did not intend the classifications to be synonymous. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate to permit F-2 and M-2 dependents to engage in either full-time or less than full-time study, at the discretion of the individual F-2 or M-2 dependent, when such discretion is not afforded to the F-1 or M-1 principal. DHS thus has maintained the prohibition on full-time study by F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants.

With respect to the commenters' observation about J-2 dependent spouses, the purpose of the J nonimmigrant classification is fundamentally different from that of the F and M classifications. Admission in J nonimmigrant status permits engagement in multiple activities other than full-time study (e.g., to serve as researchers or professors, or performing other professional duties in the United States). The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program (J visa) “is to further the foreign policy interest of the United States by increasing the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of mutual educational and cultural exchanges.” 9 Foreign Affairs Manual 41.62 N2. Specific Exchange Visitor programs are designated by DOS, not by DHS, and their parameters are set by DOS to advance U.S. foreign policy interests. The same foreign policy interests that apply to J-1 nonimmigrants and their dependents are not implicated in the F and M nonimmigrant context. The primary purpose of the F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant classifications, in contrast with the J classification, is to permit foreign nationals to enter the United States solely to engage in full-time study. DHS believes that the best means to preserve the integrity of the F-1 and M-1 classifications, and to ensure these classifications remain the primary vehicles for full-time study, is to require a dependent in F or M status who wishes to engage in a full course of study to make such intent evident by applying for and receiving a change of status to F-1 or M-1.

One commenter advocating for full-time F-2 and M-2 study stated that the limit to less than full-time study is unnecessary, as dependent students do not pose any additional security risk because SEVIS tracks them. DHS disagrees with this commenter. The recordkeeping requirements for F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants in SEVIS are more comprehensive than they are for F-2 and M-2 dependents, which is a derivative status. Recognizing this, any full-time study in the F and M nonimmigrant classifications should occur only after receiving F-1 or M-1 status through the already existing and available process of changing status. Allowing F-2 and M-2 dependents to take a full course of study would permit their participation in full-time study without the fuller vetting and oversight required for F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants in SEVIS. DHS therefore disagrees with the commenter that dependents would pose no additional security risk if permitted to take a full course of study In addition, allowing F-2 and M-2 dependents to take a full course of study could lead to manipulation of F-1 and M-1 visas by allowing one family member who is accepted as an F-1 student to facilitate the full-time enrollment of all other dependents in their own courses of study.

Three commenters suggested that F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants be permitted to commence their full-time study as soon as they apply for a change of status to F-1 or M-1. One of these commenters also requested that DHS revise the regulations governing change of status to specify that a nonimmigrant who is granted a change of status to F-1 or M-1 must begin the full course of study no later than the next available session or term after the change of status has been approved. The commenter suggested that individuals granted a change of status to F-1 or M-1 often are concerned that they might lose their new status if they do not enroll in classes immediately, but that this may be impossible if the approval is received midway during the school term or session.

DHS continues to maintain that a foreign national who wishes to engage in a full course of study must apply for and receive a change of status to F-1 or M-1 prior to commencing a full course of study. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(B), 214.2(m)(17)(ii)(B) (2013); see also 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(A)(2), 214.2(m)(17)(ii)(A)(2), as finalized herein. Approval of the change of status application before engaging in a full course of study is necessary to maintain the integrity of data in SEVIS, as well as to ensure that appropriate distinctions exist between the F-1 and M-1 classifications and their dependent classifications. DHS declines to elaborate in this rulemaking on the issue of when a nonimmigrant granted a change of status to F-1 or M-1 must commence the full course of study. That issue is beyond the scope of the proposed rulemaking, which focused on permissible study by F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants, rather than how F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants should comply with the terms and conditions of their status.

In addition to the comments discussed above, DHS received a number of individual comments on discrete issues. These include one comment requesting that DHS consider extending the option to apply for employment authorization for F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). DHS appreciates the commenter's interest but has determined not to extend employment authorization to F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants as part of this rulemaking. The rule's changes to F-2 and M-2 opportunities are intended to increase access of F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants to education while in the United States and not to increase employment opportunities.

DHS received two comments about the number of training hours and the wage rate for DSOs used in the economic analysis of the rulemaking. The commenters asserted that the number of training hours required for DSOs is closer to a minimum of 90 hours of training in the first year, not seven hours as DHS estimated. The commenters further suggested that DSOs be categorized as professional staff, not administrative, for the purpose of calculating their wage rate.

SEVP does not currently require any specific training for DSOs; however, SEVP does require that DSOs sign a certification that they are familiar with the appropriate regulations and intend to comply with them. In addition, SEVP provides an Internet-based voluntary SEVIS training, which DSOs are strongly encouraged to complete. SEVP recognizes that many schools go above and beyond this, and commends these schools. However, other DSOs will not complete any training. Moreover, schools that increase the number of employed DSOs beyond ten as a result of this rule likely already have large offices of international student advisors that may require little to no additional training to perform DSO duties. Because the duties and initial training of DSOs varies widely among schools, with some being above the minimum suggested training by SEVP and others below, DHS believes the seven-hour training estimate is appropriate for the flexibility this rulemaking intends to provide schools.

DHS agrees with the commenters that a different wage rate is appropriate for DSOs and has amended the wage rate estimation in this final rule. DHS is supportive of DSOs and the importance of their role in serving as a link between nonimmigrant students, schools and SEVP. DHS agrees that DSOs are professionals and perform important duties. The occupation code chosen to estimate the DSO wage rate for the analysis is not meant to undermine the importance of the role of the DSO. Rather, it serves as a proxy for the basic job duties required by SEVP of DSOs. DSOs provide advice to students regarding maintenance of their nonimmigrant status and maintaining enrollment, provide information on participation in programs of study in SEVIS, authorize optional practical training, and report to SEVP if a student has violated the conditions of his or her status. Individuals approved as DSOs may also perform other job duties as an element of their employment with schools, which are outside of those required by SEVP, to enhance nonimmigrants' stays in the United States. As noted by one commenter, these duties may include responsibilities ranging from “airport pick-ups, to facilitating intercultural communications workshops.” Because schools rely on DSOs to counsel nonimmigrant students of their responsibilities and maintain their nonimmigrant status, and DHS relies on DSOs to ensure the integrity of the program, DHS has amended the category used to estimate the DSO wage rate. In this final rule, DHS revises the wage rate from BLS category 43-9199 Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other, to BLS category 21-1012 Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors. See the Executive Orders 12866 and 13563: Regulatory Planning and Review section below for this revision.

Another commenter addressed the procedures used by SEVP to adjudicate changes to DSOs. The commenter expressed concern at the pace of adjudicating requests to add or remove DSOs, and also requested that SEVP publish the criteria it uses in adjudicating changes to DSOs, as well as establish an appeals process for denials of such requests. DHS appreciates these comments, but notes that they are outside the scope of the proposed rulemaking, which focused on the more discrete issue of the regulatory limitation on the number of DSOs permitted at each campus. SEVP, however, is working to make its adjudications process more efficient in the future.

Several commenters identified areas where the rulemaking could benefit from additional clarification or the correction of possible errors. One commenter suggested that DHS clarify whether study of English as a second language (ESL) or intensive English is considered a vocational/recreational or academic study. DHS declines to define whether ESL is properly categorized as a vocational/recreational or academic study because this is outside the scope of the proposed rulemaking. Another commenter questioned whether F-2 and M-2 dependents would be permitted to take only those courses listed as part of the school's academic/certificate programs on the school's Form I-17, or whether F-2 and M-2 dependents would be able to enroll in any program. The regulation should not be interpreted to permit an F-2 or M-2 to enroll in courses in any program offered at an SEVP-certified school, but only a course of study that is SEVP-certified. The same commenter also inquired whether the proposed rule intended to permit full-time “recreational” study only at SEVP-certified schools and only in non-academic, non-accredited courses, or whether the rule would permit F-2 and M-2 dependents to enroll full-time at SEVP-certified schools in non-credit courses. The regulation does not expand opportunity for full-time study of any type for F-2 and M-2 dependents. The regulations continue to provide that F-2 and M-2 dependents may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature, up to and including on a full-time basis.

Additionally, one commenter pointed out that the language in the preamble of the proposed rulemaking at 78 FR 69781, explaining the definition of full course of study, implied incorrectly that F nonimmigrants only may enroll at colleges or universities, and not at community colleges or junior colleges. DHS appreciates this comment and agrees that a community college or junior college may appropriately enroll an F nonimmigrant.

Finally, DHS is making four technical corrections to the proposed regulatory text. One commenter noted that the proposed regulatory text at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(C) referenced paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(A)(2), whereas it should include both paragraphs (A)(1) and (A)(2). DHS agrees with the commenter that this was an error and accordingly has revised the final rule to refer to (f)(15)(ii)(A), so as to apply to both paragraphs. In the course of preparing this final rule, DHS also recognized additional areas of the proposed regulatory text where further revision was necessary for purposes of accuracy and clarity. The proposed text located at 8 CFR 214.2(m)(17)(ii)(A)(1) had omitted a reference to the courses described in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(D) as a type of course at an SEVP-certified school that an M-2 spouse or M-2 child may enroll in as less than a full course of study. With this rule, courses of study approved under both F and M study are available to both F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants. Lastly, DHS added a reference to 8 CFR 214.2(m)(14) in the new provision authorizing limited F-2 study at SEVP-certified schools to clarify that F-2 spouses and children are not eligible to engage in any type of employment or practical training during their studies; correspondingly, DHS added a reference to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)-(10) in the new provision authorizing limited M-2 study at SEVP-certified schools for the same reason.

V. Statutory and Regulatory Requirements

DHS developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. The below sections summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes or executive orders.

A. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563: Regulatory Planning and Review

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

1. Summary

The rule eliminates the limit on the number of DSOs a school may have and establishes eligibility for F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools. If a particular school does not wish to add additional DSOs, this rule imposes no additional costs on that school. Based on feedback from the SEVP-certified schools, however, DHS believes up to 88 schools may choose to take advantage of this flexibility and designate additional DSOs. These SEVP-certified schools would incur costs related to current DHS DSO documentation requirements and any training DSOs may undertake. DHS estimates the total 10-year discounted cost of allowing additional DSOs to be approximately $223,000 at a seven percent discount rate and approximately $264,000 at a three percent discount rate. Regarding the provision of the rule that establishes eligibility for less than a full course of study by F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants, DHS is once again providing additional flexibilities. As this rule does not require the F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant to submit any new documentation or fees to SEVIS or the SEVP-certified school to comply with any DHS requirements, DHS does not believe there are any costs associated with establishing eligibility for F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than full courses of study at SEVP-certified schools.

2. Designated School Officials

The only anticipated costs for SEVP-certified schools to increase the number of DSOs above the current limit of ten per school or campus derive from the existing requirement for reporting additional DSOs to DHS, and any training that new DSOs would undertake. DHS anticipates the number of schools that will avail themselves of this added flexibility will be relatively small. As of April 2012, there are 9,888 SEVP-certified schools (18,733 campuses), with approximately 30,500 total DSOs, and an average of 3.08 DSOs per school. However, there are only 88 SEVP-certified schools that currently employ the maximum number of DSOs.

DHS is unable to estimate with precision the number of additional DSOs schools may choose to add. While some of the 88 SEVP-certified schools that currently employ the maximum number of DSOs may not add any additional DSOs, others may add several additional DSOs. DHS's best estimate is that these 88 SEVP-certified schools will on average designate three additional DSOs, for a total of 264 additional DSOs.

DHS estimates that current documentation requirements, as well as training a DSO might undertake to begin his or her position, equate to approximately seven hours total in the first year. DHS does not track wages paid to DSOs; however, in response to a comment received on the NPRM, DHS is revising the wage rate used to estimate DSO wages. For this final rule, we are using the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics occupation Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors occupational code as a proxy for DSOs.7 The average wage rate for this occupation is estimated to be $27.00 per hour.8 When the costs for employee benefits such as paid leave and health insurance are included, the full cost to the employer for an hour of DSO time is estimated at $37.80.9 Therefore, the estimated burden hour cost as a result of designating 264 additional DSOs is estimated at $69,854 in the first year (7 hours × 264 DSOs × $37.80). On a per-school basis, DHS expects these SEVP-certified schools to incur an average of $794 dollars in costs in the initial year (7 hours × 3 new DSOs per school × $37.80). DHS notes that there are no recurrent annual training requirements mandated by DHS for DSOs once they have been approved as a DSO.

7 The existing Paperwork Reduction Act control number OMB No. 1653-0038 for SEVIS uses the occupation “Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other” as a proxy for DSO employment. However, DHS received comment on the NPRM that this is not the best category for the job duties or wages of a DSO, and suggesting that Counselor is more appropriate. Therefore, for this Final Rule, DHS has revised the BLS occupational code to Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors.

8 May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, National Cross-Industry Estimates, “21-1012 Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors,” Hourly Mean “H-mean,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/2012/may/oes211012.htm (last modified Mar. 29, 2013).

9 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, June 2012, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/ecec_09112012.htm (last modified Sept. 11, 2012). Calculated by dividing total private employer compensation costs of $28.80 per hour by average private sector wage and salary costs of $20.27 per hour (yields a benefits multiplier of approximately 1.4 × wages).

After the initial year, DHS expects the SEVP-certified schools that designate additional DSOs to incur costs for replacements, as these 264 new DSOs experience normal turnover. Based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we estimate an average annual turnover rate of approximately 37 percent.10 Based on our estimate of 264 additional DSOs as a result of this rulemaking, we expect these schools will designate 98 replacement DSOs annually (264 DSOs × 37 percent annual turnover) in order to maintain these 264 additional DSOs. As current training and documentation requirements are estimated at seven hours per DSO, these SEVP-certified schools would incur total additional costs of $25,931 annually (7 hours × 98 replacement DSOs × $37.80) after the initial year. On a per school basis, DHS expects these schools to incur an average of $294 dollars of recurring costs related to turnover after the initial year (7 hours × 3 new DSOs per school × 37 percent annual turnover × $37.80).

10 Job Openings and Labor Turnover—Jan. 2013 (Mar. 12, 2013), http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/jolts_03122013.pdf reported that for 2012, annual total separations were 37.1 percent of employment.

This rule addresses concerns within the U.S. education community that the current DSO limit of ten is too constraining. For example, allowing schools to request additional staff able to handle DSO responsibilities will increase flexibility in school offices and enable them to better manage their programs. This flexibility is particularly important in schools where F and M nonimmigrants are heavily concentrated or where instructional sites are in dispersed geographic locations. It will also assist schools in coping with seasonal surges in data entry requirements (e.g., start of school year reporting).

3. F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants

As of June 2012, SEVIS records indicate that there are 83,354 F-2 nonimmigrants in the United States, consisting of approximately 54 percent spouses and 46 percent children. Though both spouses and children may participate in study that is less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools under this rule, DHS assumes that spouses are more likely to avail themselves of this opportunity because most children are likely to be enrolled full-time in elementary or secondary education (kindergarten through twelfth grade). Though there may be exceptions to this assumption, for example, a child in high school taking a college course, the majority of F-2 nonimmigrants benefitting from this provision are likely to be spouses. DHS only uses this assumption to assist in estimating the number of F-2 nonimmigrants likely to benefit from this rule, which could be as high as 45,011 (83,354 × 54 percent), if 100 percent of F-2 spouses participate, but is likely to be lower as DHS does not expect that all F-2 spouses would take advantage of the opportunity. DHS does not believe there are any direct costs associated with establishing eligibility for F-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than full courses of study at SEVP-certified schools. The rule would not require the F-2 nonimmigrant to submit any new documentation or fees to SEVIS or the SEVP-certified school to comply with any DHS requirements. In the NPRM, DHS requested comment on these assumptions and estimates. No comments were received in response to this request.

As of June 2012, SEVIS records indicate that there are 578 M-2 nonimmigrants in the United States. Pursuant to this rulemaking, these M-2 spouses and children will be eligible to take advantage of the option to participate in study that is less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools. Approximately 39 percent of M-2 nonimmigrants are spouses and 61 percent are children. Again, DHS assumes that spouses would comprise the majority of M-2 nonimmigrants to benefit from this provision. This number could be as high as 225 M-2 nonimmigrants (578 × 39 percent), but is likely to be lower as DHS does not expect that all M-2 spouses would take advantage of the opportunity. Under the same procedures governing F-2 nonimmigrants, the M-2 nonimmigrants would not be required to submit any new documentation or fees to SEVIS or the SEVP-certified school to comply with any DHS requirements. In the NPRM, DHS requested comment on these assumptions and estimates. No comments were received in response to this request.

The rule provides greater incentive for international students to study in the United States by permitting accompanying spouses and children of academic and vocational nonimmigrant students in F-1 or M-1 status to enroll in study at a SEVP-certified school if not a full course of study. DHS recognizes that the United States is engaged in a global competition to attract the best and brightest international students to study in our schools. The ability of F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants to have access to education while in the United States is in many instances central to maintaining a satisfactory quality of life for these visiting families.

4. Conclusion

The rule eliminates the limit on the number of DSOs a school may have and establishes eligibility for F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools. If a particular school does not wish to add additional DSOs, this rule imposes no additional costs on that school. DHS believes up to 88 schools may choose to take advantage of this flexibility and designate additional DSOs. These SEVP-certified schools would incur costs related to current DHS DSO training and documentation requirements; DHS estimates the total 10-year discounted cost to be approximately $223,000 at a seven percent discount rate and approximately $264,000 at a three percent discount rate. DHS does not believe there are any costs associated with establishing eligibility for F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than full courses of study at SEVP-certified schools as this rule does not require the F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant to submit any new documentation or fees to SEVIS or the SEVP-certified school to comply with any DHS requirements.

The table below summarizes the total costs and benefits of the rule to allow additional DSOs at schools and permit accompanying spouses and children of nonimmigrant students of F-1 or M-1 status to enroll in study at a SEVP-certified school if not a full course of study. In the NPRM, DHS welcomed public comments that specifically addressed the nature and extent of any potential economic impacts of the proposed amendments that we may not have identified. DHS specifically requested comments in the NPRM on whether there were any additional burdens imposed on F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants related to additional record storage costs. No comments were received in response to this request.

DSOs F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants Total
  • rulemaking
  • 10-Year Cost, Discounted at 7 Percent $223,000 $0 $223,000 Total Monetized Benefits N/A N/A N/A Non-monetized Benefits Increased flexibility in school offices to enable them to better manage their programs Greater incentive for international students to study in the U.S. by permitting accompanying spouses and children of nonimmigrant students with F-1 or M-1 status to enroll in study at a SEVP-certified school if not a full course of study Net Benefits N/A N/A N/A
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. This rule eliminates the limit on the number of DSOs a school may nominate and permits F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants to engage in less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools. Although some of the schools impacted by these changes may be considered as small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6), the effect of this rule is to benefit those schools by expanding their ability to nominate DSOs and to enroll F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants for less than a full course of study.

    In the subsection above, DHS has discussed the costs and benefits of this rule. The purpose of this rule is to provide additional regulatory flexibilities, not impose costly mandates on small entities. DHS again notes that the decision by schools to avail themselves of additional DSOs or F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrants who wish to pursue less than a full course of study is an entirely voluntary one and schools will do so only if the benefits to them outweigh the potential costs. In particular, removing the limit on the number of DSOs a school may designate allows schools the flexibility to better cope with seasonal surges in data entry requirements due to start of school year reporting. Accordingly, DHS certifies this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. DHS received no comments challenging this certification.

    C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

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

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

    D. Collection of Information

    All Departments are required to submit to OMB for review and approval, any reporting or recordkeeping requirements inherent in a rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, 109 Stat. 163 (1995), 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520. This information collection is covered under the existing Paperwork Reduction Act control number OMB No. 1653-0038 for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This rule calls for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    E. Federalism

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

    F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    G. Taking of Private Property

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

    H. Civil Justice Reform

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

    I. Protection of Children

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

    J. Indian Tribal Governments

    This rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it 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.

    K. Energy Effects

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

    L. Technical Standards

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impracticable. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. This rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

    M. Environment

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Management Directive (MD) 023-01 establishes procedures that DHS and its Components use to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4375, and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing NEPA, 40 CFR parts 1500-1508. CEQ regulations allow federal agencies to establish categories of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and, therefore, do not require an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. 40 CFR 1508.4. The MD 023-01 lists the Categorical Exclusions that DHS has found to have no such effect. MD 023-01 app. A tbl.1.

    For an action to be categorically excluded, MD 023-01 requires the action to satisfy each of the following three conditions:

    (1) The entire action clearly fits within one or more of the Categorical Exclusions;

    (2) The action is not a piece of a larger action; and

    (3) No extraordinary circumstances exist that create the potential for a significant environmental effect. MD 023-01 app. A § 3.B(1)-(3).

    Where it may be unclear whether the action meets these conditions, MD 023-01 requires the administrative record to reflect consideration of these conditions. MD 023-01 app. A § 3.B.

    Here, the rule amends 8 CFR 214.2 and 214.3 relating to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program. This rule removes the regulatory cap of ten designated school officials per campus participating in the SEVP and permits certain dependents to enroll in less than a full course of study at SEVP-certified schools.

    ICE has analyzed this rule under MD 023-01. ICE has made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule clearly fits within the Categorical Exclusion found in MD 023-01, Appendix A, Table 1, number A3(d): “Promulgation of rules . . . that interpret or amend an existing regulation without changing its environmental effect.” This rule is not part of a larger action. This rule presents no extraordinary circumstances creating the potential for significant environmental effects. Therefore, this rule is categorically excluded from further NEPA review.

    List of Subjects in 8 CFR Part 214

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Cultural exchange programs, Employment, Foreign officials, Health professions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Students.

    The Amendments

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, DHS amends Chapter I of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 214—NONIMMIGRANT CLASSES 1. The authority citation for part 214 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    8 U.S.C. 1101, 1102, 1103, 1182, 1184, 1186a, 1187, 1221, 1281, 1282, 1301-1305 and 1372; sec. 643, Pub. L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009-708; Pub. L. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1477-1480; section 141 of the Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and with the Government of Palau, 48 U.S.C. 1901 note, and 1931 note, respectively; 48 U.S.C. 1806; 8 CFR part 2.

    2. In § 214.2 revise paragraphs (f)(15)(ii) and (m)(17)(ii) to read as follows:
    § 214.2 Special requirements for admission, extension, and maintenance of status.

    (f) * * *

    (15) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (ii) Study—(A) F-2 post-secondary/vocational study—(1) Authorized study at SEVP-certified schools. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child may enroll in less than a full course of study, as defined in paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) and (m)(9)(i) through (iv), in any course of study described in paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) or (m)(9)(i) through (iv) of this section at an SEVP-certified school. Notwithstanding paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(B) and (m)(9)(i) of this section, study at an undergraduate college or university or at a community college or junior college is not a full course of study solely because the F-2 nonimmigrant is engaging in a lesser course load to complete a course of study during the current term. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child enrolled in less than a full course of study is not eligible to engage in employment pursuant to paragraphs (f)(9) and (10) of this section or pursuant to paragraph (m)(14) of this section.

    (2) Full course of study. Subject to paragraphs (f)(15)(ii)(B) and (f)(18) of this section, an F-2 spouse and child may engage in a full course of study only by applying for and obtaining a change of status to F-1, M-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status, as appropriate, before beginning a full course of study. An F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature, up to and including on a full-time basis.

    (B) F-2 elementary or secondary study. An F-2 child may engage in full-time study, including any full course of study, in any elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

    (C) An F-2 spouse and child violates his or her nonimmigrant status by enrolling in any study except as provided in paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(A) or (B) of this section.

    (m) * * *

    (17) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (ii) Study—(A) M-2 post-secondary/vocational study—(1) Authorized study at SEVP-certified schools. An M-2 spouse or M-2 child may enroll in less than a full course of study, as defined in paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) or (m)(9)(i) through (v), in any course of study described in paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) or (m)(9)(i) through (v) of this section at an SEVP-certified school. Notwithstanding paragraphs (f)(6)(i)(B) and (m)(9)(i) of this section, study at an undergraduate college or university or at a community college or junior college is not a full course of study solely because the M-2 nonimmigrant is engaging in a lesser course load to complete a course of study during the current term. An M-2 spouse or M-2 child enrolled in less than a full course of study is not eligible to engage in employment pursuant to paragraph (m)(14) of this section or pursuant to paragraphs (f)(9) through (10) of this section.

    (2) Full course of study. Subject to paragraph (m)(17)(ii)(B) of this section, an M-2 spouse and child may engage in a full course of study only by applying for and obtaining a change of status to F-1, M-1, or J-1 status, as appropriate, before beginning a full course of study. An M-2 spouse and M-2 child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature, up to and including on a full-time basis.

    (B) M-2 elementary or secondary study. An M-2 child may engage in full-time study, including any full course of study, in any elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

    (C) An M-2 spouse or child violates his or her nonimmigrant status by enrolling in any study except as provided in paragraph (m)(17)(ii)(A) or (B) of this section.

    3. Revise § 214.3(l)(1)(iii) to read as follows:
    § 214.3 Approval of schools for enrollment of F and M nonimmigrants.

    (l) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (iii) School officials may nominate as many DSOs in addition to PDSOs as they determine necessary to adequately provide recommendations to F and/or M students enrolled at the school regarding maintenance of nonimmigrant status and to support timely and complete recordkeeping and reporting to DHS, as required by this section. School officials must not permit a DSO or PDSO nominee access to SEVIS until DHS approves the nomination.

    Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09959 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-28-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 10 CFR Part 1047 RIN 1994-AA03 Authority of DOE Protective Force Officers That Are Federal Employees To Make Arrests Without a Warrant for Certain Crimes AGENCY:

    National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Section 161 k. of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended, empowers the Secretary of Energy (“the Secretary”) to authorize designated U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employees and contractors to make an arrest without a warrant for certain crimes. Specifically, the Secretary may authorize the arrest of any individual who has committed a federal crime in the presence of a DOE protective force officer regarding the property of the United States in the custody of DOE or DOE contractors. The Secretary may also authorize the arrest of any individual who is reasonably believed to have committed or to be committing a felony regarding the property of the United States in the custody of DOE or DOE contractors. Pursuant to this authority, DOE adds misdemeanor and felony violations of Assaulting a Federal Officer to the enumerated criminal violations for which DOE protective force officers that are federal employees may execute an arrest without a warrant, as set forth in DOE regulations.

    DATES:

    The rule is effective on April 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Bruce Diamond, U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Mail Stop NNSA, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0103. Telephone: (202) 586-3700.

    Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Contents I. Background and Authority II. Synopsis of the Rule III. Regulatory Procedures, Justification for Final Rule Administrative Procedure Act Review Under Executive Order 12866 Review Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act Review Under the Paperwork Reduction Act Review Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 Review Under Executive Order 13132 Review Under Executive Order 12988 Review Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999 Review Under Executive Order 12630 Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 Review Under Executive Order 13211 Congressional Notification IV. Approval of the Office of the Secretary I. Background and Authority

    Section 161 k. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (AEA), as amended by Pub. L. 105-394 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 2201(k)), empowers the Secretary of Energy (“the Secretary”) to authorize designated members, officer, employees, contractors, and subcontractors of the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry firearms while discharging their official duties. Section 161 k. further provides that the Secretary may authorize these designated officials to make an arrest without a warrant for any federal crime regarding the property of the United States in the custody of DOE or a DOE contractor and for any federal felony regarding the property of the United States in the custody of DOE or a DOE contractor that a designated official reasonably believes is being or has been committed. Lastly, section 161 k. authorizes the Secretary to issue guidelines, with the approval of the Attorney General, to implement this authority.

    The Secretary has previously exercised this authority to sanction arrests without warrants for certain federal crimes through the regulation at 10 CFR 1047.4. This section enumerates the federal crimes for which a DOE protective force officer may execute a warrantless arrest. These crimes are incorporated by reference to the appropriate section of the United States Code. Consistent with section 161 k. of the AEA, however, 10 CFR 1047.4 makes clear that such authority is limited to the included crimes and may only be exercised “if the property of the United States which is in the custody of the DOE or its contractors is involved.” Additionally, 10 CFR 1047.4(b) and 10 CFR 1047.4(c) set forth the necessary facts to effectuate a valid warrantless arrest for a felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. 10 CFR 1047.4(b) states that an arrest may be executed on the basis of an enumerated felony either if it is committed in the presence of a DOE protective force officer or if a DOE protective force officer reasonably believes that a felony has been or is being committed. In contrast, 10 CFR 1047.4(c) states that an arrest may only be executed on the basis of an enumerated misdemeanor if it occurs in the presence of a DOE protective force officer.

    II. Synopsis of the Rule

    With this rule, DOE is establishing a new subsection within 10 CFR 1047.4(a)(1) to add 18 U.S.C. 111 (“Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees”) to the list of enumerated federal crimes for which DOE protective force officers that are federal employees 1 may execute a warrantless arrest. In relevant part, this statute criminalizes the activity of anyone who “forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties.” 18 U.S.C. 111. As defined in 18 U.S.C. 1114, section 111 applies to actions taken against “any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch in the United States Government (including any member of the uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the performance of such duties or on account of that assistance.” Specifically, DOE is adding reference to felony and misdemeanor violations of 18 U.S.C. 111 at 10 CFR 1047(a)(1)(iii). To retain consistency, DOE is also amending 10 CFR 1047.4(b) and 10 CFR 1047.4(c) to incorporate the newly added 10 CFR 1047(a)(1)(iii).

    1 All of the crimes currently listed in 10 CFR 1047.4(a) (1) may serve as the basis for an arrest by any DOE protective force officer, including those who are non-federal, contract employees.

    DOE believes that this change is necessary to ensure that DOE protective force officers that are federal employees may effectively protect United States property in the custody of DOE and DOE contractors. Authorizing DOE protective force officers that are federal employees to arrest individuals who impede the official duties of DOE protective force personnel allows them to immediately neutralize any individual who poses an existing and ongoing threat to both the integrity of the property of the United States and the ability of DOE to retain custody of such property.

    The 18 U.S.C. 111 statute is similar in nature to many of the crimes for which the Secretary has previously delegated arrest authority by reference in 10 CFR 1047.4(a), including civil disorder, 18 U.S.C. 231, conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. 371, damage to or destruction of government property, 18 U.S.C. 2112, destruction of motor vehicles, 18 U.S.C. 33, unlawful use of explosives, 18 U.S.C. 844(f), and sabotage, 18 U.S.C. 2151, 2153-2156. See 50 FR 30926 (July 31, 1985).

    III. Regulatory Procedures, Justification for Final Rule. Administrative Procedure Act

    Pursuant to authority at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), DOE finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and an opportunity for public comment for this rulemaking as such procedures would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. DOE believes that this change is necessary to ensure that Federal Agents may effectively protect ongoing shipments of nuclear weapons, nuclear components and special nuclear materials in the custody of DOE. Authorizing DOE protective force officers to detain or arrest individuals who impede the official duties of DOE protective force personnel allows them to act quickly to disrupt situations that pose an existing and ongoing threat to both the integrity of the property of the United States and the ability of DOE to retain custody of such property. The extraordinary sensitivity of the cargo in the custody of DOE warrants immediate action to reduce the risks to DOE Federal Agents' ability to carry out their protective function.

    For the same reason, DOE finds good cause pursuant to authority at 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to waive the requirement that this rule be delayed in effective date 30 days after the date of publication. As such, this rule will be effective April 29, 2015.

    Review Under Executive Order 12866

    This rulemaking is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f)(1) of Executive Order 12866 and the principles reaffirmed in Executive Order 13563 because it will not have an economic impact of $100 million, it does not create a serious inconsistency with other agency actions, will not materially impact any budget, and does not raise novel legal or policy issues. Accordingly, today's action was not subject to review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    Review Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis for any rule that by law must be proposed for public comment, unless the agency certifies that the rule, if promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As required by Executive Order 13272, “Proper Consideration of Small Entities in Agency Rulemaking,” 67 FR 53461 (August 16, 2002), DOE published procedures and policies on February 19, 2003, to ensure that the potential impacts of its rules on small entities are properly considered during the rulemaking process. 68 FR 7990. DOE has made its procedures and policies available on the Office of the General Counsel's Web site (http://energy.gov/gc/office-general-counsel).

    Because this rule is not subject to the requirement that the agency provide prior notice and an opportunity for public comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act are inapplicable to this rulemaking. DOE notes that this final rule would empower DOE protective force officers that are federal employees to arrest individuals who violate 18 U.S.C. 111 when such a violation involves the property of the United States in the custody of DOE or a DOE contractor. This rule is a matter of law enforcement procedure and does not impose any requirement on any small entities.

    Review Under the Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rulemaking imposes no new information or record keeping requirements. Accordingly, Office of Management and Budget clearance is not required under the Paperwork Reduction Act. 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Review Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969

    Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, DOE has determined that this rule is covered under the Categorical Exclusion found in DOE's National Environmental Policy Act regulations at paragraph A.5 of Appendix A to Subpart D, 10 CFR part 1021, which applies to rulemakings “amending an existing rule or regulation that does not change the environmental effect of the rule or regulation being amending.” The arrest authority of DOE protective force officers has no significant impact on the environment. Therefore, DOE does not need to prepare an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement for this rule.

    Review Under Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132, “Federalism,” 64 FR 43255 (Aug. 10, 1999), imposes certain requirements on Federal agencies formulating and implementing policies or regulations that preempt State law or that have Federalism implications. The Executive Order requires agencies to examine the constitutional and statutory authority supporting any action that would limit the policymaking discretion of the States and to carefully assess the necessity for such actions. The Executive Order also requires agencies to have a process of accountability to ensure meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have Federalism implications. This publication is intended to put both States and the general public on notice of this final rule.

    Review Under Executive Order 12988

    With respect to the review of existing regulations and the promulgation of new regulations, section 3(a) of Executive Order 12988, “Civil Justice Reform,” imposes on Federal agencies the general duty to adhere to the following requirements: (1) eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity; (2) write regulations to minimize litigation; and (3) provide a clear legal standard for affected conduct rather than a general standard and promote simplification and burden reduction. 61 FR 4729 (Feb. 7, 1996). Section 3(b) of Executive Order 12988 specifically requires that Executive agencies make every reasonable effort to ensure that the regulation: (1) Clearly specifies the preemptive effect, if any; (2) clearly specifies any effect on existing Federal law or regulation; (3) provides a clear legal standard for affected conduct while promoting simplification and burden reduction; (4) specifies the retroactive effect, if any; (5) adequately defines key terms; and (6) addresses other important issues affecting clarity and general draftsmanship under any guidelines issued by the Attorney General. Section 3(c) of Executive Order 12988 requires Executive agencies to review regulations in light of applicable standards in section 3(a) and section 3(b) to determine whether they are met or it is unreasonable to meet one or more of them. DOE has completed the required review and determined that, to the extent permitted by law; this final rule meets the relevant standards of Executive Order 12988.

    Review Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) requires each Federal agency to assess the effects of Federal regulatory actions on State, local, and Tribal governments and the private sector. Pub. L. 104-4, sec. 201 (codified at 2 U.S.C. 1531). For a proposed regulatory action likely to result in a rule that may cause the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any one year (adjusted annually for inflation), section 202 of UMRA requires a Federal agency to publish a written statement that estimates the resulting costs, benefits, and other effects on the national economy. 2 U.S.C. 1532(a), (b). The UMRA also requires a Federal agency to develop an effective process to permit timely input by elected officers of State, local, and Tribal governments on a “significant intergovernmental mandate,” and requires an agency plan for giving notice and opportunity for timely input to potentially affected small governments before establishing any requirements that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments. On March 18, 1997, DOE published a statement of policy on its process for intergovernmental consultation under UMRA. 62 FR 12820 (Mar. 18, 1997). DOE's policy statement is also available at http://energy.gov/gc/office-general-counsel. This final rule contains neither an intergovernmental mandate nor a mandate that may result in the expenditure of $100 million or more in any year, so the UMRA does not apply.

    Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999

    Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999 (Pub. L. 105-277) requires Federal agencies to issue a Family Policymaking Assessment for any rule that may affect family well-being. This rule would not have any impact on the autonomy or integrity of the family as an institution. Accordingly, DOE has concluded that it is not necessary to prepare a Family Policymaking Assessment.

    Review Under Executive Order 12630

    DOE has determined, under Executive Order 12630, “Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights,” 53 FR 8859 (March 18, 1988), that this regulation would not result in any takings that might require compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Review Under the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001

    Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516, note) provides for Federal agencies to review most disseminations of information to the public under guidelines established by each agency pursuant to general guidelines issued by OMB. OMB's guidelines were published at 67 FR 8452 (Feb. 22, 2002), and DOE's guidelines were published at 67 FR 62446 (Oct. 7, 2002). DOE has reviewed today's final rule under the OMB and DOE guidelines and has concluded that it is consistent with applicable policies in those guidelines.

    Review Under Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” 66 FR 28355 (May 22, 2001), requires Federal agencies to prepare and submit to OIRA at OMB, a Statement of Energy Effects for any significant energy action. A “significant energy action” is defined as any action by an agency that promulgates or is expected to lead to promulgation of a final rule, and that: (1) Is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, or any successor order; and (2) is likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy, or (3) is designated by the Administrator of OIRA as a significant energy action. For any significant energy action, an agency must give a detailed statement of any adverse effects on energy supply, distribution, or use should the proposal be implemented, and of reasonable alternatives to the action and their expected benefits on energy supply, distribution, and use.

    DOE has concluded that this regulatory action is not a significant energy action because it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy, nor has it been designated as such by the Administrator at OIRA. Accordingly, DOE has not prepared a Statement of Energy Effects on the final rule.

    Congressional Notification

    As required by 5 U.S.C. 801, DOE will report to Congress on the promulgation of this rule prior to its effective date. The report will state that it has been determined that the rule is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    IV. Approval of the Office of the Secretary

    The Office of the Secretary of Energy has approved the issuance of this final rule.

    List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 1047

    Government contracts, Law enforcement, Nuclear energy.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. Ernest J. Moniz, Secretary.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, DOE is amending part 1047 of chapter X of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to read as set forth below:

    PART 1047—LIMITED ARREST AUTHORITY AND USE OF FORCE BY PROTECTIVE FORCE OFFICERS 1. The authority citation for part 1047 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Sec. 2201, Pub. L. 83-703, 68 Stat. 919 (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.); Department of Energy Organization Act, Pub. L. 95-91, 91 Stat. 565 (42 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.).

    2. Section 1047.4 is amended by: a. Adding paragraph (a)(1)(iii); and b. Revising paragraphs (b) and (c).

    The addition and revisions read as follows:

    § 1047.4 Arrest authority.

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (iii) Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees—18 U.S.C. 111. Both the felony and misdemeanor level offenses may only be enforced by protective force officers that are federal employees.

    (b) Felony Arrests. A protective force officer is authorized to make an arrest for any felony listed in paragraph (a)(1)(i) or (a)(2)(i) of this section if the offense is committed in the presence of the protective force officer or if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that the individual to be arrested has committed or is committing the felony.

    (c) Misdemeanor Arrest. A protective force officer is authorized to make an arrest for any misdemeanor listed in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) or (a)(2)(ii) of this section if the offense is committed in the presence of the protective force officer.

    [FR Doc. 2015-10042 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION 12 CFR Part 346 RIN 3064-AE09 Transferred OTS Regulations and Regulations Regarding Disclosure and Reporting of CRA-Related Agreements AGENCY:

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correcting amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) published a final rule in the Federal Register on July 21, 2014 (79 FR 42183), regarding Transferred OTS Regulations Regarding Disclosure and Reporting of CRA-Related Agreements. This publication corrects a typographical error which caused the unintended deletion of §§ 346.2 through 346.10.

    DATES:

    The correction is effective April 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Patience Singleton, Senior Policy Analyst, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, (202) 898-6859; Jennifer Maree, Counsel, Legal Division, (202) 898-6543; Richard M. Schwartz, Counsel, Legal Division, (202) 898-7424.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) is correcting a typographical error in the final rule that published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2014 (79 FR 42183), which caused the unintended deletion of §§ 346.2 through 346.10.

    List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 346

    Banks and banking, Disclosure and reporting of CRA-related agreements, Savings associations.

    Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation corrects 12 CFR chapter III by revising part 346 as set forth below:

    PART 346—DISCLOSURE AND REPORTING OF CRA-RELATED AGREEMENTS Sec. 346.1 Purpose and scope of this part. 346.2 Definition of covered agreement. 346.3 CRA communications. 346.4 Fulfillment of the CRA. 346.5 Related agreements considered a single agreement. 346.6 Disclosure of covered agreements. 346.7 Annual reports. 346.8 Release of information under FOIA. 346.9 Compliance provisions. 346.10 Transition provisions. 346.11 Other definitions and rules of construction used in this part. Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 1831y.

    PART 346—DISCLOSURE AND REPORTING OF CRA-RELATED AGREEMENTS
    § 346.1 Purpose and scope of this part.

    (a) General. This part implements section 711 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (12 U.S.C. 1831y). That section requires any nongovernmental entity or person, insured depository institution, or affiliate of an insured depository institution that enters into a covered agreement to—

    (1) Make the covered agreement available to the public and the appropriate Federal banking agency; and

    (2) File an annual report with the appropriate Federal banking agency concerning the covered agreement.

    (b) Scope of this part. The provisions of this part apply to—

    (1) State nonmember insured banks;

    (2) Subsidiaries of state nonmember insured banks;

    (3) Nongovernmental entities or persons that enter into covered agreements with any company listed in paragraphs (b)(1), (2), (4) and (5) of this section.

    (4) State savings associations; and

    (5) Subsidiaries of State savings associations.

    (c) Relation to Community Reinvestment Act. This part does not affect in any way the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (12 U.S.C. 2901 et seq.) or the FDIC's Community Reinvestment regulation found at 12 CFR part 345, or the FDIC's interpretations or administration of that Act or regulation.

    (d) Examples. (1) The examples in this part are not exclusive. Compliance with an example, to the extent applicable, constitutes compliance with this part.

    (2) Examples in a paragraph illustrate only the issue described in the paragraph and do not illustrate any other issues that may arise in this part.

    § 346.2 Definition of covered agreement.

    (a) General definition of covered agreement. A covered agreement is any contract, arrangement, or understanding that meets all of the following criteria—

    (1) The agreement is in writing.

    (2) The parties to the agreement include—

    (i) One or more insured depository institutions or affiliates of an insured depository institution; and

    (ii) One or more nongovernmental entities or persons (referred to hereafter as NGEPs).

    (3) The agreement provides for the insured depository institution or any affiliate to—

    (i) Provide to one or more individuals or entities (whether or not parties to the agreement) cash payments, grants, or other consideration (except loans) that have an aggregate value of more than $10,000 in any calendar year; or

    (ii) Make to one or more individuals or entities (whether or not parties to the agreement) loans that have an aggregate principal amount of more than $50,000 in any calendar year.

    (4) The agreement is made pursuant to, or in connection with, the fulfillment of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (12 U.S.C. 2901 et seq.) (CRA), as defined in§ 346.4.

    (5) The agreement is with a NGEP that has had a CRA communication as described in § 346.3 prior to entering into the agreement.

    (b) Examples concerning written arrangements or understandings

    (1) Example 1.

    A NGEP meets with an insured depository institution and states that the institution needs to make more community development investments in the NGEP's community. The NGEP and insured depository institution do not reach an agreement concerning the community development investments the institution should make in the community, and the parties do not reach any mutual arrangement or understanding. Two weeks later, the institution unilaterally issues a press release announcing that it has established a general goal of making $100 million of community development grants in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods served by the insured depository institution over the next 5 years. The NGEP is not identified in the press release. The press release is not a written arrangement or understanding.

    (2) Example 2.

    A NGEP meets with an insured depository institution and states that the institution needs to offer new loan programs in the NGEP's community. The NGEP and the insured depository institution reach a mutual arrangement or understanding that the institution will provide additional loans in the NGEP's community. The institution tells the NGEP that it will issue a press release announcing the program. Later, the insured depository institution issues a press release announcing the loan program. The press release incorporates the key terms of the understanding reached between the NGEP and the insured depository institution. The written press release reflects the mutual arrangement or understanding of the NGEP and the insured depository institution and is, therefore, a written arrangement or understanding.

    (3) Example 3.

    An NGEP sends a letter to an insured depository institution requesting that the institution provide a $15,000 grant to the NGEP. The insured depository institution responds in writing and agrees to provide the grant in connection with its annual grant program. The exchange of letters constitutes a written arrangement or understanding.

    (c) Loan agreements that are not covered agreements. A covered agreement does not include—

    (1) Any individual loan that is secured by real estate; or

    (2) Any specific contract or commitment for a loan or extension of credit to an individual, business, farm, or other entity, or group of such individuals or entities if—

    (i) The funds are loaned at rates that are not substantially below market rates; and

    (ii) The loan application or other loan documentation does not indicate that the borrower intends or is authorized to use the borrowed funds to make a loan or extension of credit to one or more third parties.

    (d) Examples concerning loan agreements

    (1) Example 1.

    An insured depository institution provides an organization with a $1 million loan that is documented in writing and is secured by real estate owned or to-be-acquired by the organization. The agreement is an individual mortgage loan and is exempt from coverage under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, regardless of the interest rate on the loan or whether the organization intends or is authorized to re-loan the funds to a third party.

    (2) Example 2.

    An insured depository institution commits to provide a $500,000 line of credit to a small business that is documented by a written agreement. The loan is made at rates that are within the range of rates offered by the institution to similarly situated small businesses in the market and the loan documentation does not indicate that the small business intends or is authorized to re-lend the borrowed funds. The agreement is exempt from coverage under paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

    (3) Example 3.

    An insured depository institution offers small business loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). A small business obtains a $75,000 loan, documented in writing, from the institution under the institution's SBA loan program. The loan documentation does not indicate that the borrower intends or is authorized to re-lend the funds. Although the rate charged on the loan is well below that charged by the institution on commercial loans, the rate is within the range of rates that the institution would charge a similarly situated small business for a similar loan under the SBA loan program. Accordingly, the loan is not made at substantially below market rates and is exempt from coverage under paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

    (4) Example 4.

    A bank holding company enters into a written agreement with a community development organization that provides that insured depository institutions owned by the bank holding company will make $250 million in small business loans in the community over the next 5 years. The written agreement is not a specific contract or commitment for a loan or an extension of credit and, thus, is not exempt from coverage under paragraph (c)(2) of this section: Each small business loan made by the insured depository institution pursuant to this general commitment would, however, be exempt from coverage if the loan is made at rates that are not substantially below market rates and the loan documentation does not indicate that the borrower intended or was authorized to re-lend the funds.

    (e) Agreements that include exempt loan agreements. If an agreement includes a loan, extension of credit or loan commitment that, if documented separately, would be exempt under paragraph (c) of this section, the exempt loan, extension of credit or loan commitment may be excluded for purposes of determining whether the agreement is a covered agreement.

    (f) Determining annual value of agreements that lack schedule of disbursements. For purposes of paragraph (a)(3) of this section, a multi-year agreement that does not include a schedule for the disbursement of payments, grants, loans or other consideration by the insured depository institution or affiliate, is considered to have a value in the first year of the agreement equal to all payments, grants, loans and other consideration to be provided at any time under the agreement.

    § 346.3 CRA communications.

    (a) Definition of CRA communication. A CRA communication is any of the following—

    (1) Any written or oral comment or testimony provided to a Federal banking agency concerning the adequacy of the performance under the CRA of the insured depository institution, any affiliated insured depository institution, or any CRA affiliate.

    (2) Any written comment submitted to the insured depository institution that discusses the adequacy of the performance under the CRA of the institution and must be included in the institution's CRA public file.

    (3) Any discussion or other contact with the insured depository institution or any affiliate about—

    (i) Providing (or refraining from providing) written or oral comments or testimony to any Federal banking agency concerning the adequacy of the performance under the CRA of the insured depository institution, any affiliated insured depository institution, or any CRA affiliate;

    (ii) Providing (or refraining from providing) written comments to the insured depository institution that concern the adequacy of the institution's performance under the CRA and must be included in the institution's CRA public file; or

    (iii) The adequacy of the performance under the CRA of the insured depository institution, any affiliated insured depository institution, or any CRA affiliate.

    (b) Discussions or contacts that are not CRA communications—(1) Timing of contacts with a Federal banking agency. An oral or written communication with a Federal banking agency is not a CRA communication if it occurred more than 3 years before the parties entered into the agreement.

    (2) Timing of contacts with insured depository institutions and affiliates. A communication with an insured depository institution or affiliate is not a CRA communication if the communication occurred—

    (i) More than 3 years before the parties entered into the agreement, in the case of any written communication;

    (ii) More than 3 years before the parties entered into the agreement, in the case of any oral communication in which the NGEP discusses providing (or refraining from providing) comments or testimony to a Federal banking agency or written comments that must be included in the institution's CRA public file in connection with a request to, or agreement by, the institution or affiliate to take (or refrain from taking) any action that is in fulfillment of the CRA; or

    (iii) More than 1 year before the parties entered into the agreement, in the case of any other oral communication not described in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section.

    (3) Knowledge of communication by insured depository institution or affiliate—(i) A communication is only a CRA communication under paragraph (a) of this section if the insured depository institution or its affiliate has knowledge of the communication under this paragraph (b)(3)(ii) or (iii) of this section.

    (ii) Communication with insured depository institution or affiliate. An insured depository institution or affiliate has knowledge of a communication by the NGEP to the institution or its affiliate under this paragraph only if one of the following representatives of the insured depository institution or any affiliate has knowledge of the communication—

    (A) An employee who approves, directs, authorizes, or negotiates the agreement with the NGEP; or

    (B) An employee designated with responsibility for compliance with the CRA or executive officer if the employee or executive officer knows that the institution or affiliate is negotiating, intends to negotiate, or has been informed by the NGEP that it expects to request that the institution or affiliate negotiate an agreement with the NGEP.

    (iii) Other communications. An insured depository institution or affiliate is deemed to have knowledge of—

    (A) Any testimony provided to a Federal banking agency at a public meeting or hearing;

    (B) Any comment submitted to a Federal banking agency that is conveyed in writing by the agency to the insured depository institution or affiliate; and

    (C) Any written comment submitted to the insured depository institution that must be and is included in the institution's CRA public file.

    (4) Communication where NGEP has knowledge. A NGEP has a CRA communication with an insured depository institution or affiliate only if any of the following individuals has knowledge of the communication—

    (i) A director, employee, or member of the NGEP who approves, directs, authorizes, or negotiates the agreement with the insured depository institution or affiliate;

    (ii) A person who functions as an executive officer of the NGEP and who knows that the NGEP is negotiating or intends to negotiate an agreement with the insured depository institution or affiliate; or

    (iii) Where the NGEP is an individual, the NGEP.

    (c) Examples of CRA communications—(1) Examples of actions that are CRA communications. The following are examples of CRA communications. These examples are not exclusive and assume that the communication occurs within the relevant time period as described in paragraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section and the appropriate representatives have knowledge of the communication as specified in paragraphs (b)(3) and (4) of this section.

    (i) Example 1.

    A NGEP files a written comment with a Federal banking agency that states than an insured depository institution successfully addresses the credit needs of its community. The written comment is in response to a general request from the agency for comments on an application of the insured depository institution to open a new branch and a copy of the comment is provided to the institution.

    (ii) Examples 2.

    A NGEP meets with an executive officer of an insured depository institution and states that the institution must improve its CRA performance.

    (iii) Example 3.

    A NGEP meets with an executive officer of an insured depository institution and states that the institution needs to make more mortgage loans in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in its community.

    (iv) Example 4.

    A bank holding company files an application with a Federal banking agency to acquire an insured depository institution. Two weeks later, the NGEP meets with an executive officer of the bank holding company to discuss the adequacy of the performance under the CRA of the target insured depository institution. The insured depository institution was an affiliate of the bank holding company at the time the NGEP met with the target institution. (See § 346.11(a).) Accordingly, the NGEP had a CRA communication with an affiliate of the bank holding company.

    (2) Examples of actions that are not CRA communications. The following are examples of actions that are not by themselves CRA communications. These examples are not exclusive.

    (i) Example 1.

    A NGEP provides to a Federal banking agency comments or testimony concerning an insured depository institution or affiliate in response to a direct request by the agency for comments or testimony from that NGEP. Direct requests for comments or testimony do not include a general invitation by a Federal banking agency for comments or testimony from the public in connection with a CRA performance evaluation of, or application for a deposit facility (as defined in section 803 of the CRA (12 U.S.C. 2902(3)) by, an insured depository institution or an application by a company to acquire an insured depository institution.

    (ii) Example 2.

    A NGEP makes a statement concerning an insured depository institution or affiliate at a widely attended conference or seminar regarding a general topic. A public or private meeting, public hearing, or other meeting regarding one or more specific institutions, affiliates or transactions involving an application for a deposit facility is not considered a widely attended conference or seminar.

    (iii) Example 3.

    A NGEP, such as a civil rights group, community group providing housing and other services in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, veterans organization, community theater group, or youth organization, sends a fundraising letter to insured depository institutions and to other businesses in its community. The letter encourages all businesses in the community to meet their obligation to assist in making the local community a better place to live and work by supporting the fundraising efforts of the NGEP.

    (iv) Example 4.

    A NGEP discusses with an insured depository institution or affiliate whether particular loans, services, investments, community development activities, or other activities are generally eligible for consideration by a Federal banking agency under the CRA. The NGEP and insured depository institution or affiliate do not discuss the adequacy of the CRA performance of the insured depository institution or affiliate.

    (v) Example 5.

    A NGEP engaged in the sale or purchase of loans in the secondary market sends a general offering circular to financial institutions offering to sell or purchase a portfolio of loans. An insured depository institution that receives the offering circular discusses with the NGEP the types of loans included in the loan pool, whether such loans are generally eligible for consideration under the CRA, and which loans are made to borrowers in the institution's local community. The NGEP and insured depository institution do not discuss the adequacy of the institution's CRA performance.

    (d) Multiparty covered agreements. (1) A NGEP that is a party to a covered agreement that involves multiple NGEPs is not required to comply with the requirements of this part if—

    (i) The NGEP has not had a CRA communication; and

    (ii) No representative of the NGEP identified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section has knowledge at the time of the agreement that another NGEP that is a party to the agreement has had a CRA communication.

    (2) An insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to a covered agreement that involves multiple insured depository institutions or affiliates is not required to comply with the disclosure and annual reporting requirements in §§ 346.6 and 346.7 if—

    (i) No NGEP that is a party to the agreement has had a CRA communication concerning the insured depository institution or any affiliate; and

    (ii) No representative of the insured depository institution or any affiliate identified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section has knowledge at the time of the agreement that an NGEP that is a party to the agreement has had a CRA communication concerning any other insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to the agreement.

    § 346.4 Fulfillment of the CRA.

    (a) List of factors that are in fulfillment of the CRA. Fulfillment of the CRA, for purposes of this part, means the following list of factors—

    (1) Comments to a Federal banking agency or included in CRA public file. Providing or refraining from providing written or oral comments or testimony to any Federal banking agency concerning the performance under the CRA of an insured depository institution or CRA affiliate that is a party to the agreement or an affiliate of a party to the agreement or written comments that are required to be included in the CRA public file of any such insured depository institution; or

    (2) Activities given favorable CRA consideration. Performing any of the following activities if the activity is of the type that is likely to receive favorable consideration by a Federal banking agency in evaluating the performance under the CRA of the insured depository institution that is a party to the agreement or an affiliate of a party to the agreement—

    (i) Home-purchase, home-improvement, small business, small farm, community development, and consumer lending, as described in 12 CFR 345.22, including loan purchases, loan commitments, and letters of credit;

    (ii) Making investments, deposits, or grants, or acquiring membership shares, that have as their primary purpose community development, as described in 12 CFR 345.23;

    (iii) Delivering retail banking services as described in 12 CFR 345.24(d);

    (iv) Providing community development services, as described in 12 CFR 345.24(e);

    (v) In the case of a wholesale or limited-purpose insured depository institution, community development lending, including originating and purchasing loans and making loan commitments and letters of credit, making qualified investments, or providing community development services, as described in 12 CFR 345.25(c);

    (vi) In the case of a small insured depository institution, any lending or other activity described in 12 CFR 345.26(a); or

    (vii) In the case of an insured depository institution that is evaluated on the basis of a strategic plan, any element of the strategic plan, as described in 12 CFR 345.27(f).

    (b) Agreements relating to activities of CRA affiliates. An insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to a covered agreement that concerns any activity described in paragraph (a) of this section of a CRA affiliate must, prior to the time the agreement is entered into, notify each NGEP that is a party to the agreement that the agreement concerns a CRA affiliate.

    § 346.5 Related agreements considered a single agreement.

    The following rules must be applied in determining whether an agreement is a covered agreement under § 346.2.

    (a) Agreements entered into by same parties. All written agreements to which an insured depository institution or an affiliate of the insured depository institution is a party shall be considered to be a single agreement if the agreements—

    (1) Are entered into with the same NGEP;

    (2) Were entered into within the same 12-month period; and

    (3) Are each in fulfillment of the CRA.

    (b) Substantively related contracts. All written contracts to which an insured depository institution or an affiliate of the insured depository institution is a party shall be considered to be a single agreement, without regard to whether the other parties to the contracts are the same or whether each such contract is in fulfillment of the CRA, if the contracts were negotiated in a coordinated fashion and a NGEP is a party to each contract.

    § 346.6 Disclosure of covered agreements.

    (a) Applicability date. This section applies only to covered agreements entered into after November 12, 1999.

    (b) Disclosure of covered agreements to the public—(1) Disclosure required. Each NGEP and each insured depository institution or affiliate that enters into a covered agreement must promptly make a copy of the covered agreement available to any individual or entity upon request.

    (2) Nondisclosure of confidential and proprietary information permitted. In responding to a request for a covered agreement from any individual or entity under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a NGEP, insured depository institution, or affiliate may withhold from public disclosure confidential or proprietary information that the party believes the relevant supervisory agency could withhold from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552 et seq.) (FOIA).

    (3) Information that must be disclosed. Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a party must disclose any of the following information that is contained in a covered agreement—

    (i) The names and addresses of the parties to the agreement;

    (ii) The amount of any payments, fees, loans, or other consideration to be made or provided by any party to the agreement;

    (iii) Any description of how the funds or other resources provided under the agreement are to be used;

    (iv) The term of the agreement (if the agreement establishes a term); and

    (v) Any other information that the relevant supervisory agency determines is not properly exempt from public disclosure.

    (4) Request for review of withheld information. Any individual or entity may request that the relevant supervisory agency review whether any information in a covered agreement withheld by a party must be disclosed. Any requests for agency review of withheld information must be filed, and will be processed in accordance with, the relevant supervisory agency's rules concerning the availability of information (see the FDIC's rules regarding Disclosure of Information (12 CFR part 309)).

    (5) Duration of obligation. The obligation to disclose a covered agreement to the public terminates 12 months after the end of the term of the agreement.

    (6) Reasonable copy and mailing fees. Each NGEP and each insured depository institution or affiliate may charge an individual or entity that requests a copy of a covered agreement a reasonable fee not to exceed the cost of copying and mailing the agreement.

    (7) Use of CRA public file by insured depository institution or affiliate. An insured depository institution and any affiliate of an insured depository institution may fulfill its obligation under this paragraph (b) by placing a copy of the covered agreement in the insured depository institution's CRA public file if the institution makes the agreement available in accordance with the procedures set forth in 12 CFR 345.43.

    (c) Disclosure by NGEPs of covered agreements to the relevant supervisory agency. (1) Each NGEP that is a party to a covered agreement must provide the following within 30 days of receiving a request from the relevant supervisory agency—

    (i) A complete copy of the agreement; and

    (ii) In the event the NGEP proposes the withholding of any information contained in the agreement in accordance with paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a public version of the agreement that excludes such information and an explanation justifying the exclusions. Any public version must include the information described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

    (2) The obligation of a NGEP to provide a covered agreement to the relevant supervisory agency terminates 12 months after the end of the term of the covered agreement.

    (d) Disclosure by insured depository institution or affiliate of covered agreements to the relevant supervisory agency—(1) In general. Within 60 days of the end of each calendar quarter, each insured depository institution and affiliate must provide each relevant supervisory agency with—

    (i)(A) A complete copy of each covered agreement entered into by the insured depository institution or affiliate during the calendar quarter; and

    (B) In the event the institution or affiliate proposes the withholding of any information contained in the agreement in accordance with paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a public version of the agreement that excludes such information (other than any information described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section) and an explanation justifying the exclusions; or

    (ii) A list of all covered agreements entered into by the insured depository institution or affiliate during the calendar quarter that contains—

    (A) The name and address of each insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to the agreement;

    (B) The name and address of each NGEP that is a party to the agreement;

    (C) The date the agreement was entered into;

    (D) The estimated total value of all payments, fees, loans, and other consideration to be provided by the institution or any affiliate of the institution under the agreement; and

    (E) The date the agreement terminates.

    (2) Prompt filing of covered agreements contained in list required. (i) If an insured depository institution or affiliate files a list of the covered agreements entered into by the institution or affiliate pursuant to paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section, the institution or affiliate must provide any relevant supervisory agency a complete copy and public version of any covered agreement referenced in the list within 7 calendar days of receiving a request from the agency for a copy of the agreement.

    (ii) The obligation of an insured depository institution or affiliate to provide a covered agreement to the relevant supervisory agency under this paragraph (d)(2) terminates 36 months after the end of the term of the agreement.

    (3) Joint filings. In the event that 2 or more insured depository institutions or affiliates are parties to a covered agreement, the insured depository institution(s) and affiliate(s) may jointly file the documents required by this paragraph (d). Any joint filing must identify the insured depository institution(s) and affiliate(s) for whom the filings are being made.

    § 346.7 Annual reports.

    (a) Applicability date. This section applies only to covered agreements entered into on or after May 12, 2000.

    (b) Annual report required. Each NGEP and each insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to a covered agreement must file an annual report with each relevant supervisory agency concerning the disbursement, receipt, and uses of funds or other resources under the covered agreement.

    (c) Duration of reporting requirement—(1) NGEPs. A NGEP must file an annual report for a covered agreement for any fiscal year in which the NGEP receives or uses funds or other resources under the agreement.

    (2) Insured depository institutions and affiliates. An insured depository institution or affiliate must file an annual report for a covered agreement for any fiscal year in which the institution or affiliate—

    (i) Provides or receives any payments, fees, or loans under the covered agreement that must be reported under paragraphs (e)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section; or

    (ii) Has data to report on loans, investments, and services provided by a party to the covered agreement under the covered agreement under paragraph (e)(1)(vi) of this section.

    (d) Annual reports filed by NGEP—(1) Contents of report. The annual report filed by a NGEP under this section must include the following—

    (i) The name and mailing address of the NGEP filing the report;

    (ii) Information sufficient to identify the covered agreement for which the annual report is being filed, such as by providing the names of the parties to the agreement and the date the agreement was entered into or by providing a copy of the agreement;

    (iii) The amount of funds or resources received under the covered agreement during the fiscal year; and

    (iv) A detailed, itemized list of how any funds or resources received by the NGEP under the covered agreement were used during the fiscal year, including the total amount used for—

    (A) Compensation of officers, directors, and employees;

    (B) Administrative expenses;

    (C) Travel expenses;

    (D) Entertainment expenses;

    (E) Payment of consulting and professional fees; and

    (F) Other expenses and uses (specify expense or use).

    (2) More detailed reporting of uses of funds or resources permitted—(i) In general. If a NGEP allocated and used funds received under a covered agreement for a specific purpose, the NGEP may fulfill the requirements of paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section with respect to such funds by providing—

    (A) A brief description of each specific purpose for which the funds or other resources were used; and

    (B) The amount of funds or resources used during the fiscal year for each specific purpose.

    (ii) Specific purpose defined. A NGEP allocates and uses funds for a specific purpose if the NGEP receives and uses the funds for a purpose that is more specific and limited than the categories listed in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section.

    (3) Use of other reports. The annual report filed by a NGEP may consist of or incorporate a report prepared for any other purpose, such as the Internal Revenue Service Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax on Form 990, or any other Internal Revenue Service form, state tax form, report to members or shareholders, audited or unaudited financial statements, audit report, or other report, so long as the annual report filed by the NGEP contains all of the information required by this paragraph (d).

    (4) Consolidated reports permitted. A NGEP that is a party to 2 or more covered agreements may file with each relevant supervisory agency a single consolidated annual report covering all the covered agreements. Any consolidated report must contain all the information required by this paragraph (d). The information reported under paragraphs (d)(1)(iv) and (d)(2) of this section may be reported on an aggregate basis for all covered agreements.

    (5) Examples of annual report requirements for NGEPs

    (i) Example 1.

    A NGEP receives an unrestricted grant of $15,000 under a covered agreement, includes the funds in its general operating budget, and uses the funds during its fiscal year. The NGEP's annual report for the fiscal year must provide the name and mailing address of the NGEP, information sufficient to identify the covered agreement, and state that the NGEP received $15,000 during the fiscal year. The report must also indicate the total expenditures made by the NGEP during the fiscal year for compensation, administrative expenses, travel expenses, entertainment expenses, consulting and professional fees, and other expenses and uses. The NGEP's annual report may provide this information by submitting an Internal Revenue Service Form 990 that includes the required information. If the Internal Revenue Service Form does not include information for all of the required categories listed in this part, the NGEP must report the total expenditures in the remaining categories either by providing that information directly or by providing another form or report that includes the required information.

    (ii) Examples 2.

    An organization receives $15,000 from an insured depository institution under a covered agreement and allocates and uses the $15,000 during the fiscal year to purchase computer equipment to support its functions. The organization's annual report must include the name and address of the organization, information sufficient to identify the agreement, and a statement that the organization received $15,000 during the year. In addition, since the organization allocated and used the funds for a specific purpose that is more narrow and limited than the categories of expenses included in the detailed, itemized list of expenses, the organization would have the option of providing either the total amount it used during the year for each category of expenses included in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section, or a statement that it used the $15,000 to purchase computer equipment and a brief description of the equipment purchased.

    (iii) Examples 3.

    A community group receives $50,000 from an insured depository institution under a covered agreement. During its fiscal year, the community group specifically allocates and uses $5,000 of the funds to pay for a particular business trip and uses the remaining $45,000 for general operating expenses. The group's annual report for the fiscal year must include the name and address of the group, information sufficient to identify the agreement, and a statement that the group received $50,000. Because the group did not allocate and use all of the funds for a specific purpose, the group's annual report must provide the total amount of funds it used during the year for each category of expenses included in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section. The group's annual report also could state that it used $5,000 for a particular business trip and include a brief description of the trip.

    (iv) Example 4.

    A community development organization is a party to two separate covered agreements with two unaffiliated insured depository institutions. Under each agreement, the organization receives $15,000 during its fiscal year and uses the funds to support its activities during that year. If the organization elects to file a consolidated annual report, the consolidated report must identify the organization and the two covered agreements, state that the organization received $15,000 during the fiscal year under each agreement, and provide the total amount that the organization used during the year for each category of expenses included in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section.

    (e) Annual report filed by insured depository institution or affiliate—(1) General. The annual report filed by an insured depository institution or affiliate must include the following—

    (i) The name and principal place of business of the insured depository institution or affiliate filing the report;

    (ii) Information sufficient to identify the covered agreement for which the annual report is being filed, such as by providing the names of the parties to the agreement and the date the agreement was entered into or by providing a copy of the agreement;

    (iii) The aggregate amount of payments, aggregate amount of fees, and aggregate amount of loans provided by the insured depository institution or affiliate under the covered agreement to any other party to the agreement during the fiscal year;

    (iv) The aggregate amount of payments, aggregate amount of fees, and aggregate amount of loans received by the insured depository institution or affiliate under the covered agreement from any other party to the agreement during the fiscal year;

    (v) A general description of the terms and conditions of any payments, fees, or loans reported under paragraphs (e)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section, or, in the event such terms and conditions are set forth—

    (A) In the covered agreement, a statement identifying the covered agreement and the date the agreement (or a list identifying the agreement) was filed with the relevant supervisory agency; or

    (B) In a previous annual report filed by the insured depository institution or affiliate, a statement identifying the date the report was filed with the relevant supervisory agency; and

    (vi) The aggregate amount and number of loans, aggregate amount and number of investments, and aggregate amount of services provided under the covered agreement to any individual or entity not a party to the agreement—

    (A) By the insured depository institution or affiliate during its fiscal year; and

    (B) By any other party to the agreement, unless such information is not known to the insured depository institution or affiliate filing the report or such information is or will be contained in the annual report filed by another party under this section.

    (2) Consolidated reports permitted—(i) Party to multiple agreements. An insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to 2 or more covered agreements may file a single consolidated annual report with each relevant supervisory agency concerning all the covered agreements.

    (ii) Affiliated entities party to the same agreement. An insured depository institution and its affiliates that are parties to the same covered agreement may file a single consolidated annual report relating to the agreement with each relevant supervisory agency for the covered agreement.

    (iii) Content of report. Any consolidated annual report must contain all the information required by this paragraph (e). The amounts and data required to be reported under paragraphs (e)(1)(iv) and (vi) of this section may be reported on an aggregate basis for all covered agreements.

    (f) Time and place of filing—(1) General. Each party must file its annual report with each relevant supervisory agency for the covered agreement no later than six months following the end of the fiscal year covered by the report.

    (2) Alternative method of fulfilling annual reporting requirement for a NGEP. (i) A NGEP may fulfill the filing requirements of this section by providing the following materials to an insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to the agreement no later than six months following the end of the NGEP's fiscal year—

    (A) A copy of the NGEP's annual report required under paragraph (d) of this section for the fiscal year; and

    (B) Written instructions that the insured depository institution or affiliate promptly forward the annual report to the relevant supervisory agency or agencies on behalf of the NGEP.

    (ii) An insured depository institution or affiliate that receives an annual report from a NGEP pursuant to paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section must file the report with the relevant supervisory agency or agencies on behalf of the NGEP within 30 days.

    § 346.8 Release of information under FOIA.

    The FDIC will make covered agreements and annual reports available to the public in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552 et seq.) and the FDIC's rules regarding Disclosure of Information (12 CFR part 309). A party to a covered agreement may request confidential treatment of proprietary and confidential information in a covered agreement or an annual report under those procedures.

    § 346.9 Compliance provisions.

    (a) Willful failure to comply with disclosure and reporting obligations. (1) If the FDIC determines that a NGEP has willfully failed to comply in a material way with §§ 346.6 or 346.7, the FDIC will notify the NGEP in writing of that determination and provide the NGEP a period of 90 days (or such longer period as the FDIC finds to be reasonable under the circumstances) to comply.

    (2) If the NGEP does not comply within the time period established by the FDIC, the agreement shall thereafter be unenforceable by that NGEP by operation of section 48 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1831y).

    (3) The FDIC may assist any insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to a covered agreement that is unenforceable by a NGEP by operation of section 48 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1831y) in identifying a successor to assume the NGEP's responsibilities under the agreement.

    (b) Diversion of funds. If a court or other body of competent jurisdiction determines that funds or resources received under a covered agreement have been diverted contrary to the purposes of the covered agreement for an individual's personal financial gain, the FDIC may take either or both of the following actions—

    (1) Order the individual to disgorge the diverted funds or resources received under the agreement.

    (2) Prohibit the individual from being a party to any covered agreement for a period not to exceed 10 years.

    (c) Notice and opportunity to respond. Before making a determination under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, or taking any action under paragraph (b) of this section, the FDIC will provide written notice and an opportunity to present information to the FDIC concerning any relevant facts or circumstances relating to the matter.

    (d) Inadvertent or de minimis errors. Inadvertent or de minimis errors in annual reports or other documents filed with the FDIC under §§ 346.6 or 346.7 will not subject the reporting party to any penalty.

    (e) Enforcement of provisions in covered agreements. No provision of this part shall be construed as authorizing the FDIC to enforce the provisions of any covered agreement.

    § 346.10 Transition provisions.

    (a) Disclosure of covered agreements entered into before the effective date of this part—(1) Disclosure to the public. Each NGEP and each insured depository institution or affiliate that was a party to the agreement must make the agreement available to the public under § 346.6 until at least April 1, 2002.

    (2) Disclosure to the relevant supervisory agency. (i) Each NGEP that was a party to the agreement must make the agreement available to the relevant supervisory agency under § 346.6 until at least April 1, 2002.

    (ii) Each insured depository institution or affiliate that was a party to the agreement must, by June 30, 2001, provide each relevant supervisory agency either—

    (A) A copy of the agreement under § 346.6(d)(1)(i); or

    (B) The information described in § 346.6(d)(1)(ii) for each agreement.

    (b) Filing of annual reports that relate to fiscal years ending on or before December 31, 2000. In the event that a NGEP, insured depository institution or affiliate has any information to report under § 346.7 for a fiscal year that ends on or before December 31, 2000, and that concerns a covered agreement entered into between May 12, 2000, and December 31, 2000, the annual report for that fiscal year must be provided no later than June 30, 2001, to—

    (1) Each relevant supervisory agency; or

    (2) In the case of a NGEP, to an insured depository institution or affiliate that is a party to the agreement in accordance with § 346.7(f)(2).

    § 346.11 Other definitions and rules of construction used in this part.

    (a) Affiliate. “Affiliate” means—

    (1) Any company that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with another company; and

    (2) For the purpose of determining whether an agreement is a covered agreement under § 346.2, an “affiliate” includes any company that would be under common control or merged with another company on consummation of any transaction pending before a Federal banking agency at the time—

    (i) The parties enter into the agreement; and

    (ii) The NGEP that is a party to the agreement makes a CRA communication, as described in § 346.3.

    (b) Control. “Control” is defined in section 2(a) of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1841(a)).

    (c) CRA affiliate. A “CRA affiliate” of an insured depository institution is any company that is an affiliate of an insured depository institution to the extent, and only to the extent, that the activities of the affiliate were considered by the appropriate Federal banking agency when evaluating the CRA performance of the institution at its most recent CRA examination prior to the agreement. An insured depository institution or affiliate also may designate any company as a CRA affiliate at any time prior to the time a covered agreement is entered into by informing the NGEP that is a party to the agreement of such designation.

    (d) CRA public file. “CRA public file” means the public file maintained by an insured depository institution and described in 12 CFR 345.43.

    (e) Executive officer. The term “executive officer” has the same meaning as in § 215.2(e)(1) of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System's Regulation O (12 CFR 215.2(e)(1)).

    (f) Federal banking agency; appropriate Federal banking agency. The terms “Federal banking agency” and “appropriate Federal banking agency” have the same meanings as in section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813).

    (g) Fiscal year. (1) The fiscal year for a NGEP that does not have a fiscal year shall be the calendar year.

    (2) Any NGEP, insured depository institution, or affiliate that has a fiscal year may elect to have the calendar year be its fiscal year for purposes of this part.

    (h) Insured depository institution. “Insured depository institution” has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813).

    (i) NGEP. “NGEP” means a nongovernmental entity or person.

    (j) Nongovernmental entity or person—(1) General. A “nongovernmental entity or person” is any partnership, association, trust, joint venture, joint stock company, corporation, limited liability corporation, company, firm, society, other organization, or individual.

    (2) Exclusions. A nongovernmental entity or person does not include—

    (i) The United States government, a state government, a unit of local government (including a county, city, town, township, parish, village, or other general-purpose subdivision of a state) or an Indian tribe or tribal organization established under Federal, state or Indian tribal law (including the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands), or a department, agency, or instrumentality of any such entity;

    (ii) A federally-chartered public corporation that receives Federal funds appropriated specifically for that corporation;

    (iii) An insured depository institution or affiliate of an insured depository institution; or

    (iv) An officer, director, employee, or representative (acting in his or her capacity as an officer, director, employee, or representative) of an entity listed in paragraphs (j)(2)(i) through (iii) of this section.

    (k) Party. The term “party”. The authority citation for part 405 continues to read as follows: with respect to a covered agreement means each NGEP and each insured depository institution or affiliate that entered into the agreement.

    (l) Relevant supervisory agency. The “relevant supervisory agency” for a covered agreement means the appropriate Federal banking agency for—

    (1) Each insured depository institution (or subsidiary thereof) that is a party to the covered agreement;

    (2) Each insured depository institution (or subsidiary thereof) or CRA affiliate that makes payments or loans or provides services that are subject to the covered agreement; and

    (3) Any company (other than an insured depository institution or subsidiary thereof) that is a party to the covered agreement.

    (m) State savings association. “State savings association” has the same meaning as in section 3(b)(3) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813(b)(3)).

    (n) Term of agreement. An agreement that does not have a fixed termination date is considered to terminate on the last date on which any party to the agreement makes any payment or provides any loan or other resources under the agreement, unless the relevant supervisory agency for the agreement otherwise notifies each party in writing.

    Dated at Washington, DC, this 23rd day of April 2015.

    By order of the Board of Directors.

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09894 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6741-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2014-1083; Directorate Identifier 2014-CE-036-AD; Amendment 39-18140; AD 2015-08-04] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Various Aircraft Equipped With Wing Lift Struts AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 99-01-05 R1, which applied to certain aircraft equipped with wing lift struts. AD 99-01-05 R1 required repetitively inspecting the wing lift struts for corrosion; repetitively inspecting the wing lift strut forks for cracks; replacing any corroded wing lift strut; replacing any cracked wing lift strut fork; and repetitively replacing the wing lift strut forks at a specified time for certain airplanes. This new AD retains all requirements of AD 99-01-05R1 and adds additional airplane models to the Applicability section. This AD was prompted by a report that additional Piper Aircraft, Inc. model airplanes should be added to the Applicability section. We are issuing this AD to correct the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective June 3, 2015.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain other publications listed in this AD as of February 8, 1999 (63 FR 72132, December 31, 1998).

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this AD, contact Piper Aircraft, Inc., Customer Services, 2926 Piper Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; telephone: (772) 567-4361; Internet: www.piper.com. Copies of the instructions to the F. Atlee Dodge supplemental type certificate (STC) and information about the Jensen Aircraft STCs may be obtained from F. Atlee Dodge, Aircraft Services, LLC., 6672 Wes Way, Anchorage, Alaska 99518-0409, Internet: www.fadodge.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1083.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1083; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For Piper Aircraft, Inc. airplanes, contact: Gregory “Keith” Noles, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1701 Columbia Avenue, College Park, Georgia 30337; phone: (404) 474-5551; fax: (404) 474-5606; email: [email protected]

    For FS 2000 Corp, FS 2001 Corp, FS 2002 Corporation, and FS 2003 Corporation airplanes, contact: Jeff Morfitt, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057; phone: (425) 917-6405; fax: (245) 917-6590; email: [email protected]

    For LAVIA ARGENTINA S.A. (LAVIASA) airplanes, contact: S.M. Nagarajan, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4145; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 99-01-05 R1, Amendment 39-17688 (78 FR 73997, December 10, 2013; corrected 78 FR 79599, December 31, 2013), (“AD 99-01-05 R1”). AD 99-01-05 R1 applied to certain aircraft equipped with wing lift struts. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on December 31, 2014 (79 FR 78729). The NPRM was prompted by a report that Piper Aircraft, Inc. (Piper) Models J-3, J3C-65 (Army L-4A), J3P, J4B, and J4F airplanes should be added to the Applicability section. We were also informed of a serial number overlap between Piper Model PA-18s listed in AD 99-01-05 R1 and Piper Model PA-19 (Army L-18C). Certain serial numbers listed for Model PA-18s should also be listed under Model PA-19 (Army L-18C). The NPRM proposed to retain all requirements of AD 99-01-05 R1 and add airplanes to the Applicability section. We are issuing this AD to correct the unsafe condition on these products.

    Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM (79 FR 78729, December 31, 2014) and the FAA's response to each comment.

    Request To Remove the “NO STEP” Placard Requirement for Models PA-25, PA-24-235, and PA-25-260 Airplanes

    Joe Barr stated that LAVIA ARGENTINA S.A. (LAVIASA) Models PA-25, PA-24-235, and PA-25-260 airplanes should be exempt from the requirement in paragraph (m) of the proposed AD to install a “NO STEP” placard on each wing lift strut.

    Joe Barr stated that the LAVIASA PA-25 series airplanes are the only low wing monoplane aircraft of all the affected airplane models listed in the proposed AD. The LAVIASA PA-25 series airplanes have a wing support strut that is located on top of, rather than below, the wing. The upper end of the wing lift strut attaches to the top of the fuselage and the bottom end of the strut attaches to the top of the wing at the midpoint region. There is no safe wing walk surface area on the top of the wing that extends more than a few inches from the wing root to walk or stand at this mid-wing station. No one could possibly step on or stand on the strut at or near this wing location without significant damage to the adjacent fabric covered wing structure itself. Therefore, it is illogical and irrelevant to have a “NO STEP” placard of any kind at the mentioned location on the wing lift struts of the LAVIASA PA-25 series airplanes. This requirement was clearly meant for high wing aircraft only.

    We agree with the commenter. The intent of the placard is to prevent damage from stepping on the lower end of the strut. This would not occur on LAVIASA Models PA-25, PA-24-235, and PA-25-260 airplanes due to the configuration discussed above.

    We have changed paragraph (m) in this AD to exclude LAVIASA Models PA-25, PA-24-235, and PA-25-260 airplanes from this requirement.

    Request To Allow a Different Rework Method of an Unsealed Wing Lift Strut for Model J-3 Airplanes

    Mike Teets stated that he wants the option of using a different method for reworking a non-sealed wing lift strut to a sealed condition for Piper Aircraft Inc. Model J-3 airplanes.

    Mike Teets stated that he has been inspecting the wing life struts on his Piper Aircraft, Inc. Model J-3 airplane for years and has developed a method for “reoperating” an unsealed wing life strut to a sealed condition, which would remove the need for the repetitive inspections and thereby reduce costs associated with the requirements of the proposed AD.

    We do not agree with the commenter. The commenter's request pertains to only one model airplane affected by this AD and addresses only a portion of the requirements of the proposed AD. The commenter's proposal would be more appropriately addressed by requesting an alternative method of compliance following the procedures specified in paragraph (n) of this AD.

    We have not changed this AD based on this comment.

    Conclusion

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

    • Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (79 FR 78729, December 31, 2014) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

    • Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (79 FR 78729, December 31, 2014).

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

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989; F. Atlee Dodge Aircraft Services, Inc. Installation Instructions No. 3233-I for Modified Piper Wing Lift Struts Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA4635NM, dated February 1, 1991; and Jensen Aircraft Installation Instructions for Modified Lift Strut Fittings, which incorporates pages 1 and 5, Original Issue, dated July 15, 1983; pages 2, 4, and 6, Revision No. 1, dated March 30, 1984; and pages a and 3, Revision No. 2, dated April 20, 1984. The service information describes procedures for wing lift strut assembly inspection and replacement. This information is reasonably available at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1083, or you may see ADDRESSES for other ways to access this service information.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 22,200 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this AD. However, the only difference in the costs presented below and the costs associated with AD 99-01-05 R1 is addition of 200 airplanes to the applicability:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Cost on U.S.
  • operators
  • Inspection of the wing lift struts and wing lift strut forks 8 work-hours × $85 per hour = $680 per inspection cycle Not applicable $680 per inspection cycle $15,096,000 per inspection cycle. Installation placard 1 work-hour × $85 = $85 $30 $115 $2,553,000.

    We estimate the following costs to do any necessary replacements that will be required based on the results of the inspection. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these replacements:

    On-Condition Costs Action Labor cost per wing lift strut Parts cost per wing lift strut Cost per
  • product per
  • wing lift strut
  • Replacement of the wing lift strut and/or wing lift strut forks 4 work-hours × $85 per hour = $340 $440 $780
    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 99-01-05 R1, Amendment 39-17688 (78 FR 73997, December 10, 2013; corrected 78 FR 79599, December 31, 2013), and adding the following new AD: 2015-08-04 Various Aircraft: Amendment 39-18140; Docket No. FAA-2014-1083; Directorate Identifier 2014-CE-036-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective June 3, 2015.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD supersedes AD 99-01-05 R1, Amendment 39-17688 (78 FR 73997, December 10, 2013; corrected 78 FR 79599, December 31, 2013) “AD 99-01-05 R1”. AD 99-26-19 R1, Amendment 39-17681 (78 FR 76040, December 16, 2013), also relates to the subject of this AD.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to the following airplanes identified in Table 1 and Table 2 to paragraph (c) of this AD, that are equipped with wing lift struts, including airplanes commonly known as a “Clipped Wing Cub,” which modify the airplane primarily by removing approximately 40 inches of the inboard portion of each wing; and are certificated in any category.

    (1) Based on optional engine installations some airplanes may have been re-identified or registered with another model that is not listed in the type certificate data sheet (TCDS). For instance, Piper Model J3C-65 airplanes are type certificated on Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) A-691 but may also have been re-identified or registered as a Model J3C-115, J3F-50, J3C-75, J3C-75D, J3C-75S, J3L-75, J3C-85, J3C-85S, J3C-90, J3F-90, J3F-90S, J3C-100, or J3-L4J airplane.

    (2) The airplane model number on the affected airplane or its registry may or may not contain the dash (-), e.g. J3 and J-3. This AD applies to both variations.

    Note 1 to paragraph (c) of this AD:

    There is a serial number overlap between the Piper PA-18 series airplanes and the Piper Model PA-19 (Army L-18C) airplanes listed in AD 99-01-05 R1. Serial numbers 18-1 through 18-7632 listed for the PA-18 series airplanes are also now listed under Model PA-19 (Army L-18C) and Model PA-19S.

    Table 1 to Paragraph (c) of This AD—Airplanes Previously Affected by AD 99-01-05 R1 Type certificate holder Aircraft model Serial Nos. FS 2000 Corp L-14 All. FS 2001 Corp J5A (Army L-4F), J5A-80, J5B (Army L-4G), J5C, AE-1, and HE-1 All. FS 2002 Corporation PA-14 14-1 through 14-523. FS 2003 Corporation PA-12 and PA-12S 12-1 through 12-4036. LAVIA ARGENTINA S.A. (LAVIASA) PA-25, PA-25-235, and PA-25-260 25-1 through 25-8156024. Piper Aircraft, Inc TG-8 (Army TG-8, Navy XLNP-1) All. Piper Aircraft, Inc E-2 and F-2 All. Piper Aircraft, Inc J3C-40, J3C-50, J3C-50S, J3C-65 (Army L-4, L-4B, L-4H, L-4J, Navy NE-1 and NE-2), J3C-65S, J3F-50, J3F-50S, J3F-60, J3F-60S, J3F-65 (Army L-4D), J3F-65S, J3L, J3L-S, J3L-65 (Army L-4C), and J3L-65S All. Piper Aircraft, Inc J4, J4A, J4A-S, and J4E (Army L-4E) 4-401 through 4-1649. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-11 and PA-11S 11-1 through 11-1678. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-15 15-1 through 15-388. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-16 and PA-16S 16-1 through 16-736. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-17 17-1 through 17-215. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-18, PA-18S, PA-18 “105” (Special), PA-18S “105” (Special), PA-18A, PA-18 “125” (Army L-21A), PA-18S “125”, PA-18AS “125”, PA-18 “135” (Army L-21B), PA-18A “135”, PA-18S “135”, PA-18AS “135”, PA-18 “150”, PA-18A “150”, PA-18S “150”, PA-18AS “150”, PA-18A (Restricted), PA-18A “135” (Restricted), and PA-18A “150” (Restricted) 18-1 through 18-8309025, 18900 through 1809032, and 1809034 through 1809040. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-19 (Army L-18C), and PA-19S 18-1 through 18-7632 and 19-1, 19-2, and 19-3. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-20, PA-20S, PA-20 “115”, PA-20S “115”, PA-20 “135”, and PA-20S “135” 20-1 through 20-1121. Piper Aircraft, Inc PA-22, PA-22-108, PA-22-135, PA-22S-135, PA-22-150, PA-22S-150, PA-22-160, and PA-22S-160 22-1 through 22-9848. Table 2 to Paragraph (c) of This AD—Airplanes New to This AD Type certificate holder Aircraft model Serial Nos. Piper Aircraft, Inc J-3 1100 through 1200 and 1999 and up that were manufactured before October 15, 1939. Piper Aircraft, Inc J3C-65 (Army L-4A) All. Piper Aircraft, Inc J3P 2325, 2327, 2339, 2340, 2342, 2344, 2345, 2347, 2349, 2351, 2355 and up that were manufactured before January 10, 1942. Piper Aircraft, Inc J4B 4-400 and up that were manufactured before December 11, 1942. Piper Aircraft, Inc J4F 4-828 and up. (d) Subject

    Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC)/Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57, Wings.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    (1) The subject of this AD was originally prompted by reports of corrosion damage found on the wing lift struts. AD 99-01-05 R1 is being superseded to include certain Piper Aircraft, Inc. Models J-3, J3C-65 (Army L4A), J3P, J4B, and J4F airplanes that were inadvertently omitted from the applicability, paragraph (c), of AD 99-01-05 (64 FR 72524, December 28, 1999) “99-01-05” and subsequently AD 99-01-05 R1.

    Note 2 to paragraph (e) of this AD:

    There is a serial number overlap between the Piper PA-18 series airplanes and the Piper Model PA-19 (Army L-18C) airplanes listed in AD 99-01-05 R1. Serial numbers 18-1 through 18-7632 listed for the PA-18 series airplanes are also now listed under Model PA-19 (Army L-18C) and Model PA-19S.

    (2) AD 99-01-05 R1 was issued to clarify the FAA's intention that if a sealed wing lift strut assembly is installed as a replacement part, the repetitive inspection requirement is terminated only if the seal is never improperly broken. If the seal is improperly broken, then that wing lift strut becomes subject to continued repetitive inspections. We did not intend to promote drilling holes into or otherwise unsealing a sealed strut. This AD retains all the actions required in AD 99-01-05 R1. There are no new requirements in this AD except for the addition of certain model airplanes to the applicability, paragraph (c) of this AD.

    (3) We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corrosion and cracking on the front and rear wing lift struts and forks, which could cause the wing lift strut to fail. This failure could result in the wing separating from the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

    Unless already done (compliance with AD 99-01-05 R1 and AD 93-10-06, Amendment 39-8586 (58 FR 29965, May 25, 1993) “AD 93-010-06”), do the following actions within the compliance times specified in paragraphs (g) through (m) of this AD, including all subparagraphs. Properly unsealing and resealing a sealed wing lift strut is still considered a terminating action for the repetitive inspection requirements of this AD as long as all appropriate regulations and issues are considered, such as static strength, fatigue, material effects, immediate and long-term (internal and external) corrosion protection, resealing methods, etc. Current FAA regulations in 14 CFR 43.13(b) specify that maintenance performed will result in the part's condition to be at least equal to its original or properly altered condition. Any maintenance actions that unseal a sealed wing lift strut should be coordinated with the Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) through the local airworthiness authority (e.g., Flight Standards District Office). There are provisions in paragraph (n) of this AD for approving such actions as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC).

    (g) Remove Wing Lift Struts

    (1) For all airplanes previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1: Within 1 calendar month after February 8, 1999 (the effective date retained from AD 99-01-05), or within 24 calendar months after the last inspection done in accordance with AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, remove the wing lift struts following Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin (Piper MSB) No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Before further flight after the removal, do the actions in one of the following paragraphs (h)(1), (h)(2), (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (2) For all airplanes new to this AD (not previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1): Within 1 calendar month after the effective date of this AD or within 24 calendar months after the last inspection done in accordance with AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, remove the wing lift struts following Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin (Piper MSB) No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Before further flight after the removal, do the actions in one of the following paragraphs (h)(1), (h)(2), (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (h) Inspect Wing Lift Struts

    For all airplanes listed in this AD: Before further flight after the removal required in paragraph (g) of this AD, inspect each wing lift strut following paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, or do the wing lift strut replacement following one of the options in paragraph (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD.

    (1) Inspect each wing lift strut for corrosion and perceptible dents following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable.

    (i) If no corrosion is visible and no perceptible dents are found on any wing lift strut during the inspection required in paragraph (h)(1) of this AD, before further flight, apply corrosion inhibitor to each wing lift strut following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect each wing lift strut at intervals not to exceed 24 calendar months following the procedures in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (ii) If corrosion or perceptible dents are found on any wing lift strut during the inspection required in paragraph (h)(1) of this AD or during any repetitive inspection required in paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this AD, before further flight, replace the affected wing lift strut with one of the replacement options specified in paragraph (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD. Do the replacement following the procedures specified in those paragraphs, as applicable.

    (2) Inspect each wing lift strut for corrosion following the procedures in the Appendix to this AD. This inspection must be done by a Level 2 or Level 3 inspector certified using the guidelines established by the American Society for Non-destructive Testing or the “Military Standard for Nondestructive Testing Personnel Qualification and Certification” (MIL-STD-410E).

    (i) If no corrosion is found on any wing lift strut during the inspection required in paragraph (h)(2) of this AD and all requirements in the Appendix to this AD are met, before further flight, apply corrosion inhibitor to each wing lift strut following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect each wing lift strut at intervals not to exceed 24 calendar months following the procedures in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (ii) If corrosion is found on any wing lift strut during the inspection required in paragraph (h)(2) of this AD or during any repetitive inspection required in paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this AD, or if any requirement in the Appendix of this AD is not met, before further flight after any inspection in which corrosion is found or the Appendix requirements are not met, replace the affected wing lift strut with one of the replacement options specified in paragraph (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD. Do the replacement following the procedures specified in those paragraphs, as applicable.

    (i) Wing Lift Strut Replacement Options

    Before further flight after the removal required in paragraph (g) of this AD, replace the wing lift struts following one of the options in paragraph (i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, or inspect each wing lift strut following paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Install original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part number wing lift struts (or FAA-approved equivalent part numbers) that have been inspected following the procedures in either paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, and are found to be airworthy. Do the installations following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect the newly installed wing lift struts at intervals not to exceed 24 calendar months following the procedures in either paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (2) Install new sealed wing lift strut assemblies (or FAA-approved equivalent part numbers) (these sealed wing lift strut assemblies also include the wing lift strut forks) following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, and Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Installing one of these new sealed wing lift strut assemblies terminates the repetitive inspection requirements in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD, and the wing lift strut fork removal, inspection, and replacement requirement in paragraphs (j) and (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, for that wing lift strut assembly.

    (3) Install F. Atlee Dodge wing lift strut assemblies following F. Atlee Dodge Aircraft Services, Inc. Installation Instructions No. 3233-I for Modified Piper Wing Lift Struts Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA4635NM, dated February 1, 1991. Repetitively thereafter inspect the newly installed wing lift struts at intervals not to exceed 60 calendar months following the procedures in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (j) Remove Wing Lift Strut Forks

    (1) For all airplanes previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1, except for Model PA-25, PA-25-235, and PA-25-260 airplanes: Within the next 100 hours time-in-service (TIS) after February 8, 1999 (the effective date retained from AD 99-01-05) or within 500 hours TIS after the last inspection done in accordance with AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, remove the wing lift strut forks (unless already replaced in accordance with paragraph (i)(2) of this AD). Do the removal following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Before further flight after the removal, do the actions in one of the following paragraphs (k) or (l) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (2) For all airplanes new to this AD (not previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1): Within the next 100 hours TIS after the effective date of this AD or within 500 hours TIS after the last inspection done in accordance with AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, remove the wing lift strut forks (unless already replaced in accordance with paragraph (i)(2) of this AD). Do the removal following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Before further flight after the removal, do the actions in one of the following paragraphs (k) or (l) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (k) Inspect and Replace Wing Lift Strut Forks

    For all airplanes affected by this AD: Before further flight after the removal required in paragraph (j) of this AD, inspect the wing lift strut forks following paragraph (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, or do the wing lift strut fork replacement following one of the options in paragraph (l)(1), (l)(2), (l)(3), or (l)(4) of this AD, including all subparagraphs. Inspect the wing lift strut forks for cracks using magnetic particle procedures, such as those contained in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 43.13-1B, Chapter 5, which can be found on the Internet http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAdvisoryCircular.nsf/0/99c827db9baac81b86256b4500596c4e/$FILE/Chapter%2005.pdf. Repetitively thereafter inspect at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS until the replacement time requirement specified in paragraph (k)(2) or (k)(3) of this AD is reached provided no cracks are found.

    (1) If cracks are found during any inspection required in paragraph (k) of this AD or during any repetitive inspection required in paragraph (k)(2) or (k)(3) of this AD, before further flight, replace the affected wing lift strut fork with one of the replacement options specified in paragraph (l)(1), (l)(2), (l)(3), or (l)(4) of this AD, including all subparagraphs. Do the replacement following the procedures specified in those paragraphs, as applicable.

    (2) If no cracks are found during the initial inspection required in paragraph (k) of this AD and the airplane is currently equipped with floats or has been equipped with floats at any time during the previous 2,000 hours TIS since the wing lift strut forks were installed, at or before accumulating 1,000 hours TIS on the wing lift strut forks, replace the wing lift strut forks with one of the replacement options specified in paragraph (l)(1), (l)(2), (l)(3), or (l)(4) of this AD, including all subparagraphs. Do the replacement following the procedures specified in those paragraphs, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect the newly installed wing lift strut forks at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS following the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (3) If no cracks are found during the initial inspection required in paragraph (k) of this AD and the airplane has never been equipped with floats during the previous 2,000 hours TIS since the wing lift strut forks were installed, at or before accumulating 2,000 hours TIS on the wing lift strut forks, replace the wing lift strut forks with one of the replacement options specified in paragraph (l)(1), (l)(2), (l)(3), or (l)(4) of this AD, including all subparagraphs. Do the replacement following the procedures specified in those paragraphs, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect the newly installed wing lift strut forks at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS following the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (l) Wing Lift Strut Fork Replacement Options

    Before further flight after the removal required in paragraph (j) of this AD, replace the wing lift strut forks following one of the options in paragraph (l)(1), (l)(2), (l)(3), or (l)(4) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, or inspect the wing lift strut forks following paragraph (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (1) Install new OEM part number wing lift strut forks of the same part numbers of the existing part (or FAA-approved equivalent part numbers) that were manufactured with rolled threads. Wing lift strut forks manufactured with machine (cut) threads are not to be used. Do the installations following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. Repetitively thereafter inspect and replace the newly installed wing lift strut forks at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS following the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (2) Install new sealed wing lift strut assemblies (or FAA-approved equivalent part numbers) (these sealed wing lift strut assemblies also include the wing lift strut forks) following Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, and Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. This installation may have already been done through the option specified in paragraph (i)(2) of this AD. Installing one of these new sealed wing lift strut assemblies terminates the repetitive inspection requirements in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD, and the wing lift strut fork removal, inspection, and replacement requirements in paragraphs (j) and (k) of this AD, including all subparagraphs, for that wing lift strut assembly.

    (3) For the airplanes specified below, install Jensen Aircraft wing lift strut fork assemblies specified below in the applicable STC following Jensen Aircraft Installation Instructions for Modified Lift Strut Fitting. Installing one of these wing lift strut fork assemblies terminates the repetitive inspection requirement of this AD only for that wing lift strut fork. Repetitively inspect each wing lift strut as specified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (i) For Models PA-12 and PA-12S airplanes: STC SA1583NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/2E708575849845B285256CC1008213CA?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1583nm;

    (ii) For Model PA-14 airplanes: STC SA1584NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/39872B814471737685256CC1008213D0?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1584nm;

    (iii) For Models PA-16 and PA-16S airplanes: STC SA1590NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/B28C4162E30D941F85256CC1008213F6?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1590nm;

    (iv) For Models PA-18, PA-18S, PA-18 “105” (Special), PA-18S “105” (Special), PA-18A, PA-18 “125” (Army L-21A), PA-18S “125”, PA-18AS “125”, PA-18 “135” (Army L-21B), PA-18A “135”, PA-18S “135”, PA-18AS “135”, PA-18 “150”, PA-18A “150”, PA-18S “150”, PA-18AS “150”, PA-18A (Restricted), PA-18A “135” (Restricted), and PA-18A “150” (Restricted) airplanes: STC SA1585NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/A2BE010FB1CA61A285256CC1008213D6?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1585nm;

    (v) For Models PA-20, PA-20S, PA-20 “115”, PA-20S “115”, PA-20 “135”, and PA-20S “135” airplanes: STC SA1586NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/873CC69D42C87CF585256CC1008213DC?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1586nm; and

    (vi) For Model PA-22 airplanes: STC SA1587NM, which can be found on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/B051D04CCC0BED7E85256CC1008213E0?OpenDocument&Highlight=sa1587nm.

    (4) Install F. Atlee Dodge wing lift strut assemblies following F. Atlee Dodge Installation Instructions No. 3233-I for Modified Piper Wing Lift Struts (STC SA4635NM), dated February 1, 1991. This installation may have already been done in accordance paragraph (i)(3) of this AD. Installing these wing lift strut assemblies terminates the repetitive inspection requirements of this AD for the wing lift strut fork only. Repetitively inspect the wing lift struts as specified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, including all subparagraphs.

    (m) Install Placard

    (1) For all airplanes previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1, except for Models PA-25, PA-25-235, and PA-25-260 airplanes: Within 1 calendar month after February 8, 1999 (the effective date retained from AD 99-01-05), or within 24 calendar months after the last inspection required by AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, and before further flight after any replacement of a wing lift strut assembly required by this AD, do one of the following actions in paragraph (m)(1)(i) or (m)(1)(ii) of this AD. The “NO STEP” markings required by paragraph (m)(1)(i) or (m)(1)(ii) of this AD must remain in place for the life of the airplane.

    (i) Install “NO STEP” decal, Piper (P/N) 80944-02, on each wing lift strut approximately 6 inches from the bottom of the wing lift strut in a way that the letters can be read when entering and exiting the airplane; or

    (ii) Paint the words “NO STEP” approximately 6 inches from the bottom of the wing lift strut in a way that the letters can be read when entering and exiting the airplane. Use a minimum of 1-inch letters using a color that contrasts with the color of the airplane.

    (2) For all airplanes new to this AD (not previously affected by AD 99-01-05 R1): Within 1 calendar month after the effective date of this AD or within 24 calendar months after the last inspection required by AD 93-10-06 (which was superseded by AD 99-01-05), whichever occurs later, and before further flight after any replacement of a wing lift strut assembly required by this AD, do one of the following actions in paragraph (m)(2)(i) or (m)(2)(ii) of this AD. The “NO STEP” markings required by paragraph (m)(2)(i) or (m)(2)(ii) of this AD must remain in place for the life of the airplane.

    (i) Install “NO STEP” decal, Piper (P/N) 80944-02, on each wing lift strut approximately 6 inches from the bottom of the wing lift strut in a way that the letters can be read when entering and exiting the airplane; or

    (ii) Paint the words “NO STEP” approximately 6 inches from the bottom of the wing lift strut in a way that the letters can be read when entering and exiting the airplane. Use a minimum of 1-inch letters using a color that contrasts with the color of the airplane.

    (n) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Atlanta ACO, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD related to Piper Aircraft, Inc. airplanes; the Manager, Seattle ACO, FAA has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD related to FS 2000 Corp, FS 2001 Corp, FS 2002 Corporation, and FS 2003 Corporation airplanes; and the Manager, Standards Office, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD related to LAVIA ARGENTINA S.A. (LAVIASA) airplanes, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the appropriate person identified in paragraph (o) of this AD.

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (3) AMOCs approved for AD 93-10-06, AD 99-01-05, and AD 99-01-05 R1, are approved as AMOCs for this AD.

    (o) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD related to Piper Aircraft, Inc. airplanes, contact: Gregory “Keith” Noles, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Atlanta ACO, 1701 Columbia Avenue, College Park, Georgia 30337; phone: (404) 474-5551; fax: (404) 474-5606; email: [email protected].

    (2) For more information about this AD related to FS 2000 Corp, FS 2001 Corp, FS 2002 Corporation, and FS 2003 Corporation airplanes, contact: Jeff Morfitt, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057; phone: (425) 917-6405; fax: (245) 917-6590; email: [email protected].

    (3) For more information about this AD related to LAVIA ARGENTINA S.A. (LAVIASA) airplanes, contact: S.M. Nagarajan, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4145; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected].

    (p) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (3) The following service information was approved for IBR on February 8, 1999 (63 FR 72132, December 31, 1998).

    (i) Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990.

    (ii) Piper Aircraft Corporation Mandatory Service Bulletin No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989.

    (iii) F. Atlee Dodge Aircraft Services, Inc. Installation Instructions No. 3233-I for Modified Piper Wing Lift Struts Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA4635NM, dated February 1, 1991.

    (iv) Jensen Aircraft Installation Instructions for Modified Lift Strut Fittings, which incorporates pages 1 and 5, Original Issue, dated July 15, 1983; pages 2, 4, and 6, Revision No. 1, dated March 30, 1984; and pages a and 3, Revision No. 2, dated April 20, 1984.

    (4) For Piper Aircraft, Inc. service information identified in this AD, contact Piper Aircraft, Inc., Customer Services, 2926 Piper Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; telephone: (772) 567-4361; Internet: www.piper.com. Copies of the instructions to the F. Atlee Dodge STC and information about the Jensen Aircraft STCs may be obtained from F. Atlee Dodge, Aircraft Services, LLC., 6672 Wes Way, Anchorage, Alaska 99518-0409, Internet: www.fadodge.com.

    (5) You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1083.

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

    Appendix to AD 2015-08-04 Procedures and Requirements for Ultrasonic Inspection of Piper Wing Lift Struts Equipment Requirements

    1. A portable ultrasonic thickness gauge or flaw detector with echo-to-echo digital thickness readout capable of reading to 0.001-inch and an A-trace waveform display will be needed to do this inspection.

    2. An ultrasonic probe with the following specifications will be needed to accomplish this inspection: 10 MHz (or higher), 0.283-inch (or smaller) diameter dual element or delay line transducer designed for thickness gauging. The transducer and ultrasonic system shall be capable of accurately measuring the thickness of AISI 4340 steel down to 0.020-inch. An accuracy of +/− 0.002-inch throughout a 0.020-inch to 0.050-inch thickness range while calibrating shall be the criteria for acceptance.

    3. Either a precision machined step wedge made of 4340 steel (or similar steel with equivalent sound velocity) or at least three shim samples of same material will be needed to accomplish this inspection. One thickness of the step wedge or shim shall be less than or equal to 0.020-inch, one shall be greater than or equal to 0.050-inch, and at least one other step or shim shall be between these two values.

    4. Glycerin, light oil, or similar non-water based ultrasonic couplants are recommended in the setup and inspection procedures. Water-based couplants, containing appropriate corrosion inhibitors, may be utilized, provided they are removed from both the reference standards and the test item after the inspection procedure is completed and adequate corrosion prevention steps are then taken to protect these items.

    • NOTE: Couplant is defined as “a substance used between the face of the transducer and test surface to improve transmission of ultrasonic energy across the transducer/strut interface.”

    • NOTE: If surface roughness due to paint loss or corrosion is present, the surface should be sanded or polished smooth before testing to assure a consistent and smooth surface for making contact with the transducer. Care shall be taken to remove a minimal amount of structural material. Paint repairs may be necessary after the inspection to prevent further corrosion damage from occurring. Removal of surface irregularities will enhance the accuracy of the inspection technique.

    1. Set up the ultrasonic equipment for thickness measurements as specified in the instrument's user's manual. Because of the variety of equipment available to perform ultrasonic thickness measurements, some modification to this general setup procedure may be necessary. However, the tolerance requirement of step 13 and the record keeping requirement of step 14, must be satisfied.

    2. If battery power will be employed, check to see that the battery has been properly charged. The testing will take approximately two hours. Screen brightness and contrast should be set to match environmental conditions.

    3. Verify that the instrument is set for the type of transducer being used, i.e. single or dual element, and that the frequency setting is compatible with the transducer.

    4. If a removable delay line is used, remove it and place a drop of couplant between the transducer face and the delay line to assure good transmission of ultrasonic energy. Reassemble the delay line transducer and continue.

    5. Program a velocity of 0.231-inch/microsecond into the ultrasonic unit unless an alternative instrument calibration procedure is used to set the sound velocity.

    6. Obtain a step wedge or steel shims per item 3 of the EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS. Place the probe on the thickest sample using couplant. Rotate the transducer slightly back and forth to “ring” the transducer to the sample. Adjust the delay and range settings to arrive at an A-trace signal display with the first backwall echo from the steel near the left side of the screen and the second backwall echo near the right of the screen. Note that when a single element transducer is used, the initial pulse and the delay line/steel interface will be off of the screen to the left. Adjust the gain to place the amplitude of the first backwall signal at approximately 80% screen height on the A-trace.

    7. “Ring” the transducer on the thinnest step or shim using couplant. Select positive half-wave rectified, negative half-wave rectified, or filtered signal display to obtain the cleanest signal. Adjust the pulse voltage, pulse width, and damping to obtain the best signal resolution. These settings can vary from one transducer to another and are also user dependent.

    8. Enable the thickness gate, and adjust the gate so that it starts at the first backwall echo and ends at the second backwall echo. (Measuring between the first and second backwall echoes will produce a measurement of the steel thickness that is not affected by the paint layer on the strut). If instability of the gate trigger occurs, adjust the gain, gate level, and/or damping to stabilize the thickness reading.

    9. Check the digital display reading and if it does not agree with the known thickness of the thinnest thickness, follow your instrument's calibration recommendations to produce the correct thickness reading. When a single element transducer is used this will usually involve adjusting the fine delay setting.

    10. Place the transducer on the thickest step of shim using couplant. Adjust the thickness gate width so that the gate is triggered by the second backwall reflection of the thick section. If the digital display does not agree with the thickest thickness, follow your instruments calibration recommendations to produce the correct thickness reading. A slight adjustment in the velocity may be necessary to get both the thinnest and the thickest reading correct. Document the changed velocity value.

    11. Place couplant on an area of the lift strut which is thought to be free of corrosion and “ring” the transducer to surface. Minor adjustments to the signal and gate settings may be required to account for coupling improvements resulting from the paint layer. The thickness gate level should be set just high enough so as not to be triggered by irrelevant signal noise. An area on the upper surface of the lift strut above the inspection area would be a good location to complete this step and should produce a thickness reading between 0.034-inch and 0.041-inch.

    12. Repeat steps 8, 9, 10, and 11 until both thick and thin shim measurements are within tolerance and the lift strut measurement is reasonable and steady.

    13. Verify that the thickness value shown in the digital display is within +/− 0.002-inch of the correct value for each of the three or more steps of the setup wedge or shims. Make no further adjustments to the instrument settings.

    14. Record the ultrasonic versus actual thickness of all wedge steps or steel shims available as a record of setup.

    1. Clean the lower 18 inches of the wing lift struts using a cleaner that will remove all dirt and grease. Dirt and grease will adversely affect the accuracy of the inspection technique. Light sanding or polishing may also be required to reduce surface roughness as noted in the EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS section.

    2. Using a flexible ruler, draw a 1/4-inch grid on the surface of the first 11 inches from the lower end of the strut as shown in Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989, as applicable. This can be done using a soft (#2) pencil and should be done on both faces of the strut. As an alternative to drawing a complete grid, make two rows of marks spaced every 1/4-inch across the width of the strut. One row of marks should be about 11 inches from the lower end of the strut, and the second row should be several inches away where the strut starts to narrow. Lay the flexible ruler between respective tick marks of the two rows and use tape or a rubber band to keep the ruler in place. See Figure 1.

    3. Apply a generous amount of couplant inside each of the square areas or along the edge of the ruler. Re-application of couplant may be necessary.

    4. Place the transducer inside the first square area of the drawn grid or at the first 1/4-inch mark on the ruler and “ring” the transducer to the strut. When using a dual element transducer, be very careful to record the thickness value with the axis of the transducer elements perpendicular to any curvature in the strut. If this is not done, loss of signal or inaccurate readings can result.

    5. Take readings inside each square on the grid or at 1/4-inch increments along the ruler and record the results. When taking a thickness reading, rotate the transducer slightly back and forth and experiment with the angle of contact to produce the lowest thickness reading possible. Pay close attention to the A-scan display to assure that the thickness gate is triggering off of maximized backwall echoes.

    • NOTE: A reading shall not exceed .041 inch. If a reading exceeds .041-inch, repeat steps 13 and 14 of the INSTRUMENT SETUP section before proceeding further.

    6. If the A-trace is unsteady or the thickness reading is clearly wrong, adjust the signal gain and/or gate setting to obtain reasonable and steady readings. If any instrument setting is adjusted, repeat steps 13 and 14 of the INSTRUMENT SETUP section before proceeding further.

    7. In areas where obstructions are present, take a data point as close to the correct area as possible.

    • NOTE: The strut wall contains a fabrication bead at approximately 40% of the strut chord. The bead may interfere with accurate measurements in that specific location.

    8. A measurement of 0.024-inch or less shall require replacement of the strut prior to further flight.

    9. If at any time during testing an area is encountered where a valid thickness measurement cannot be obtained due to a loss of signal strength or quality, the area shall be considered suspect. These areas may have a remaining wall thickness of less than 0.020-inch, which is below the range of this setup, or they may have small areas of localized corrosion or pitting present. The latter case will result in a reduction in signal strength due to the sound being scattered from the rough surface and may result in a signal that includes echoes from the pits as well as the backwall. The suspect area(s) shall be tested with a Maule “Fabric Tester” as specified in Piper MSB No. 528D, dated October 19, 1990, or Piper MSB No. 910A, dated October 10, 1989.

    10. Record the lift strut inspection in the aircraft log book.

    ER29AP15.000 Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 8, 2015. Earl Lawrence, Manager, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-08732 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2014-0745; Airspace Docket No. 14-ACE-3] Establishment of Class E Airspace; Alma, NE AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This action establishes Class E airspace at Alma, NE. Controlled airspace is necessary to accommodate new Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAPs) at Alma Municipal Airport. The FAA is taking this action to enhance the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations for SIAPs at the airport. This action also corrects the state from KS to NE under the airport designation.

    DATES:

    Effective date, 0901 UTC, June 25, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under 1 CFR part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    ADDRESSES:

    FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed on line at http://www.faa.gov/airtraffic/publications/. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 29591; telephone: 202-267-8783.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca Shelby, Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137; telephone: 817-321-7740.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History

    On October 28, 2014, the FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Alma Municipal Airport, Alma, NE (79 FR 64152) Docket No. FAA-2014-0745. Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. No comments were received. Subsequent to publications, an error was found under the airport designation listing the airport in KS, instead of NE. This action corrects the error.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.9Y dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR part 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.9Y, airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014. FAA Order 7400.9Y is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this final rule. FAA Order 7400.9Y lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Rule

    This action amends Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), Part 71 by establishing Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.5-mile radius of Alma Municipal Airport, Alma, NE. Controlled airspace is necessary to accommodate new Standard Instrument Approach Procedures at the airport. This action enhances the safety and management of IFR operations for SIAPs at the airport. This action also correctly lists the airport state as NE instead of KS under the airport designation.

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. Therefore, this regulation: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the U.S. Code. Subtitle 1, Section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it establishes controlled airspace at Alma Municipal Airport, Alma, NE.

    Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical under the National Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1E,— “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures” paragraph 311a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exit that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g);, 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014 and effective September 15, 2014, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace areas extending upward from 700 feet or more above the surface of the earth. ACE NE E5 Alma, NE [New] Alma Municipal Airport, NE (Lat. 40°06′45″ N., long. 99°20′47″ W.).

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.5-mile radius of Alma Municipal Airport.

    Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on April 21, 2015. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09871 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2014-0741; Airspace Docket No. 14-ASW-4] Establishment of Class E Airspace; Encinal, TX AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This action establishes Class E airspace at Encinal, TX. Controlled airspace is necessary to accommodate new Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAPs) at El Jardin Ranch Airport. The FAA is taking this action to enhance the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations for SIAPs at the airport.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, June 25, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    ADDRESSES:

    FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed on line at http://www.faa.gov/airtraffic/publications/. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 29591; telephone: 202-267-8783.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca Shelby, Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137; telephone: 817-321-7740.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History

    On October 28, 2014, the FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish Class E airspace at El Jardin Ranch Airport, Encinal, TX, (79 FR 64153). Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. No comments were received.

    Class E airspace designations are published in Paragraphs 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.9Y, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.9Y, airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014. FAA Order 7400.9Y is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this final rule. FAA Order 7400.9Y lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Rule

    This action amends Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), Part 71 by establishing Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7-mile radius of El Jardin Ranch Airport, Encinal, TX, to accommodate new Standard Instrument Approach Procedures at airport. The FAA is taking this action to enhance the safety and management of IFR operations at the airport.

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. Therefore, this regulation: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the U.S. Code. Subtitle 1, Section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it establishes controlled airspace at El Jardin Ranch Airport, Encinal, TX.

    Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1E. “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,” paragraph 311a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g);, 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014 and effective September 15, 2014, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. ASW TX E5 Encinal, TX [New] El Jardin Ranch Airport, TX (Lat. 28°04′26″ N., long. 99°17′5.0″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7-mile radius of El Jardin Ranch Airport.

    Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on April 21, 2015. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09873 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0793; Airspace Docket No. 15-AEA-3] Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Baltimore, MD AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; technical amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    This action amends Class D Airspace at Baltimore, MD, bringing current the regulatory text under the designation for Martin State Airport by adding the words “and Restricted Area R-4001C, which is continuously active up to 10,000 feet AGL”. This is an administrative change to coincide with the FAA's aeronautical database.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, June 25, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    ADDRESSES:

    FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/airtraffic/publications/. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: 202-267-8783.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Fornito, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, P.O. Box 20636, Atlanta, Georgia 30320; telephone (404) 305-6364.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History

    In a review of the airspace, the FAA found the airspace description for Martin State Airport, Baltimore, MD, Class D Airspace, in FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, did not match the FAA's charting information. This administrative change coincides with the FAA's aeronautical database.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.9Y, airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014. FAA Order 7400.9Y is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this final rule. FAA Order 7400.9Y lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Rule

    This action amends Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 71 by referencing Restricted Area R-4001C in the regulatory text of the Class D airspace area at Martin State Airport, MD, adding the words “and Restricted Area R-4001C, which is continuously active up to 10,000 feet AGL”. This is an administrative change amending the description for Martin State Airport, Baltimore, MD, to be in concert with the FAAs aeronautical database, and does not affect the boundaries, or operating requirements of the airspace, therefore, notice and public procedure under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) are unnecessary.

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. Therefore, this regulation: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the U.S. Code. Subtitle 1, Section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it further clarifies the description of controlled airspace at Martin State Airport, Baltimore, MD.

    Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for Part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120, E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, effective September 15, 2014, is amended as follows: Paragraph 5000 Class D Airspace. ASO MD D Baltimore, MD [Amended] Martin State Airport, MD (Lat. 39°19′32″ N., long. 76°24′50″ W.) Baltimore VORTAC (Lat. 39°10′16″ N., long. 76°39′41″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet MSL within a 5.2-mile radius of Martin State Airport and within 4.4 miles each side of a 14.7-mile radius arc of the Baltimore VORTAC extending clockwise from the Baltimore VORTAC 030° radial to the VORTAC 046° radial, excluding that airspace within the Washington Tri-Area Class B airspace area and Restricted Areas R-4001A and R-4001B when they are in effect, and Restricted Area R-4001C, which is continuously active up to 10,000 feet AGL. This Class D airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/Facility Directory.

    Issued in College Park, Georgia, on April 21, 2015. Gerald E. Lynch, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Air Traffic Organization.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09870 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0518; Airspace Docket No. 15-ANM-2] Amendment of Class E Airspace; Livingston, MT AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule, technical amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    This action amends the legal description of the Class E airspace area at Livingston, MT. The geographic coordinates of the airport are updated to coincide with the FAA's aeronautical database as well as correcting a longitudinal point of the airspace boundary. This does not affect the charted boundaries or operating requirements of the airspace.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, June 25, 2015. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    ADDRESSES:

    FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/airtraffic/publications/. The order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and ATC Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington DC 29591; telephone: 202-267-8783.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Haga, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057; telephone (425) 203-4563.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    History

    The Aeronautical Information Services branch identified an error in a longitudinal coordinate in the legal description extending upward from 1,200 feet above the surface, and the airport reference point (ARP) was not coincidental with the FAA's aeronautical database. This action makes these corrections.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.9Y dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.9Y, airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014. FAA Order 7400.9Y is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this final rule. FAA Order 7400.9Y lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Rule

    This amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 amends the legal description of the Class E airspace area extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Livingston, MT. The geographic coordinates of the airport are updated to coincide with the FAA's aeronautical database, and a longitudinal point of the airspace boundary extending from 1,200 feet above the surface is corrected from “long. 112°29′00″W., to “long 110°29′00″W.”. This does not affect the boundaries or operating requirements of the airspace.

    This is an administrative change and does not affect the boundaries, altitudes, or operating requirements of the airspace, therefore, notice and public procedure under 5 U.S. C. 553(b) is unnecessary.

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current, is non-controversial and unlikely to result in adverse or negative comments. It, therefore, (1) is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a Regulatory Evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it amends Class E airspace at Mission Field Airport, Livingston, MT.

    Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1E, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,” paragraph 311a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

    Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71:

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for Part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S. C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, effective September 15, 2014, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. ANM MT E5 Livingston, MT [Modified] Livingston, Mission Field Airport, MT (Lat. 45°41′58″ N., long. 110°26′53″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 4.2-mile radius of Mission Field Airport, and that airspace bounded by a line beginning at lat. 45°40′30″ N., long. 110°15′20″ W.; to lat. 45°47′30″ N., long. 110°15′30″ W.; to lat. 45°47′30″ N., long. 110°23′00″ W.; to lat. 46°02′20″ N., long. 110°31′00″ W.; to lat. 45°58′00″ N., long. 110°47′15″ W.; to lat. 45°38′45″ N., long. 110°37′00″ W.; thence to point of beginning, and that airspace extending upward from 1,200 feet above the surface within an area bounded by a line beginning at lat. 46°16′00″ N., long 112°00′00″ W.; to lat. 46°37′00″ N., long. 111°30′00″ W.; to lat. 46°37′00″ N., long. 110°43′00″ W.; to lat. 46°00′00″ N., long. 110°29′00″ W.; to lat. 46°00′00″ N., long. 109°30′00″ W.; to lat. 45°30′00″ N., long. 109°30′00″ W.; to lat. 45°30′00″ N., long. 112°00′00″ W.; thence to point of beginning; excluding that airspace within Federal airways, the Helena, MT, and the Billings, MT, Class E airspace areas.

    Issued in Seattle, Washington, on April 21, 2015. Christopher Ramirez, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group Western Service Center, AJV-W2.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09874 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-14-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0117] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone, Southern Branch Elizabeth River; Chesapeake, VA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a safety zone on the navigable waters of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in support of the Elizabeth River Park Grand Re-opening fireworks event. This safety zone will restrict vessel movement in the specified area during the fireworks display. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of life and property on the surrounding navigable waters during the fireworks display.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from April 29, 2015 through May 30, 2015 and enforced from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents mentioned in this preamble are part of docket [USCG-2015-0117]. To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LCDR Gregory Knoll, Waterways Management Division Chief, Sector Hampton Roads, Coast Guard; telephone (757) 668-5580, email [email protected] If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Acronyms DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking A. Regulatory History and Information

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior written notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule due to the short time period between event planners notifying the Coast Guard of details concerning the event, on March 24, 2015, and publication of this safety zone. As such, it is impracticable for the Coast Guard to provide a full comment period due to lack of time. Furthermore, delaying the effective date of this safety zone would be contrary to the public interest as immediate action is needed to ensure the safety of the event participants, patrol vessels, spectator craft and other vessels transiting the event area. The Coast Guard will provide advance notifications to users of the affected waterway via marine information broadcasts, local notice to mariners.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Due to the need for immediate action, the restriction on vessel traffic is necessary to protect life, property and the environment; therefore, a 30-day notice is impracticable. Delaying the effective date would be contrary to the safety zone's intended objectives of protecting persons and vessels, and enhancing public and maritime safety.

    B. Basis and Purpose

    The legal basis and authorities for this rule are found in 33. U.S.C. 1231; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170-1, which collectively authorize the Coast Guard to propose, establish, and define regulatory safety zones.

    The purpose of this safety zone is to protect event participants, patrol vessels, spectator craft and other vessels transiting navigable waters on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River from hazards associated with a fireworks display. The potential hazards to mariners within the safety zone include accidental discharge of fireworks, dangerous projectiles, and falling hot embers or other debris.

    C. Discussion of the Final Rule

    On May 30, 2015, the City of Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism will be hosting the Elizabeth River Park Grand Re-opening which will include a fireworks display on the bank of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, VA. The fireworks debris fallout area will extend over the navigable waters of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.

    The Captain of the Port of Hampton Roads is establishing a safety zone on specified waters of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, VA. The fireworks will be launched from the shore located in the Elizabeth River Park. The safety zone will encompass all navigable waters within a 140 foot radius of the fireworks launching location at position 36°48′31.0818″ N, longitude 076°17′14.2506″ W. This safety zone will be established and enforced from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 30, 2015. Access to the safety zone will be restricted during the specified date and times. Except for participants and vessels authorized by the Captain of the Port of his Representative, no person or vessel may enter or remain in the regulated area.

    The Captain of the Port will give notice of the enforcement of the safety zone by all appropriate means to provide the widest dissemination of notice to the affected segments of the public. This includes publication in the Local Notice to Mariners and Marine Information Broadcasts.

    D. Regulatory Analyses

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

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders. Although this safety zone restricts vessel traffic through the regulated area, the effect of this rule will not be significant because: (i) This rule will only be enforced for the limited size and duration of the event; and (ii) the Coast Guard will make extensive notification to the maritime community via marine information broadcasts so mariners may adjust their plans accordingly.

    2. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule affects the following entities, some of which might be small entities: The owners or operators of vessels intending to transit or anchor in waters of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River during the enforcement period.

    This safety zone will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: (i) The safety zone is of limited size and duration, and (ii) Sector Hampton Roads will issue maritime advisories widely available to users of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River allowing mariners to adjust their plans accordingly.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

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

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

    4. Collection of Information

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

    5. Federalism

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

    6. Protest Activities

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

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    8. Taking of Private Property

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

    9. Civil Justice Reform

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

    10. Protection of Children

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

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    12. Energy Effects

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

    13. Technical Standards

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

    14. Environment

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T05-0117 to read as follows:
    165.T05-0117 Safety Zone, Southern Branch Elizabeth River; Chesapeake, VA.

    (a) Definitions. For the purposes of this section:

    Captain of the Port means the Commander, Sector Hampton Roads.

    Participants mean individuals responsible for launching the fireworks.

    Representative means any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been authorized to act on the behalf of the Captain of the Port.

    (b) Locations. The following area is a safety zone:

    (1) All waters of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River within a 140 foot radius of the fireworks display in approximate position 36°48′31.0818″ N, 076°17′14.2506″ W, located near the Elizabeth River Park, Chesapeake, Virginia.

    (c) Regulations.

    (1) All persons are required to comply with the general regulations governing safety zones in § 165.23 of this part.

    (2) With the exception of participants, entry into or remaining in this safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads or his designated representatives.

    (3) All vessels underway within this safety zone at the time it is implemented are to depart the zone immediately.

    (4) The Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads or his representative can be reached at telephone number (757) 668-5555.

    (5) The Coast Guard vessels enforcing the safety zone can be contacted on VHF-FM marine band radio channel 13 (165.65Mhz) and channel 16 (156.8 Mhz).

    (6) This section applies to all persons or vessels wishing to transit through the safety zone except participants and vessels that are engaged in the following operations:

    (i) Enforcing laws;

    (ii) servicing aids to navigation, and

    (iii) Emergency response vessels.

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

    (d) Enforcement periods. This rule will be enforced from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 30, 2015.

    Dated: April 17, 2015. Christopher S. Keane, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Hampton Roads.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10018 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2011-0969; FRL-9926-81-Region 5] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Indiana; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve elements of a state implementation plan (SIP) submission by Indiana regarding the infrastructure requirements of sections 110(a)(1) and (2) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA. The proposed rulemaking associated with this final action was published on August 19, 2013, and EPA received two comment letters during the comment period, which ended on September 18, 2013. The concerns raised in these letters, as well as EPA's responses, will be addressed in this final action.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-R05-OAR-2011-0969. All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., Confidential Business Information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly-available only in hard copy. Publicly-available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, Air and Radiation Division, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604. This facility is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. We recommend that you telephone Sarah Arra at (312) 886-9401 before visiting the Region 5 office.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarah Arra, Environmental Scientist, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-9401, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA. This supplementary information section is arranged as follows:

    I. What is the background of this SIP submission? II. What is our response to comments received on the proposed rulemaking? III. What action is EPA taking? IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. What is the background of this SIP submission? A. What does this rulemaking address?

    This rulemaking addresses a December 12, 2011, submission from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) intended to meet the applicable infrastructure SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    B. Why did the state make this SIP submission?

    Under sections 110(a)(1) and (2) of the CAA, states are required to submit infrastructure SIPs to ensure that their SIPs provide for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS, including the 2008 ozone NAAQS. These submissions must contain any revisions needed for meeting the applicable SIP requirements of section 110(a)(2), or certifications that their existing SIPs for ozone already meet those requirements.

    EPA has highlighted this statutory requirement in multiple guidance documents, including the most recent guidance document entitled “Guidance on Infrastructure State Implementation Plan (SIP) Elements under CAA Sections 110(a)(1) and (2)” issued on September 13, 2013.

    C. What is the scope of this rulemaking?

    EPA is acting upon Indiana's SIP submission that addresses the infrastructure requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(1) and 110(a)(2) for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The requirement for states to make SIP submissions of this type arises out of CAA section 110(a)(1). Pursuant to section 110(a)(1), states must make SIP submissions “within 3 years (or such shorter period as the Administrator may prescribe) after the promulgation of a national primary ambient air quality standard (or any revision thereof),” and these SIP submissions are to provide for the “implementation, maintenance, and enforcement” of such NAAQS. The statute directly imposes on states the duty to make these SIP submissions, and the requirement to make the submissions is not conditioned upon EPA's taking any action other than promulgating a new or revised NAAQS. Section 110(a)(2) includes a list of specific elements that “[e]ach such plan” submission must address.

    EPA has historically referred to these SIP submissions made for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(1) and 110(a)(2) as “infrastructure SIP” submissions. Although the term “infrastructure SIP” does not appear in the CAA, EPA uses the term to distinguish this particular type of SIP submission from submissions that are intended to satisfy other SIP requirements under the CAA, such as “nonattainment SIP” or “attainment plan SIP” submissions to address the nonattainment planning requirements of part D of title I of the CAA, “regional haze SIP” submissions required by EPA rule to address the visibility protection requirements of CAA section 169A, and nonattainment new source review (NNSR) permit program submissions to address the permit requirements of CAA, title I, part D.

    This rulemaking will not cover three substantive areas that are not integral to acting on a state's infrastructure SIP submission: (i) Existing provisions related to excess emissions during periods of start-up, shutdown, or malfunction (“SSM”)at sources, that may be contrary to the CAA and EPA's policies addressing such excess emissions; (ii) existing provisions related to “director's variance” or “director's discretion” that purport to permit revisions to SIP approved emissions limits with limited public process or without requiring further approval by EPA, that may be contrary to the CAA (collectively referred to as “director's discretion”); and, (iii) existing provisions for Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) programs that may be inconsistent with current requirements of EPA's “Final NSR Improvement Rule,” 67 FR 80186 (December 31, 2002), as amended by 72 FR 32526 (June 13, 2007) (“NSR Reform”). Instead, EPA has the authority to address each one of these substantive areas in separate rulemaking. A detailed rationale, history, and interpretation related to infrastructure SIP requirements can be found in our May 13, 2014, proposed rule entitled, “Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Lead NAAQS” in the section, “What is the scope of this rulemaking?” (see 79 FR 27241 at 27242-27245).

    In addition, EPA is not acting on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), interstate transport significant contribution and interference with maintenance, a portion of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) with respect to visibility, and 110(a)(2)(J) with respect to visibility. EPA is also not acting on section 110(a)(2)(I)—Nonattainment Area Plan or Plan Revisions Under Part D, in its entirety. The rationale for not acting on elements of these requirements was included in EPA's August 19, 2013, proposed rulemaking or discussed below in today's response to comments.

    II. What is our response to comments received on the proposed rulemaking?

    The public comment period for EPA's proposed actions with respect to Indiana's satisfaction of the infrastructure SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS closed on September 18, 2013. EPA received two comment letters, which were from the Sierra Club and the state of Connecticut. A synopsis of the comments contained in these letters and EPA's responses are provided below.

    Comment 1: The Sierra Club states that, on its face, the CAA “requires I-SIPs to be adequate to prevent violations of the NAAQS.” In support, the commenter quotes the language in section 110(a)(1) that requires states to adopt a plan for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS and the language in section 110(a)(2)(A) which requires SIPs to include enforceable emissions limitations as may be necessary to meet the requirements of the CAA and which commenters claimed include the maintenance plan requirement. Sierra Club notes the CAA definition of “emission limit” and reads these provisions together to require “enforceable emission limitations on source emissions sufficient to ensure maintenance of the NAAQS.”

    Response 1: EPA disagrees that section 110 must be interpreted in the manner suggested by Sierra Club. Section 110 is only one provision that is part of the complex structure governing implementation of the NAAQS program under the CAA, as amended in 1990, and it must be interpreted in the context of not only that structure, but also of the historical evolution of that structure. In light of the revisions to section 110 since 1970 and the later-promulgated and more specific planning requirements of the CAA, EPA interprets the requirement in section 110(a)(2)(A) that the plan provide for “implementation, maintenance and enforcement” to mean that the infrastructure SIP must contain enforceable emission limits that will aid in attaining and/or maintaining the NAAQS and that the state demonstrate that it has the necessary tools to implement and enforce a NAAQS, such as adequate state personnel and an enforcement program.

    With regard to the requirement for emission limitations, EPA has interpreted this to mean that, for purposes of section 110, the state may rely on measures already in place to address the pollutant at issue or any new control measures that the state may choose to submit. As EPA stated in “Guidance on Infrastructure State Implementation Plan (SIP) Elements under CAA Sections 110(a)(1) and 110(a)(2),” dated September 13, 2013 (Infrastructure SIP Guidance), “[t]he conceptual purpose of an infrastructure SIP submission is to assure that the air agency's SIP contains the necessary structural requirements for the new or revised NAAQS, whether by establishing that the SIP already contains the necessary provisions, by making a substantive SIP revision to update the SIP, or both. Overall, the infrastructure SIP submission process provides an opportunity . . . to review the basic structural requirements of the air agency's air quality management program in light of each new or revised NAAQS.” Infrastructure SIP Guidance at p. 2.

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

    Response 2: The CAA, as enacted in 1970, including its legislative history, cannot be interpreted in isolation from the later amendments that refined that structure and deleted relevant language from section 110 concerning demonstrating attainment. In any event, the two excerpts of legislative history the commenter cites merely provide that states should include enforceable emission limits in their SIPs; they do not mention or otherwise address whether states are required to include maintenance plans for all areas of the state as part of the infrastructure SIP.

    Comment 3: Sierra Club cites to 40 CFR 51.112(a), providing that each plan must “demonstrate that the measures, rules, and regulations contained in it are adequate to provide for the timely attainment and maintenance of the [NAAQS].” The commenter asserts that this regulation requires all SIPs to include emissions limits necessary to ensure attainment of the NAAQS. The commenter states that “[a]lthough these regulations were developed before the Clean Air Act separated Infrastructure SIPs from nonattainment SIPs—a process that began with the 1977 amendments and was completed by the 1990 amendments—the regulations apply to I-SIPs.” The commenter relies on a statement in the preamble to the 1986 action restructuring and consolidating provisions in part 51, in which EPA stated that “[i]t is beyond the scope of th[is] rulemaking to address the provisions of Part D of the Act. . . .” 51 FR 40656 (November 7, 1986).

    Response 3: The commenter's reliance on 40 CFR 51.112 to support its argument that infrastructure SIPs must contain emission limits “adequate to prohibit NAAQS violations” and adequate or sufficient to ensure the maintenance of the NAAQS is not supported. As an initial matter, EPA notes and the commenter recognizes this regulatory provision was initially promulgated and “restructured and consolidated” prior to the CAA Amendments of 1990, in which Congress removed all references to “attainment” in section 110(a)(2)(A). In addition, it is clear on its face that 40 CFR 51.112 applies to plans specifically designed to attain the NAAQS. EPA interprets these provisions to apply when states are developing “control strategy” SIPs such as the detailed attainment and maintenance plans required under other provisions of the CAA, as amended in 1977 and again in 1990, such as section 175A and 182.

    The commenter suggests that these provisions must apply to section 110 SIPs because in the preamble to EPA's action “restructuring and consolidating” provisions in part 51, EPA stated that the new attainment demonstration provisions in the 1977 Amendments to the CAA were “beyond the scope” of the rulemaking. It is important to note, however, that EPA's action in 1986 was not to establish new substantive planning requirements, but rather to consolidate and restructure provisions that had previously been promulgated. EPA noted that it had already issued guidance addressing the new “Part D” attainment planning obligations. Also, as to maintenance regulations, EPA expressly stated that it was not making any revisions other than to re-number those provisions. Id. at 40657.

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

    Comment 4: Sierra Club references two prior EPA rulemaking actions where EPA disapproved or proposed to disapprove SIPs, and claimed they were actions in which EPA relied on section 110(a)(2)(A) and 40 CFR 51.112 to reject infrastructure SIPs. The commenter first points to a 2006 partial approval and partial disapproval of revisions to Missouri's existing plan addressing the sulfur dioxide (SO2) NAAQS. In that action, EPA cited section 110(a)(2)(A) as a basis for disapproving a revision to the state plan on the basis that the state failed to demonstrate the SIP was sufficient to ensure maintenance of the SO2 NAAQS after revision of an emission limit and cited to 40 CFR 51.112 as requiring that a plan demonstrates the rules in a SIP are adequate to attain the NAAQS. Second, commenter cites a 2013 proposed disapproval of a revision to the SO2 SIP for Indiana, where the revision removed an emission limit that applied to a specific emissions source at a facility in the state. EPA relied on 40 CFR 51.112(a) in proposing to reject the revision, stating that the state had not demonstrated that the emission limit was “redundant, unnecessary, or that its removal would not result in or allow an increase in actual SO2 emissions.” EPA further stated in that proposed disapproval that the state had not demonstrated that removal of the limit would not “affect the validity of the emission rates used in the existing attainment demonstration.”

    Response 4: EPA does not agree that the two prior actions referenced by the commenter establish how EPA reviews infrastructure SIPs. It is clear from both the final Missouri rule and the now final Indiana rule that EPA was not reviewing initial infrastructure SIP submissions under section 110 of the CAA, but rather reviewing revisions that would make an already approved SIP designed to demonstrate attainment of the NAAQS less stringent.

    EPA's partial approval and partial disapproval of revisions to restrictions on emissions of sulfur compounds for the Missouri SIP addressed a control strategy SIP and not an infrastructure SIP (71 FR 12623).

    The Indiana action provides even less support for the commenter's position (78 FR 78720). The review in that rule was of a completely different requirement than the 110(a)(2)(A) SIP. Rather, in that case, the state had an approved SO2 attainment plan and was seeking to remove from the SIP, provisions relied on as part of the modeled attainment demonstration. EPA determined that the state had failed to demonstrate under section 110(l) of the CAA that the SIP revision would not result in increased SO2 emissions and thus not interfere with attainment of the NAAQS. Nothing in that rulemaking addresses the necessary content of the initial infrastructure SIP for a new or revised NAAQS. Rather, it is simply applying the clear statutory requirement that a state must demonstrate why a revision to an approved attainment plan will not interfere with attainment of the NAAQS.

    Comment 5: Sierra Club discusses several cases applying to the CAA which it claims support its contention that courts have been clear that section 110(a)(2)(A) requires enforceable emissions limits in infrastructure SIPs to prevent violations of the NAAQS and demonstrate maintenance throughout the area. Sierra Club first cites to language in Train v. NRDC, 421 U.S. 60, 78 (1975), addressing the requirement for “emission limitations” and stating that emission limitations “are specific rules to which operators of pollution sources are subject, and which if enforced should result in ambient air which meet the national standards.” Sierra Club also cites to Pennsylvania Dept. of Envtl. Resources v. EPA, 932 F.2d 269, 272 (3d Cir. 1991) for the proposition that the CAA directs EPA to withhold approval of a SIP where it does not ensure maintenance of the NAAQS and Mision Industrial, Inc. v. EPA, 547 F.2d 123, 129 (1st Cir. 1976), which quoted section 110(a)(2)(B) of the CAA of 1970. The commenter contends that the 1990 Amendments do not alter how courts have interpreted the requirements of section 110, quoting Alaska Dept. of Envtl. Conservation v. EPA, 540 U.S. 461, 470 (2004) which in turn quoted section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA and also stated that “SIPs must include certain measures Congress specified” to ensure attainment of the NAAQS. The commenter also quotes several additional opinions in this vein. Mont. Sulphur & Chem. Co. v. EPA, 666 F.3d 1174, 1180 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The Clean Air Act directs states to develop implementation plans—SIPs—that `assure' attainment and maintenance of [NAAQS] through enforceable emissions limitations”); Hall v. EPA 273 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2001) (“Each State must submit a [SIP] that specif[ies] the manner in which [NAAQS] will be achieved and maintained within each air quality control region in the state”). The commenter also cites Mich. Dept. of Envtl. Quality v. Browner, 230 F.3d 181 (6th Cir. 2000) for the proposition that EPA may not approve a SIP revision that does not demonstrate how the rules would not interfere with attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS.

    Response 5: None of the cases the commenter cites supports the commenter's contention that section 110(a)(2)(A) requires that infrastructure SIPs include detailed plans providing for attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS in all areas of the state, nor do they shed light on how section 110(a)(2)(A) may reasonably be interpreted. With the exception of Train, 421 U.S. 60, none of the cases the commenter cites concerned the interpretation of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A) (or section 110(a)(2)(B) of the pre-1990 Act). Rather, in the context of a challenge to an EPA action, revisions to a SIP that were required and approved as meeting other provisions of the CAA or in the context of an enforcement action, the court references section 110(a)(2)(A) (or section 110(a)(2)(B) of the pre-1990 CAA) in the background section of its decision.

    In Train, a case that was decided almost 40 years ago, the court was addressing a state revision to an attainment plan submission made pursuant to section 110 of the CAA, the sole statutory provision at that time regulating such submissions. The issue in that case concerned whether changes to requirements that would occur before attainment was required were variances that should be addressed pursuant to the provision governing SIP revisions or were “postponements” that must be addressed under section 110(f) of the CAA of 1970, which contained prescriptive criteria. The court concluded that EPA reasonably interpreted section 110(f) not to restrict a state's choice of the mix of control measures needed to attain the NAAQS and that revisions to SIPs that would not impact attainment of the NAAQS by the attainment date were not subject to the limits of section 110(f). Thus, the issue was not whether a section 110 SIP needs to provide for attainment or whether emissions limits are needed as part of the SIP; rather the issue was which statutory provision governed when the state wanted to revise the emission limits in its SIP if such revision would not impact attainment or maintenance of the NAAQS. To the extent the holding in the case has any bearing on how section 110(a)(2)(A) might be interpreted, it is important to realize that in 1975, when the opinion was issued, section 110(a)(2)(B) (the predecessor to section 110(a)(2)(A)) expressly referenced the requirement to attain the NAAQS, a reference that was removed in 1990.

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

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

    In Mont. Sulphur & Chem. Co., 666 F.3d 1174, the court was reviewing a Federal implementation plan that EPA promulgated after a long history of the state failing to submit an adequate state implementation plan. The court cited generally to sections 107 and 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA for the proposition that SIPs should assure attainment and maintenance of NAAQS through emission limitations but this language was not part of the court's holding in the case.

    The commenter suggests that Alaska Dept. of Envtl. Conservation, 540 U.S. 461, stands for the proposition that the 1990 CAA Amendments do not alter how courts interpret section 110. This claim is inaccurate. Rather, the court quoted section 110(a)(2)(A), which, as noted previously, differs from the pre-1990 version of that provision and the court makes no mention of the changed language. Furthermore, the commenter also quotes the court's statement that “SIPs must include certain measures Congress specified” but that statement specifically referenced the requirement in section 110(a)(2)(C), which requires an enforcement program and a program for the regulation of the modification and construction of new sources. Notably, at issue in that case was the state's “new source” permitting program, not its infrastructure SIP.

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

    Comment 6: Sierra Club contends that EPA cannot approve the section 110(a)(2)(A) portion of Indiana's 2008 ozone infrastructure SIP revision because an infrastructure SIP should include enforceable emission limits to prevent NAAQS violations in areas not designated nonattainment. Specifically, Sierra Club cited air monitoring reports for Clark, Floyd, and LaPorte Counties indicating violations of the NAAQS based on 2010-2012 and 2011-2013 design values and air quality monitoring reports for Greene County indicating violations based on data from 2010-2012. The commenter alleges that these violations demonstrate that the infrastructure SIP fails to ensure that air pollution levels meet or are below the level of the NAAQS and thus the infrastructure SIP must be disapproved. Sierra Club noted that the violation of the NAAQS based on data from 2010-2012 had been known for over four months, and that Indiana failed to strengthen its infrastructure SIP and address the violations by enacting enforceable limits.

    Furthermore, the commenter suggests that the state adopt specific controls that they contend are cost-effective for reducing NOx, a precursor to ozone.

    Response 6: We disagree with the commenter that infrastructure SIPs must include detailed attainment and maintenance plans for all areas of the state and must be disapproved if air quality data that became available late in the process or after the SIP was due and submitted changes the status of areas within the state. We believe that section 110(a)(2)(A) is reasonably interpreted to require states to submit SIPs that reflect the first step in their planning for attaining and maintaining a new or revised NAAQS and that they contain enforceable control measures and a demonstration that the state has the available tools and authority to develop and implement plans to attain and maintain the NAAQS.

    The suggestion that the infrastructure SIP must include measures addressing violations of the standard that did not occur until shortly before or even after the SIP was due and submitted cannot be supported. The CAA provides states with three years to develop infrastructure SIPs and states cannot reasonably be expected to address the annual change in an area's design value for each year over that period. Moreover, the CAA recognizes and has provisions to address changes in air quality over time, such as an area slipping from attainment to nonattainment or changing from nonattainment to attainment. These include provisions providing for redesignation in section 107(d) and provisions in section 110(k)(5) allowing EPA to call on the state to revise its SIP, as appropriate.

    We do not believe that section 110(a)(2)(A) requires detailed planning SIPs demonstrating either attainment or maintenance for specific geographic areas of the state. The infrastructure SIP is triggered by promulgation of the NAAQS, not designation. Moreover, infrastructure SIPs are due three years following promulgation of the NAAQS and designations are not due until two years (or in some cases three years) following promulgation of the NAAQS. Thus, during a significant portion of the period that the state has available for developing the infrastructure SIP, it does not know what the designation will be for individual areas of the state.1 In light of the structure of the CAA, EPA's long-standing position regarding infrastructure SIPs is that they are general planning SIPs to ensure that the state has adequate resources and authority to implement a NAAQS in general throughout the state and not detailed attainment and maintenance plans for each individual area of the state.

    1 While it is true that there may be some monitors within a state with values so high as to make a nonattainment designation of the county with that monitor almost a certainty, the geographic boundaries of the nonattainment area associated with that monitor would not be known until EPA issues final designations.

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

    In 1977, Congress recognized that the existing structure was not sufficient and many areas were still violating the NAAQS. At that time, Congress for the first time added provisions requiring states and EPA to identify whether areas of the state were violating the NAAQS (i.e., were nonattainment) or were meeting the NAAQS (i.e., were attainment) and established specific planning requirements in section 172 for areas not meeting the NAAQS.

    In 1990, many areas still had air quality not meeting the NAAQS and Congress again amended the CAA and added yet another layer of more prescriptive planning requirements for each of the NAAQS, with the primary provisions for ozone in section 182. At that same time, Congress modified section 110 to remove references to the section 110 SIP providing for attainment, including removing pre-existing section 110(a)(2)(A) in its entirety and renumbering subparagraph (B) as section 110(a)(2)(A).

    Additionally, Congress replaced the clause “as may be necessary to insure attainment and maintenance [of the NAAQS]” with “as may be necessary or appropriate to meet the applicable requirements of this chapter.” Thus, the CAA has significantly evolved in the more than 40 years since it was originally enacted. While at one time section 110 did provide the only detailed SIP planning provisions for states and specified that such plans must provide for attainment of the NAAQS, under the structure of the current CAA, section 110 is only the initial stepping-stone in the planning process for a specific NAAQS. And, more detailed, later-enacted provisions govern the substantive planning process, including planning for attainment of the NAAQS.

    For all of the above reasons, we disagree with the commenter that EPA must disapprove an infrastructure SIP revision if there are monitored violations of the standard in the state and the section 110(a)(2)(A) revision does not have detailed plans for demonstrating how the state will bring that area into attainment. Rather, EPA believes that the proper inquiry at this juncture is whether the state has met the basic structural SIP requirements appropriate when EPA is acting upon the submittal.

    Moreover, Indiana's SIP contains existing emission reduction measures that control emissions of VOCs and NOX found in 326 IAC 8 and 326 IAC 10, respectively. Indiana's SIP revision reflects several provisions that have the ability to reduce ground level ozone and its precursors. The Indiana SIP relies on measures and programs used to implement previous ozone NAAQS. Because there is no substantive difference between the previous ozone NAAQS and the more recent ozone NAAQS, other than the level of the standard, the provisions relied on by Indiana will provide benefits for the new NAAQS; in other words, the measures reduce overall ground-level ozone and its precursors and are not limited to reducing ozone levels to meet one specific NAAQS. Further, in approving Indiana's infrastructure SIP revision, EPA is affirming that Indiana has sufficient authority to take the types of actions required by the CAA in order to bring such areas back into attainment.

    Comment 7: Sierra Club asserted that Indiana's infrastructure SIP fails to meet the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(A) and section 110(a)(2)(E) because IC 13-14-8-8 contains provisions that would allow the board to grant variances to rules when the rules would impose “undue hardships or burden.” The commenter noted that EPA had cited IC 13-14-8 as one of IDEM's mechanisms for satisfying the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(A) and section 110(a)(2)(E), but contended that the variance provisions in IC 13-14-8-8 are too broad and vague to ensure that emission limits and controls are properly enforced, or to ensure that adequate legal authority is provided to carry out Indiana's SIP. Therefore, EPA cannot approve IC 13-14-8 to meet any requirements of section 110.

    Response 7: EPA disagrees the commenter's claim that Indiana's infrastructure SIP fails to meet the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(A) and section 110(a)(2)(E). As an initial matter, IC 13-14-8-8 is not a regulation that has been approved into the SIP. Thus, any variance granted by the state pursuant to this provision would not modify the requirements of the SIP. Furthermore, for a variance from the state to be approved into the SIP, a demonstration must be made under CAA section 110(l) showing that the revision does not interfere with any requirements of the act including attainment or maintenance of a NAAQS. We disagree that the existence of this provision as solely a matter of state law means that the state does not have adequate authority to carry out the implementation plan.

    Comment 8: Sierra Club asserted that EPA must disapprove Indiana's infrastructure SIP because it does not address the visibility provisions under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II). The commenter noted that EPA's basis for proposing approval for the visibility protection provisions of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) was contingent upon EPA's claim that Indiana has an approved regional haze SIP. The commenter contended that Indiana's regional haze SIP was only partially approved and no action has been taken on issues addressing the Best Available Retrofit Technology requirements for EGUs. Therefore, the commenter believes that EPA must disapprove the visibility protection requirements found in section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) for Indiana's infrastructure SIP.

    Response 8: The commenter is correct that EPA issued a limited disapproval of Indiana's regional haze SIP. Our limited disapproval was based on Indiana's reliance on the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to satisfy certain requirements for controlling emissions of SO2 and NOX from EGUs. EPA also issued a limited approval of the remaining portion of the regional haze plan. However, in response to this comment, EPA is not taking final action today on the portion of Indiana's infrastructure SIP addressing the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) with respect to visibility.

    Comment 9: Sierra Club asserted that EPA must disapprove Indiana's infrastructure SIP because it does not address the visibility protection provisions, as described above, for section 110(a)(2)(J). The commenter contended that EPA did not provide a rationale for why the visibility provisions in section 110(a)(2)(J) are not applicable to the 2008 Pb and 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    Response 9: The visibility requirements in part C of the CAA that are referenced in section 110(a)(2)(J) are not affected by the establishment or revision of a NAAQS. As a result, there are no “applicable” visibility protection obligations associated with the promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS. Because there are no applicable requirements, states are not required to address section 110(a)(2)(J) in their infrastructure SIP.

    Comment 10: Sierra Club stated that EPA cannot approve Indiana's infrastructure SIP, specifically the infrastructure element under section 110(a)(2)(A), for the 2008 ozone NAAQS because the state has not incorporated this NAAQS into the SIP. Instead, the commenter noted that the SIP at the time of proposed rulemaking, specifically at 326 Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 1-3-4(b)(4)(B), contained the older 8-hour ozone NAAQS promulgated in 1997.

    Response 10: In a rulemaking published on December 18, 2014 (79 FR 75527), EPA approved revisions to Indiana's SIP incorporating the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    Comment 11: Sierra Club asserted that EPA must clarify two repealed regulations that were cited in the proposed rulemaking. Specifically, the commenter observed that EPA cited 326 IAC 11-5 as helping Indiana satisfy the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(G) “Emergency Powers” and IC 13-4-8 which was cited to satisfy section 110(a)(2)(H), “Future SIP Revisions.”

    Response 11: EPA did not intend to engender any confusion with these citations. The commenter is correct in noting that 326 IAC 11-5 has been repealed. That rule was of little relevance to section 110(a)(2)(G) and was incorrectly cited; the correct citation that was provided by IDEM is SIP-approved IAC 1-5, “Alert Levels.” In a similar manner, IDEM provided IC 13-14-8 as helping to meet the requirements under section 110(a)(2)(H), but EPA incorrectly cited IC 13-4-8.

    Comment 12: Sierra Club asserted that EPA must disapprove portions of Indiana's infrastructure SIP for the 2008 ozone NAAQS addressing certain PM2.5 requirements under section 110(a)(2)(C). In particular, the commenter objected to the fact that Indiana has not codified the increments for areas designated as class I or class III for PM2.5. The commenter noted that while Indiana does not have class I or class III areas, the increments for class I and class III areas are still a requirement to satisfy section 110(a)(2)(C). The commenter contends it is insufficient for EPA to “hope” that the state will adopt the increments if areas in the state are later redesignated to class I or class III, and therefore EPA must disapprove this section of Indiana's infrastructure SIP.

    Response 12: EPA disagrees with the commenter's view that Indiana's infrastructure SIP related to section 110(a)(2)(C) must be disapproved because the state has not codified the PM2.5 increments for class I and class III areas as provided at 40 CFR 52.166(c) and 40 CFR 52.21(c). As explained in the August 19, 2013, proposed approval, Indiana does not currently have any areas designated class I or class III for PM2.5. Accordingly, EPA does not consider the PM2.5 increments for class I and class III areas to be necessary for the implementation of PSD permitting in Indiana at this time. In the event that areas in Indiana are one day classified as class I or class III, EPA expects IDEM to adopt these increments and submit them for incorporation into the SIP (see 78 FR 50360 at 50364). Federal regulations at 40 CFR 51.166(g)(1) and 52.21(g)(1) specify that if a state seeks to have an area reclassified to either class I or class III, it must submit such a request as a revision to its SIP for approval by the EPA Administrator. Thus, no areas in Indiana can be reclassified to class I or class III without EPA approval, and the process of evaluating such a request for approval requires a notice-and-comment rulemaking process. The EPA and other interested parties can evaluate the adequacy of Indiana's PSD regulations as they apply to the proposed reclassified area at that time and, if necessary, initiate a process to cure any identified deficiency. However, at this time, EPA does not believe there to be an applicability gap for the PM2.5 increments as they apply in the state of Indiana.

    Comment 13: The State of Connecticut asserts that its ability to attain the 2008 ozone NAAQS is substantially compromised by the transport of pollution from upwind states. Specifically, modeling conducted by both the Ozone Transport Commission and EPA as part of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) shows emissions from Indiana contributing to the nonattainment problem in Connecticut. The State of Connecticut states that it has done its share to reduce in-state emissions, and EPA should ensure that each upwind state addresses contribution to another downwind state's nonattainment. With regard to the “good neighbor provision” in Section 1109(a)(1) of the CAA, Connecticut characterizes Indiana's 2008 ozone submission as relying on state regulations which implement the Clean Air Interstate Rule and CSAPR, and that such programs were intended by EPA to address the 1997 ozone NAAQS and not the more stringent 2008 standard. Connecticut asserts EPA should therefore disapprove the Indiana submission. Connecticut also states that, under section 110(a)(2), Indiana was required to submit a complete SIP that demonstrated compliance with the good neighbor provision of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). Connecticut further suggests that the CAA does not give EPA discretion to take no action on the submitted good neighbor provisions on the grounds of taking a separate action. Instead, it asserts that the only action available to EPA is to determine the approvability of the good neighbor provision of Indiana's 2008 ozone NAAQS infrastructure SIP submission, or promulgate a FIP under section 110(c)(1) within two years.

    Response 13: As explained in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR), this action does not address, for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, the good neighbor provision in section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), which prohibits emissions that significantly contribute to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance of the NAAQS in another state. Thus, to the extent the comment relates to the substance or approvability of the good neighbor provision in Indiana's 2008 ozone infrastructure SIP submission, the comment is not relevant to the present rulemaking. As stated herein and in the NPR, EPA will take later, separate action to address section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    EPA disagrees with the commenter's argument that EPA cannot approve a SIP without the good neighbor provision. Section 110(k)(3) of the CAA authorizes EPA to approve a plan in full, disapprove it in full, or approve it in part and disapprove it in part, depending on the extent to which such plan meets the requirements of the CAA. This authority to approve the states' SIP revisions in separable parts was included in the 1990 Amendments to the CAA to overrule a decision in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding that EPA could not approve individual measures in a plan submission without either approving or disapproving the plan as a whole. See S. Rep. No. 101-228, at 22, 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3385, 3408 (discussing the express overruling of Abramowitz v. EPA, 832 F.2d 1071 (9th Cir. 1987)).

    The Agency interprets its authority under section 110(k)(3) as affording it the discretion to approve or conditionally approve individual elements of Indiana's infrastructure submission for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, separate and apart from any action with respect to the requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) with respect to that NAAQS. EPA views discrete infrastructure SIP requirements, such as the requirements of 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), as severable from the other infrastructure elements, and interprets section 110(k)(3) as allowing EPA to act on individual severable measures in a plan submission. In short, EPA has discretion under section 110(k) to act upon the various individual elements of the state's infrastructure SIP submission, separately or together, as appropriate. The commenter raises no compelling legal or environmental rationale for an alternate interpretation.

    EPA notes, however, that it is working with state partners to assess next steps to address air pollution that crosses state boundaries and will later take a separate action to address section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. EPA's approval of the Indiana infrastructure SIP submission for the 2008 ozone NAAQS for the portions described in the NPR is, therefore, appropriate.

    III. What action is EPA taking?

    For the reasons discussed in our August 19, 2013, proposed rulemaking and in the above responses to public comments, EPA is taking final action to approve Indiana's infrastructure SIP for the 2008 ozone NAAQS as proposed with the exception of not taking final action on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) with respect to visibility. In EPA's August 19, 2013, proposed rulemaking for these infrastructure SIPs, EPA also proposed to approve Indiana's satisfaction of the state board requirements contained in section 128 of the CAA, as well as certain PSD requirements obligated by EPA's October 20, 2010, final rule on the “Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) for Particulate Matter Less Than 2.5 Micrometers (PM2.5)—Increments, Significant Impact Levels (SILs), Significant Monitoring Concentration (SMC)” (2010 NSR Rule), and the infrastructure requirements for the 2008 lead NAAQS. The final approvals for each of the above requirements were published in the Federal Register on December 24, 2013 (see 78 FR 77599, state board requirements), July 2, 2014 (see 79 FR 37646, 2010 NSR Rule requirements), August 11, 2013 (see 78 FR 46709, 2010 NSR Rule requirements, continued), and October 16, 2014 (see 79 FR 62035, 2008 Lead Infrastructure requirements). In today's rulemaking, we are taking final action on only the infrastructure SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Our final actions by element of section 110(a)(2) and NAAQS, are contained in the table below.

    Element 2008 Ozone NAAQS (A): Emission limits and other control measures A (B): Ambient air quality monitoring and data system A (C)1: Enforcement of SIP measures A (C)2: PSD A (D)1: Contribute to nonattainment/interfere with maintenance of NAAQS NA (D)2: PSD A (D)3: Visibility Protection NA (D)4: Interstate Pollution Abatement A (D)5: International Pollution Abatement A (E)1: Adequate resources A (E)2: State boards A (F): Stationary source monitoring system A (G): Emergency power A (H): Future SIP revisions A (I): Nonattainment area plan or plan revisions under part D NA (J)1: Consultation with government officials A (J)2: Public notification A (J)3: PSD A (J)4: Visibility protection (Regional Haze) NA (K): Air quality modeling and data A (L): Permitting fees A (M): Consultation and participation by affected local entities A

    In the table above, the key is as follows:

    A Approve. NA No Action/Separate Rulemaking. IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA 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 CAA; and

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

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

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this 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 June 29, 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, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: April 16, 2015. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, Region 5.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    2. In § 52.770, the table in paragraph (e) is amended by adding an entry in alphabetical order for “Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS” to read as follows:
    § 52.770 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Indiana Nonregulatory and Quasi-Regulatory Provisions Title Indiana date EPA Approval Explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS 12/12/2011 4/29/2015, [insert Federal Register citation] This action addresses the following CAA elements: 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II) except visibility, (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J) except visibility, (K), (L), and (M). *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2015-09883 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R10-OAR-2014-0755; FRL-9926-95-Region 10] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Washington: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Visibility Protection AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving revisions to the Washington State Implementation Plan (SIP) that were submitted by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) on January 27, 2014. These revisions implement the preconstruction permitting regulations for large industrial (major source) facilities in attainment and unclassifiable areas, called the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program. The PSD program in Washington has been historically operated under a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP). This approval of Ecology's PSD program narrows the FIP to include only those few facilities, emission sources, geographic areas, and permits for which Ecology does not have PSD permitting jurisdiction or authority. The EPA is also approving Ecology's visibility protection permitting program which overlaps significantly with the PSD program.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-R10-OAR-2014-0755. 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, e.g., Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Air Planning Unit, Office of Air, Waste and Toxics, EPA Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. The EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to view the hard copy of the docket. You may view the hard copy of the docket Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Hunt at (206) 553-0256, hunt.jeff[email protected], or by using the above EPA, Region 10 address.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Definitions

    For the purpose of this document, we are giving meaning to certain words or initials as follows:

    (i) The words or initials “Act” or “CAA” mean or refer to the Clean Air Act, unless the context indicates otherwise.

    (ii) The words “EPA”, “we”, “us” or “our” mean or refer to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    (iii) The initials “SIP” mean or refer to State Implementation Plan.

    (iv) The words “Washington” and “State” mean the State of Washington.

    Table of Contents I. Background Information II. Response to Comments III. Final Action IV. Incorporation by Reference V. Statutory and Executive Orders Review I. Background Information

    On January 27, 2014, Ecology submitted revisions to update the general air quality regulations contained in Chapter 173-400 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that apply to sources within Ecology's jurisdiction, including minor new source review, major source nonattainment new source review (major NNSR), PSD, and the visibility protection (visibility) program. On October 3, 2014, the EPA finalized approval of provisions contained in Chapter 173-400 WAC that apply generally to all sources under Ecology's jurisdiction, but stated that we would act separately on the major source-specific permitting programs in a phased approach (79 FR 59653). On November 7, 2014, the EPA finalized the second phase in the series, approving the major NNSR regulations contained in WAC 173-400-800 through 173-400-860, as well as other parts of Chapter 173-400 WAC that support major NNSR (79 FR 66291).

    On January 7, 2015, the EPA proposed approval of the remainder of Ecology's January 27, 2014 submittal, covering the PSD and visibility requirements for major stationary sources under Ecology's jurisdiction (80 FR 838). An explanation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements, submitted revisions, and the EPA's reasons for and limitations of the proposed approval are provided in the notice of proposed rulemaking, which, together with this document, provides the basis for our final action. The public comment period for this proposed rule ended on February 6, 2015. The EPA received two sets of similar comments on the proposal.

    Before addressing the public comments, the EPA is clarifying its discussion in the January 7, 2015 proposal, regarding two important distinctions between the applicability of Ecology's minor NSR program and its PSD program. These differences arise from the State's definitions of the terms “modification” in WAC 173-400-030(48) and “major modification” in WAC 173-400-710 and -720, which adopt the Federal definitions in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(2) for Ecology's PSD program. See 80 FR at 840. The proposal first noted that the applicability test for “modifications” under Ecology's minor NSR program is based on the definition of modification in CAA section 111(a)(4) and the EPA's implementing rules at 40 CFR 60.14, and specifically, that a modification is an increase in the emission rate of an existing facility in terms of kilograms per hour. See WAC 173-400-030(48). The proposal then noted that the applicability test under the Federal PSD program is based on tons per year. The EPA is clarifying here that under Washington's PSD program, the determination of whether a project (as that term is defined in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(52) and which is adopted by reference at WAC 173-400-720(4)(a)(vi)) is a “major modification” is, consistent with the Federal PSD program, based on whether the project results in both a significant emissions increase and a significant net emissions increase in terms of tons per year. See WAC 400-173-720(4)(a)(vi) (which adopts by reference the Federal PSD applicability test and definitions in 40 CFR 52.21(a)(2) and (b)(2), respectively); see also WAC 173-400-710(a). Therefore, as stated in the proposal, for any physical or operational change at an existing stationary source, regulated sources and permitting authorities will need to calculate emission changes in terms of both kilograms per hour and tons per year to determine whether changes are subject to minor NSR, PSD, or both.

    Second, the proposal discussed a difference in minor NSR versus PSD review in Washington that arises from a limitation on the scope of the review of a modification under Ecology's minor NSR program. The EPA first noted that, under Ecology's minor NSR program, new source review of a modification is limited to the emission unit or units proposed to be modified and the air contaminants whose emissions would increase as a result of the modification. See WAC 173-400-110(1)(d) (“New source review of a modification is limited to the emission unit or units proposed to be modified and the air contaminants whose emissions would increase as a result of the modification.”). In contrasting this minor NSR provision with the requirements of Ecology's PSD program (and the Federal PSD program), the EPA incorrectly used the phrase “new and modified units” rather than the terms “new emissions units” and “existing emissions units,” the terminology used in 40 CFR 52.21(a)(2), which is incorporated into Washington's PSD regulations and the subject of this final SIP approval. The EPA is emphasizing here that, under Ecology's PSD program (as under the Federal PSD program), review of a project that is a “major modification” must be done in accordance with the provisions of WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750, and that the limitation in WAC 173-400-110(1)(d) on the review of a “modification” does not apply to a “major modification.” See WAC 173-400-110(1)(d) (“Review of a major modification must comply with WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750 or 173-400-800 through 173-400-860, as applicable.”).

    II. Response to Comments

    The EPA received two sets of similar comments from the Northwest Pulp & Paper Association and the Washington Forest Protection Association regarding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial combustion of biomass.

    A. CO2 Emissions From Industrial Combustion of Both Fossil Fuel and Biomass

    Comment: The EPA must clearly explain in the final approval that, due to the limitations imposed by Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 70.235.020(3) concerning the industrial combustion of biomass,1 the EPA is retaining the authority to conduct the best available control technology (BACT) analysis for PSD permits only for biogenic CO2 emissions from biomass and will coordinate its processing and issuance of PSD permits with the Department of Ecology. One of the commenters specifically requests clarity regarding situations where there are multiple combustion fuels producing CO2 from a source and whether Ecology would retain PSD permitting authority for CO2 emissions resulting from the industrial combustion of non-biomass fuels from such a source.

    1 Note that one commenter refers to the exemption in RCW 70.235.020(3) as applying to “forest biomass” and points to the definition of that term in RCW 79.02.010(7)(a). RCW 70.235.020(3), however, uses the term “biomass,” not “forest biomass,” and nothing in RCW Ch. 70.235 indicates that the definitions in RCW Ch. 79.02 are to be used in interpreting RCW Ch. 70.235. We therefore continue to use the terminology in RCW Ch. 79.02 in describing the scope of the remaining Federal Implementation Plan for PSD in Washington.

    Response: As discussed in the proposal of this rule, RCW 70.235.020(3) statutorily bars Ecology from regulating CO2 under Ecology's PSD program in some circumstances. That statute provides that “[e]xcept for purposes of reporting, emissions of carbon dioxide from industrial combustion of biomass in the form of fuel wood, wood waste, wood by-products, and wood residuals shall not be considered a greenhouse gas as long as the region's silvicultural sequestration capacity is maintained or increased.” The EPA has been actively examining whether under Federal law CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass may be exempt from the PSD permitting requirements in a manner similar to RCW 70.235.020(3). In 2011, the EPA adopted a rule that deferred, for a period of three years, the application of the PSD and Title V permitting requirements to CO2 emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic stationary sources (biogenic CO2). 76 FR 43490 (July 20, 2011) (Biomass Deferral Rule). During the three-year deferral period, the EPA conducted a detailed examination of the science associated with biogenic CO2 emissions from stationary sources and developed a document entitled “Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources,” which the Agency submitted to the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) for peer review.

    On July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision overturning the Biomass Deferral Rule. Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA, 722 F.3d 421 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Although this decision has not yet taken effect because of matters still pending in the courts, the Biomass Deferral Rule expired on its own terms on July 21, 2014. The EPA was not able to issue an additional rule before this date addressing the regulation of biogenic CO2 emissions from stationary sources in the PSD permitting program. However, the EPA plans to propose revisions to the PSD rules to include an exemption from the BACT requirement for GHGs from waste-derived feedstocks and from non-waste biogenic feedstocks derived from sustainable forest or agricultural practices. For all other biogenic feedstocks, the EPA intends to propose that biogenic CO2 emissions would remain subject to the GHG BACT requirement at this time. See Memorandum from Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, to EPA Air Division Directors, Regions 1-10, “Addressing Biogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Stationary Sources,” (Nov. 19, 2014). In addition, to continue advancing our understanding of the role biomass can play in reducing overall GHG emissions, the EPA has developed a second draft of the Framework for Assessing Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources, and is initiating a second round of targeted peer review through its SAB.

    Although the EPA is planning to initiate the rulemaking described above that would enable states to avoid applying BACT to GHG emissions from combustion of biogenic feedstocks derived from sustainable forest or agricultural practices, the CAA and EPA regulations presently require that PSD permitting programs address CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass. CO2 is a gas included in the definition of “greenhouse gas” used in the Federal PSD program.2 Because GHGs are a pollutant subject to regulation under the CAA, section 165 of the Act requires GHG emissions from a major source obtaining a PSD permit to be subject to PSD requirements, particularly the requirement to meet emission limitations based on application of BACT. After the expiration of the three-year period in the EPA's Biomass Deferral Rule, there is presently no EPA rule in place that exempts the CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass from the requirements of the PSD permitting program. As discussed in our January 7, 2015 proposal (80 FR 838), because of the Supreme Court decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, 134 S.Ct. 2427, the EPA is not applying the requirement that a state's SIP-approved PSD program require that sources obtain PSD permits when GHGs are the only pollutant (i) that the source emits or has the potential to emit above the major source thresholds, or (ii) for which there is a significant emissions increase and a significant net emissions increase from a physical change or change in the method of operation of a major stationary source.3 However, the BACT requirement remains applicable to GHGs from a source that is subject to PSD because it is major for another regulated NSR pollutant (what is known as an “anyway source”) and which would emit a significant amount of GHGs (i.e., more than 75,000 tons per year CO2 equivalent emissions, CO2e, as defined in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(49)). Absent an EPA rule establishing an exemption for CO2 emissions from biomass combustion, the determination of BACT for a regulated NSR pollutant must consider all of the emissions of each pollutant subject to regulation under the Act. Because RCW 70.235.020(3) prohibits Ecology from establishing BACT limits for such sources that include CO2 emissions resulting from the industrial combustion of biomass, Washington law is inconsistent with the EPA's current regulations implementing the PSD provisions in the CAA in that regard.

    2 See 40 CFR 52.21(b)(49)(definition of “subject to regulation”).

    3 Under this decision, the Supreme Court held that the EPA may not treat GHGs as an air pollutant for purposes of determining whether a source is a major source (or major modification thereof) required to obtain a PSD permit, but that the EPA could continue to require that PSD permits, otherwise required based on emissions of pollutants other than GHGs, contain limitations on GHG emissions based on the application of BACT. See 80 FR at 842.

    As a result, the EPA must retain a FIP under 40 CFR 52.21 and issue partial PSD permits to ensure that major sources in Washington have a means to satisfy the CAA construction permit requirements for GHGs when CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass in Washington cannot be considered or regulated by Ecology under its PSD rules.4 Because Ecology does have authority to carry out all PSD requirements for GHGs except for sources permitted to engage in the industrial combustion of biomass, the EPA is approving Ecology's regulations as part of the Washington PSD SIP for such purposes.

    4 PSD permitting of CO2 emissions from such sources was also excluded from the 2013 Delegation Agreement between the EPA and Washington.

    For sources subject to the FIP, the EPA is retaining the authority to conduct the BACT analysis for all GHGs when necessary, not just the biogenic CO2 emissions not covered by the Washington permitting program under RCW 70.235.020(3). Because the regulated NSR pollutant is GHGs and not CO2, the Federal PSD permit issued by the EPA under the FIP will contain a BACT limit covering all GHG emissions from a subject emission unit when that unit is permitted to emit biogenic CO2 not covered by the Washington permitting program. The EPA believes it should retain authority over all GHG emissions at such sources to avoid difficulties that could arise if Ecology and the EPA each separately evaluated BACT for only a portion of the GHG emissions from an emission unit. For example, each agency could end up calculating cost values that would not reflect the true cost of the control options for GHG emissions because not all GHGs, as defined under the Federal PSD program, would be considered by either agency.

    Thus, the EPA FIP addresses the impact of the Washington statutory provision in two ways. First, the Ecology and the EPA definitions of GHGs are effectively different, with the EPA's definition being more inclusive (i.e., it does not exclude CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass) so an “anyway source” could be subject to PSD for GHGs under the FIP when it would not be subject to PSD under the SIP. In this situation, the EPA will issue a Federal PSD permit under 40 CFR 52.21 for the new major stationary source or major modification that would require BACT for GHGs for all subject emission units at the source, regardless of whether CO2 emissions were from the industrial combustion of biomass or from other sources of GHG emissions at the facility. Second, if an “anyway source” is subject to PSD for GHG emissions under both the SIP and the FIP, but there are CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass that cannot be addressed in the Ecology PSD permit, the EPA will issue a Federal PSD permit under 40 CFR 52.21 requiring BACT for GHGs for each subject emissions unit with CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass. Note that the Ecology PSD permit issued under the SIP will address all other subject emission units that do not have CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass. We have revised the language of 40 CFR 52.2497 to reflect this clarification.

    Given this dual CAA PSD permitting authority in situations where there are multiple combustion fuels producing CO2 from a source engaged in the industrial combustion of biomass in Washington, the EPA will coordinate closely with Ecology during the PSD permit issuance process.

    B. EPA Guidance

    Comment: The EPA should also clarify that it will follow the EPA's existing guidance on BACT for biogenic emissions, “Guidance for Determining Best Available Control Technology for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Bioenergy Production” (March 2011 guidance).

    Response: The March 2011 guidance is the EPA's most recent guidance on the topic of BACT determinations for bioenergy production and the EPA will consider it, as appropriate, in issuing PSD permits under the FIP. The EPA will also consider prior BACT determinations for GHGs at biomass facilities, such as the one reflected in the permit EPA Region 9 issued to Sierra Pacific Industries. In the November 19, 2014 Memorandum cited above, the EPA has also stated that the Agency anticipates providing additional guidance to sources undergoing BACT analyses involving biogenic feedstocks. To the extent that guidance is available at the time the EPA issues permits under the FIP discussed in this rule, the EPA will consider that guidance as well.

    C. The EPA's Next Steps on Biogenic CO2 Emissions From Stationary Sources

    Comment: One commenter referenced the EPA's memorandum, “Addressing Biogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Stationary Sources,” from Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, to EPA Air Division Directors, Regions 1—10, November 19, 2014, regarding biogenic CO2 emissions and urged the EPA to complete rulemaking regarding this issue in an expeditious manner.

    Response: The EPA will endeavor to complete this rulemaking in a timely manner. After considering public comments on the proposal for that rule, if the final rule contains an exemption that aligns with the scope of RCW 70.235.020(3), the EPA will reevaluate the extent to which the FIP established in this rule should remain applicable to Washington facilities with CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass. To enable the EPA to remove such sources from the FIP, Washington may need to consider whether an amendment to RCW 70.235.020(3) is appropriate to match the scope of any final rule adopted by the EPA.

    III. Final Action

    For the reasons set forth in our proposed rulemaking at 80 FR 838, January 7, 2015, as further discussed above, the EPA is approving and incorporating by reference the PSD and visibility permitting regulations submitted by Ecology on January 27, 2014. This action is the third and final in a series approving the remaining elements contained in Ecology's January 27, 2014 submittal. The previous two actions consisted of the EPA's October 3, 2014 (79 FR 59653) approval of general provisions that apply to all air pollution sources and the EPA's November 7, 2014 (79 FR 66291) approval of requirements that implement major source NNSR.

    A. Rules Approved and Incorporated by Reference Into the SIP

    The EPA is approving and incorporating by reference into Washington's SIP at 40 CFR part 52, subpart WW, the PSD and visibility permitting regulations listed in the table below. A full copy of the regulations is included in the docket for this action. The EPA has also determined that the general air quality regulations at WAC 173-400-036, WAC 173-400-110, WAC 173-400-111, WAC 173-400-112, WAC 173-400-113, WAC 173-400-171, and WAC 173-400-560, to the extent they relate to implementation of Ecology's PSD and visibility programs, also meet the EPA's requirements for subject sources.5

    5 The EPA previously approved these regulations as part of our October 3, 2014 approval of Ecology's minor new source review (NSR) program. Approval of these regulations for purposes of implementing the PSD and visibility programs is subject to the exceptions and explanations described in the EPA's July 10, 2014 proposed (79 FR 39351) and October 3, 2014 final action (79 FR 59653), and the January 7, 2015 proposed action (80 FR 838) on the general air quality regulations contained in WAC 173-400-036, WAC 173-400-110, WAC 173-400-111, WAC 173-400-112, WAC 173-400-113, WAC 173-400-171, and WAC 173-400-560.

    Regulations Approved and Incorporated by Reference State citation Title/Subject State effective
  • date
  • Explanation
    Chapter 173-400 WAC, General Regulations for Air Pollution Sources 173-400-036 Relocation of Portable Sources 12/29/12 173-400-110 New Source Review (NSR) for Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-110(1)(c)(ii)(C); 173-400-110(1)(e); 173-400-110(2)(d);
  • The part of WAC 173-400-110(4)(b)(vi) that says, • “not for use with materials containing toxic air pollutants, as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC,”; The part of 400-110 (4)(e)(iii) that says, • “where toxic air pollutants as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”; The part of 400-110(4)(e)(f)(i) that says, • “that are not toxic air pollutants listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; The part of 400-110 (4)(h)(xviii) that says, • “, to the extent that toxic air pollutant gases as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”;
  • The part of 400-110 (4)(h)(xxxiii) that says,
  • • “where no toxic air pollutants as listed under chapter 173-460 WAC are emitted”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxiv) that says, • “, or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxv) that says, • “or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxvi) that says, • “or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; 400-110(4)(h)(xl) , second sentence; and The last row of the table in 173-400-110(5)(b) regarding exemption levels for Toxic Air Pollutants. 173-400-111 Processing Notice of Construction Applications for Sources, Stationary Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-111(3)(h);
  • 173-400-111(3)(i);
  • The part of 173-400-111(8)(a)(v) that says,
  • • “and 173-460-040,”; and 173-400-111(9).
  • 173-400-112 Processing Notice of Construction Applications for Sources, Stationary Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-112(8).
  • 173-400-113 New Sources in Attainment or Unclassifiable Areas—Review for Compliance with Regulations 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-113(3), second sentence.
  • 173-400-116 Increment Protection 9/10/11 173-400-117 Special Protection Requirements for Federal Class I Areas 12/29/12 173-400-171 Public Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment 12/29/12 Except:
  • The part of 173-400-171(3)(b) that says,
  • • “or any increase in emissions of a toxic air pollutant above the acceptable source impact level for that toxic air pollutant as regulated under chapter 173-460 WAC”; and 173-400-171(12). 173-400-560 General Order of Approval 12/29/12 Except:
  • The part of 173-400-560(1)(f) that says,
  • “173-460 WAC”.
  • 173-400-700 Review of Major Stationary Sources of Air Pollution 4/1/11 173-400-710 Definitions 12/29/12 173-400-720 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-720(4)(a)(i through iv); 173-400-720(4)(b)(iii)(C); and 173-400-720(4)(a)(vi) with respect to the incorporation by reference of the text in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(49)(v), 52.21(i)(5)(i), and 52.21(k)(2).
  • 173-400-730 Prevention of Significant Deterioration Application Processing Procedures 12/29/12 173-400-740 PSD Permitting Public Involvement Requirements 12/29/12 173-400-750 Revisions to PSD Permits 12/29/12 Except:
  • 173-400-750(2) second sentence.
  • B. Transfer of Existing EPA-Issued PSD Permits

    As discussed in the proposal, Ecology requested approval to exercise its authority to fully administer the PSD program with respect to those sources under Ecology's permitting jurisdiction that have existing PSD permits issued by the EPA since August 7, 1977. 80 FR 843, January 7, 2015. Upon the effective date of this approval of Ecology's PSD program into the SIP, we transfer the EPA-issued PSD permits issued on and after August 7, 1977 to Ecology. The EPA retains authority to administer PSD permits issued by the EPA in Washington prior to August 7, 1977. Id.

    C. Scope of Final Action 1. WAC 173-400-700 Through 173-400-750

    Under WAC 173-400-700, Ecology's PSD regulations contained in WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750 apply statewide, except where a local clean air agency has received delegation of the Federal PSD program from the EPA or has a SIP-approved PSD program. At this time, no local clean air agencies in Washington have a delegated or SIP-approved PSD program. For the reasons provided in the preambles to the proposed and final notices of rulemaking, the EPA is therefore approving WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750 to apply statewide, with the three exceptions described below. For the following exceptions, the PSD FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2497 and 40 CFR 52.21 will continue to apply, and the EPA will retain responsibility for issuing PSD permits to and implementing the Federal PSD program for such sources:

    a. Sources Under the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) Jurisdiction

    By statute, Ecology does not have authority to issue PSD permits to sources under the jurisdiction of EFSEC. See Chapter 80.50 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). Therefore, the EPA's approval of Ecology's PSD program, under WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750, excludes projects under the jurisdiction of EFSEC. Such sources will continue to be subject to the PSD FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2497 and 40 CFR 52.21, until such time that EFSEC's PSD rules are approved into the SIP.

    b. CO2 Emissions From Industrial Combustion of Biomass

    As discussed above, under a provision contained in RCW 70.235.020, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions—Reporting Requirements, Ecology is statutorily barred from regulating certain GHG emissions. As a result, the EPA is retaining a FIP under 40 CFR 52.21 and will issue partial PSD permits to ensure that major sources in Washington have a means to satisfy the CAA construction permit requirements for GHGs when CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass in Washington are not being considered or regulated by Ecology under its PSD rules. Because Ecology does have authority to carry out all PSD requirements for GHGs except for sources permitted to engage in the industrial combustion of biomass, the EPA is approving Ecology's regulations as part of the Washington PSD SIP for such purposes.

    c. Sources in Certain Areas of Indian Country

    Excluded from the scope of this final approval of Ecology's PSD program are all Indian reservations in the State, except as specifically noted below, and any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. Sources on such lands will continue to be subject to the PSD FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2497 and 40 CFR 52.21.

    Under the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Settlement Act of 1989, 25 U.S.C. 1773, Congress explicitly provided state and local agencies in Washington authority over activities on non-trust lands within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area) and the EPA is therefore proposing to approve Ecology's PSD regulations into the SIP with respect to such lands.

    d. Scope of PSD FIP in Washington

    Consistent with the limitations on the scope of the EPA's final approval of WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750 in the Washington SIP, the EPA retains, but significantly narrows, the scope of the current PSD FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2497. The EPA will continue to implement the current PSD FIP as provided in III.C.1.a., b., and c. of this document.

    2. WAC 173-400-116 and 173-400-117

    With respect to the EPA's approval of WAC 173-400-116 and WAC 173-400-117, the SIP-approved provisions of WAC 173-400-020 govern jurisdictional applicability for those sections. WAC 173-400-020 states, “[t]he provisions of this chapter shall apply statewide, except for specific subsections where a local authority has adopted and implemented corresponding local rules that apply only to sources subject to local jurisdiction as provided under RCW 70.94.141 and 70.94.331.” Because Ecology will be the only authority in Washington with a SIP-approved PSD program that would implement WAC 173-400-116, Increment Protection, the EPA's approval of WAC 173-400-116 applies statewide, with the two exceptions discussed below. Similarly, the scope of our approval of WAC 173-400-117, Special Protection Requirements for Federal Class I Areas, applies statewide for PSD permits issued by Ecology under WAC 173-400-700 through 173-400-750, noting the two exceptions discussed below. However, for visibility-related elements associated with permits issued under the major NNSR program, the applicability of WAC 173-400-117 is more complicated because local clean air agencies have the authority under state law to have alternative, but no less stringent, permitting requirements. Therefore, consistent with the EPA's November 7, 2014 approval of Ecology's major NNSR program, our approval of WAC 173-400-117, as it relates to NNSR permits issues under WAC 173-400-800 through 173-400-860, is limited to only those counties or sources where Ecology has direct jurisdiction. The counties where Ecology has direct jurisdiction are: Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties, with the two exceptions discussed below. The EPA also notes that under the SIP-approved provisions of WAC 173-405-012, WAC 173-410-012, and WAC 173-415-012, Ecology has statewide, direct jurisdiction for kraft pulp mills, sulfite pulping mills, and primary aluminum plants, excluding certain areas of Indian country as discussed further. The EPA is therefore approving WAC 173-400-117 in all areas of the state under Ecology's jurisdiction for those specified source categories.

    For the following exceptions the visibility FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2498 will continue to apply and the EPA will retain responsibility for issuing visibility permits for such sources:

    a. Sources Under the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) Jurisdiction

    By State statute, Ecology does not have authority to issue permits to sources under the jurisdiction of EFSEC. See Chapter 80.50 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). Therefore, the EPA's approval of WAC 173-400-116 and 173-400-117 excludes projects under the jurisdiction of EFSEC. Such sources will continue to be subject to the visibility FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2498, until such time that EFSEC's corollaries to WAC 173-400-116 and 173-400-117 are approved into the SIP.

    b. Sources in Certain Areas of Indian Country

    Excluded from the scope of this final approval of the visibility permitting program are all Indian reservations in the State, except as specifically noted below, and any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. Sources on such lands will continue to be subject to the visibility FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2498.

    Under the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Settlement Act of 1989, 25 U.S.C. 1773, Congress explicitly provided state and local agencies in Washington authority over activities on non-trust lands within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area) and the EPA is therefore proposing to approve Ecology's visibility regulations into the SIP with respect to such lands for those facilities where Ecology has direct jurisdiction.

    c. Scope of Visibility FIP in Washington

    Consistent with the limitations on the scope of our approval of Ecology's major NNSR program (79 FR at 43349), the EPA retains, but significantly narrows, the scope of the current visibility FIP codified at 40 CFR 52.2498.

    D. The EPA's Oversight Role

    As discussed in the proposal, 80 FR at 845, in approving state new source review rules into SIPs, the EPA has a responsibility to ensure that all states properly implement their SIP-approved preconstruction permitting programs. The EPA's approval of Ecology's PSD rules does not divest the EPA of the responsibility to continue appropriate oversight to ensure that permits issued by Ecology are consistent with the requirements of the CAA, Federal regulations, and the SIP. The EPA's authority to oversee permit program implementation is set forth in sections 113, 167, and 505(b) of the CAA. For example, section 167 provides that the EPA shall issue administrative orders, initiate civil actions, or take whatever other action may be necessary to prevent the construction or modification of a major stationary source that does not “conform to the requirements of” the PSD program. Similarly, section 113(a)(5) of the CAA provides for administrative orders and civil actions whenever the EPA finds that a state “is not acting in compliance with” any requirement or prohibition of the CAA regarding the construction of new sources or modification of existing sources. Likewise, section 113(a)(1) provides for a range of enforcement remedies whenever the EPA finds that a person is in violation of an applicable implementation plan.

    In making judgments as to what constitutes compliance with the CAA and regulations issued thereunder, the EPA looks to (among other sources) its prior interpretations regarding those statutory and regulatory requirements and policies for implementing them. It follows that state actions implementing the Federal CAA that do not conform to the CAA may lead to potential oversight action by the EPA.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of the Washington State Department of Ecology regulations listed in section II.A. Rules Approved and Incorporated by Reference into the SIP of this preamble. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

    V. Statutory and Executive Orders Review

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, the EPA's role is to approve State choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely 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 this action does not involve technical standards; and

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

    The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land in Washington except as specifically noted below and is also not approved to apply in any other area where the 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). Washington's SIP is approved to apply on non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation, also known as the 1873 Survey Area. Under the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Settlement Act of 1989, 25 U.S.C. 1773, Congress explicitly provided state and local agencies in Washington authority over activities on non-trust lands within the 1873 Survey Area. Consistent with EPA policy, the EPA provided a consultation opportunity to the Puyallup Tribe in a letter dated February 25, 2014. The EPA did not receive a request for consultation.

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. The EPA will submit a report containing this 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 June 29, 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: April 13, 2015. Dennis J. McLerran, Regional Administrator, Region 10.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, 40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart WW—Washington 2. Section 52.2470 is amended in paragraph (c), Table 2—Additional Regulations Approved for Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) Direct Jurisdiction by: a. Revising the heading; b. Revising the entries 173-400-036, 173-400-110, 173-400-111, 173-400-112, and 173-400-113; c. Adding in numerical order entries for 173-400-116 and 173-400-117; d. Revising the entries 173-400-171 and 173-400-560; e. Adding in numerical order entries for 173-400-700, 173-400-710, 173-400-720, 173-400-730, 173-400-740, and 173-400-750; and f. Removing the footnote at end of Table 2.

    The revisions and additions read as follows:

    § 52.2470 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    Table 2—Additional Regulations Approved for Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) Direct Jurisdiction [Applicable in Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties, excluding facilities subject to Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) jurisdiction, Indian reservations (excluding non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation), and any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. These regulations also apply statewide for facilities subject to the applicability sections of WAC 173-400-700, WAC 173-405-012, WAC 173-410-012, and WAC 173-415-012] State citation Title/subject State effective date EPA approval date Explanations Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 173-400—General Regulations for Air Pollution Sources *         *         *         *         *         *         * 173-400-036 Relocation of Portable Sources 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] *         *         *         *         *         *         * 173-400-110 New Source Review (NSR) for Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-110(1)(c)(ii)(C);
  • 173-400-110(1)(e); 173-400-110(2)(d);
  • The part of WAC 173-400-110(4)(b)(vi) that says,
  • • “not for use with materials containing toxic air pollutants, as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC,”; The part of 400-110 (4)(e)(iii) that says, • “where toxic air pollutants as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”; The part of 400-110(4)(e)(f)(i) that says, • “that are not toxic air pollutants listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; The part of 400-110 (4)(h)(xviii) that says, • “, to the extent that toxic air pollutant gases as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”; The part of 400-110 (4)(h)(xxxiii) that says, • “where no toxic air pollutants as listed under chapter 173-460 WAC are emitted”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxiv) that says, • “or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxv) that says, • “or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants”; The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxvi) that says, • “or ≤ 1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; 400-110(4)(h)(xl), second sentence; and The last row of the table in 173-400-110(5)(b) regarding exemption levels for Toxic Air Pollutants. 173-400-111 Processing Notice of Construction Applications for Sources, Stationary Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-111(3)(h);
  • 173-400-111(3)(i);
  • The part of 173-400-111(8)(a)(v) that says,
  • • “and 173-460-040,”; and
  • 173-400-111(9).
  • 173-400-112 Requirements for New Sources in Nonattainment Areas—Review for Compliance with Regulations 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-112(8).
  • 173-400-113 New Sources in Attainment or Unclassifiable Areas—Review for Compliance with Regulations 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-113(3), second sentence.
  • 173-400-116 Increment Protection 9/10/11 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] 173-400-117 Special Protection Requirements for Federal Class I Areas 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation]  *         *         *         *         *         *         * 173-400-171 Public Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • The part of 173-400-171(3)(b) that says,
  • • “or any increase in emissions of a toxic air pollutant above the acceptable source impact level for that toxic air pollutant as regulated under chapter 173-460 WAC”; and
  • 173-400-171(12).
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * 173-400-560 General Order of Approval 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • The part of 173-400-560(1)(f) that says,
  • “173-460 WAC”.
  • 173-400-700 Review of Major Stationary Sources of Air Pollution 4/1/11 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] 173-400-710 Definitions 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] 173-400-720 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-720(4)(a)(i-iv); 173-400-720(4)(b)(iii)(C); and 173-400-720(4)(a)(vi) with respect to the incorporation by reference of the text in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(49)(v), 52.21(i)(5)(i), and 52.21(k)(2).
  • 173-400-730 Prevention of Significant Deterioration Application Processing Procedures 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] 173-400-740 PSD Permitting Public Involvement Requirements 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] 173-400-750 Revisions to PSD Permits 12/29/12 04/29/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] Except:
  • 173-400-750(2) second sentence.
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    3. Section 52.2497 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows:
    § 52.2497 Significant deterioration of air quality.

    (a) The requirements of sections 160 through 165 of the Clean Air Act are not fully met because the plan does not include approvable procedures for preventing the significant deterioration of air quality from:

    (1) Facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council pursuant to Chapter 80.50 Revised Code of Washington (RCW);

    (2) Facilities with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass in the following circumstances:

    (i) Where a new major stationary source or major modification would be subject to Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements for greenhouse gases (GHGs) under § 52.21, but would not be subject to PSD under the state implementation plan (SIP) because CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass are excluded from consideration as GHGs as a matter of state law under RCW 70.235.020(3); or

    (ii) Where a new major stationary source or major modification is subject to PSD for GHGs under both the Washington SIP and the FIP, but CO2 emissions from the industrial combustion of biomass are excluded from consideration in the Ecology PSD permitting process because of the exclusion in RCW 70.235.020(3);

    (3) Indian reservations in Washington, except for non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area) as provided in the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Settlement Act of 1989, 25 U.S.C. 1773, and any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction; and

    (4) Sources subject to PSD permits issued by the EPA prior to August 7, 1977, but only with respect to the general administration of any such permits still in effect (e.g., modifications, amendments, or revisions of any nature).

    (b) Regulations for preventing significant deterioration of air quality. The provisions of § 52.21, except paragraph (a)(1), are hereby incorporated and made a part of the applicable plan for Washington for the facilities, emission sources, geographic areas, and permits listed in paragraph (a) of this section. For situations addressed in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, the EPA will issue a Federal PSD permit under § 52.21 to the new major stationary source or major modification addressing PSD requirements applicable to GHGs for all subject emission units at the source, regardless of whether CO2 emissions resulted from the industrial combustion of biomass or from other sources of GHGs at the facility. For situations addressed in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, the EPA will issue a Federal PSD permit under § 52.21 addressing PSD requirements applicable to GHGs for each subject emissions unit that is permitted to emit CO2 from the industrial combustion of biomass.

    4. Section 52.2498 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows:
    § 52.2498 Visibility protection.

    (a) The requirements of section 169A of the Clean Air Act are not fully met because the plan does not include approvable procedures for visibility new source review for:

    (1) Facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council pursuant to Chapter 80.50 Revised Code of Washington;

    (2) Sources subject to the jurisdiction of local air authorities;

    (3) Indian reservations in Washington except for non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area) as provided in the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Settlement Act of 1989, 25 U.S.C. 1773, and any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction.

    (b) Regulations for visibility new source review. The provisions of § 52.28 are hereby incorporated and made a part of the applicable plan for Washington for the facilities, emission sources, and geographic areas listed in paragraph (a) of this section.

    [FR Doc. 2015-09889 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0418; FRL-9925-78] Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-; Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation amends an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- (CAS Reg. No. 23328-53-2) to allow its use on all growing crops as an inert ingredient (ultraviolet (UV) stabilizer) at a maximum concentration of 10% in pesticide formulations, Loveland Products Inc., submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective April 29, 2015. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before June 29, 2015, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0418, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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

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

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

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

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

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

    Under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0418 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before June 29, 2015. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0418, by one of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

    II. Background and Statutory Findings

    In the Federal Register of September 5, 2014 (79 FR 53009) (FRL-9914-98), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide petition (PP IN-10704) by Loveland Products, Inc., 3005 Rocky Mountain Avenue, Loveland, CO 80538. The petition requested that the exemption from the requirement of a tolerance in 40 CFR 180.920 for residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl be amended to allow for use on all growing agricultural crops when used as an inert ingredient (UV stabilizer) at a maximum concentration of 10% weight/weight in pesticide formulations. That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by the petitioner Loveland Products, Inc., which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

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

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

    III. Inert Ingredient Definition

    Inert ingredients are all ingredients that are not active ingredients as defined in 40 CFR 153.125 and include, but are not limited to, the following types of ingredients (except when they have a pesticidal efficacy of their own): Solvents such as alcohols and hydrocarbons; surfactants such as polyoxyethylene polymers and fatty acids; carriers such as clay and diatomaceous earth; thickeners such as carrageenan and modified cellulose; wetting, spreading, and dispersing agents; propellants in aerosol dispensers; microencapsulating agents; and emulsifiers. The term “inert” is not intended to imply nontoxicity; the ingredient may or may not be chemically active. Generally, EPA has exempted inert ingredients from the requirement of a tolerance based on the low toxicity of the individual inert ingredients.

    IV. Aggregate Risk Assessment and Determination of Safety

    Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the tolerance is “safe.” Section 408(b)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA requires EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue . . . .”

    EPA establishes exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance only in those cases where it can be clearly demonstrated that the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide chemical residues under reasonably foreseeable circumstances will pose no appreciable risks to human health. In order to determine the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide inert ingredients, the Agency considers the toxicity of the inert in conjunction with possible exposure to residues of the inert ingredient through food, drinking water, and through other exposures that occur as a result of pesticide use in residential settings. If EPA is able to determine that a finite tolerance is not necessary to ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the inert ingredient, an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance may be established.

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(c)(2)(A), and the factors specified in FFDCA section 408(c)(2)(B), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action. EPA has sufficient data to assess the hazards of and to make a determination on aggregate exposure for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- including exposure resulting from the exemption established by this action. EPA's assessment of exposures and risks associated with phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- follows.

    A. Toxicological Profile

    EPA has evaluated the available toxicity data and considered their validity, completeness, and reliability as well as the relationship of the results of the studies to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children. Specific information on the studies received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- as well as the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL) from the toxicity studies are discussed in this unit.

    In the Federal Register of August 18, 2010 (75 FR 50884) (FRL-8836-3), EPA published a final rule establishing an exemption from the requirement of tolerances for residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- when used as an inert ingredient (UV stabilizer) at a maximum concentration of 0.6% in insecticide formulations applied to adzuki beans, canola, chickpeas, cotton, fava beans, field peas, lentils, linola, linseed, lucerne, lupins, mung beans, navy beans, pigeon peas, safflower, sunflower, and vetch. Specific information on the studies received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- as well as the NOAEL and the LOAEL from the toxicity studies are discussed in that rulemaking which can be found in the docket under docket ID numbers EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0602.

    Since that rulemaking, as part of the data submitted in support of the current petition, an additional study has been submitted. In this study, a one-generation oral reproduction study (OECD Test Guideline 443) with the rat, the NOAEL for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- for parental and reproductive toxicity was 10,000 parts per million (ppm) (equal to 618 milligram/kilogram/day (mg/kg/day), the highest dose tested (HDT)). The NOAEL for offspring toxicity was 5,000 ppm (equal to 311 mg/kg/day) based on decreased body weight, body weight gain, increased absolute spleen weights in males and increased incidence of splenic extra medullary hematopoiesis in males at the LOAEL of 10,000 ppm (equal to 618 mg/kg/day). Specific information on the study received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by phenol-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, as well as the NOAEL and LOAEL can found at http://www.regulations.gov in the document “Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-; Human Health Risk Assessment and Ecological Effects Assessment to Support Proposed Amendment to the Exemption from the Requirement of a Tolerance When Used as an Inert Ingredient in Preharvest Pesticide Products” at pp. 16-19 in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0418. Based on the results of this study, the NOAEL for parental and reproductive toxicity was 10,000 ppm (equal to 618 mg/kg/day, the HDT). The NOAEL for offspring toxicity was 5,000 ppm (equal to 311 mg/kg/day) based on the decreased body weight, body weight gain, increased absolute spleen weights in males and increased incidence of splenic extra medullary hematopoiesis in males at 10,000 ppm (equal to 618 mg/kg/day).

    B. Toxicological Points of Departure/Levels of Concern

    Once a pesticide chemical's toxicological profile is determined. EPA identifies toxicological points of departure (POD) and levels of concern to use in evaluating the risk posed by human exposure to the pesticide. For hazards that have a threshold below which there is no appreciable risk, the toxicological POD is used as the basis for derivation of reference values for risk assessment. PODs are developed based on a careful analysis of the doses in each toxicological study to determine the dose at which the NOAEL and the LOAEL are identified. Uncertainty/safety factors are used in conjunction with the POD to calculate a safe exposure level—generally referred to as a population-adjusted dose (PAD) or a reference dose (RfD)—and a safe margin of exposure (MOE). For non-threshold risks, the Agency assumes that any amount of exposure will lead to some degree of risk. Thus, the Agency estimates risk in terms of the probability of an occurrence of the adverse effect expected in a lifetime. For more information on the general principles EPA uses in risk characterization and a complete description of the risk assessment process, see http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/riskassess.htm.

    No acute effects were observed from a single dose so no acute POD was selected. The POD for risk assessment for all remaining durations and routes of exposure was from the 90-day toxicity study in rats. The NOAEL was 20 mg/kg/day and the LOAEL was 40 mg/kg/day based on increases in liver, kidney, spleen, and testes weights. Although the chronic point of departure was selected from a subchronic study, no additional uncertainty factor is necessary for use of subchronic study for chronic exposure assessment since available longer-term studies shows the lack of toxicity even at higher doses. A 100-fold uncertainty factor was used for the chronic exposure (10X interspecies extrapolation, 10X for intraspecies variability and 1X Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) factor. The NOAEL of 20 mg/kg/day was used for all exposure duration via dermal and inhalation routes of exposure. The residential, occupational and aggregate level of concern (LOC) is for MOEs that are less than 100 and is based on 10X interspecies extrapolation, 10X for intraspecies variability and 1X FQPA factor. Dermal absorption is estimated to be 10% based on SAR analysis. A 100% inhalation absorption is assumed.

    In the Federal Register of August 18, 2010 (75 FR 50884) (FRL-8836-3), EPA applied 10X FQPA factor for the lack of a reproduction study; however, the recently submitted Extended One-Generation Reproduction Toxicity Study of Tinuvin 571 in Wistar Rats provides a reliable basis for reducing the FQPA factor used in the previous risk assessment to 1X.

    C. Exposure Assessment

    1. Dietary exposure from food and feed uses. In evaluating dietary exposure to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, EPA considered exposure under the proposed exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. EPA assessed dietary exposures from phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- in food as follows: Because no acute endpoint was identified, no acute dietary exposure assessment was conducted.

    In conducting the chronic dietary exposure assessment using the Dietary Exposure Evaluation Model/Food Commodity Intake Database (DEEM-FCID)TM, Version 3.16, EPA used food consumption information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, What We Eat in America, (NHANES/WWEIA). This dietary survey was conducted from 2003 to 2008. As to residue levels in food, no residue data were submitted for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-. In the absence of specific residue data, EPA has developed an approach that uses surrogate information to derive upper bound exposure estimates for the subject inert ingredient. Upper bound exposure estimates are based on the highest tolerance for a given commodity from a list of high-use insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. A complete description of the general approach taken to assess inert ingredient risks in the absence of residue data is contained in the memorandum entitled “Alkyl Amines Polyalkoxylates (Cluster 4): Acute and Chronic Aggregate (Food and Drinking Water) Dietary Exposure and Risk Assessments for the Inerts” (D361707, S. Piper, 2/25/09) and can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0738.

    In the case of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, EPA made a specific adjustment to the dietary exposure assessment to account for the use limitations of the amount of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- that may be in formulations (no more than 10% by weight in pesticide products applied to growing crops) and assumed that phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- is present at the maximum limitation in all pesticide product formulations used on growing crops.

    2. Dietary exposure from drinking water. For the purpose of the screening level dietary risk assessment to support this request for an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, a conservative drinking water concentration value of 100 parts per billion (ppb) based on screening level modeling was used to assess the contribution to drinking water for the chronic dietary risk assessments for parent compound. These values were directly entered into the dietary exposure model.

    3. From non-dietary exposure. The term “residential exposure” is used in this document to refer to non-occupational, non-dietary exposure (e.g., textiles (clothing and diapers), carpets, swimming pools, and hard surface disinfection on walls, floors, tables).

    Residential uses of pesticides containing phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- are extremely limited. However, in order to account for all of the current and unanticipated potential residential uses of pesticide products containing phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- various exposure models were employed. The Agency believes that the scenarios assessed represent highly conservative worst-case short-term and intermediate-term exposures and risks to residential handlers and those experiencing post-application exposure resulting from the use of indoor and outdoor pesticide products containing this inert ingredient in residential environments. Based on the use pattern, chronic exposure is not anticipated. Therefore, the risk from the chronic residential exposure was not assessed.

    Further details of this residential exposure and risk analysis can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in the memorandum entitled “JITF Inert Ingredients. Residential and Occupational Exposure Assessment Algorithms and Assumptions Appendix for the Human Health Risk Assessments to Support Proposed Exemption from the Requirement of a Tolerance When Used as Inert Ingredients in Pesticide Formulations” (D364751, Lloyd/LaMay, 5/7/09) in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0710.

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

    EPA has not found phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, to share a common mechanism of toxicity with any other substances, and phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, does not appear to produce a toxic metabolite produced by other substances. For the purposes of this tolerance action, therefore, EPA has assumed that phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances. For information regarding EPA's efforts to determine which chemicals have a common mechanism of toxicity and to evaluate the cumulative effects of such chemicals, see EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative.

    D. Safety Factor for Infants and Children

    1. In general. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold (10X) margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the database on toxicity and exposure unless EPA determines based on reliable data that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. This additional margin of safety is commonly referred to as the FQPA Safety Factor (SF). In applying this provision, EPA either retains the default value of 10X, or uses a different additional safety factor when reliable data available to EPA support the choice of a different factor.

    2. Prenatal and postnatal sensitivity. Developmental studies have been conducted on two structurally similar chemicals. In one study, no maternal toxicity was evident and the rates of implantation and embryo toxicity were not affected by treatment in rats. No teratogenic effects were observed; however, the study does not specify what developmental endpoints were examined. The NOAEL for maternal and developmental toxicity was 1,000 mg/kg/day (HDT). In a separate study, there was no evidence of increased susceptibility in this developmental toxicity study in rats and mice at 1,000 mg/kg/day. In a second study in rats, no maternal toxicity was observed at any dose tested. The maternal toxicity NOAEL was 3,000 mg/kg/day. The developmental NOAEL was 1,000 mg/kg/day based on omphalocele seen in the one fetus in the high dose group (LOAEL 3,000 mg/kg/day). The data suggest evidence of increased susceptibility in this developmental toxicity study in rats. However, there is a low concern for this susceptibility because the adverse effect (omphalocele) was seen at a very high dose of 3,000 mg/kg/day and only in one fetus. In addition, the study did not provide historical controls that would assist in making a determination as to whether this effect is treatment related.

    No adverse reproductive effects were observed in a one-generation reproductive toxicity study in rats at dose levels up to 10,000 ppm; equal to 618 mg/kg/day, the HDT. There is a quantitative evidence of increased susceptibility in the one-generation reproduction study in rats. In this study, the NOAEL for offspring toxicity was 5,000 ppm (equal to 311 mg/kg/day) based on decreased body weight, body weight gain, increased absolute spleen weights in males and increased incidence of splenic extra medullary hematopoiesis in males at the LOAEL of 10,000 ppm (equal to 618 mg/kg/day), while no systemic toxicity was observed in parental animals at doses up to 10,000 ppm (equal to 618 mg/kg/day). However, the concern for this susceptibility is low since there is a well characterized NOAEL for protecting the offspring and the NOAEL selected for chronic RfD is more than 12 fold lower. Therefore, there is no need for additional uncertainty factor.

    3. Conclusion. EPA has determined that reliable data show the safety of infants and children would be adequately protected if the FQPA SF were reduced to 1X. That decision is based on the following findings:

    i. The toxicity database for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, is complete. Previously (2010), EPA identified study measuring reproductive parameters and lack of Immunotoxicity study as the data gaps. Since the last assessment, EPA received the one generation reproduction study. EPA concluded that the Immunotoxicity study is not required because the newly submitted study and previously reviewed studies do not show any indication of Immunotoxicity except one 90-day toxicity study in rats showing slight increases in spleen weights without histopathological findings and without changes in the blood parameters was observed at the HDT (80 mg/kg/day). Since this is an isolated finding, EPA concluded that the Immunotoxicity study is not required.

    ii. There is no indication that phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, is a neurotoxic chemical and there is no need for a developmental neurotoxicity study or additional uncertainty factors (UFs) to account for neurotoxicity. No clinical signs of neurotoxicity were seen in any of the repeat dose studies with phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-.

    iii. No evidence of Immunotoxicity was seen in the available database except in one 90-day toxicity study in rats showing slight increases in spleen weights without histopathological findings and without changes in the blood parameters was observed at the HDT (80 mg/kg/day). Since this is isolated findings, EPA concluded that the Immunotoxicity study is not required.

    iv. There is qualitative evidence of post natal susceptibility in 1-generation reproduction study in rats, however, EPA concluded that there is no need for additional uncertainty factor since there is well characterized NOAEL protecting the offspring and the NOAEL selected for chronic RfD is more than 12 fold lower.

    v. There are no residual uncertainties identified in the exposure databases. The dietary food exposure assessments were performed using highly conservative model assumptions including 100 percent crop treated (PCT) and residue levels in crops equivalent to the highest established active ingredient tolerance. EPA made conservative (protective) assumptions in the ground and surface water modeling used to assess exposure to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- in drinking water. EPA used similarly conservative assumptions to assess post-application exposure of children as well as incidental oral exposure of toddlers. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-.

    E. Aggregate Risks and Determination of Safety

    Determination of safety section. EPA determines whether acute and chronic dietary pesticide exposures are safe by comparing aggregate exposure estimates to the acute PAD (aPAD) and chronic PAD (cPAD). For linear cancer risks, EPA calculates the lifetime probability of acquiring cancer given the estimated aggregate exposure. Short-, intermediate-, and chronic-term risks are evaluated by comparing the estimated aggregate food, water, and residential exposure to the appropriate PODs to ensure that an adequate MOE exists.

    1. Acute risk. An acute aggregate risk assessment takes into account acute exposure estimates from dietary consumption of food and drinking water. No adverse effect resulting from a single oral exposure was identified and no acute dietary endpoint was selected. Therefore, phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, is not expected to pose an acute risk.

    2. Chronic risk. Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for chronic exposure, EPA has concluded that chronic exposure to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- from food and water will utilize 70.6% of the cPAD for children 1-2 years old, the population group receiving the greatest exposure: Based on the explanation in this unit, regarding residential use patterns, chronic residential exposure to residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl -, is not expected.

    3. Short-term risk. Short-term aggregate exposure takes into account short-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level).

    Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, is currently used as an inert ingredient in pesticide products that are registered for uses that could result in short-term residential exposure, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to aggregate chronic exposure through food and water with short-term residential exposures to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-,.

    Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for short-term exposures and the use limitation described previously in Unit C. EPA has concluded the combined short-term food, water, and residential exposures result in aggregate MOEs of 170 for adult males and females. Adult residential exposure combines high-end dermal and inhalation handler exposure from liquids/trigger sprayer in home gardens with a high-end post-application dermal exposure from contact with treated lawns. EPA has concluded the combined short-term aggregated food, water, and residential exposures result in an aggregate MOE of 140 for children. Children's residential exposure includes total exposures associated with contact with treated lawns (dermal and hand-to mouth exposures). The EPA's level of concern for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- is for MOEs that are lower than 100; therefore, these MOEs are not of concern.

    4. Intermediate-term risk. Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, is currently used as an inert ingredient in pesticide products that are registered for uses that could result in intermediate-term residential exposure, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to aggregate chronic exposure through food and water with intermediate-term residential exposures to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-.

    Intermediate-term aggregate risk assessment was not conducted because short-term aggregate risk assessment is protective of intermediate-term aggregate risk since the same endpoint of concern has been identified for both exposure durations.

    5. Aggregate cancer risk for U.S. population. Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- is not expected to pose a cancer risk to humans since there was no evidence of carcinogenicity in the available studies.

    6. Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, residues.

    V. Other Considerations A. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    An analytical method is not required for enforcement purposes since the Agency is not establishing a numerical tolerance for residues of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- in or on any food commodities. EPA is establishing a limitation on the amount of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, that may be used in pesticide formulations. That limitation will be enforced through the pesticide registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq. EPA will not register any pesticide for sale or distribution that contains greater than 10% of phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, by weight in the pesticide formulation.

    VI. Conclusion

    Therefore, an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established under 40 CFR 180.920 for phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- (CAS Reg. No. 23328-53-2) when used as an inert ingredient (UV stabilizer) at a maximum concentration of 10% in pesticide formulations applied to growing crops.

    VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

    VIII. Congressional Review Act

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

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

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

    Dated: April 16, 2015. Susan Lewis, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

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

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

    2. In § 180.920 revise the inert ingredient, phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazole-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl- (CAS Reg. No. 23328-53-2) in the table to read as follows:
    § 180.920 Inert ingredients used pre-harvest; exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance. Inert ingredients Limits Uses *         *         *         *         *         *         * Phenol, 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-6-dodecyl-4-methyl-, (CAS Reg. No. 23328-53-2) Not more than 10% by weight of pesticide formulations UV stabilizer. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2015-09740 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 141021887-5172-02] RIN 0648-XD920 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Greenland Turbot 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 Greenland turbot in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2015 Greenland turbot initial total allowable catch (ITAC) in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), May 1, 2015, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

    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 2015 Greenland turbot ITAC in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI is 170 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). The Regional Administrator has determined that the 2015 ITAC for Greenland turbot in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI is necessary to account for the incidental catch of this species in other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2015 fishing year. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator establishes the directed fishing allowance for Greenland turbot in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI as zero mt. Consequently, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Greenland turbot 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 Greenland turbot 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 April 23, 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: April 24, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09984 Filed 4-24-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 82 Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0593; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-08-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211-535E4-37, RB211-535E4-B-37, and RB211-535E4-C-37 turbofan engines. This proposed AD was prompted by RR updating the life limits for certain high-pressure turbine (HPT) disks. This proposed AD would require reducing the cyclic life limits for certain HPT disks, removing those disks that have exceeded the new life limit, and replacing them with serviceable parts. We are proposing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT disk, which could result in uncontained disk release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

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

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

    • Fax: 202-493-2251.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE24 8BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936; email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp; Internet: https://www.aeromanager.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0593; or in person at the Docket Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Wego Wang, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7134; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-0593; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-08-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact with FAA personnel concerning this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD 2014-0249R1, dated February 18, 2015 (referred to hereinafter as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    An engineering analysis, carried out by RR, of the lives of critical parts of the RB211-535E4-37 engine, has resulted in reduced cyclic life limits for certain high pressure (HP) turbine discs. The reduced limits are published in the RR RB211-535E4-37 Time Limits Manual (TLM): 05-10-01-800-000, current Revision dated July 2014.

    Operation of critical parts beyond these reduced cyclic life limits may result in part failure, possibly resulting in the release of high-energy debris, which may cause damage to the aeroplane and/or injury to the occupants.

    You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0593.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed RR Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. RB.211-72-G188, Revision No. 1, dated October 30, 2013, and RR RB211-535E4-37, Time Limits Manual (TLM): 05-10-01-800-000, Revision dated July 1, 2014; and RR RB211-535E4-37, TLM: 05-00-01-800-000, Revision dated July 1, 2014. The NMSB describes the updated lifing analysis of the affected HP turbine disks. The TLMs provide revised life limits for the affected HP turbine disks. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or see ADDRESSES for other ways to access this service information.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of the United Kingdom, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the European Community, EASA has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design. This proposed AD would require reducing the cyclic life limits for certain HPT disks, removing those disks that have exceeded the new life limit, and replacing them with serviceable parts.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 650 engines installed on airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 0 hours per engine to comply with this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. Pro-rated cost of required parts cost would be about $12,213 per engine. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $7,938,450.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

    Rolls-Royce plc: Docket No. FAA-2015-0593; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-08-AD.

    (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by June 29, 2015.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Rolls-Royce plc (RR), RB211-535E4-37, RB211-535E4-B-37, and RB211-535E4-C-37 turbofan engines.

    (d) Reason

    This AD was prompted by RR updating the life limits for certain high-pressure turbine (HPT) disks. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT disk, which could result in uncontained disk release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

    (e) Actions and Compliance

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

    (1) After the effective date of this AD, use RR RB211-535E4-37 Time Limits Manual (TLM): 05-10-01-800-000, Revision dated July 1, 2014 (referred to hereafter as `the TLM'), to determine the new life limits for the affected engine models and configurations, with the exception of those engine models mentioned in paragraph (e)(2) of this AD.

    (2) For RR RB211-535E4-B-37 or RB211-535E4-C-37 engines with an affected HPT disk that was previously installed on an RB211-535E4-37 engine operated under Flight Plan A, use task 05-00-01-800-000 in the TLM to re-calculate equivalent cycles since new to obtain the new life limit.

    (3) If an affected engine model has an HPT disk installed with P/N UL27681 or UL39767, remove the affected HPT disk before the accumulated cyclic life exceeds either 19,500 flight cycles (FCs) under Flight Plan A, or 14,700 FCs under Flight Plan B, or within 25 FCs after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later.

    (4) For all affected engines, other than those specified in paragraph (e)(3) in this AD, remove each HPT disk before exceeding its applicable life limit as specified in the TLM.

    (5) Install an HPT disk eligible for installation.

    (f) Definition

    For the purpose of this AD, a part eligible for installation is one with a part number listed in the TLM with a total accumulated cyclic life that is less than the applicable life limit specified in the TLM.

    (g) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Use the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19 to make your request. You may email your request to: [email protected]

    (h) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Wego Wang, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7134; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency AD 2014-0249R1, dated February 18, 2015, for more information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-0593.

    (3) RR Non-Modification Service Bulletin No. RB.211-72-G188, Revision No. 1, dated October 30, 2013, and RR RB211-535E4-37, TLM: 05-10-01-800-000, Revision dated July 1, 2014; and RR RB211-535E4-37, TLM: 05-00-01-800-000, Revision dated July 1, 2014, which are not incorporated by reference in this AD, can be obtained from Rolls-Royce plc, using the contact information in paragraph (h)(4) of this proposed AD.

    (4) For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE24 8BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936; email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp; Internet: https://www.aeromanager.com.

    (5) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on April 22, 2015. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Assistant Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09816 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0932; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-205-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 747-8 series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of improperly installed outboard stowage bin modules in the passenger compartment found during maintenance. Further investigation revealed that certain attachment bracket bushings were missing or had moved out of the holes. This proposed AD would require installing a spacer on the end of each quick-release pin that attaches the outboard stowage bin module to the lateral support tie rods of the main deck passenger compartment. We are proposing this AD to prevent detachment of the quick-release pin, which could result in separation of the lateral support tie rod and subsequent detachment of the module and consequent injuries to passengers or flightcrew.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

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

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0932.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0932; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stanley Chen, Aerospace Engineer, Cabin Safety and Environmental Systems Branch, ANM-150S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6585; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-0932; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-205-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We have received a report of improperly installed outboard stowage bin modules in the passenger compartment found during maintenance. Further investigation revealed that certain attachment bracket bushings of the outboard stowage bin module were missing or had moved out of the holes, and pins were installed incorrectly. These bushings were designed to prevent disengagement of the quick release pins; however, migration of the bushings deters this. It was determined that the interference fit of the bushings in the attachment brackets was incorrect. Subsequently, installation of the quick release pins during production has caused bushings to migrate or detach. This condition, if not corrected, could result in separation of the lateral support tie rod, detachment of the outboard stowage bin module, and consequent injuries to passengers or flightcrew.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 747-25-3649, dated July 24, 2014. The service information describes procedures for installing a spacer on the end of each quick-release pin that attaches the outboard stowage bin module to the lateral support tie rods of the main deck passenger compartment. Refer to this service information for information on the procedures and compliance times. This service information is reasonably available; see ADDRESSES for ways to access this service information.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information identified previously.

    Explanation of “RC” Steps in Service Information

    The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directives Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee, to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which steps in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these steps from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The actions specified in the service information described previously include steps that are labeled as RC (required for compliance) because these steps have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

    Steps that are identified as RC in any service information must be done to comply with the proposed AD. However, steps that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those steps that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an alternative method of compliance (AMOC), provided the steps identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in a serviceable condition. Any substitutions or changes to steps identified as RC will require approval of an AMOC.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 2 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S.
  • operators
  • Spacer installations Up to 12 work-hours X $85 per hour = Up to $1,020 $0 $85 per spacer Up to $2,040.
    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2015-0932; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-205-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by June 15, 2015.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 747-8 series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 747-25-3649, dated July 24, 2014.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 25, Equipment/Furnishings.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by a report of improperly installed outboard stowage bin modules in the passenger compartment found during maintenance. Further investigation revealed that certain attachment bracket bushings were missing or had moved out of the holes. We are issuing this AD to prevent detachment of the quick-release pin, which could result in separation of the lateral support tie rod and subsequent detachment of the module and consequent injuries to passengers or flightcrew.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Installation

    Within 36 months after the effective date of this AD: Install a spacer on the end of each quick-release pin that attaches the outboard stowage bin module to the lateral support tie rods of the main deck passenger compartment, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 747-25-3649, dated July 24, 2014.

    (h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (i)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected].

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

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

    (i) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Stanley Chen, Aerospace Engineer, Cabin Safety and Environmental Systems Branch, ANM-150S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6585; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected].

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P. O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on April 13, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09793 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0095; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-01-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211-524B-02, RB211-524B2-19, RB211-524B3-02, RB211-524B4-02, RB211-524B4-D-02, RB211-524C2-19, RB211-524D4-19, RB211-524D4-39, and RB211-524D4X-19 turbofan engines. This proposed AD was prompted by several failures of affected high-pressure turbine (HPT) blades. This proposed AD would require removing affected HPT blades. We are proposing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT blade, which could lead to failure of one or more engines, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

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

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    For service information identified in this AD, contact Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE248BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936; email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp; Internet: https://www.aeromanager.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0095; or in person at the Docket Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Katheryn Malatek, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7747; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-0095; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-01-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact with FAA personnel concerning this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD 2014-0250, dated November 19, 2014 (referred to hereinafter as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    There were a number of pre-MOD/SB 72-7730 High Pressure Turbine (HPT) blade failures, with some occurring within a relatively short time. Engineering analysis carried out by RR on those occurrences indicates that certain pre-MOD/SB 72-7730 blades, Part Number (P/N) UL32958 and P/N UL21691 (hereafter referred to as `affected HPT blade'), with an accumulated life of 6500 flight hours (FH) since new or more, have an increased risk of in-service failure.

    This condition, if not corrected, could lead to HPT blade failure, release of debris and consequent (partial or complete) loss of engine power, possibly resulting in reduced control of the aeroplane.

    You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0095.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of the United Kingdom, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the European Community, EASA has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design. This proposed AD would require removal of the affected HPT blades.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 6 engines installed on airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 4 hours per engine to comply with this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. Pro-rated cost of required parts is about $250,000 per engine. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $1,502,040.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Rolls-Royce plc: Docket No. FAA-2015-0095; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-01-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by June 29, 2015.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211-524B-02, RB211-524B2-19, RB211-524B3-02, RB211-524B4-02, RB211-524B4-D-02, RB211-524C2-19, RB211-524D4-19, RB211-524D4-39, and RB211-524D4X-19 turbofan engines with high-pressure turbine (HPT) blades, part numbers (P/Ns) UL32958 and UL21691, installed.

    (d) Reason

    This AD was prompted by several failures of affected HPT blades. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT blade, which could lead to failure of one or more engines, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

    (e) Actions and Compliance

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

    After the effective date of this AD, within 2 months or before exceeding 6,500 flight hours since first installation of HPT blades, P/Ns UL32958, and UL21691, on an engine, whichever occurs later, remove all affected HPT blades from service.

    (f) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Use the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19 to make your request. You may email your request to: [email protected]

    (g) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Katheryn Malatek, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7747; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency AD 2014-0250, dated November 19, 2014, for more information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-0095.

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on April 22, 2015. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Assistant Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09815 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 922 RIN 0648-BD97 Proposed Expansion, Regulatory Revision and New Management Plan for the Public Hearings AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice of public hearings.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 26, 2015, NOAA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register proposing to expand the boundaries and scope of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) (80 FR 16224). This document adds two additional hearings to the public hearings listed in the proposed rule. The end of the scoping period remains June 19, 2015.

    DATES:

    NOAA will accept public comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking published at 80 FR 16224 (March 26, 2015), the draft environmental impact statement, and draft management plan through June 19, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The instructions for submitting comments are detailed in the proposed rule published on March 26, 2015 (80 FR 16224). You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NOS-2015-0028, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2015-0028, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Public comments may be mailed to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA/DKIRC, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, Attn: Malia Chow, Superintendent.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Malia Chow, Superintendent, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary at 808-725-5901 or [email protected]

    Copies of the draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule can be downloaded or viewed on the Internet at www.regulations.gov (search for docket # NOAA-NOS-2015-0028) or at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov. Copies can also be obtained by contacting the person identified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In addition to the ten hearings listed in the proposed rule (80 FR 16224) published on March 26, 2015, two public hearings will be held in the following locations at the locales and times indicated:

    (1) Waimea, HI (Kaua‘i) Date: May 5, 2015 Location: Waimea Canyon Middle School Cafeteria Address: 9555 Huakai Road, Waimea, Hawaii 96796 Time: 5:30 p.m.—8 p.m. (2) Hilo, HI (Hawai‘i) Date: May 11, 2015 Location: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center Address: 76 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, HI 96720 Time: 4:30 p.m.—7 p.m. Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

    Dated: April 21, 2015. Daniel J. Basta, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10015 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Office of Workers' Compensation Programs 20 CFR Part 725 RIN 1240-AA10 Black Lung Benefits Act: Disclosure of Medical Information and Payment of Benefits AGENCY:

    Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Labor.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department is proposing revisions to the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA) regulations to address several procedural issues that have arisen in claims processing and adjudications. To protect a miner's health and promote accurate benefit determinations, the proposed rule would require parties to disclose all medical information developed in connection with a claim for benefits. The proposed rule also would clarify that a liable coal mine operator is obligated to pay benefits during post-award modification proceedings and that a supplemental report from a physician is considered merely a continuation of the physician's earlier report for purposes of the evidence-limiting rules.

    DATES:

    The Department invites written comments on the proposed regulations from interested parties. Written comments must be received by June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit written comments, identified by RIN number 1240-AA10, by any of the following methods. To facilitate receipt and processing of comments, OWCP encourages interested parties to submit their comments electronically.

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

    Facsimile: (202) 693-1395 (this is not a toll-free number). Only comments of ten or fewer pages, including a Fax cover sheet and attachments, if any, will be accepted by Fax.

    Regular Mail: Submit comments on paper, disk, or CD-ROM to the Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation Programs, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-3520, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210. The Department's receipt of U.S. mail may be significantly delayed due to security procedures. You must take this into consideration when preparing to meet the deadline for submitting comments.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Submit comments on paper, disk, or CD-ROM to Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation Programs, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-3520, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and the Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Chance, Director, Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Suite N-3520, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone: 1-800-347-2502. This is a toll-free number. TTY/TDD callers may dial toll-free 1-800-877-8339 for further information.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background of This Rulemaking

    The BLBA, 30 U.S.C. 901-944, provides for the payment of benefits to coal miners and certain of their dependent survivors on account of total disability or death due to coal workers' pneumoconiosis. 30 U.S.C. 901(a); Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 5 (1976). Benefits are paid by either an individual coal mine operator that employed the coal miner (or its insurance carrier), or the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. Director, OWCP v. Bivens, 757 F.2d 781, 783 (6th Cir. 1985). The Department has undertaken this rulemaking primarily to resolve several procedural issues that have arisen in claims administration and adjudication. Each of these issues is fully explained in the Section-By-Section Explanation below.

    II. Summary of the Proposed Rule A. General Provisions

    The Department is proposing several general revisions to advance the goals set forth in Executive Order 13563. 76 FR 3821 (Jan. 18, 2011). That Order states that regulations must be “accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.” Id.; see also E.O. 12866, 58 FR 51735 (Sept. 30, 1993) (Agencies must draft regulations that are “simple and easy to understand, with the goal of minimizing the potential for uncertainty and litigation arising from such uncertainty.”). Accordingly, the Department proposes to remove the imprecise term “shall” throughout those sections it is amending and substitute “must,” “must not,” “will,” or other situation-appropriate terms. These changes are designed to make the regulations clearer and more user-friendly. See generally Federal Plain Language Guidelines, http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines. In some instances, the Department has also made minor technical revisions to these sections to comply with the Office of the Federal Register's current formatting requirements. See, e.g., proposed § 725.414(a)(2)(ii) (inserting “of this chapter” after reference to § 718.107). No change in meaning is intended.

    B. Section-by-Section Explanation 20 CFR 725.310 Modification of awards and denials.

    Section 725.310 implements section 22 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (Longshore Act or LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 922, as incorporated into the BLBA by section 422(a) of the Act, 30 U.S.C. 932(a). Section 22 generally allows for the modification of claim decisions based on a mistake of fact or a change in conditions up to one year after the last payment of benefits or denial of a claim. The Department proposes several revisions to this regulation to ensure that responsible operators (and their insurance carriers) fully discharge their payment obligations while pursuing modification.

    While modification is a broad remedy available to responsible operators as well as claimants, a mere request for modification does not terminate an operator's obligation to comply with the terms of a prior award, or otherwise undermine the effectiveness, finality, or enforceability of a prior award. See Vincent v. Consolidated Operating Co., 17 F.3d 782, 785-86 (5th Cir. 1994) (enforcing award despite employer's modification request); Williams v. Jones, 11 F.3d 247, 259 (1st Cir. 1993) (same); Hudson v. Pine Ridge Coal Co., No. 11-00248, 2012 WL 386736, *5 (S.D. W.Va. Feb. 6, 2012) (same); see also National Mines Corp. v. Carroll, 64 F.3d 135, 141 (3d Cir. 1995) (“[A]s the DOL points out in its brief, `as a general rule, the mere existence of modification proceedings does not affect the finality of an existing award of compensation.' ”); Crowe ex rel. Crowe v. Zeigler Coal Co., 646 F.3d 435, 445 (7th Cir. 2011) (Hamilton, J., concurring) (“If Zeigler Coal believed the June 2001 award of benefits was wrong, it was entitled to seek modification. But Zeigler Coal was not legally entitled simply to ignore the final order of payment.”). Thus, an operator must continue to pay any benefits due under an effective award even when seeking to overturn that award through a section 22 modification proceeding.

    The plain language of the Act and its implementing regulations support this conclusion. An operator is required to pay benefits “after an effective order requiring the payment of benefits”—generally an uncontested award by a district director or any award by an administrative law judge, the Benefits Review Board, or a reviewing court—even if the operator timely appeals the effective award. 20 CFR 725.502(a)(1); see also 33 U.S.C. 921(a), as incorporated by 30 U.S.C. 932(a). There is only one exception to an operator's obligation to pay benefits owed under an effective award: The Board or a reviewing court may issue a stay pending its resolution of an appeal based on a finding that “irreparable injury would otherwise ensue to the employer or carrier.” 30 U.S.C. 921(a)(3), (c); see also 20 CFR 725.482(a), 725.502(a)(1). Otherwise, an effective award requires payment until it is (1) “vacated by an administrative law judge on reconsideration,” (2) “vacated . . . upon review under section 21 of the LHWCA, by the Benefits Review Board or an appropriate court,” or (3) “superseded by an effective order issued pursuant to § 725.310.” 20 CFR 725.502. Notably absent from this list is a request for modification pursuant to § 725.310. Thus, only an administrative or judicial order relieves the operator of the obligation to pay benefits, even if the operator continues to contest the award. The operator may not terminate the obligation unilaterally.

    Despite this clear authority, some operators obligated to pay benefits to claimants (and to repay the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for interim benefit payments) by the terms of effective or final awards have refused to comply with those obligations, claiming that a subsequent modification request excuses their non-compliance. See, e.g. , Crowe, 646 F.3d at 447 (Hamilton, J., concurring); Hudson, 2012 WL 386736, *3. In addition to being contrary to the unanimous weight of the courts of appeals and the plain text of the controlling statutory and regulatory provisions, the practice has a number of negative consequences.

    First, it prevents claimants from timely receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled. If an operator fails to comply with the terms of an effective award, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund pays benefits to the claimant in the operator's stead. See 20 CFR 725.522(a). But, in any claim filed after 1981, the Trust Fund is statutorily prohibited from paying retroactive benefits, i.e., benefits owed for the period of time between the entitlement date specified in the order (typically the date the miner filed his or her claim or the date of the miner's death) and the initial determination that the claimant is entitled to benefits. 26 U.S.C. 9501(d)(1)(A)(ii). These retroactive benefits are sometimes substantial, and an operator's failure to pay them while pursuing modification imposes a similarly substantial burden on the claimant. See Crowe, 646 F.3d at 446 (“[T]he effect of Zeigler Coal's decision to disobey the final payment order [while it pursued modification for ten years] was to deny Mr. Crowe the $168,000 in back benefits to which he had been found entitled.”)

    The Act currently provides two mechanisms for claimants to enforce these liabilities. Section 21(d) of the Longshore Act, 33 U.S.C. 921(d), as incorporated into the BLBA by section 422(a) of the Act, 30 U.S.C. 932(a), and implemented by 20 CFR 725.604, provides for the enforcement of final awards. And section 18(a) of the Longshore Act, 33 U.S.C. 918(a), as incorporated into the BLBA by section 422(a) of the Act, 30 U.S.C. 932(a), and implemented by 20 CFR 725.605, does the same for effective awards. These remedies are, however, imperfect. Even if the previous award is final, section 21(d) still requires the claimant to file an enforcement action in federal district court to secure compliance with the award, a substantial barrier for unrepresented claimants. And even for represented claimants, the process can be a source of substantial delay. For example, the district court's order enforcing a final award under section 21(d) in Nowlin v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp., 266 F. Supp. 2d 502 (N.D. W.Va. 2003), was issued more than two years after the complaint was filed, and the consequent attorney's fee dispute took another seven months to resolve. Such delays should be minimized where possible to ensure prompt compensation for claimants. A claimant seeking to enforce an effective but non-final award faces the same barriers, plus the additional hurdles of section 18(a)'s one-year limitations period and its requirement to obtain a supplemental order of default from the district director.

    Second, the practice improperly shifts financial burdens from the responsible operator to the Trust Fund contrary to Congress's intent. Congress created the Trust Fund in 1978 to assume responsibility for claims for which no operator was liable or in which the responsible operator defaulted on its payment obligations. But Congress intended to “ensure that individual coal operators rather than the trust fund bear the liability for claims arising out of such operator's mines, to the maximum extent feasible.” S. Rep. No. 95-209 at 9 (1977), reprinted in Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives, 96th Cong., Black Lung Benefits Reform Act and Black Lung Benefits Revenue Act of 1977 at 612 (Comm. Print) (1979). Thus, operators are required to reimburse the Trust Fund for all benefits it paid to a claimant on the operator's behalf under an effective or final order. See 30 U.S.C. 934(b); 20 CFR 725.522(a), 725.601-603.

    This intent is undermined if an operator does not pay benefits or reimburse the Trust Fund while seeking to modify an effective award. One of the few events that terminates an effective order is being “superseded by an effective order issued pursuant to § 725.310.” 20 CFR 725.502(a)(1). Thus, if an operator evades its obligation to pay benefits under the terms of an effective or final order until it successfully modifies that order under § 725.310, the operator may entirely evade its obligation to pay benefits (or to reimburse the Trust Fund for paying benefits on the operator's behalf) under the initial order. Moreover, because § 725.310(d) allows only certain benefits paid under a previously effective order to be recovered (generally only benefits for periods after modification was requested), the Trust Fund will be unable to recoup benefits paid prior to that date from the claimant. And the Trust Fund's right to recover the remaining overpayment is of little practical value in many cases given that claimants may be entitled to waiver of overpayments by operation of §§ 725.540-548.

    Section 725.502's requirement that operators pay benefits owed under the terms of effective (as well as final) awards is designed to place these overpayment recovery risks where they properly belong: On the operator who, if successful, has the same overpayment recoupment rights as the Trust Fund. See 65 FR 80009-80011 (explaining rationale for § 725.502); 20 CFR 725.547 (extending overpayment provisions to operators and their insurance carriers). The tactic of refusing to pay benefits owed while seeking modification threatens to transfer this risk to the Trust Fund, essentially rewarding operators that behave lawlessly and encouraging others to do the same. See Crowe, 646 F.3d at 446-47.

    To deal with this recurring problem, the Department proposes adding new paragraph (e) to § 725.310. Proposed paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) provide that an operator's request to modify any effective award will be denied unless the operator proves that it has complied with all of its obligations under that award, and any other currently effective award (such as an attorney fee award) in the claim, unless payment has been stayed. By incorporating § 725.502(a)'s definition of effective award, the proposed regulation clarifies that an operator is not required to prove compliance with formerly effective awards that have been vacated either on reconsideration by an administrative law judge, or on appeal by the Board or a court of appeals, or that have been superseded by an effective modification order.

    Proposed paragraph (e)(3) integrates the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) into the overall modification procedures outlined by § 725.310(b)-(c). The Department anticipates that compliance with the requirements of outstanding effective awards will be readily apparent from the documentary evidence in most cases and that any non-compliance with those obligations will be easily correctable by the operator based on that evidence. Accordingly, paragraph (e)(3) encourages the parties to submit all documentary evidence at the earliest stage of the modification process (i.e., during proceedings before the district director) by forbidding the admission of any new documentary evidence addressing the operator's compliance with paragraph (e)(1) at any subsequent stage of the litigation absent extraordinary circumstances. The Department intends that the term “extraordinary circumstances” in this context be understood the same way that the identical term has been applied in cases governed by § 725.456(b)(1). See, e.g., Marfork Coal Co. v. Weis, 251 F. App'x 229, 236 (4th Cir. 2007) (operator failed to demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances” justifying late submission of evidence under § 725.456(b)(1) where evidence was not “hidden or could not have been located” earlier).

    Proposed paragraph (e)(4) clarifies that an operator has a continuing obligation to comply with the requirements of effective awards during all stages of a modification proceeding. The Department believes that imposing an affirmative obligation on operators to continually update the administrative law judge, Board, or court currently adjudicating its modification request about every continuing payment required by previous awards would be unduly burdensome on both operators and adjudicators. When an operator's non-compliance is brought to an adjudication officer's attention, however, the adjudicator must issue an order to show cause why the operator's modification petition should not be denied. Because the issue will be the operator's compliance with paragraph (e)(1) at the time of the order rather than at the time it requested modification, evidence relevant to this issue will be admissible even in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. In addition, to avoid the burden of a minor default resulting in the denial of modification, paragraph (e)(4) gives the operator an opportunity to cure any default identified by the Director or claimant before the modification petition is denied.

    Proposed paragraph (e)(5) clarifies that the denial of a modification request on the ground that the operator has not complied with its obligations under previous effective awards will not prejudice the operator's right to make additional modification requests in that same claim in the future. At the time of that future request, of course, the operator must satisfy all modification requirements, including § 725.310(e).

    Finally, proposed paragraph (e)(6) makes these requirements applicable only to modification requests filed on or after the effective date of the final rule. Making the rule applicable prospectively avoids any administrative difficulties that could arise from applying the rule's requirements to pending modification requests.

    20 CFR 725.413 Disclosure of Medical Information

    The Department proposes a new provision that requires the parties to disclose all medical information developed in connection with a claim. Currently, parties to a claim are free to develop medical information to the extent their resources allow and then select from that information those pieces they wish to submit into evidence, subject to the evidentiary limitations set out in § 725.414. See 20 CFR 725.414. Medical information developed but not submitted into evidence generally remains in the sole custody of the party who developed it unless an opposing party obtains the information through a formal discovery process.

    Experience has demonstrated that miners may be harmed if they do not have access to all information about their health, including information that is not submitted for the record. Claimants who do not have legal representation are particularly disadvantaged because generally they are unfamiliar with the formal discovery process and thus rarely obtain undisclosed information. Moreover, benefit decisions based on incomplete medical information are less accurate. These results are contrary to the clear intent of the statute.

    One recent case, Fox v. Elk Run Coal Co., 739 F.3d 131 (4th Cir. 2014), aptly demonstrates these problems. Mr. Fox worked in coal mines for more than thirty years. In 1997, a chest X-ray disclosed a mass in his right lung. A pathologist who reviewed tissue collected from the mass during a 1998 biopsy diagnosed an inflammatory pseudotumor. Acting without legal representation, Mr. Fox filed a claim for black lung benefits in 1999. The responsible operator submitted radiologists' reports and opinions from four pulmonologists, all concluding that Mr. Fox did not have coal workers' pneumoconiosis. The operator had developed additional medical information, however—opinions from two pathologists who reviewed the 1998 biopsy tissue and other records and then authored opinions supporting the conclusion that Mr. Fox had complicated pneumoconiosis, an advanced form of the disease. But the operator did not submit the pathologists' reports into the record, provide them to Mr. Fox, or share them with the pulmonologists it hired. An administrative law judge denied Mr. Fox's claim in 2001. To support his family, Mr. Fox continued to work in the mines, where he was exposed to additional coal-mine dust.

    Mr. Fox left the mines in 2006 at the age of 56 because his pulmonary capacity had diminished to the point he could no longer work. He filed a second claim for benefits that same year. This time he was represented by counsel, who successfully obtained discovery of the medical information that the responsible operator had developed in connection with Mr. Fox's first claim but had not disclosed. This additional information included the pathologists' opinions and X-ray interpretations showing that Mr. Fox had complicated pneumoconiosis. The operator did not disclose any of these documents, despite an order from an administrative law judge, until 2008. Mr. Fox died in 2009 while awaiting a lung transplant.

    Had Mr. Fox received the responsible operator's pathologists' opinions in 2000 when they were authored, he could have sought appropriate treatment for his advanced pneumoconiosis five or six years sooner than he did. He also could have made an informed decision as to whether he should continue in coal mine employment, where he was exposed to additional coal-mine dust. Or, he might have transferred to a position in a less-dusty area of the mine. See 30 U.S.C. 943(b). Finally, if the pathology reports the operator obtained had been available, Mr. Fox's first claim might have been awarded; indeed, the operator conceded entitlement when ordered to disclose this information.

    Mr. Fox's case highlights the longstanding problem claimants face in obtaining a full picture of the miner's health from testifying and non-testifying medical experts as well as examining and non-examining physicians. See, e.g., Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. Smoot, 716 SE.2d 491 (W. Va. 2010); Belcher v. Westmoreland Coal Co., BRB No. 06-0653, 2007 WL 7629355 (Ben. Rev. Bd. May 31, 2007) (unpublished); Cline v. Westmoreland Coal Co., 21 Black Lung Rep. 1-69 (Ben. Rev. Bd. 1997).

    Ensuring that a miner has access to information about his or her health is consistent with the primary tenet of the Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act). Congress expressly declared that “the first priority and concern of all in the coal or other mining industry must be the health and safety of its most precious resource—the miner.” 30 U.S.C. 801(a). This priority informs the Secretary's administration of the BLBA—including adoption of appropriate regulations—because Congress placed the BLBA in the Mine Act.

    By requiring disclosure, the rule also protects parties who do not have legal representation. Virtually without exception, coal mine operators are represented by attorneys in claims heard by administrative law judges. But claimants cannot always obtain legal representation. The Department estimates that approximately 23 percent of claimants appear before administrative law judges without any representation, and some of those claimants who have representation are represented by lay persons. Unrepresented claimants and lay representatives are generally unfamiliar with technical discovery procedures and thus do not pursue any information not voluntarily disclosed by the operator. And even when represented, not all attorneys use available discovery tools. Thus, making full disclosure mandatory will put all parties on equal footing, regardless of representation and regardless of whether they request disclosure of all medical information developed in connection with a claim.

    Finally, allowing parties fuller access to medical information may lead to better, more accurate decisions on claims. Elevating correctness over technical formalities is a fundamental tenant of the BLBA. Subject to regulations of the Secretary, the statute gives the Department explicit authority to depart from technical rules: adjudicators “shall not be bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence or by technical or formal rules of procedure . . . but may make such investigation or inquiry or conduct such hearing in such manner as to best ascertain the rights of the parties.” 33 U.S.C. 923(a), as incorporated by 30 U.S.C. 932(a). See also 20 CFR 725.455(b). This statutory provision evidences Congress's strong preference for “best ascertain[ing] the rights of the parties”— in other words, getting to the truth of the matter—over following the technical formalities associated with regular civil litigation. Full disclosure of medical information is therefore consistent with Congressional intent. Indeed, the current regulations require the miner to provide the responsible operator authorization to access his or her medical records. See 20 CFR 725.414(a)(3)(i)(A).

    An incorporated provision of the Social Security Act provides additional authority for proposed § 725.413. See 30 U.S.C. 923(b), incorporating 42 U.S.C. 405(a). As incorporated into the BLBA, section 205(a) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 405(a), gives the Department wide latitude in regulating evidentiary matters pertaining to an individual's right to benefits. Specifically, the Department is vested with “full power and authority to make rules and regulations and to establish procedures, not inconsistent with the provisions of this subchapter, which are necessary or appropriate to carry out such provisions, and [to] adopt reasonable and proper rules and regulations to regulate and provide for the nature and extent of the proofs and evidence and the method of taking and furnishing the same in order to establish the right to benefits.” Section 205(a) has been construed as granting “exceptionally broad authority to prescribe standards” for proofs and evidence. Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 466 (1983) (quoting Schweiker v. Gray Panthers, 453 U.S. 34, 43 (1981)). The proposed rule honors these tenets.

    The proposed rule sets out both requirements for the disclosure of medical information and sanctions that may be imposed on parties that do not comply with the rule. Proposed § 725.413(a) defines what constitutes “medical information” for purposes of this regulation. The regulation casts a broad net by encompassing any medical data about the miner that a party develops in connection with a claim. Treatment records are not information developed in connection with a claim and thus do not fall within this definition. But any party may obtain and submit records pertaining to treatment for a respiratory or pulmonary or related disease under § 725.414(a)(4).

    Proposed paragraph (a)(1) addresses examining physicians' opinions and includes all findings made by an examining physician in the definition of “medical information.” An examining physician's opinion may disclose incidental physical conditions beyond a miner's respiratory or pulmonary systems that need attention. Giving miners full access to this data is consistent with the Act's and the Department's intent to protect the miner's health. Proposed paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) include all other physicians' opinions, tests, procedures and related documentation in “medical information,” but only to the extent they address the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition.

    Proposed § 725.413(b) sets out the duty to disclose medical information about the miner and a time frame for such disclosure. The duty to disclose arises when either a party or a party's agent receives medical information. By including a “party's agent,” the proposed rule requires disclosure of medical information received by any individual or business entity that develops or screens medical information for the party or the party's attorney. Thus, a party may not avoid disclosure by having medical opinions and testing results filtered through a third-party agent. The time frame for disclosure is generally 30 days after receipt of the medical information. Within that time period, the disclosing party must send a copy of the medical information obtained to all other parties of record. In the event the claim is already scheduled for hearing by an administrative law judge when the medical information is received, the proposed rule requires the disclosing party to send the information no later than 20 days prior to the hearing. This provision correlates with current § 725.456(b)(2)'s 20-day requirement for exchanging any documentary evidence a party wants to submit into the hearing record.

    Proposed § 725.413(c) provides sanctions that an adjudication officer may impose on a party that does not comply with its obligation to disclose the medical information described in proposed § 725.413(a). In determining an appropriate sanction, the proposed rule requires the adjudication officer to consider whether the party who violated the disclosure rule was represented by counsel when the violation occurred. The proposed rule also requires the adjudication officer to protect represented parties when the violation was attributable solely to their attorney's errors. The sanctions listed are not exclusive, and an adjudication officer may impose a different sanction, so long as it is appropriate to the circumstances presented in the particular case. Two of the listed sanctions are unique to the BLBA claims context. First, the proposed rule allows the adjudication officer to disqualify the non-disclosing party's attorney from further participation in the claim proceedings. The Department believes this is an appropriate sanction when the party's attorney is solely at fault for the non-disclosure and the failure to disclose resulted from more than an administrative error. Second, the proposed rule empowers an adjudication officer to relieve a claimant from the impact of a prior claim denial (see 20 CFR 725.309(c)(6)) if the medical information was not disclosed in accordance with the regulation in the prior claim proceeding. This sanction removes an incentive for responsible operators to withhold medical information and, by encouraging operators to comply, helps protect miners like Mr. Fox.

    Finally, proposed § 725.413(d) sets out when the rule is applicable. Significantly, proposed paragraph (d)(2) specifies that the rule applies to claims pending on the rule's effective date if an administrative law judge has not yet entered a decision on the merits. To provide adequate time for disclosure in pending cases, the proposed rule allows the parties 60 days to disclose evidence received prior to the rule's adoption. Evidence received after the rule's effective date remains subject to proposed § 725.413(b)'s 30-day time limit. After an administrative law judge issues a merits decision, proposed paragraph (d)(3) imposes the obligation to disclose medical information only when further evidentiary development is permitted on reconsideration, remand from an appellate body, or after a party files a modification request. Applying this rule to pending claims will further one of the rule's primary purposes: protecting the health of the nation's miners.

    20 CFR 725.414 Development of Evidence

    (a) Section 725.414 imposes limitations on the quantity of medical evidence that each party may submit in a black lung claim. The Department proposed the limitations, in part, to ensure that eligibility determinations are based on the quality, not the quantity, of evidence submitted and to reduce litigation costs. 62 FR 3338 (Jan. 22, 1997). Under the evidence limiting rule, each side in a living miner's claim—both the claimant and the responsible operator (or Director, when appropriate)—may submit two chest X-ray interpretations, the results of two pulmonary function tests, two arterial blood gas studies and two medical reports as its affirmative case. Current § 725.414(a)(1) defines a medical report as a “written assessment of the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition” that “may be prepared by a physician who examined the miner and/or reviewed the available admissible evidence.” 20 CFR 725.414(a)(1). Because additional medical evidence may become available after a physician has prepared a medical report, physicians often update their initial reports in supplemental reports addressing the new evidence. This practice has, at times, caused confusion regarding whether the supplemental report must be deemed a second medical report for purposes of the evidentiary limitations. The Department proposes to amend § 725.414(a)(1) to reflect the Director's longstanding position that these supplemental reports are merely a continuation of the physician's original medical report for purposes of the evidence-limiting rules and do not count against the party as a second medical report. The revised rule would apply to all claims filed after January 19, 2001. See 20 CFR 725.2(c).

    The Director's position flows from the language of the current rules, which constrains the evidence a physician may review in a written report based only on its admissibility. Current § 725.414(a)(1) makes clear that a physician who provides a written opinion on the miner's pulmonary condition may consider all “admissible medical evidence.” Significantly, a physician who prepares a written medical report may also provide oral testimony in a claim, either at the formal hearing or through a deposition, and may “testify as to any other medical evidence of record.” 20 CFR 725.414(c), 725.457(d). Thus, so long as a piece of medical evidence is admissible, a physician may consider it when addressing the miner's condition in either a written report or oral testimony. The Benefits Review Board has long accepted the Director's position that the medical opinion of a physician may be submitted in more than one document and still be considered one medical report for purposes of § 725.414. See, e.g., Akers v. TBK Coal Co., BRB No. 06-894 BLA, 2007 WL 7629772 (Ben. Rev. Bd. Nov. 30, 2007).

    Supplemental reports are a reasonable and cost-effective means of providing medical opinion evidence given the practical realities of federal black lung litigation. Even with the evidence-limiting rules, a miner who files a black lung claim may undergo up to five sets of examinations and testing “spread . . . out over time.” 65 FR 79992 (Dec. 20, 2000). A physician who examines the miner early in the claim process will obviously not at that time have access to all the medical evidence that ultimately will be admitted into the record. Given that the rules allow the physician to review all admissible medical evidence when evaluating the miner's condition, it makes sense to allow the physician to supplement his or her original report as new evidence becomes available. Indeed, a contrary rule would increase litigation costs because the party would be forced to have the physician review new evidence during a deposition or in-court testimony, both of which are much more costly means of providing evidence. There is therefore no practical or logical reason to consider a physician's supplemental written report a second medical report under the evidence limiting rules.

    (b) For cases in which the Trust Fund is liable for benefits, current § 725.414(a)(3)(iii) authorizes the Director to exercise the rights of a responsible operator for purposes of the evidentiary limitations. 20 CFR 725.414(a)(3)(iii). The current rule does not, however, allow the Director to submit medical evidence, except for the medical evidence developed under § 725.406, in cases in which a coal mine operator is deemed the liable party. The rule thus leaves the Trust Fund potentially unprotected in cases in which the identified responsible operator has ceased to defend a claim during the course of litigation because of adverse financial developments, such as bankruptcy or insolvency. The Department proposes to amend § 725.414(a)(3)(iii) to allow the Director to submit medical evidence, up to the limits allowed an identified responsible operator, in such cases. The revised rule would apply to all claims filed after January 19, 2001. See 20 CFR 725.2(c).

    The Trust Fund is liable for the payment of benefits if no operator can be identified as liable or if the operator identified as liable fails to pay benefits owed. See 26 U.S.C. 9501(d)(1); 20 CFR 725.522. As a result, the Director's inability to develop medical evidence in responsible operator cases imperils the Trust Fund if the operator ceases to defend the claim. In such cases, the Director currently has only two choices: (1) Dismiss the operator and have the Trust Fund assume liability so that medical evidence can be developed; or (2) keep the operator as the liable party and, if an award is issued, attempt to enforce the award against the operator or related entities (e.g., insurance carrier, surety-bond companies, successor operator, etc.).

    The first choice forecloses any possibility of recovery from the operator in the case of an award because the award would run against the Trust Fund. To be enforceable against an operator, the order awarding benefits must identify the operator as the liable party. See 20 CFR 725.522(a), 725.601-.609. The second choice restricts the Trust Fund's ability to defend against an unmeritorious claim without providing any certainty as to the recovery of any benefits awarded. In both cases, the Trust Fund is unnecessarily put at risk. This risk can be ameliorated by the simple expedient of allowing the Director, at his or her discretion, to develop evidence in cases in which the identified responsible operator has ceased to defend the claim.

    Proposed § 725.414(a)(3)(iii) allows the Director the option of developing evidence in such cases. This revision would not prejudice claimants because the Director would be bound by the same evidence-limiting rules as the operator. In a miner's claim, the medical evidence developed under § 725.406 counts as one medical report and one set of tests submitted by the Director, 20 CFR 725.414(a)(3)(iii), and the Director would be able to submit only one additional medical report and set of tests, along with appropriate rebuttal evidence. And in a survivor's claim, the Director, like an operator, is limited to two complete reports and rebuttal evidence. Moreover, in appropriate cases, the Director may determine that an award of benefits is justified, and decline to submit additional evidence. In sum, the proposed rule reasonably allows the Director to defend the Trust Fund against unwarranted liability in appropriate circumstances without unjustifiably burdening claimants.

    20 CFR 725.601 Enforcement Generally

    Current § 725.601 sets out the Department's policy regarding enforcing the liabilities imposed by Part 725. The last sentence of current paragraph (b) refers to “payments in addition to compensation (see § 725.607)[.]” For the reasons explained in the discussion under § 725.607, the Department proposes to replace the phrase “payments in addition to compensation” with the phrase “payments of additional compensation.” No substantive change is intended.

    20 CFR 725.607 Payments in Addition to Compensation

    The Department proposes two revisions to current § 725.607, which implements section 14(f) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 914(f), as incorporated into the BLBA by section 422(a) of the Act, 30 U.S.C. 932(a), to clarify that amounts paid under section 14(f) are compensation. Section 14(f) generally provides that claimants are entitled to an additional 20% of any compensation owed under the terms of an award that is not paid within ten days after it becomes due.

    The majority of courts to consider the question have agreed with the Director's view that the 20% payment required by section 14(f) is itself “compensation” rather than a penalty. See Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. v. Brown, 376 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 2004) (“[I]t is plain that an award for late payment under [section] 14(f) is compensation.”); Tahara v. Matson Terminals, Inc., 511 F.3d 950, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2007) (same); but see Burgo v. General Dynamics Corp., 122 F.3d 140, 145-46 (2d Cir. 1997). Part 725 reflects this view by generally referring to 14(f) payments as “additional compensation.” See 20 CFR 725.530(a), 725.607(b), 725.608(a)(3); see also 65 FR 80014 (Dec. 20, 2000) (“Section 14(f) provides that additional compensation, in the amount of twenty percent of unpaid benefits, shall be paid if an employer fails to pay within ten days after the benefits become due.”).

    Current § 725.607 does not consistently reflect the majority rule or the Director's position. Paragraph (b) describes section 14(f) payments as “additional compensation.” But both the title of the section and paragraph (c) describe them as payments “in addition to compensation.” The latter formulation could be read to suggest that 14(f) payments are something other than compensation. While the “in addition to compensation” formulation has not caused any problems in the administration of § 725.607 thus far, the Department wishes to eliminate any possibility that the regulation's phrasing could confuse readers. Accordingly, the Department proposes to replace “in addition to compensation” with “additional compensation” in the title of § 725.607 and paragraph (c). To maintain consistency within part 725, the Department also proposes the same change to § 725.601(b).

    III. Statutory Authority

    Section 426(a) of the BLBA, 30 U.S.C. 936(a), authorizes the Secretary of Labor to prescribe rules and regulations necessary for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

    IV. Information Collection Requirements (Subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act) Imposed Under the Proposed Rule

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, require that the Department consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. A Federal agency generally cannot conduct or sponsor a collection of information, and the public is generally not required to respond to an information collection, unless it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the PRA and displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. In addition, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person may generally be subject to penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that does not display a valid Control Number. See 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and 1320.6.

    As discussed earlier in the preamble, proposed § 725.413 would require each party in a black lung benefits claim to disclose certain medical information about the miner that the party or the party's agent receives by sending a complete copy of the information to all other parties in the claim. The Department does not believe this rule will have a broad impact because in many (and perhaps the majority) of cases, the parties already exchange all of the medical information in their possession as part of their evidentiary submissions. But requiring an exchange of additional medical information could be considered a collection of information within the meaning of the PRA. Thus, consistent with the requirements codified at 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(B) and 3507(d), and at 5 CFR 1320.11, the Department has submitted a new Information Collection Request to OMB for approval under the PRA and is providing an opportunity for public comment. A copy of this request (including supporting documentation) may be obtained free of charge by contacting Michael Chance, Director, Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Suite N-3464, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone: (202) 693-0978 (this is not a toll-free number). TTY/TDD callers may dial toll-free 1-800-877-8339.

    The Department has estimated the number of responses and burdens as follows for this information collection:

    Title of Collection: Disclosure of Medical Information

    OMB Control Number: 1240-0NEW [OWCP will supply before publication]

    Total Estimated Number of Responses: 4,074

    Total Estimated Annual Time Burden: 679 hours

    Total Estimated Annual Cost Burden: $21,537.88

    In addition to having an opportunity to file comments with the Department, the PRA provides that an interested party may file comments on the information collection requirements in a proposed rule directly with OMB at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for DOL-OWCP, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503; by Fax: 202-395-5806 (this is not a toll-free number); or by email: [email protected]. Commenters are encouraged, but not required, to send a courtesy copy of any comments to the Department by one of the methods set forth in the ADDRESSES section above. OMB will consider all written comments that the agency receives within 30 days of publication of this NPRM in the Federal Register. In order to help ensure appropriate consideration, comments should mention the OMB control number listed above.

    OMB and the Department are particularly interested in comments that:

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

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

    • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    V. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

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

    The Department has considered the proposed rule with these principles in mind and has determined that the regulated community will benefit from this regulation. The discussion below sets out the rule's anticipated economic impact and discusses non-economic factors favoring adoption of the proposal. OMB has reviewed this rule prior to publication in accordance with these Executive Orders.

    A. Economic Considerations

    The proposed rule includes only one provision that arguably could have an economic impact on parties to black lung claims or others: proposed § 725.310(e), which requires a responsible operator to pay effective awards of benefits while seeking to modify those awards. As set forth above in the Section-by-Section Explanation, within one year of an award of benefits or of the last payment of benefits, a liable coal mine operator may request modification of an award (i.e., may seek to have the award converted to a denial) based on a change in conditions or because of a mistake in a determination of fact in the award. 20 CFR 725.310(a). Operators are legally obligated to make benefit payments during such modification proceedings. But few do, and the Trust Fund pays monthly benefits in their stead. To avoid this result, proposed § 725.310(e) would prohibit a responsible operator from seeking modification until it meets the payment obligations imposed by effective awards in a claim. Because the proposed rule merely enforces operators' existing obligations, it imposes no additional costs and is thus cost neutral.

    Even if the proposed rule were construed to impose a new obligation on operators, the Department believes any additional costs involved would not be burdensome for several reasons. First, if an operator's modification request is denied, the operator must reimburse the Trust Fund with interest for all benefits paid to the claimant during the proceeding. In such cases, whether the responsible operator starts paying benefits after the award is made initially or does so after the modification process has ended, the operator must pay all benefits owed. Second, in those instances where the operator's modification petition is successful, the operator can pursue reimbursement from the claimant for at least some of the benefits paid, including those paid during the modification proceeding itself. See 20 CFR 725.310(d). The potential economic impact on responsible operators in this instance is the amount that they cannot recoup from the claimant. In this regard, when an operator successfully modifies an award, the operator can seek only to recover cash benefits paid to the claimant and not medical benefits paid to hospitals and other health care providers. The Department believes, based on its experience in administering the program, that there are very few claims in which an operator is successful on modification. Thus, even if recoupment is unavailable, the cost impact would not be large.

    B. Other Considerations

    The Department has also considered other benefits and burdens that would result from the proposed rules apart from any potential monetary impact. As discussed in the Section-by-Section analysis, proposed § 725.310(e) requires responsible operators to meet their payment obligations on effective awards before modifying those awards. This rule strikes an appropriate balance between the parties' competing interests: claimants are made whole while operators who would be irreparably harmed by making such payments can seek a stay in payments. While there is some risk that the operator will not recover payments made after a successful modification petition, placing that risk on the operator, rather than the Trust Fund, is consistent with the Act's intent.

    Proposed § 725.413, which requires the parties to disclose all medical information they develop, will help protect miners' health and assist in reaching more accurate benefits determinations. These concerns far outweigh any minimal additional administrative burden this rule would place on the parties as a result of the mandatory exchange of this information. Moreover, the Department does not believe this rule will have an extremely broad impact. In many (and perhaps the majority) of cases, the Department believes, and has been informed by the public, that the parties already exchange all of the medical information in their possession as part of their evidentiary submissions.

    Finally, the proposed revisions to § 725.414 and § 725.607 will benefit all regulated parties simply by adding clarity to the rules.

    VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 13272 (Proper Consideration of Small Entities in Agency Rulemaking)

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. (RFA), requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis when it proposes regulations that will have “a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities,” or to certify that the proposed regulations will have no such impact, and to make the analysis or certification available for public comment. 5 U.S.C. 605.

    The Department has determined that a regulatory flexibility analysis under the RFA is not required for this rulemaking. While many coal mine operators are small entities within the meaning of the RFA, see 77 FR 19471-72 (Mar. 30, 2012), this proposed rule, if adopted in final, would not have a significant economic impact on them. As discussed above, the proposed rule addresses procedural issues that have arisen in claims administration and adjudication, and does not change the substantive standards under which claims are adjudicated. As such, the Department anticipates that the proposed rule would have little, if any, financial consequences for operators. Moreover, to the extent proposed § 725.310(e) requires that operators make benefit payments on effective awards while pursuing modification, the regulation merely reflects an existing payment obligation rather than imposing a new one on operators.

    Based on these facts, the Department certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Thus, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. The Department invites comments from members of the public who believe the regulations will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small coal mine operators. The Department has provided the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration with a copy of this certification. See 5 U.S.C. 605.

    VII. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., directs agencies to assess the effects of Federal Regulatory Actions on State, local, and tribal governments, and the private sector, “other than to the extent that such regulations incorporate requirements specifically set forth in law.” 2 U.S.C. 1531. For purposes of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, this rule does not include any Federal mandate that may result in increased expenditures by State, local, tribal governments, or increased expenditures by the private sector of more than $100,000,000.

    VIII. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    The Department has reviewed this proposed rule in accordance with Executive Order 13132 regarding federalism, and has determined that it does not have “federalism implications.” E.O. 13132, 64 FR 43255 (Aug. 4, 1999). The proposed rule will not “have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government” if promulgated as a final rule. Id.

    IX. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    The proposed rule meets the applicable standards in Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden. See 61 FR 4729 (Feb. 5, 1996).

    X. Congressional Review Act

    The proposed rule is not a “major rule” as defined in the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq. If promulgated as a final rule, this rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.

    List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 725

    Administrative practice and procedure, Black lung benefits, Claims, Health care, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Vocational rehabilitation, Workers' compensation.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of Labor proposes to amend 20 CFR part 725 as follows:

    PART 725—CLAIMS FOR BENEFITS UNDER PART C OF TITLE IV OF THE FEDERAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, AS AMENDED 1. The authority citation for part 725 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 301; Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1950, 15 FR 3174; 30 U.S.C. 901 et seq., 902(f), 934, 936; 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 405; Secretary's Order 10-2009, 74 FR 58834.

    2. In § 725.310, revise paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) and add paragraph (e) to read as follows:
    § 725.310 Modification of awards and denials.

    (b) Modification proceedings must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this part as appropriate, except that the claimant and the operator, or group of operators or the fund, as appropriate, are each entitled to submit no more than one additional chest X-ray interpretation, one additional pulmonary function test, one additional arterial blood gas study, and one additional medical report in support of its affirmative case along with such rebuttal evidence and additional statements as are authorized by paragraphs (a)(2)(ii) and (a)(3)(ii) of § 725.414. Modification proceedings may not be initiated before an administrative law judge or the Benefits Review Board.

    (c) At the conclusion of modification proceedings before the district director, the district director may issue a proposed decision and order (§ 725.418) or, if appropriate, deny the claim by reason of abandonment (§ 725.409). In any case in which the district director has initiated modification proceedings on his own initiative to alter the terms of an award or denial of benefits issued by an administrative law judge, the district director must, at the conclusion of modification proceedings, forward the claim for a hearing (§ 725.421). In any case forwarded for a hearing, the administrative law judge assigned to hear such case must consider whether any additional evidence submitted by the parties demonstrates a change in condition and, regardless of whether the parties have submitted new evidence, whether the evidence of record demonstrates a mistake in a determination of fact.

    (d) An order issued following the conclusion of modification proceedings may terminate, continue, reinstate, increase or decrease benefit payments or award benefits. Such order must not affect any benefits previously paid, except that an order increasing the amount of benefits payable based on a finding of a mistake in a determination of fact may be made effective on the date from which benefits were determined payable by the terms of an earlier award. In the case of an award which is decreased, no payment made in excess of the decreased rate prior to the date upon which the party requested reconsideration under paragraph (a) of this section will be subject to collection or offset under subpart H of this part, provided the claimant is without fault as defined by § 725.543. In the case of an award which is decreased following the initiation of modification by the district director, no payment made in excess of the decreased rate prior to the date upon which the district director initiated modification proceedings under paragraph (a) will be subject to collection or offset under subpart H of this part, provided the claimant is without fault as defined by § 725.543. In the case of an award which has become final and is thereafter terminated, no payment made prior to the date upon which the party requested reconsideration under paragraph (a) will be subject to collection or offset under subpart H of this part. In the case of an award which has become final and is thereafter terminated following the initiation of modification by the district director, no payment made prior to the date upon which the district director initiated modification proceedings under paragraph (a) will be subject to collection or offset under subpart H of this part.

    (e)(1) Any modification request by an operator must be denied unless the operator proves that at the time of the request, the operator has complied with all of the obligations imposed by all awards in the claim that are currently effective as defined by § 725.502(a). These include the obligations to—

    (i) Pay all benefits owed to the claimant (including retroactive benefits under § 725.502(b)(2), additional compensation under § 725.607, and medical benefits under §§ 725.701 through 725.708). If the prior award is final, these obligations also include the payment of approved attorney's fees and expenses under § 725.367 and witness fees under § 725.459; and

    (ii) Reimburse the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for all benefits paid (including payments prior to final adjudication under § 725.522, costs for the medical examination under § 725.406, and other benefits paid on behalf of the operator) with such penalties and interest as are appropriate.

    (2) The requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section are inapplicable to any benefits owed pursuant to an effective but non-final order if the payment of such benefits has been stayed by the Benefits Review Board or appropriate court under 33 U.S.C. 921.

    (3) Except as provided by paragraph (e)(4) of this section, the operator must submit all documentary evidence pertaining to its compliance with the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section to the district director concurrently with its request for modification. The claimant is also entitled to submit any relevant evidence to the district director. Absent extraordinary circumstances, no documentary evidence pertaining to the operator's compliance with the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) at the time of the modification request will be admitted into the hearing record or otherwise considered at any later stage of the proceeding.

    (4) The requirements imposed by paragraph (e)(1) of this section are continuing in nature. If at any time during the modification proceedings the operator fails to meet obligations imposed by all effective awards in the claim, the adjudication officer must issue an order to show cause why the operator's modification request should not be denied and afford all parties time to respond to such order. Responses may include evidence pertaining to the operator's continued compliance with the requirements of paragraph (e)(1). If, after the time for response has expired, the adjudication officer determines that the operator is not meeting its obligations, the adjudication officer must deny the operator's modification request.

    (5) The denial of a request for modification under this section will not bar any future modification request by the operator, so long as the operator satisfies the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section with each future modification petition.

    (6) The provisions of this paragraph (e) apply to all modification requests filed on or after the effective date of this rule.

    3. Add § 725.413 to subpart E to read as follows:
    § 725.413 Disclosure of medical information.

    (a) For purposes of this section, medical information is any medical data about the miner that a party develops in connection with a claim for benefits, including medical data developed with any prior claim that has not been disclosed previously to the other parties. Medical information includes, but is not limited to—

    (1) Any examining physician's written or testimonial assessment of the miner, including the examiner's findings, diagnoses, conclusions, and the results of any tests;

    (2) Any other physician's written or testimonial assessment of the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition;

    (3) The results of any test or procedure related to the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition, including any information relevant to the test or procedure's administration; and

    (4) Any physician's or other medical professional's interpretation of the results of any test or procedure related to the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition.

    (b) Each party must disclose medical information the party or the party's agent receives by sending a complete copy of the information to all other parties in the claim within 30 days after receipt. If the information is received after the claim is already scheduled for hearing before an administrative law judge, the disclosure must be made at least 20 days before the scheduled hearing is held (see § 725.456(b)).

    (c) At the request of any party or on his or her own motion, an adjudication officer may impose sanctions on any party or his or her representative who fails to timely disclose medical information in compliance with this section.

    (1) Sanctions must be appropriate to the circumstances and may only be imposed after giving the party an opportunity to demonstrate good cause why disclosure was not made and sanctions are not warranted. In determining an appropriate sanction, the adjudication officer must consider—

    (i) Whether the sanction should be mitigated because the party was not represented by an attorney when the information should have been disclosed; and

    (ii) Whether the party should not be sanctioned because the failure to disclose was attributable solely to the party's attorney.

    (2) Sanctions may include, but are not limited to—

    (i) Drawing an adverse inference against the non-disclosing party on the facts relevant to the disclosure;

    (ii) Limiting the non-disclosing party's claims, defenses or right to introduce evidence;

    (iii) Dismissing the claim proceeding if the non-disclosing party is the claimant and no payments prior to final adjudication have been made to the claimant unless the Director agrees to the dismissal in writing (see § 725.465(d));

    (iv) Rendering a default decision against the non-disclosing party;

    (v) Disqualifying the non-disclosing party's attorney from further participation in the claim proceedings; and

    (vi) Relieving a claimant who files a subsequent claim from the impact of § 725.309(c)(6) if the non-disclosed evidence predates the denial of the prior claim and the non-disclosing party is the operator.

    (d) This rule applies to—

    (1) All claims filed after the effective date of this rule;

    (2) Pending claims not yet adjudicated by an administrative law judge, except that medical information received prior to the effective date of this rule and not previously disclosed must be provided to the other parties within 60 days of the effective date of this rule; and

    (3) Pending claims already adjudicated by an administrative law judge where—

    (i) The administrative law judge reopens the record for receipt of additional evidence in response to a timely reconsideration motion (see § 725.479(b)) or after remand by the Benefits Review Board or a reviewing court; or

    (ii) A party requests modification of the award or denial of benefits (see § 725.310(a)).

    4. In § 725.414, revise paragraphs (a), (c), and (d) to read as follows:
    § 725.414 Development of evidence.

    (a) Medical evidence. (1) For purposes of this section, a medical report is a physician's written assessment of the miner's respiratory or pulmonary condition. A medical report may be prepared by a physician who examined the miner and/or reviewed the available admissible evidence. Supplemental medical reports prepared by the same physician must be considered part of the physician's original medical report. A physician's written assessment of a single objective test, such as a chest X-ray or a pulmonary function test, is not a medical report for purposes of this section.

    (2)(i) The claimant is entitled to submit, in support of his affirmative case, no more than two chest X-ray interpretations, the results of no more than two pulmonary function tests, the results of no more than two arterial blood gas studies, no more than one report of an autopsy, no more than one report of each biopsy, and no more than two medical reports. Any chest X-ray interpretations, pulmonary function test results, blood gas studies, autopsy report, biopsy report, and physicians' opinions that appear in a medical report must each be admissible under this paragraph (a)(2)(i) or paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

    (ii) The claimant is entitled to submit, in rebuttal of the case presented by the party opposing entitlement, no more than one physician's interpretation of each chest X-ray, pulmonary function test, arterial blood gas study, autopsy or biopsy submitted by the designated responsible operator or the fund, as appropriate, under paragraph (a)(3)(i) or (iii) of this section and by the Director pursuant to § 725.406. In any case in which the party opposing entitlement has submitted the results of other testing pursuant to § 718.107 of this chapter, the claimant is entitled to submit one physician's assessment of each piece of such evidence in rebuttal. In addition, where the responsible operator or fund has submitted rebuttal evidence under paragraph (a)(3)(ii) or (iii) of this section with respect to medical testing submitted by the claimant, the claimant is entitled to submit an additional statement from the physician who originally interpreted the chest X-ray or administered the objective testing. Where the rebuttal evidence tends to undermine the conclusion of a physician who prepared a medical report submitted by the claimant, the claimant is entitled to submit an additional statement from the physician who prepared the medical report explaining his conclusion in light of the rebuttal evidence.

    (3)(i) The responsible operator designated pursuant to § 725.410 is entitled to obtain and submit, in support of its affirmative case, no more than two chest X-ray interpretations, the results of no more than two pulmonary function tests, the results of no more than two arterial blood gas studies, no more than one report of an autopsy, no more than one report of each biopsy, and no more than two medical reports. Any chest X-ray interpretations, pulmonary function test results, blood gas studies, autopsy report, biopsy report, and physicians' opinions that appear in a medical report must each be admissible under this paragraph (a)(3)(i) or paragraph (a)(4) of this section. In obtaining such evidence, the responsible operator may not require the miner to travel more than 100 miles from his or her place of residence, or the distance traveled by the miner in obtaining the complete pulmonary evaluation provided by § 725.406, whichever is greater, unless a trip of greater distance is authorized in writing by the district director. If a miner unreasonably refuses—

    (A) To provide the Office or the designated responsible operator with a complete statement of his or her medical history and/or to authorize access to his or her medical records; or

    (B) To submit to an evaluation or test requested by the district director or the designated responsible operator, the miner's claim may be denied by reason of abandonment. (See § 725.409).

    (ii) The responsible operator is entitled to submit, in rebuttal of the case presented by the claimant, no more than one physician's interpretation of each chest X-ray, pulmonary function test, arterial blood gas study, autopsy or biopsy submitted by the claimant under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section and by the Director pursuant to § 725.406. In any case in which the claimant has submitted the results of other testing pursuant to § 718.107 of this chapter, the responsible operator is entitled to submit one physician's assessment of each piece of such evidence in rebuttal. In addition, where the claimant has submitted rebuttal evidence under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, the responsible operator is entitled to submit an additional statement from the physician who originally interpreted the chest X-ray or administered the objective testing. Where the rebuttal evidence tends to undermine the conclusion of a physician who prepared a medical report submitted by the responsible operator, the responsible operator is entitled to submit an additional statement from the physician who prepared the medical report explaining his conclusion in light of the rebuttal evidence.

    (iii) In a case in which the district director has not identified any potentially liable operators, or has dismissed all potentially liable operators under § 725.410(a)(3), or has identified a liable operator that ceases to defend the claim on grounds of an inability to provide for payment of continuing benefits, the district director is entitled to exercise the rights of a responsible operator under this section, except that the evidence obtained in connection with the complete pulmonary evaluation performed pursuant to § 725.406 must be considered evidence obtained and submitted by the Director, OWCP, for purposes of paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. In a case involving a dispute concerning medical benefits under § 725.708, the district director is entitled to develop medical evidence to determine whether the medical bill is compensable under the standard set forth in § 725.701.

    (4) Notwithstanding the limitations in paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section, any record of a miner's hospitalization for a respiratory or pulmonary or related disease, or medical treatment for a respiratory or pulmonary or related disease, may be received into evidence.

    (5) A copy of any documentary evidence submitted by a party must be served on all other parties to the claim. If the claimant is not represented by an attorney, the district director must mail a copy of all documentary evidence submitted by the claimant to all other parties to the claim. Following the development and submission of affirmative medical evidence, the parties may submit rebuttal evidence in accordance with the schedule issued by the district director.

    (c) Testimony. A physician who prepared a medical report admitted under this section may testify with respect to the claim at any formal hearing conducted in accordance with subpart F of this part, or by deposition. If a party has submitted fewer than two medical reports as part of that party's affirmative case under this section, a physician who did not prepare a medical report may testify in lieu of such a medical report. The testimony of such a physician will be considered a medical report for purposes of the limitations provided by this section. A party may offer the testimony of no more than two physicians under the provisions of this section unless the adjudication officer finds good cause under paragraph (b)(1) of § 725.456. In accordance with the schedule issued by the district director, all parties must notify the district director of the name and current address of any potential witness whose testimony pertains to the liability of a potentially liable operator or the designated responsible operator. Absent such notice, the testimony of a witness relevant to the liability of a potentially liable operator or the designated responsible operator will not be admitted in any hearing conducted with respect to the claim unless the administrative law judge finds that the lack of notice should be excused due to extraordinary circumstances.

    (d) Except to the extent permitted by §§ 725.456 and 725.310(b), the limitations set forth in this section apply to all proceedings conducted with respect to a claim, and no documentary evidence pertaining to liability may be admitted in any further proceeding conducted with respect to a claim unless it is submitted to the district director in accordance with this section.

    5. In § 725.601, revise paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as follows:
    § 725.601 Enforcement generally.

    (b) It is the policy and intent of the Department to vigorously enforce the provisions of this part through the use of the remedies provided by the Act. Accordingly, if an operator refuses to pay benefits with respect to a claim for which the operator has been adjudicated liable, the Director may invoke and execute the lien on the property of the operator as described in § 725.603. Enforcement of this lien must be pursued in an appropriate U.S. district court. If the Director determines that the remedy provided by § 725.603 may not be sufficient to guarantee the continued compliance with the terms of an award or awards against the operator, the Director may in addition seek an injunction in the U.S. district court to prohibit future noncompliance by the operator and such other relief as the court considers appropriate (see § 725.604). If an operator unlawfully suspends or terminates the payment of benefits to a claimant, the district director may declare the award in default and proceed in accordance with § 725.605. In all cases payments of additional compensation (see § 725.607) and interest (see § 725.608) will be sought by the Director or awarded by the district director.

    (c) In certain instances the remedies provided by the Act are concurrent; that is, more than one remedy might be appropriate in any given case. In such a case, the Director may select the remedy or remedies appropriate for the enforcement action. In making this selection, the Director shall consider the best interests of the claimant as well as those of the fund.

    6. Revise § 725.607 to read as follows:
    § 725.607 Payments of additional compensation.

    (a) If any benefits payable under the terms of an award by a district director (§ 725.419(d)), a decision and order filed and served by an administrative law judge (§ 725.478), or a decision filed by the Board or a U.S. court of appeals, are not paid by an operator or other employer ordered to make such payments within 10 days after such payments become due, there will be added to such unpaid benefits an amount equal to 20 percent thereof, which must be paid to the claimant at the same time as, but in addition to, such benefits, unless review of the order making such award is sought as provided in section 21 of the LHWCA and an order staying payments has been issued.

    (b) If, on account of an operator's or other employer's failure to pay benefits as provided in paragraph (a) of this section, benefit payments are made by the fund, the eligible claimant will nevertheless be entitled to receive such additional compensation to which he or she may be eligible under paragraph (a), with respect to all amounts paid by the fund on behalf of such operator or other employer.

    (c) The fund may not be held liable for payments of additional compensation under any circumstances.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 20th day of April, 2015. Leonard J. Howie III, Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09573 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-CR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF STATE 22 CFR Parts 22 and 51 [Public Notice: 9111] RIN 1400-AD76 Proposed Elimination of Visa Page Insert Service for U.S. Passport Book Holders AGENCY:

    Department of State.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Currently, all U.S. passport book applicants may apply for either a 28-page or 52-page passport book at no extra charge. U.S. passport book holders may then apply for additional visa pages while the passport book is still valid. The Department of State proposes eliminating the option to add visa pages in passports beginning January 1, 2016. To help mitigate the need for visa page inserts, the Department began issuing the larger 52-page passport book in October 2014 to all overseas U.S. passport applicants at no extra cost. U.S. passport applicants applying domestically can still obtain the 52-page passport book at no extra charge by requesting it on the application form. The elimination of visa page inserts coincides with the Department's anticipated rollout of the Next Generation Passport in 2016. The Next Generation Passport incorporates new security features designed to protect the integrity of U.S. passport books against fraud and misuse. An interagency working group determined that the addition of visa page inserts could reduce the effectiveness of these new security features. If this change is implemented, the fee for this service will be removed from the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    • Visit the Regulations.gov Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/index.cfm and search the RIN 1400-AD76 or docket number DOS-2015-0017.

    • Mail (paper, disk, or CD-ROM): U.S. Department of State, Office of Passport Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/PPT), Attn: CA/PPT/IA, 44132 Mercure Circle, P.O. Box 1227, Sterling, Virginia 20166-1227.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Holly, Office of Passport Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs; 202-485-6373: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The Department proposes eliminating the visa page insert service for regular fee passport book holders beginning January 1, 2016. The expected effective date of this rule coincides with when the Department expects to begin issuing an updated version of the Next Generation Passport book. The Department routinely updates the technology used to produce U.S. passport books so that U.S. passport books use the most current anti-fraud and anti-counterfeit measures. The Next Generation Passport, which is the next update of the U.S. passport book, will contain a polycarbonate data-page and will be personalized with laser engraving. This passport will also employ conical laser perforation of the passport number through the data and visa pages; display a general artwork upgrade and new security features including watermark, security artwork, optical variable security devices, tactile features, and optically variable inks. The primary reason for eliminating visa page inserts is to protect the integrity of the Next Generation Passport books.

    In 2012, an interagency working group tasked with overseeing the development and deployment of Next Generation Passport books found that visa page inserts could compromise the effectiveness of security features of the new passport books that are intended to provide greater protections against fraud and misuse. To maximize the effectiveness of the Next Generation Passport that is expected to be issued to the general public in 2016, the Department considered whether visa page inserts could be phased out at the time that the Department begins to issue the new passport books.

    As part of this study, the Department considered the extent of the public's usage of visa page inserts, costs to the Department of eliminating the service, and whether any inconvenience to the public could be minimized. A study of a sample of visa page insert applications revealed that a significant majority of those applying for visa page inserts had them added to 28-page passport books, rather than to the larger 52-page books. A set of visa page inserts is 24 pages. Accordingly, a 52-page passport book is the same size as a 28-page book with a set of extra visa pages. The Department determined that the demand for additional visa pages would be substantially reduced by issuing only the larger 52-page passport books to overseas U.S. passport applicants. Accordingly, the Department has begun issuing the 52-page book to overseas applicants, who are the most likely to apply for extra visa pages, at no additional cost. This should further reduce the already limited demand for visa page inserts, thus making the rule's impact on the public very minimal. Individuals who apply for U.S. passports within the United States will continue to have the option to request a 52-page passport at no additional charge.

    Each version of the Next Generation Passport book contains two fewer pages total, but the same number of visa pages as the passport books currently in circulation. Accordingly, after the Department begins issuing the Next Generation Passport book, all domestic passport book applicants will still have the option to choose between a 26-page passport book and a larger 50-page passport book, but the larger 50-page passport books will be automatically issued to people applying overseas.

    The Department believes the limited demand for visa page inserts is outweighed by the importance of ensuring that the Next Generation Passport provides the maximum protection against fraud and misuse. Furthermore, the Department must monitor unused inventories of passport products, and the elimination of visa page inserts would facilitate more secure inventory controls. Accordingly, the Department proposes eliminating visa page inserts in passport books issued to the general public beginning January 1, 2016,

    If this change is implemented, the fee for additional visa pages will be removed from the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services of the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (“Schedule of Fees” or “Schedule”).

    What is the authority for this action?

    The Secretary of State is authorized to issue U.S. passports under 22 U.S.C. 211a. The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, administers the U.S. passport issuance program and manages the consular sections of all U.S. consulates and embassies overseas. The Department of State derives the authority to eliminate visa page inserts from its statutory authority to issue U.S. passports and manage the U.S. passport issuance program.

    When will the department of state implement this proposed rule?

    The Department intends to implement this proposed rule on January 1, 2016.

    Regulatory Findings Administrative Procedure Act

    The Department is publishing this rule as a proposed rule, with a 60-day provision for public comments.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), has reviewed this rule and, by approving it, certifies that the proposed rule, if promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6). This rule eliminates the extra visa page insert service for U.S. passport book holders. Approximately 170,000 passport book holders applied for visa page inserts during Fiscal Year 2013. Only individuals, and no small entities, apply for visa page inserts.

    Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $1 million or more in any year and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501-1504.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, since it will not result in an annual impact on the economy of $100 million or more. See 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Executive Order 12866

    This rule is not economically significant under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f)(1), because it will not have an annual impact on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

    The Department expects the proposed rule's impact on the public to be minimal because of the already low demand for visa page inserts and steps taken by the Department to reduce that demand even further. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Department processed only 170,000 requests for additional visa pages. By comparison, the Department issued more than 12 million passports during the same time period, and there are more than 122 million passports in circulation. The Department estimates that 97 percent of renewed U.S. passport books will use less than 18 visa pages, which is a strong indication that current book sizes (28 pages and 52 pages) meet the needs of U.S. travelers.

    The Department of State does not anticipate that demand for passport services affected by this rule will change significantly because of the elimination of visa page inserts, and welcomes public comment on that expectation.

    Executive Order 13132

    This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 of Executive Order 13132, the Department has determined that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to require consultations or warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not impose or alter any reporting or record-keeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    List of Subjects in 22 CFR Parts 22 and 51

    Consular services, fees, passports and visas.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the preamble, 22 CFR parts 22 and 51 are proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 22—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 22 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    8 U.S.C. 1101 note, 1153 note, 1183a note, 1351, 1351 note, 1714, 1714 note; 10 U.S.C. 2602(c); 11 U.S.C. 1157 note; 22 U.S.C. 214, 214 note, 1475e, 2504(a), 4201, 4206, 4215, 4219, 6551; 31 U.S.C. 9701; Executive Order 10,718,22 FR 4632; Executive Order 11,295,31 FR 10603.

    2. Amend the table in § 22.1 to revise item 2c to read as follows:
    § 22.1 Schedule of Fees for Consular Services. Item No. Fee PAssport and Citizenship Services *    *    *    *    * 2. * * * (c) [RESERVED] *    *    *    *    *
    PART 51—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 51 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    8 U.S.C. 1101 note, 1153 note, 1183a note, 1351, 1351 note, 1714,1714 note; 10 U.S.C. 2602 (c); 11 U.S.C. 1157 note; 22 U.S.C. 214, 214 note, 1475e, 2504(a), 4201,4206,4215, 4219,6551; 31 U.S.C. 9701; Executive Order 10,718,22 FR4632; Executive Order 11,295,31 FR 10603.

    4. In § 51.20 revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 51.20 General.

    (a) An application for a passport, a replacement passport, or other passport related service must be completed using the forms the Department prescribes.

    5. In § 51.56, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 51.56 Expedited passport processing.

    (a) Within the United States, an applicant for a passport service (including issuance or the replacement of a passport) may request expedited processing. The Department may decline to accept the request.

    Dated: April 8, 2015. Michele T. Bond, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Acting.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09719 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4710-06-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0225; FRL-9927-04-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Minor New Source Review Requirements AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a January 24, 2013 State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted for the State of Maryland by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). This revision pertains to preconstruction permitting requirements under Maryland's minor New Source Review (NSR) program. This action is being taken under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0225 by one of the following methods:

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

    B. Email: [email protected]

    C. Mail: EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0225, David Campbell, Associate Director, Office of Permits and Air Toxics, Mailcode 3AP10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.

    D. Hand Delivery: At the previously-listed EPA Region III address. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0225. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change, and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI, or otherwise protected, through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy during normal business hours at the Air Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103. Copies of the State submittal are available at the Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 705, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Talley, (215) 814-2117, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On January 24, 2013, MDE submitted a revision to the Maryland SIP.

    I. Background

    The proposed revision consists of amendments to Regulation .09 under section 26.11.02 of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). An amendment to COMAR 26.11.01.01 inadvertently widened the universe of sources that are required to obtain a permit to construct under COMAR 26.11.02.09. The previously approved version of COMAR 26.11.02.09A(4) requires that any “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Source (NESHAP Source) as defined in section 26.11.01.01 . . .” obtain a permit to construct. The definition of NESHAP Source at COMAR 26.11.01.01B(21) was amended and simplified (specifically, 26.11.01.01B(21)(b)), effective March 5, 2012.1 The revised definition had the unintended consequence of requiring that all sources subject to the NESHAP obtain a permit to construct, even the small emission sources which had previously been exempt under section 26.11.02.10.

    1 It should be noted that COMAR 26.11.01.01B(21) is not part of the Maryland SIP.

    The proposed revision to section 26.11.02.09A(4) allows MDE to retain the exemptions for smaller sources as originally intended and already approved in the Maryland SIP. Additionally, Regulations .09A(3) and .09A(4) under section 26.11.02 were revised to clarify that electric generating stations that meet the definitions of New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) sources and NESHAP sources are exempt from MDE permitting requirements only if they receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC).

    II. Summary of SIP Revision

    COMAR 26.11.02.09A(4) has been revised to specify that NESHAP sources “. . . as defined by COMAR 26.11.01.01B(21)(a),” are required to obtain a permit to construct. This corrects the unintended consequence of applying MDE permitting requirements to emission sources that would otherwise be exempt. COMAR 26.11.02.09A(6) will continue to require that all sources not explicitly exempt are required to obtain a permit to construct. Additionally, as previously discussed, Regulations .09A(3) and .09A(4) under section 26.11.02 have been revised to clarify that electric generating stations that meet the definitions of NSPS sources and NESHAP sources are exempt from permitting requirements only if they receive a CPCN from the Maryland PSC. The proposed revisions were effective in Maryland on July 8, 2013.

    III. Proposed Action

    EPA's review of this material indicates that it meets all applicable CAA requirements. EPA notes that in a February 10, 2012 final rulemaking action, limited approval was granted to a Maryland SIP revision that included amendments to COMAR 26.11.02.09. See 77 FR 6963. The reasons for that limited approval are unrelated to this action, and do not prevent EPA from granting full approval to the currently proposed amendments to section 26.11.02.09. Therefore, EPA is proposing to approve MDE's January 24, 2013 SIP revision. EPA is soliciting public comments on the issues discussed in this document. These comments will be considered before taking final action.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this proposed rulemaking action, EPA is proposing to include in a final EPA rule, regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is proposing to incorporate by reference Maryland's permit to construct requirements as discussed in section II of this preamble. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA 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 proposed action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, this proposed rule, relating to Maryland's preconstruction permitting requirements, does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the state, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: April 16, 2015. William C. Early, Acting, Regional Administrator, Region III.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10008 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0002; FRL-9927-05-Region 2] National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan National Priorities List: Deletion of the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 is issuing a Notice of Intent to Delete the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund Site (Site), located in Alexandria Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comments on this proposed action. The NPL, promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). EPA and the State of New Jersey, through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA, other than long-term maintenance and five-year reviews, have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0002, by one of the following methods:

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

    Email: [email protected]:

    Mail: To the attention of Alison Hess, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, Emergency & Remedial Response Division, 290 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

    Hand Delivery: Superfund Records Center, 290 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10007-1866 (telephone: 212-637-4308). Such deliveries are only accepted during the Record Center's normal hours of operation (Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0002. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comments and with any disk or CD-ROM that you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comments. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption and should be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in the hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, Superfund Records Center, 290 Broadway, Room 1828, New York, NY 10007-1866, Telephone: 212-637-4308, Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and

    Milford Public Library, Crown Vantage Landfill Site Repository File, 40 Frenchtown Road, Milford, NJ 08848, Telephone: 908 995-4072, Hours: Monday 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday 12 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alison Hess, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, 290 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866; Telephone 212-637-3959; or Email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Contents I. Introduction II. NPL Deletion Criteria III. Deletion Procedures IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion I. Introduction

    EPA Region 2 is announcing its intent to delete the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund Site from the NPL and requests public comment on this proposed action. The NPL constitutes Appendix B of 40 CFR part 300 which is the NCP, which EPA promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the CERCLA of 1980, as amended. EPA maintains the NPL as the list of sites that appear to present a significant risk to public health, welfare, or the environment. Sites on the NPL may be the subject of remedial actions financed by the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Fund). As described in 40 CFR 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP, sites deleted from the NPL remain eligible for Fund-financed remedial actions if future conditions warrant such actions.

    EPA will accept comments on the proposal to delete this Site for thirty (30) days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Section II of this document explains the criteria for deleting sites from the NPL. Section III discusses procedures that EPA is using for this action. Section IV discusses the Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund Site and demonstrates how it meets the deletion criteria.

    II. NPL Deletion Criteria

    The NCP establishes the criteria that EPA uses to delete sites from the NPL. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where no further response is appropriate. In making such a determination pursuant to 40 CFR 300.425(e), EPA will consider, in consultation with the State, whether any of the following criteria have been met:

    i. Responsible parties or other persons have implemented all appropriate response actions required;

    ii. All appropriate Fund-financed response under CERCLA has been implemented, and no further response action by responsible parties is appropriate; or

    iii. The remedial investigation has shown that the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment and, therefore, the taking of remedial measures is not appropriate.

    Pursuant to CERCLA section 121(c) and the NCP, EPA conducts five-year reviews to ensure the continued protectiveness of remedial actions where hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remain at a site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. EPA conducts such five-year reviews even if a site is deleted from the NPL. EPA may initiate further action to ensure continued protectiveness at a deleted site if new information becomes available that indicates it is appropriate. Whenever there is a significant release from a site deleted from the NPL, the deleted site may be restored to the NPL without application of the hazard ranking system.

    III. Deletion Procedures

    The following procedures apply to deletion of the Site:

    (1) EPA consulted with the State before developing this Notice of Intent to Delete;

    (2) EPA has provided the State 30 working days for review of this notice prior to publication of it today;

    (3) In accordance with the criteria discussed above, EPA has determined that no further response is appropriate;

    (4) The State of New Jersey, through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), has concurred with deletion of the Site from the NPL;

    (5) Concurrently with the publication of this Notice of Intent to Delete in the Federal Register, a notice is being published in a major local newspaper, the Hunterdon County Democrat. The newspaper notice announces the 30-day public comment period concerning the Notice of Intent to Delete the Site from the NPL.

    (6) EPA placed copies of documents supporting the proposed deletion in the deletion docket and made these items available for public inspection and copying at the Site information repositories identified above.

    If comments are received within the 30-day public comment period on this document, EPA will evaluate and respond appropriately to the comments before making a final decision to delete. If necessary, EPA will prepare a Responsiveness Summary to address any significant public comments received. After the public comment period, if EPA determines it is still appropriate to delete the Site, the Regional Administrator will publish a final Notice of Deletion in the Federal Register. Public notices, public submissions and copies of the Responsiveness Summary, if prepared, will be made available to interested parties and in the Site information repositories listed above.

    Deletion of a site from the NPL does not itself create, alter, or revoke any individual's rights or obligations. Deletion of a site from the NPL does not in any way alter EPA's right to take enforcement actions, as appropriate. The NPL is designed primarily for informational purposes and to assist EPA management. Section 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP states that the deletion of a site from the NPL does not preclude eligibility for future response actions, should future conditions warrant such actions.

    IV. Basis for Site Deletion

    The following summary provides EPA's rationale for deleting the Site from the NPL:

    Site Background and History

    The Crown Vantage Landfill Site is an inactive former landfill located at 500 Milford-Frenchtown Road in Alexandria Township, New Jersey. The Site occupies about 10 acres and has approximately 1,500 feet of frontage on the eastern bank of the Delaware River. A mix of young and mature hardwood trees, shrubs and grasses covers the Site. Access to the landfill area is restricted by locked chain-link fencing.

    To the west of the site, across the Delaware River, lies Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Delaware and Raritan Canal foot path and a farm field bound the Site to the east. Historically, railroad tracks bounded the Site to the east. The landfill property is bounded to the south by the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park and to the north by the Curtis Specialty Papers Superfund site.

    The landfill reportedly was utilized by the nearby former Curtis Specialty Papers mill, as well as by other nearby Riegel Paper Company facilities, for the disposal of waste beginning in the late 1930s through the early 1970s. The landfill may also have accepted flood-damaged items from the local community following record flooding of the Delaware River in 1955. Types of wastes disposed of at the landfill include fly ash, cinders, and bottom ash; paper mill and coating-related wastes, including foil-backed paper, off-specification paper, 55-gallon drums containing press room wastes, and paper fiber sludge from wastewater treatment plant operations; steel and fiber barrels and pallets; and construction and demolition debris. Historical aerial photos indicated that shallow trenches in the surface of the landfill may have been used for the burial of drummed wastes in the early 1970s.

    Site characterization began in 1991 with the Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI), including an aerial photograph analysis, geophysical survey of the landfill area, soil gas sampling, ground water sampling and a wetlands assessment. The PSI was followed by the removal of drums (empty, full, and partially full) and paper products from the surface of the landfill. In 1994, monitoring wells were installed and the ground water quality was characterized.

    From 2001 through 2003, the NJDEP fenced the Site, removed additional surface debris, including drums, and collected surface soil samples. The EPA conducted additional sampling of surface water, sediment, surface soil and fly ash, and ground water in 2003 and 2004. Additional wastes were removed from the surface and riprap was placed in flood-impacted areas.

    The Site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) in September 2004 (69 FR 56970) and listed on the NPL in April 2005 (70 FR 21644). The EPA CERCLIS ID# is NJN000204492.

    In May 2005, Fort James Operating Company, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific, entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with EPA for a Removal Action. Under the 2005 AOC, additional surficial drums were removed, additional fencing was provided, and an engineered slope stabilization wall was constructed to stabilize the landfill's western face. In total, over 700 surficial drums, drum remnants and drum carcasses were removed from the surface of the Site during investigations conducted between 1991 and 2007.

    Further investigations and removal actions at the Site were performed by Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, LP (GP) under an Administrative Agreement and Order on Consent signed in September 2007 and by International Paper Company (IP) under a Unilateral Administrative Order signed in December 2007. During the Remedial Investigation (RI) conducted in 2008-2009, more than 1,750 drums, drum carcasses and drum remnants were removed from the Site. Analytical data from surface water, pore water and groundwater sampling showed that these media were not impacted by the Site. The RI Report was completed in July 2010. The RI concluded that, after removal activities were conducted, all human health risks were within or below EPA's acceptable levels. An ecological risk assessment was also conducted and concluded that there was no need for remediation based on potential risks to ecological receptors. The Feasibility Study Report, developed to identify and compare cleanup alternatives, was completed in November 2010.

    Selected Remedy

    The Site remedy was selected and memorialized in the Site Record of Decision (ROD), which was issued on September 29, 2011. Because the baseline human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessments for the Site did not identify the presence of unacceptable human health or ecological risks requiring remediation under current and reasonably anticipated future Site use, the remedial action objectives were limited to preventing exposures to landfill materials. The major components of the selected remedy of the ROD are the following:

    • Establishment of a deed restriction to ensure that future Site uses do not result in the disturbance of the surface of the Site, thereby preventing future residential or commercial/industrial development of the Site;

    • Continued maintenance of security measures at the Site (e.g., signage and fencing);

    • Continued maintenance of the slope stabilization wall;

    • Sealing of remaining shallow monitoring wells;

    • Semi-annual monitoring of the Site, including the slope stabilization wall; and

    • Five-Year Reviews by EPA to ensure that the remedy continues to be protective of public health and the environment.

    Response Actions

    A Consent Decree for IP's and GP's performance of the Remedial Design and Remedial Action was entered by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in April 2013.

    The remedy was designed and constructed in a single phase pursuant to EPA-approved work plans. The monitoring well closures and fence relocation measures undertaken as part of maintaining the existing security as required by the ROD were conducted from February to April 2013. Three monitoring wells and two piezometers were located in the field and sealed in accordance with New Jersey well closure regulations. Another three monitoring wells and four piezometers were documented to have been closed in 2007. Lastly, two monitoring wells could not be located visually or with the use of a metal detector and may have been closed in 2007 or covered by silt and other materials since they were last sampled in 1994, and four piezometers located beneath the slope stabilization wall also could not be located and are presumed to no longer be accessible. New 12-foot fence posts were driven to a depth of four feet. Monitoring of ambient air was conducted during fence installation, with no measurable concentrations of volatile organic compounds detected above background levels. Old posts and fencing were removed and recycled, and a new section of fencing and fabric installed. New coated, rust-free aluminum signs were posted along the entire fence perimeter as needed. EPA conducted a final inspection in July 2013 and issued a Preliminary Site Close-Out Report in September 2013.

    IP and GP prepared a draft deed notice pursuant to the April 2013 Consent Decree. EPA approved the final deed notice in December 2013. The deed notice was recorded by the Hunterdon County Clerk in February 2014.

    EPA issued a Final Site Close-Out Report in December 2014.

    Ongoing Maintenance

    The ongoing maintenance plan was approved in June 2013. This plan covers site security, the long-term monitoring and maintenance of the slope stabilization wall and recertification of the deed notice.

    Five-Year Review

    Hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants will remain at the Site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. Therefore, pursuant to CERCLA Section 121(c), EPA is required to conduct a review of the remedy at least once every five years. The first Five-Year Review Report will be completed prior to February 2018, which is five years from the start of the on-site remedial action construction.

    Community Involvement

    Public participation activities for the Site have been satisfied as required by CERCLA sections 113(k) and 117, 42 U.S.C. 9613(k) and 9617. A Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the Site has been meeting quarterly since 2009. EPA finalized a site-specific Community Involvement Plan in March 2010. The CAG obtains information from EPA and provides community input on the site progress, including the implementation of field activities associated with investigations, removals and remedial construction. EPA maintains a local site information repository at the Milford Public Library and regularly adds site reports and other documents.

    As part of the remedy selection process, the public was invited to comment on the proposed remedy. In June 2011, EPA released a Proposed Plan summarizing the RI/FS reports and identifying the preferred remedial alternative with the rationale for its preference. EPA held a public meeting on July 12, 2011 at the Milford Firehouse to explain the Proposed Plan and to receive public comments. EPA held a public comment period from July 1 through 31, 2011 to accept written comments. Responses to comments received at the public meeting and comments submitted during the public comment period are provided in the Responsiveness Summary section of the ROD.

    All other documents and information the EPA relied on or considered in recommending this deletion are available for the public to review at the information repositories identified above.

    Determination That the Site Meets the Criteria for Deletion From the NCP

    All of the completion requirements for the Site have been met, as described in the December 29, 2014 Final Site Close-Out Report. The State of New Jersey, in January 12, 2015 letter, concurred with the proposed deletion of the Site from the NPL. As described in this Notice of Intent to Delete, the implemented remedy achieves the degree of cleanup specified in the ROD for all exposure pathways; the RAO has been met, and no further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment.

    The NCP specifies that EPA may delete a site from the NPL if responsible parties or other persons have implemented all appropriate response actions. EPA, with the concurrence of the State of New Jersey, believes that this criterion for deletion has been met. Consequently, EPA intends to delete the Crown Vantage Landfill Site from the NPL. Documents supporting this action are available for review at the information repositories identified above.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous substances, Hazardous waste, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply.

    Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(c)(2); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p.306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p.351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p.193. Dated: April 15, 2015.

    Judith Enck, Regional Administrator, Region 2.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10001 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    80 82 Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service [Docket No. FSIS-2012-0020] Risk-Based Sampling of Beef Manufacturing Trimmings for Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 AGENCY:

    Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice: Response to comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responding to comments on the September 19, 2012, Federal Register notice, “Risk-Based Sampling of Beef Manufacturing Trimmings for Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Plans for Beef Baseline” and providing updates on how it is scheduling sampling for beef manufacturing trimmings. Additionally, the Agency is announcing that it is changing its existing algorithms for sampling of bench trim and raw ground beef components other than trim to make them more risk-based. Finally, the Agency is making available the following report: “Effective Implementation of Beef Manufacturing Trimmings Sampling Redesign (MT60).”

    DATES:

    On July 28, 2015, FSIS will implement design changes in bench trim and other ground beef components besides trimmings.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Daniel Engeljohn, Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, (202) 205-0495.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On September 19, 2012, FSIS published a Federal Register notice (77 FR 58091) announcing its intention to redesign its E. coli O157:H7 verification testing program for trimmings to make the program more risk-based and to enable the Agency to calculate on-going statistical prevalence estimates for E. coli O157:H7 in raw trimmings (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/15e75329-978f-43f0-b8fe-101845d898f0/Redesign_Beef_Trim_Sampling_Methodology.pdf?MOD=AJPERES). FSIS also announced additional changes to the trimmings sampling program to increase collection rates and the likelihood of finding positive E. coli O157:H7 sample results. FSIS discussed its plans to conduct a beef carcass baseline. Finally, FSIS explained it was planning to conduct a survey, using its employees that are assigned to beef slaughter and processing establishments, to gather information on establishment controls for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STECs) in beef. Results of the survey are available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/fe95af5f-3271-41af-b92b-68490fa87cab/beef-operations-summary-results.pdf?MOD=AJPERES, which FSIS previously announced in the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of its analysis of the costs and benefits associated with FSIS's non-O157 STEC testing on November 19, 2014 (79 FR 68843) at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ce564342-fa9c-44f4-a98a-a4a6b6797646/2010-0023.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

    In June 2012, FSIS implemented the risk-based design and other changes discussed in the 2012 Federal Register notice. FSIS conducted analyses of the trimmings sampling program twelve months after implementation of the new risk-based design. Analyses show that the new design was successful at increasing the number of E. coli O157:H7 positives detected and also significantly increased the collection rate. In the first twelve months of implementation, FSIS analysis of routine sampling of trimmings detected 1.8 times more E. coli O157:H7 positives than FSIS had previously detected in this product. In the Federal Register notice FSIS estimated that the probability of obtaining E. coli O157:H7 results in trimmings during FSIS verification testing would increase by a factor of about 2.5. Possibilities for why FSIS did not detect an approximate 2.5 times as many E. coli O157:H7 positives are numerous and include changes to the data systems and the frame available during analysis and modeling, changes to the laboratory tests implemented at about the same time as the new statistical design, and positives being collected under follow-up sampling rather than routine sampling. The new statistical design and overscheduling to adjust for nonresponse solved the historically low response rates associated with trimmings. The report is posted at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/31575c98-2c22-4e9c-a19d-b3511d106082/Analysis-Beef-Trim-Redesign.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

    Therefore, FSIS has concluded that its change in sampling was effective. However, FSIS has not been able to estimate STEC prevalence in trimmings because it has not obtained a sufficient number of sample results. To address this issue, FSIS has increased the number of trim samples scheduled to be collected by inspectors for each month to that of the number of samples it had previously scheduled to be collected during months in the high prevalence season, effective November 2014. FSIS made this change to obtain the number of samples needed to allow on-going prevalence determinations to be made from the data collected.

    FSIS started conducting the Beef-Veal carcass baseline on August 1, 2014, and will complete the survey July 31, 2015. As stated in the previous Federal Register notice discussed above, FSIS plans to use the results of the Beef-Veal carcass baseline and the results of the Pathogen Controls in Beef Operations survey data to conduct risk analyses to determine the relative impact of various establishment factors on the probability of E. coli O157:H7 contamination and subsequent illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. FSIS will post the survey results. In addition, now that FSIS also is analyzing beef samples for both STEC and Salmonella (79 FR 32436), FSIS is able to make statistically-based determinations about the on-going prevalence of these pathogens in beef samples at least on an annual basis.

    FSIS conducted a statistical analysis of the results from its sampling of bench trim program and its sampling of other ground beef components besides trimmings to identify factors that would lead to a higher probability of detecting E. coli O157:H7. FSIS did not find a higher probability of finding E. coli O157:H7 in particular establishments when it looked at the factors considered for these products. Because establishments make different volumes of product, FSIS is changing its existing sampling algorithms for bench trim and other ground beef components besides trim to sample establishments proportional to production volume. Additionally, FSIS intends to overschedule to adjust for nonresponse under the redesigned programs, similar to how FSIS implemented changes to the trimmings program.

    Comments and Responses

    FSIS received comments from seven industry and consumer organizations in response to the September 2012 notice. Both industry and consumer organizations supported the Agency's use of statistically significant data to make scientifically supported decisions regarding its sampling programs. Following is a discussion of these comments and FSIS's responses.

    Sampling Programs

    Comment: Two consumer organizations requested that more funding be provided to maintain FSIS's sampling in the low prevalence season of the year in addition to maintaining the increased sampling during the high prevalence season.

    Response: As is stated above, the Agency has increased the number of trim samples. FSIS is now maintaining the high prevalence level of sampling throughout the entire year.

    Comment: One consumer group questioned the statistical validity of using an N-60 collection method for trimmings that the Agency has reported on its Web site and cited the findings of the 2012 OIG audit report.

    Response: FSIS's sampling and testing for E. coli O157:H7 is just one of the activities that FSIS conducts to verify that an establishment's food safety systems effectively address STEC. FSIS sampling of beef trim works along with other inspection and verification activities, including FSIS sampling of ground beef and other ground beef components and its review of establishment testing results, to detect and reduce E. coli O157:H7 in beef products.

    As FSIS explained in response to the Office of the Inspector General's report on the Agency's sampling protocol for testing beef trim for E. coli O157:H7,1 FSIS does not view a single N-60 sampling result apart from other verification activities. Note that along with sampling and carcass-by-carcass inspection, FSIS inspection personnel performed more than 839,000 inspection procedures in CY-2014 at roughly 635 slaughter establishments that would also be subject to trim sampling. These inspection procedures, performed daily at slaughter establishments, play an important role in ensuring that establishments are producing safe and wholesome products.

    1 OIG Audit Report 24601-9-KC “FSIS Sampling Protocol for Testing Beef Trim for E. coli O157:H7” p. 31

    While a single N-60 sample result may not indicate definitively the success or failure of an establishment's process controls for beef trim, it can be an important part of the establishment's verification program, especially if the establishment or FSIS takes multiple N-60 samples over time.

    FSIS' mission is not to screen the food supply through testing but to ensure the production of safe and wholesome food through inspection.

    Comment: One industry organization suggested that the Agency consider market class of animal, size of the establishment, and the historical rate of E. coli O157:H7 detection at the establishment in Agency testing when making risk-based sampling program decisions.

    Response: When considering the redesign of its trimmings sampling program, the Agency did consider establishment size in average pounds produced per day and historical positive sampling results over time. The Agency chose to consider the volume of product that an establishment produced to focus the Agency's resources on actual product produced.

    As explained in the 2012 Federal Register notice (77 FR 58091), FSIS redesigned the sampling algorithm to collect more samples from establishments in establishment size categories with the highest probability of producing trimmings contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. As a result, the Agency is focusing on small establishments that produce between 1001 and 50,000 pounds per day.

    At this time, FSIS does not have the means to collect different types of market class information other than to differentiate between beef and veal. FSIS will continue to report veal results separately from other beef results http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/microbiology/ec/positive-results-current-cy/positive-results-current-cy. In addition, FSIS will consider assessing the differences between veal and beef results and issuing necessary guidance and instructions to the field based on these results when appropriate. For example, based on its analysis of results, FSIS issued instructions, in 2011-2012, for inspectors to verify that establishments applied antimicrobial interventions to veal carcasses correctly, and that they maintained procedures to minimize cross-contamination among veal carcasses.

    Comment: One industry organization encouraged FSIS to conduct risk-based sampling for ground beef as well.

    Response: An FSIS risk assessment, presented in a public meeting on October 28, 1998, and updated thereafter, found that volume of production is a better determinant of risk for E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef than size of the establishment. Beginning on January 1, 2008, FSIS initiated an enhanced risk-based sampling and testing program for E. coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef. The risk-based sampling program took into account establishment volume, and whether the establishment had any FSIS or Agriculture Marketing Service positive results within the past 120 days. The current sampling is proportional to ground beef production volume. Consequently, the program supports on-going prevalence estimates from the data.

    Comment: One industry organization commented that the Agency concluded that the rate of sanitary dressing procedure noncompliance reports could not be used to identify establishments that have a higher probability of E. coli O157:H7 positive tests result. The industry organization requested that FSIS determine whether the revised cattle sanitary dressing directive improved sanitary dressing procedures, and whether there is a correlation between sanitary dressing procedures and positive E. coli O157:H7 test results. The commenter stated that establishment size and animal market class should also be addressed in this review of sanitary dressing procedures.

    Response: When FSIS did the analysis for the statistical redesign, it found that there is no predictive relationship between higher sanitary dressing noncompliances and the probability of E. coli O157:H7 positive sample results. Under the Public Health Inspection System (PHIS), the Agency tracks the inspection activities inspection personnel use to verify whether an establishment's food safety system meets regulatory requirements. The inspection activities tracked include the procedures used to verify whether establishments maintain effective sanitary dressing procedures. The Agency analyzes the PHIS data on inspection activities on a biannual basis.

    FSIS reviewed the data for the relevant inspection tasks performed and FSIS positive results at establishments sampled under the trimmings (MT50) sampling program. FSIS did not find a correlation between sanitary dressing or sanitation NRs and MT50 percent positive in trimmings.

    Comment: One consumer organization recommended that FSIS take additional steps to improve the representativeness of the samples collected by eliminating FSIS's procedure of pre-notification of testing. The commenter stated that this notification allows establishments to adjust their operations before the sample is taken. The consumer group also recognized that FSIS mailed test kits to establishments before field personnel collected samples for chain of evidence reasons. The commenter stated that the arrival of a sample box would signal that a test is imminent and serves as a pre-notification. The consumer organization suggested that sample boxes be kept stocked by in-plant personnel.

    Response: FSIS requires establishments to hold product tested for an adulterant such as E. coli O157:H7 pending the results of FSIS testing. Establishment management needs sufficient pre-notification of sampling in order to hold production lots in a manner such that they are microbiologically independent. Otherwise, FSIS would be collecting samples from production lots that may already be distributed in commerce, resulting in preventable product recalls. FSIS has issued instructions to field personnel to notify establishment that FSIS will be collecting a sample, but that the notification should only provide enough time for the establishment to be able to hold all affected product.

    The Agency has a finite number of resources which makes stocking multiple sample boxes at establishments cost prohibitive. Additionally, some USDA offices in establishments are small and do not allow for storage of multiple sample boxes. If establishments change their food safety system on the days that FSIS collects samples in a manner to influence the sample result, FSIS has instructed inspection program personnel to notify their supervisory chain so that a determination can be made as to how to address this concern. In such circumstances, FSIS may decide to conduct additional sampling at the establishment or to conduct a Food Safety Assessment (which includes in-depth verification that the establishment meets regulatory requirements related to food safety).

    Comment: One consumer organization questioned whether the results for FSIS's sampling programs can be used to develop reliable prevalence estimates.

    Response: As noted above, FSIS has increased the number of trimming samples collected to achieve the number of samples needed to allow STEC on-going prevalence determinations to be made from the data collected. FSIS will make E. coli O157:H7 prevalence estimates for ground beef available in the near future. FSIS will make STEC prevalence (E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC) estimates for trim available in the first quarter of FY 2016.

    Industry Survey

    Comment: One industry organization had several suggestions regarding the beef survey that FSIS announced in the 2012 Federal Register notice (77 FR 58091). The commenter stated that the survey should: (1) have clear goals and deliverables, (2) not put an economic burden on industry, (3) have questions based on data that pertain to the problem of E. coli O157:H7 contamination, (4) collect data on the volume of source material produced by establishments that test for E. coli O157:H7, and (5) present results as volume-based to address the results from the survey.

    Response: Through the survey described above, inspectors provided information on processing practices that establishments employ to reduce the likelihood of contamination of intact and non-intact raw beef products with STEC. FSIS did have clear goals when it put forth the survey. This survey was designed to gather information not collected in the Public Health Information System. FSIS is using the survey results to update the economic analysis to support the full implementation of its non-O157 STEC policy. Data from the 2013 Pathogen Controls in Beef Operations Survey (conducted in May-July 2013) allowed FSIS to estimate the number of non-O157 STEC tests conducted by the industry for a 12-month period. FSIS is also analyzing the survey results to develop targeted approaches for its risk-based verification testing program and to assist it in prioritizing the scheduling of Food Safety Assessments (FSA) by Enforcement, Investigations, and Analysis Officers (EIAO). FSIS did not collect production volume information in the survey and is not presenting the results as volume based. Establishment profiles contain production volume information in the Public Health Information System.

    FSIS has used the numbers obtained in the survey to estimate sampling numbers for industry testing as part of the economic analysis for STEC sampling in all of the Agency's raw beef microbiological sampling programs. The economic analysis is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/52afacbc-4780-4fba-a7ab-cde987ea1d45/STEC-cost-benefit-analysis.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Additionally, FSIS plans to conduct risk analyses, as appropriate, to determine the relative impact of various establishment factors on the probability of E. coli O157:H7 contamination and subsequent illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. FSIS intends to use the data generated by the actions listed above to assess and evaluate its trimmings sampling program and to make risk-based changes as appropriate.

    FSIS implemented the survey in such a way as to not cause an undue economic burden on industry.

    Comment: One consumer group commented that FSIS should make plans to routinely repeat the survey to inform sampling decisions made by the Agency.

    Response: Conducting the survey is very time intensive for field personnel. FSIS must weigh the time spent completing a survey against the time spent conducting regular inspection duties. FSIS will conduct future surveys as necessary.

    Carcass Baseline

    Comment: An industry organization commented that the beef carcass baseline should include the whole beef trimmings production process, and that it should also include veal.

    Response: The Beef-Veal carcass baseline began August 1, 2014. FSIS is including steers, heifers, cows, bulls, stag, dairy cows, and veal carcasses in the Beef-Veal carcass baseline. FSIS is collecting samples at two points in the process, immediately after hide removal (pre-evisceration) and at pre-chill (after all antimicrobial interventions).

    Comment: An industry organization suggested that because FSIS is only testing for pathogenic organisms that are adulterants, the Agency should consider alternative baseline testing locations within the production supply chain. The commenter suggested that FSIS collect a post-hide removal sample to address the hide removal process, where cross-contamination is more likely to occur; a second sample site after antimicrobial interventions; and trim testing for E. coli O157:H7 for products that will be used in ground beef or veal production.

    Response: The Agency is obtaining samples at two points in the slaughter process for the baseline study: immediately after hide removal but before evisceration, and at pre-chill before the carcasses enter the chillers and after all antimicrobial applications. This study addresses three distinct objectives: to estimate the prevalence and quantitative levels of selected foodborne microorganisms, to obtain data for use in the development of Agency programs, and to obtain data for informing industry guidance related to process control. The sample design and the resulting sample size are limited for this survey by practical constraints such as finite personnel and financial resources, and the problems with implementing scientific studies in real-world production settings. Considering these constraints, FSIS expects that the Beef-Veal carcass baseline study will achieve the stated objectives because FSIS will collect and analyze as many samples as possible to ensure an appropriate level of statistical confidence.

    With the two points that the Agency chose to use for sampling for the baseline carcass study, FSIS requires the establishment to hold or control the movement of sampled carcasses at pre-chill until the establishment is notified of STEC results. FSIS verifies that the establishment does not treat the sampled carcasses any differently than any of the other carcasses it is processing. In the event that a sampled carcass is treated differently, FSIS will randomly select another carcass during the same processing time and collect samples from that carcass.

    The results from samples collected during the baseline carcass study become available after all analyses for STEC and Salmonella are complete. Baseline sample results usually are reported in two to six days but may take longer depending on individual circumstances. Post-hide/pre-evisceration and pre-chill sample results are reported through Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) Direct.

    FSIS is not issuing noncompliance records (NRs) for STEC positive results during the baseline. In response to a positive result from the pre-chill sample only, field personnel perform a directed Slaughter HACCP Verification task to verify that the establishment has adequate slaughter controls (including antimicrobial intervention implementation) for the specific production lot represented by the positive STEC carcass result. Field personnel also verify that the establishment implements corrective actions that meet the applicable requirements in 9 CFR 417.3. Field personnel do not verify corrective actions in response to a positive STEC result from the post-hide/pre-evisceration sample. Rather, FSIS verifies that establishments ensure that carcasses found positive for STECs during the pre-chill sampling and testing are not processed into raw non-intact product. The presence of STEC on a pre-chill carcass intended for use as raw non-intact product would adulterate the carcass. The presence of STEC on a carcass intended for use as raw intact product would not adulterate the carcass if the entire carcass is going for intact product. In the event that a carcass tests positive for STEC, establishments may take action to ensure that all products from the carcass go for cooking, or they may take action to recondition the carcass and ensure that the carcass goes for intact use only.

    In the event of a STEC positive on a post-hide removal/pre-evisceration sample without a corresponding pre-chill sample on a carcass intended for raw non-intact use, the carcass would not be considered adulterated. The carcass presumably will undergo further interventions after post-hide removal/pre-evisceration. In the event of a STEC positive from a pre-chill test result on a carcass intended for raw non-intact use, the carcass is considered adulterated. The establishment is required to take corrective action.

    Comment: One industry organization recommended that FSIS conduct a “shakedown” period at establishments representative of the industry in order to assess the logistics of sampling. The commenter stated that this shakedown should be done to provide a safe sampling environment for inspection personnel and to ensure that sampling will not interfere with the routine slaughter process.

    Response: FSIS agrees with the comment. The Agency did conduct a shakedown training period before the actual baseline and confirmed that baseline sampling will not interfere with the routine slaughter process.

    Comment: One industry organization commented that while the Agency is developing the baseline, the timeframe for the publication of study results should be outlined.

    Response: FSIS posted the study design and sampling plan on the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/5057f4ef-f924-422c-bafe-771b1ead78e4/Beef-Veal-Carcass-Baseline-Study-Design.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. FSIS will publish a final report with the national prevalence calculations after the completion of the survey.

    Comment: One industry organization commented that sampling immediately after de-hiding may not provide the most meaningful information as to the presence of the various organisms in the slaughter process. The commenter stated that although the sample may be taken before any on-line interventions, the condition of the carcass, in terms of potential microbial load, is not comparable across establishments. The commenter explained that some establishments have interventions and other practices that occur before de-hiding, such as bacteriophage sprays or hide washes. Likewise, the commenter stated that the effectiveness of hide removal in minimizing contamination of the carcass varies among establishments. If FSIS is seeking to use this baseline to assist establishments in assessing “incoming” contamination levels before on-line interventions, the commenter stated that not taking into account the steps that come before this sampling point at each establishment would likely limit the usability of the results.

    Response: FSIS agrees that the incoming microbial load may vary from establishment to establishment depending on whether establishments use bacteriophage sprays or hide washes, and that the effectiveness of establishments in preventing cross-contamination in hide removal may also vary. Nevertheless, FSIS expects that the Beef-Veal carcass baseline study will achieve the stated objectives by collecting and analyzing as many samples as possible to ensure an appropriate level of statistical confidence.

    Comment: Two commenters stated that carcass sampling immediately after de-hiding could pose a safety risk to inspection program personnel, as well as to establishment employees. According to the commenters, this location is in the middle of the harvest line, so taking a sample at this juncture will require inspection program personnel to enter an area of the process where hazards, such as dangerous equipment, are present and space is limited. Taking samples at this point could, in turn, also put establishment employees at risk.

    Response: FSIS discussed with establishment management before collecting samples for the shakedown the following: (1) Where supervisory personnel could safely collect post-hide removal/pre-evisceration and pre-chill samples, (2) establishment safety requirements and protocols that supervisory field personnel must follow during sample collection, and (3) the potential need for line stoppages for supervisory field personnel to safely and properly collect the samples. FSIS also issued instructions to inspection program personnel for conducting sampling from a safe vantage point, especially when collecting the posterior samples from the post-hide/pre-evisceration and pre-chill locations; following the same safety procedures provided for employees at that establishment which may require the use of a harness; slowing or stopping production lines; and acquiring needed tools to safely collect samples. Information on the Beef-Veal carcass baseline can be found at the following link http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/5d3552e7-9b81-4b2c-aa20-cfaeef77f251/36-14.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

    Comment: One industry organization asked what type of carcass sampling the Agency will use for the carcass baseline study.

    Response: As was done during the shakedown, FSIS is obtaining samples following the procedures described in the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Meat Animal Research Center Carcass Sampling Protocol 2 available at the following link: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/54380530/protocols/USMARC%20Carcass%20Sampling%20Protocol.pdf.

    2 U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) Carcass Sampling Protocol.

    Comment: One consumer organization stated that FSIS should conduct a baseline study to estimate the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in beef manufacturing trimmings and ground beef in order to improve the confidence in FSIS's efforts to detect contaminated product and effectively verify process controls.

    Response: FSIS decided to focus on sampling carcasses for this baseline and not trimmings and ground beef because of resource limitations. The Beef-Veal carcass baseline survey will provide FSIS the necessary data on percent positives and quantitative levels of select foodborne bacterial pathogens (e.g., Salmonella, STEC, and certain indicator organisms). FSIS will use the data from the Beef-Veal carcass baseline survey to estimate the national prevalence of select microorganisms in carcasses, not trimmings and ground beef; to develop industry performance guidelines; to assess process control across the industry; and to inform additional policy considerations. Results of this study will be used to estimate volume-weighted prevalence and bacterial loads immediately after hide removal and at pre-chill. Moreover, FSIS has made changes to both the trimmings and ground beef verification testing programs to be able to obtain on-going prevalence of both E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella (79 FR 32437).

    Other Topics

    The following comment topics that were received are outside the scope of this notice: disappearing schedule dates from PHIS, returned FedEx sample boxes, FSIS training materials, and purge studies.

    USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

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

    How To File a Complaint of Discrimination

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

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

    Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410, Fax: (202) 690-7442, Email: [email protected]

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

    Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, FSIS will announce this Federal Register publication on-line through the FSIS Web page located at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

    FSIS also will make copies of this publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to our constituents and stakeholders. The Update is available on the FSIS Web page. Through the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse audience. In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information, regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

    Done, at Washington, DC. Dated: April 23, 2015. Alfred V. Almanza, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09957 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Special Milk Program for Children AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this information collection. This collection is a revision of a currently approved collection which FNS employs to determine public participation in Special Milk Program for Children.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    Comments may be sent to: Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman, Branch Chief, Program Monitoring, Child Nutrition Programs, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 636, Alexandria, VA 22302-1594. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman at 703-305-2879 or via email to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All written comments will be open for public inspection at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 640, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collection should be directed to Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman at 703-305-2595.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: 7 CFR part 215, Special Milk Program for Children.

    Form Number: FNS-66B.

    OMB Number: 0584-0005.

    Expiration Date: October 31, 2015.

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    The Special Milk Program for Children

    Abstract: Section 3 of the Child Nutrition Act (CNA) of 1966, (42 U.S.C. 1772) authorizes the Special Milk Program (SMP). It provides for the appropriation of such sums as may be necessary to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to encourage the consumption of fluid milk by children in the United States in: (1) Nonprofit schools of high school grade and under; and (2) nonprofit nursery schools, child care centers, settlement houses, summer camps, and similar nonprofit institutions devoted to the care and training of children, which do not participate in a food service program authorized under the CNA or the National School Lunch Act.

    Section 10 of the CNA (42 U.S.C. 1779) requires the Secretary of Agriculture to prescribe such regulations as deemed necessary to carry out this Act and the National School Lunch Act. Pursuant to that provision, the Secretary has issued 7 CFR part 215, which sets forth policies and procedures for the administration and operation of the SMP. State and local operators of the SMP are required to meet Federal reporting and accountability requirements. This information collection is required to administer and operate this program. The Program is administered at the State, school food authority (SFA), and child care institution levels; and operations include the submission of applications and agreements, submission and payment of claims, and maintenance of records. The reporting and record keeping burden associated with this revision has decreased from 21,246 to 14,914 hours. This change is mainly due to adjustments, such as corrections in the number of institutions and the amount of burden per response. All of the reporting and recordkeeping requirements associated with the SMP are currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget and are in force. This is a revision of the currently approved information collection.

    Affected Public: State agencies, Non-profit Institutions.

    Number of Respondents: 3,933 (54 State Agencies, 3,879 Non-profit Institutions).

    Frequency of Responses per Respondent: 1.32.

    Total Annual Responses: 5,175.

    Reporting Time per Response: .25.

    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden: 1,294.

    Number of Recordkeepers: 3,933 (54 State Agencies, 3,879 Non-profit Institutions).

    Number of Records per Recordkeeper: 23.87.

    Estimated Total Number of Records/Response to Keep: 93,876.

    Recordkeeping time per Response: 0.15.

    Total Estimated Recordkeeping Burden: 13,620.

    Total Annual Responses for Reporting/Recordkeeping: 99,051.

    Annual Recordkeeping and Reporting Burden: 14,914.

    Current OMB Inventory for Part 215: 21,246.

    Difference (change in burden with this renewal): (6,332).

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

    Affected public Estimated number of
  • respondents
  • Frequency of responses per respondent Total annual responses Hours per
  • response
  • Estimated total burden
    Reporting State agencies 54 24 1,296 0.25 324 Non-profit Institutions 3,879 1 3,879 0.25 970 Total Estimated Reporting Burden 3,933 1.32 5,175 0.25 1,294 Recordkeeping State agencies 54 965.83 52,155 0.10 5,276 Non-profit Institutions 3,879 10.76 41,721 0.20 8,344 Total Estimated Recordkeeping Burden 3,933 23.87 93,876 0.15 13,620 Total Reporting and Recordkeeping Estimated number of respondents Number of responses per respondent Total annual responses Estimated total hours per response Estimated total burden Reporting 3,933 1.32 5,175 0.25 1,294 Recordkeeping 3,933 23.87 93,876 0.15 13,620 Total 99,051 14,914
    Dated: April 20, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09997 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Annual State Report on Verification of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on the proposed information collection for the Annual State Report of Verification of SNAP Participation. This is a new collection. The purpose of the Annual State Report of Verification of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participants is to ensure that no person who is deceased, or has been permanently disqualified from SNAP, improperly received SNAP benefits for the fiscal year preceding the report submission. Section 4032 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 is the basis for this collection. Section 4032 mandates that States will “submit to the Secretary a report containing sufficient information for the Secretary to determine whether the State agency has, for the most recently concluded fiscal year preceding that annual date, verified that the State agency in that fiscal year—(1) did not issue benefits to a deceased individual; and (2) did not issue benefits to an individual who had been permanently disqualified from receiving benefits.” An annual email from each State agency to the corresponding Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Regional SNAP Program Director will be used as the mechanism for State agencies to report their compliance with section 4032 of the Agriculture Act of 2014.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimated burden for the proposed information collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments may be sent to Jane Duffield, Branch Chief, State Administration Branch, Program Accountability and Administration Division, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 818, Alexandria, VA 22302. You may also download an electronic version of this notice at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/federal-register-documents/rules/view-all and comment via email at [email protected] or the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All written comments will be open for public inspection at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 822, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collection should be directed to Clyde Thompson at (703) 305-2461.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Annual State Report on Verification of SNAP Participation.

    OMB Number: 0584—NEW.

    Expiration Date: Not Yet Determined.

    Type of Request: New collection.

    Abstract: SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.16 require that State agencies disqualify an individual who has committed an intentional program violation (IPV). Paragraph 7 CFR 273.16(e)(8) requires that these individuals “be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification periods and procedures in paragraph (b) of this section” (273.16(b)). Paragraph 7 CFR 273.16(i) requires State agencies to report information concerning each individual disqualified for an IPV to the disqualified recipient database, the electronic Disqualified Recipient System (eDRS), and to use eDRS data to determine the eligibility of individual applicants prior to certification. SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 272.14 require that each State agency establish a system to verify and ensure that benefits are not issued to individuals who are deceased, and that data source is the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Death Master File. The information required for the Annual State Report on Verification of SNAP Participation is obtained by validating that the State had the appropriate systems in place and followed procedures currently mandated at 7 CFR 272.14 and 7 CFR 273.16 for the preceding fiscal year.

    The burdens associated with the activity of establishing a system to verify and ensure that benefits are not issued to deceased individuals or those permanently disqualified from SNAP using both the SSA Death Master File and eDRS are already conducted during the SNAP eligibility benefit process and is currently approved under OMB burden number 0584-0064, expiration date April 30, 2016.

    In order to meet the reporting requirements specified in section 4032 of the Act, States are required to confirm via email to their FNS Regional SNAP Program Director that in the immediately preceding Federal fiscal year, they had the appropriate systems in place to meet the requirements of regulations at 7 CFR 272.14 and 273.16(i)(4) and that they conducted the matches required by these regulations. States are required to submit their section 4032 reports to the FNS Regional SNAP Director by March 31 each year for the preceding Federal fiscal year. The estimated annual burden for this collection is 57.41 hours. This estimate includes the time it takes each State agency to confirm that they have complied with FNS regulations for performing mandated checks against both eDRS and the SSA Death Master File, send an email to their FNS Regional Office SNAP Program Director to provide the verification, and any additional recordkeeping associated with this burden. States must perform this verification once a year and must retain these records for 3 years.

    Annual Reporting Burden Estimates

    Affected Public: State, Local and Tribal Government Agencies.

    Number of Respondents: 53 State Agencies.

    Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Total Annual Responses: 53.

    Reporting Time per Response: 1 Hour.

    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden Hours: 53.

    Annual Recordkeeping Burden Estimates.

    Affected Public: State, Local and Tribal Government Agencies.

    Number of Respondents: 53 State Agencies.

    Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Total Annual Responses: 53.

    Reporting Time per Response: 0.08333 Hours or 5 minutes.

    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden Hours: 4.41649.

    Annual Grand Total Burden Estimates for Reporting and Recordkeeping: 57.41 hours.

    Dated: April 20, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09995 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II (CN-OPS-II) AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This collection is a new information collection for the Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II.

    DATES:

    Written comments on this notice must be received on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to: John Endahl, Senior Program Analyst, Office of Policy Support, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1004, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of John Endahl at 703-305-2576 or via email to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the data collection plans, contact John Endahl, Senior Program Analyst, Office of Policy Support, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1004, Alexandria, VA 22302; Fax: 703-305-2576; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II (CN-OPS-II).

    Form Number: N/A.

    OMB Number: 0584—NEW.

    Expiration Date of Approval: Not yet determined.

    Type of Information Collection Request: New information collection.

    Abstract: The objective of the Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II (CN-OPS-II) is to collect timely data on policies, administrative, and operational issues on the Child Nutrition Programs. The ultimate goal is to analyze these data and to provide input for new legislation on Child Nutrition Programs as well as to provide pertinent technical assistance and training to program implementation staff.

    The CN-OPS-II will help the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) better understand and address current policy issues related to Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) operations. The policy and operational issues include, but are not limited to, the preparation of the program budget, development and implementation of program policy and regulations, and identification of areas for technical assistance and training. Specifically, this study will help FNS obtain:

    General descriptive data on the Child Nutrition (CN) program characteristics to help FNS respond to questions about the nutrition programs in schools;

    Data related to program administration for designing and revising program regulations, managing resources, and reporting requirements; and

    Data related to program operations to help FNS develop and provide training and technical assistance for School Food Authorities (SFAs) and State Agencies responsible for administering the CN programs.

    The activities to be undertaken subject to this notice include:

    Conducting a multi-modal (e.g. paper, Web, and telephone) survey of approximately 1,500 SFA Directors.

    Conducting a paper survey of all 56 State Agency CN Directors.

    Affected Public: State, Local and Tribal Governments.

    Type of Respondents: 1,500 SFA Directors and 56 State CN Directors.

    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 1,556.

    Frequency of Response: 3.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 4,668.

    Estimate of Time per Respondent and Annual Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average one hundred fifty (150) minutes per Self-Administered Survey for the SFA Directors and the State Agency CN Directors (this includes 60 minutes for data gathering, 60 minutes to respond to the questionnaire, and 30 minutes for pre-notification and follow-up activities). The average time across all respondents is 50 minutes (0.83 hours). The annual reporting burden is estimated at 3,890 hours (see table below).

    Data collection activity Respondents Estimated number of
  • respondents
  • Frequency of response Total annual responses Average burden hours per
  • response
  • Total annual burden
  • estimate
  • (hours)
  • Pre-survey notification emails/FAQ/letters School Food Authority Directors 1,500 1 1,500 0.25 375 Self-Administered Web/Telephone Survey School Food Authority Directors 1,500 1 1,500 2 3,000 Post-survey follow-up reminder emails, phone calls, thank you emails School Food Authority Directors 1,500 1 1,500 0.25 375 Pre-survey notification emails/FAQ/letters State Agency Child Nutrition Directors 56 1 56 0.25 14 Self-Administered Web/Telephone Survey State Agency Child Nutrition Directors 56 1 56 2 112 Post-survey follow-up reminder emails, phone calls, thank you emails State Agency Child Nutrition Directors 56 1 56 0.25 14 Total 1,556 3.00 4,668 0.83 3,890
    Dated: April 20, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10012 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Natural Resources Conservation Service [Docket No. NRCS-2015-0005] Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) in Cooperation With the Bureau of Land Management for the Green River Diversion Rehabilitation Project, Green River, Utah AGENCY:

    Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces the availability of the ROD for the Green River Diversion Rehabilitation Project, Green River, Utah, by the Utah office of NRCS. NRCS will use Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program funds for the Green River Diversion Rehabilitation project in Emery and Grand counties, Utah as detailed in the ROD. The NRCS Utah State Conservationist, David Brown, signed the ROD on April 2, 2015, which constitutes the NRCS's final decision.

    ADDRESSES:

    The complete text of the ROD and the final EIS can be viewed and downloaded from the project Web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/port+al/nrcs/detail/ut/programs/planning/ewpp/?cid=nrcs141p2_034037, or through http://www.regulations.gov by accessing Docket No. NRCS-2015-0005. Complete copies of the ROD are available upon request from the NRCS Utah State Office at 125 South State Street, Room 4010 in Salt Lake City, UT 84138.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Brown, NRCS State Conservationist, 801-524-4555. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The NRCS, as the lead Federal Agency, is working with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Bureau of Land Management as cooperating agencies to rehabilitate the existing Green River Diversion Dam (diversion) system that will continue to provide water delivery to water rights holders. The ROD constitutes the NRCS's final decision to implement the diversion improvements, based upon the analysis in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Notice of Availability 79 FR 36511, June 27, 2014), which identified the “Replace In Place With Passages” option as the environmentally preferred alternative. The ROD adopted this alternative.

    Signed this 17th day of April 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Amanda Ettestad, Acting State Conservationist.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10014 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35).

    Agency: U.S. Census Bureau.

    Title: National Survey of Children's Health.

    OMB Control Number: 0607-XXXX.

    Form Number(s): See following breakdown:

    English survey forms include:

    NSCH-P-S1 (English Screener), NSCH-P-T1 (English Topical for 0- to 5-year-old children), NSCH-P-T2 (English Topical for 6- to 11-year-old children), and NSCH-P-T3 (English Topical for 12- to 17-year-old children).

    Spanish survey forms include:

    NSCH-PS-S1 (Spanish Screener), NSCH-PS-T1 (Spanish Topical for 0- to 5-year-old children), NSCH-PS-T2 (Spanish Topical for 6- to 11-year-old children), and NSCH-PS-T3 (Spanish Topical for 12- to 17-year-old children).

    Type of Request: Regular submission.

    Number of Respondents: 12,534.

    Average Hours per Response: 0.08 for the screener and 0.5 for the topical.

    Burden Hours: 2,262 hours.

    Needs and Uses: The National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) Pretest is a small-scale (N = 16,000 addresses) national pretest conducted prior to fielding the first year production survey. This pretest is necessary to assess survey methodology, evaluate the survey instrument, and test operational procedures and processes. The pretest sample will consist of several panels to assess data collection mode preferences (Mail or Internet) of respondents, amount of respondent cash incentives ($5 or $10) needed to gain cooperation and participation in the survey, and telephone as a method of nonresponse follow-up.

    Plans for pretest data collection include two modes. The first mode that will be tested is a mail out/mail back of a self-administered paper-and-pencil interviewing (PAPI) screener instrument followed by a separate mail out/mail back of a PAPI age-based topical instrument. The second mode that will be tested is an Internet survey that contains the screener and topical instruments. The Internet instrument will take the respondent through both the screener questions and if the household screens into the study, they will be taken directly into one of the three age-based topical sets of questions.

    The pretest allows for the preparation of a successful first year production survey based on previously tested methods and procedures. In turn, this enables the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce national and state-based estimates on the health and well-being of children, their families, and their communities as well as estimates of the prevalence and impact of children with special health care needs.

    Affected Public: Parents, researchers, policymakers, and family advocates.

    Frequency: One time.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    Legal Authority:

    Census Authority: Title 13, U.S.C. Section 8(b) MCHB Authority: 42 U.S.C., Chapter 7, Title V (Social Security Act) Confidentiality: Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA).

    This information collection request may be viewed at www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09975 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Economic Development Administration Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance AGENCY:

    Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment.

    Pursuant to Section 251 of the Trade Act 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2341 et seq.), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has received petitions for certification of eligibility to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance from the firms listed below. Accordingly, EDA has initiated investigations to determine whether increased imports into the United States of articles like or directly competitive with those produced by each of these firms contributed importantly to the total or partial separation of the firm's workers, or threat thereof, and to a decrease in sales or production of each petitioning firm.

    List of Petitions Received by EDA for Certification Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance [4/23/2015 through 4/23/2015] Firm name Firm address Date accepted for investigation Product(s) RR Enterprises, Inc 1885 Weaversville Road, Allentown, PA 18109 4/23/2015 The firm manufactures motorized display turntables and blistered card novelty gag items. 3rd Gen Machine 1435 North 200 West, Logan, UT 84341 4/23/2015 The firm manufactures metal parts for the firearm and bow hunting industry.

    Any party having a substantial interest in these proceedings may request a public hearing on the matter. A written request for a hearing must be submitted to the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Division, Room 71030, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, no later than ten (10) calendar days following publication of this notice.

    Please follow the requirements set forth in EDA's regulations at 13 CFR 315.9 for procedures to request a public hearing. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance official number and title for the program under which these petitions are submitted is 11.313, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Michael S. DeVillo, Eligibility Examiner.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09977 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-WH-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Economic Development Administration Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance AGENCY:

    Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment.

    Pursuant to Section 251 of the Trade Act 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2341 et seq.), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has received petitions for certification of eligibility to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance from the firms listed below. Accordingly, EDA has initiated investigations to determine whether increased imports into the United States of articles like or directly competitive with those produced by each of these firms contributed importantly to the total or partial separation of the firm's workers, or threat thereof, and to a decrease in sales or production of each petitioning firm.

    List of Petitions Received by EDA for Certification Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance [4/8/2015 through 4/23/2015] Firm name Firm address Date accepted for investigation Product(s) Profile Cabinet and Design 7400 East 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64126 4/21/2015 The firm manufactures wooden cabinets for commercial and residential use made of various woods. Nu Con Corporation 34100 Industrial Road, Livonia, MI 48150 4/22/2015 The firm manufactures impellers, diffusers and similar parts for turbines, turbo machinery and impeller pump systems. Kennedy Incorporated 21 Circuit Drive, North Kingston, RI 02852 4/21/2015 The firm manufactures military insignia and challenge coins, corporate awards and promotional items. Souders Industries, Inc. d/b/a SESCO 19 Ash Street, Mont Alto, PA 17237 4/22/2015 The firm manufactures wire harnesses and cable assemblies. Oppenheimer Camera Products, Inc 7400 3rd Ave South, Seattle, WA 98108 4/22/2015 The firm manufactures arts, accessories and products for the film/video industry.

    Any party having a substantial interest in these proceedings may request a public hearing on the matter. A written request for a hearing must be submitted to the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Division, Room 71030, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, no later than ten (10) calendar days following publication of this notice.

    Please follow the requirements set forth in EDA's regulations at 13 CFR 315.9 for procedures to request a public hearing. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance official number and title for the program under which these petitions are submitted is 11.313, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Michael S. DeVillo, Eligibility Examiner.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09976 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-WH-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-57-2015] Foreign-Trade Zone 231—Stockton, California; Application for Subzone Expansion Subzone 231A, Medline Industries, Inc., Lathrop, California

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board by the Port of Stockton, California, grantee of FTZ 231, requesting two additional sites within Subzone 231A on behalf of Medline Industries, Inc. (Medline), located in Stockton and Tracy, California. The application was submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on April 22, 2015.

    Subzone 231A was approved on March 4, 2007 (72 FR 14516, 03/28/2007) and currently consists of one site: Site 1 (12.49 acres) 18250 Murphy Parkway, Lathrop. There is currently an application pending (S-166-2014, 79 FR 75787, 12/19/2014) requesting authority to add an additional site in Lathrop, CA (proposed Site 2). The applicant is now requesting authority to expand the subzone further to include two additional sites: Proposed Site 3 (24.3 acres), 1030 Runway Drive, Stockton; and, proposed Site 4 (61.53 acres), 24356 Hansen Road, Tracy. No authorization for production activity has been requested at this time. The expanded subzone would be subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 231.

    In accordance with the FTZ Board's regulations, Christopher Kemp of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to review the application and make recommendations to the Executive Secretary.

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is June 8, 2015. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to June 23, 2015.

    A copy of the application will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the FTZ Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher Kemp at [email protected] or (202) 482-0862.

    Dated: April 22, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10047 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-848] Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China; Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review in Part and Rescission of New Shipper Review; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

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

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is rescinding its administrative review in part and rescinding a new shipper review of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the period September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: April 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Yang Jin Chun or Minoo Hatten, AD/CVD Operations Office I, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5760 and (202) 482-1690 respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On September 2, 2014, we published a notice of opportunity to request an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from the PRC for the period of review (POR) September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014.1 On October 30, 2014, in response to requests from the petitioner, the Crawfish Processors Alliance, and Chinese exporters of subject merchandise, China Kingdom (Beijing) Import & Export Co., Ltd. (China Kingdom), Deyan Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd. (Deyan Aquatic), Shanghai Ocean Flavor International Trading Co., Ltd. (Shanghai Ocean Flavor), and Xiping Opeck Food Co., Ltd. (Xiping Opeck), and in accordance with section 751(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act) and 19 CFR 351.221(c)(1)(i), we initiated an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from the PRC with respect to four companies: China Kingdom; Deyan Aquatic; Shanghai Ocean Flavor; and Xiping Opeck.2

    1See Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative Review, 79 FR 51958 (September 2, 2014).

    2See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 79 FR 64565 (October 30, 2014).

    On October 31, 2014, in response to requests from Chinese producers and exporters of subject merchandise, Hubei Yuesheng Aquatic Products Co., Ltd., Weishan Hongda Aquatic Food Co., Ltd., and Wuhan Coland Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd. (Wuhan Coland), and in accordance with section 751(a)(2)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.214 and 351.221(c)(1)(i), we initiated new shipper reviews of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from the PRC with respect to these three companies for the POR September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014.3

    3See Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Reviews, 79 FR 64749 (October 31, 2014).

    On November 21, 2014, the Department aligned the new shipper reviews of freshwater crawfish tail meat from the PRC with the concurrent administrative review of freshwater crawfish tail meat from the PRC.4 On December 16, 2014, the Department selected China Kingdom and Xiping Opeck for individual examination in this administrative review.5

    4See Memorandum to The File entitled “Alignment of New-Shipper Reviews of Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the People's Republic of China with the concurrent Administrative Review of Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the PRC” dated November 21, 2014.

    5See Memorandum to James Maeder, Senior Director, AD/CVD Operations, from Hermes Pinilla, International Trade Compliance Analyst, AD/CVD Operations, Office I entitled “Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the PRC—Respondent Selection for the 2013-2014 Antidumping Duty Administrative Review” dated December 16, 2014.

    On January 13, 2015, Xiping Opeck and Wuhan Coland withdrew their review requests.6 On January 29, 2015, the Department selected Deyan Aquatic as the additional mandatory respondent in this administrative review.7

    6See the letters of withdrawal of the review requests from Xiping Opeck and Wuhan Coland dated January 13, 2015.

    7See Memorandum to James Maeder, Senior Director, AD/CVD Operations, Office I from Hermes Pinilla, International Trade Compliance Analyst, AD/CVD Operations, Office I entitled “Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the PRC—Selection of Additional Mandatory Respondent and Analysis of Voluntary Respondent Request” dated January 29, 2015.

    Rescission of Administrative Review in Part and Rescission of New Shipper Review

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1), the Department will rescind an administrative review, “in whole or in part, if a party that requested a review withdraws the request within 90 days of the date of publication of notice of initiation of the requested review.” Because Xiping Opeck and Wuhan Coland withdrew their review requests in a timely manner, and because no other party requested a review of these companies, we are partially rescinding the administrative review with respect to Xiping Opeck, and we are rescinding the new shipper review with respect to Wuhan Coland. This rescission is in accordance with 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1).

    Assessment

    The Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess antidumping duties on all appropriate entries. For Xiping Opeck and Wuhan Coland, for which the reviews are rescinded, antidumping duties shall be assessed at rates equal to the cash deposit of estimated antidumping duties required at the time of entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(c)(1)(i). The Department intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after publication of this notice.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice serves as a reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties.

    Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Orders

    This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the disposition of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3). Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation.

    This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(d)(4).

    Dated: April 22, 2015. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10046 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology AGENCY:

    National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT or Committee), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will meet in open session on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time and Wednesday, June 10, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time. The VCAT is composed of fifteen members appointed by the NIST Director who are eminent in such fields as business, research, new product development, engineering, labor, education, management consulting, environment, and international relations.

    DATES:

    The VCAT will meet on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time and Wednesday, June 10, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held in the Portrait Room, Administration Building, at NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20899. Please note admittance instructions under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephanie Shaw, VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-1060, telephone number 301-975-2667. Ms. Shaw's email address is [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of this meeting is for the VCAT to review and make recommendations regarding general policy for NIST, its organization, its budget, and its programs within the framework of applicable national policies as set forth by the President and the Congress. The agenda will include updates on NIST activities and a review of NIST's bioscience and information technology research along with external presentations on the future direction and trends of these technical areas. The agenda may change to accommodate Committee business. The final agenda will be posted on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm.

    Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to offer comments and suggestions related to the Committee's affairs are invited to request a place on the agenda.

    On Wednesday, June 10, approximately one-half hour in the morning will be reserved for public comments and speaking times will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. The amount of time per speaker will be determined by the number of requests received, but is likely to be about 3 minutes each. The exact time for public comments will be included in the final agenda that will be posted on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm. Questions from the public will not be considered during this period. Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who had wished to speak but could not be accommodated on the agenda, and those who were unable to attend in person are invited to submit written statements to VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20899, via fax at 301-216-0529 or electronically by email to [email protected]

    All visitors to the NIST site are required to pre-register to be admitted. Please submit your name, time of arrival, email address and phone number to Stephanie Shaw by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Non-U.S. citizens must submit additional information; please contact Ms. Shaw. Ms. Shaw's email address is [email protected] and her phone number is 301-975-2667. Also, please note that under the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-13), federal agencies, including NIST, can only accept a state-issued driver's license or identification card for access to federal facilities if issued by states that are REAL ID compliant or have an extension. NIST also currently accepts other forms of federally-issued identification in lieu of a state-issued driver's license. For detailed information please contact Ms. Shaw or visit: http://nist.gov/public_affairs/visitor/.

    Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 278 and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App.

    Richard R. Cavanagh, Acting Associate Director for Laboratory Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09973 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Evaluation Support Services AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is a new information collection for Evaluation Support Services.

    DATES:

    Written comments should be received Written comments must be submitted on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]oc.gov).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Meka Laster at (301) 628-2906 or sent via email to [email protected] Individuals who use a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    This request is for a new information collection.

    Since its establishment in 1970 under the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s primary goals are to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources, and to serve the nation's economic, social, and environmental needs. One of NOAA's staff offices, the Office of Education (OEd), also serves a critical function as the nation's primary educator on matters related to the ocean, coastal resources, the atmosphere, and climate. One of the ways NOAA fulfills its national duty is by providing educational resources and scholarship opportunities for future scholars.

    The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program (HUSP) was established in 2005; since then, it has provided support to approximately 1,144 undergraduate students. This scholarship opportunity provides 2 academic years of tuition support (up to $8,000 per year) and a 10-week paid internship with a NOAA mentor to competitive undergraduate scholars in NOAA-related major fields of study. The HUSP also provides undergraduates with additional supports such as living expenses, travel stipends, and conference allowances. The main goals of HUSP include increasing undergraduate training and research in NOAA sciences; recruiting and preparig students for careers as public servants and environmental science educators; and building public understanding of and support for environmental stewardship issues (i.e., increasing environmental literacy).

    The Educational Partnership Program (EPP) comprises three unique components: The Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP), the Graduate Studies Program (GSP), and four Cooperative Science Centers (CSCs). USP is a scholarship opportunity that provides recipients with hands-on research and training in NOAA-related sciences and provides scholars the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at NOAA facilities. To date, USP has funded 175 scholars. GSP is similar, and supported (funded 59 students) graduate students interested in pursuing NOAA mission-critical fields by providing them with work experience and hands-on training in NOAA-related research fields. The CSCs' overarching goal is to increase underrepresentation in STEM and NOAA-related fields by providing education and training opportunities in these fields. Each CSC has a distinct educational focus, defined mission, partner institution, and designated research partner. In addition to providing education and training opportunities for students, CSCs assist their MSI partners in building their institutional management, scientific, and research capacities in NOAA-related fields.

    The proposed evaluation will examine the effectiveness of two of NOAA's OEd scholarship programs: EPP and HUSP. It will also assess the efficacy of the CSCs, which constitute another educational component central to NOAA's educational mission. The primary objective of this evaluation is to determine how well NOAA's HUSP and EPP scholarship programs translate to measurable outcomes for participants.

    II. Method of Collection

    This proposed mixed-methods evaluation will include the following components:

    • Reviews of extant data to understand the program and historical trends.

    • Web surveys of HUSP and EPP alumni with telephone follow-up to describe participant experiences and outcomes.

    • A regression discontinuity design evaluation of HUSP, EPP USP, and EPP GSP to compare scholarship recipients to similar applicants who did not receive scholarships.

    • Site visits to the CSCs to describe institution-level contexts and outcomes.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-xxxx.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Request for a new information collection.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,409 survey respondents (1,034 scholarship recipients and 375 scholarship non-recipients); 44 interviewees; 20 focus group participants (interviewees and focus groups composed of Cooperative Science Center management, faculty, and students).

    Estimated Time per Response: 25 minutes per recipient survey; 15 minutes per nonrecipient survey; 60 minutes per community partner, institution partner, CSC administrator, and CSC center director interview; 90 minutes per student focus group.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 599.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in recordkeeping/reporting costs.

    IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are eligible to respond.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09967 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD829 Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Construction of the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received a request from the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) for an incidental take authorization to take small numbers of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whales, by harassment, incidental to construction activities associated with the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SF-OBB) in California. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to CALTRANS to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of marine mammals for a period of 1 year.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments on the application should be addressed to Rob Pauline, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. 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/construction.htm. 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.

    The application used in this document may be obtained by visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Pauline, 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.”

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process by which citizens of the U.S. can apply for a one-year authorization to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment, provided that there is no potential for serious injury or mortality to result from the activity. Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45-day time limit for NMFS review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization.

    Summary of Request

    On December 15, 2014 CALTRANS submitted its most recent request to NOAA requesting an IHA for the possible harassment of small numbers of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsii), harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) incidental to construction associated with a replacement bridge for the East Span of the SF-OBB, in San Francisco Bay (SFB, or Bay), California.

    Description of the Specified Activity

    An IHA was previously issued to CALTRANS for this activity on January 8, 2014 (79 FR 2421; January 14, 2014), based on activities described on CALTRANS' IHA application dated April 13, 2013. That IHA expired on January 7, 2015. Since the construction activity would last for approximately an additional two years after the expiration of the current IHA, CALTRANS requests to renew its IHA. In its IHA renewal request, CALTRANS also states that there has been no change in the scope of work for the SF-OBB Project from what was outlined in its April 13, 2013 IHA application project description, the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (78 FR 60852; October 2, 2013), and the Federal Register notice for the issuance of that IHA (79 FR 2421; January 14, 2013). This stage of the project will include the mechanical dismantling of marine foundations of the East Span of the bridge as well as the installation of approximately 200 steel piles. These activities will be covered under the proposed IHA. Refer to these documents for a detailed description of CALTRANS' SF-OBB construction activities.

    Construction activities for the replacement of the SF-OBB east span commenced in 2002 and are expected to be completed in 2016 with the completion of the bike/pedestrian path and eastbound on ramp from Yerba Buena Island. The new east span is now open to traffic. On November 10, 2003, NMFS issued the first project-related IHA to the Department, authorizing the take of small numbers of marine mammals incidental to the construction of the SFOBB Project. The Department has been issued a total of seven subsequent IHAs for the SFOBB Project to date, excluding the application currently under review.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    General information on the marine mammal species found in California waters can be found in Carretta et al. 2013, which is available at the following URL: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/pdf/pacific2013.pdf. Refer to that document for information on these species.

    The marine mammals most likely to be found in the SF-OBB area are the California sea lion, Pacific harbor seal, and harbor porpoise. From December through May gray whales may also be present in the SF-OBB area. Information on California sea lion, harbor seal, and gray whale was provided in the November 14, 2003 (68 FR 64595), Federal Register notice; information on harbor porpoise was provided in a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA), which analyzed the potential impacts to marine mammals that would result from the modification of the original action. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed on August 5, 2009. These documents were referenced in the December 13, 2010 (75 FR 77617) Federal Register notice of IHA. A copy of the SEA and FONSI is available upon request.

    Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    CALTRANS and NMFS have determined that open-water pile driving and pile removal, as well as dredging and dismantling of concrete foundation of existing bridge by saw cutting, flame cutting, mechanical splitting, drilling, pulverizing and/or hydro-cutting, as outlined in the project description, have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whales that may be swimming, foraging, or resting in the project vicinity while pile driving is being conducted.

    Marine mammals exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al. 1999; Schlundt et al. 2000; Finneran et al. 2002; 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is unrecoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold will recover over time (Southall et al. 2007). Since marine mammals depend on acoustic cues for vital biological functions, such as orientation, communication, finding prey, and avoiding predators, marine mammals that incur PTS or TTS may have reduced fitness in survival and reproduction, either permanently or temporarily. Repeated noise exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS.

    When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter, 1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound can cause PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that mammals close to a sound source can incur TTS, it is possible that some individuals might incur PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of permanent auditory damage, but repeated or (in some cases) single exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit PTS.

    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals, based on anatomical similarities. PTS might occur at a received sound level at least several decibels above that inducing mild TTS if the animal were exposed to strong sound pulses with rapid rise time. Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that the PTS threshold for impulse sounds (such as pile driving pulses as received close to the source) is at least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and probably greater than 6 dB (Southall et al., 2007). On a sound exposure level (SEL) basis, Southall et al. (2007) estimated that received levels would need to exceed the TTS threshold by at least 15 dB for there to be risk of PTS. Thus, for cetaceans, Southall et al. (2007) estimate that the PTS threshold might be an M-weighted SEL (for the sequence of received pulses) of approximately 198 dB re 1 μPa2-s (15 dB higher than the TTS threshold for an impulse). Given the higher level of sound necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS could occur.

    Measured source levels from impact pile driving can be as high as 214 dB re 1 μPa @1 m. Although no marine mammals have been shown to experience TTS or PTS as a result of being exposed to pile driving activities, experiments on a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) and beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) showed that exposure to a single water gun pulse at a received level of 207 kPa (or 30 psi) peak-to-peak (p-p), which is equivalent to 228 dB (p-p) re 1 μPa, resulted in a 7 and 6 dB TTS in the beluga whale at 0.4 and 30 kHz, respectively. Thresholds returned to within 2 dB of the pre-exposure level within 4 minutes of the exposure (Finneran et al. 2002). No TTS was observed in the bottlenose dolphin. Although the source level of pile driving from one hammer strike is expected to be much lower than the single watergun pulse cited here, animals exposed for a prolonged period to repeated hammer strikes could receive more noise exposure in terms of sound exposure level (SEL) than from the single watergun pulse (estimated at 188 dB re 1 μPa2-s) in the aforementioned experiment (Finneran et al. 2002).

    Noises from dismantling of marine foundations by mechanical means include, but are not limited to, saw cutting, mechanical splitting, drilling and pulverizing. Saw cutting and drilling constitute non-pulse noise, whereas mechanical splitting and pulverizing constitute impulse noise. Although the characteristics of these noises are not well studied, noises from saw cutting and drilling are expected to be similar to vibratory pile driving, and noises from mechanical splitting and pulverizing are expected to be similar to impact pile driving, but at lower intensity, due to the similar mechanisms in sound generating but at a lower power outputs. CALTRANS states that drilling and saw cutting are anticipated to produce underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) in excess of 120 dB RMS, but are not anticipated to exceed the 180 dB re 1 μPa (RMS). The mechanical splitting and pulverizing of concrete with equipment such as a hammer hoe has the potential to generate high sound pressure levels in excess of 190 dB re 1 μPa (RMS) at 1 m.

    However, in order for marine mammals to experience TTS or PTS, the animals have to be close enough to be exposed to repeated high intensity pulsed noise levels for prolonged period of time. Based on the best scientific information available, the expected received sound levels are far below the threshold that could cause TTS or the onset of PTS.

    In addition, chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-intensity, noise could cause masking at particular frequencies for marine mammals that utilize sound for vital biological functions. Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction.

    Masking occurs at the frequency band which the animals utilize. Therefore, since noise generated from in-water pile driving during the SF-OBB construction activities is mostly concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency echolocation sounds by harbor porpoises. However, lower frequency noises are more likely to affect detection of communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey noise. It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the noise band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al. 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al. 2004; Holt et al. 2009).

    Masking can potentially impact the species at population, community, or even ecosystem levels, as well as individual levels. Prolonged masking affects both senders and receivers of the signals and could have long-term effects on marine mammal species and populations. Recent science suggests that low frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than 3 times in terms of SPL) in the world's oceans from pre-industrial periods, and most of these increases are from distant shipping (Hildebrand 2009). All anthropogenic noise sources, such as those from vessels traffic, pile driving, dredging, and dismantling existing bridge by mechanic means, contribute to the elevated ambient noise levels, thus intensifying potential for masking.

    Nevertheless, the sum of noise from the proposed SF-OBB construction activities is confined in an area of inland waters (San Francisco Bay) that is bounded by landmass, therefore, the noise generated is not expected to contribute to increased ocean ambient noise. Due to shallow water depth near the Oakland shore, dredging activities are mainly used to create a barge access channel to dismantle the existing bridge. Therefore, underwater sound propagation from dredging is expected to be poor due to the extreme shallowness of the area to be dredged.

    Finally, exposure of marine mammals to certain sounds could lead to behavioral disturbance (Richardson et al. 1995), such as: Changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities, changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping), avoidance of areas where noise sources are located, and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haulouts or rookeries).

    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise depends on both external factors (characteristics of noise sources and their paths) and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is also difficult to predict (Southall et al. 2007), especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. The consequences of behavioral modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Some of these significant behavioral modifications include:

    • Drastic change in diving/surfacing patterns (such as those thought to be causing beaked whale stranding due to exposure to military mid-frequency tactical sonar);

    • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and

    • Cessation of feeding or social interaction.

    The proposed project area is not believed to be a prime habitat for marine mammals, nor is it considered an area frequented by marine mammals. Therefore, behavioral disturbances that could result from anthropogenic noise associated with SF-OBB construction and dismantling activities are expected to affect only a limited number of marine mammals on an infrequent basis.

    Currently NMFS uses 160 dB re 1 μPa (RMS) at received level for impulse noises (such as impact pile driving, mechanic splitting and pulverizing) as the onset of marine mammal behavioral harassment, and 120 dB re 1 μPa (RMS) for non-impulse noises (vibratory pile driving, saw cutting, drilling, and dredging).

    As far as airborne noise is concerned, based on airborne noise levels measured and on-site monitoring conducted during 2004 under a previous IHA, noise levels from the East Span project did not result in the harassment of harbor seals hauled out on Yerba Buena Island (YBI). Also, noise levels from the East Span project are not expected to result in harassment of the sea lions hauled out at Pier 39 as airborne and waterborne sound pressure levels (SPLs) would attenuate to levels below where harassment would be expected by the time they reach that haul-out site, 5.7 km (3.5 miles) from the project site. Therefore, no pinniped hauled out would be affected as a result of the proposed pile-driving. A detailed description of the acoustic measurements is provided in the 2004 CALTRANS marine mammal and acoustic monitoring report for the same activity (CALTRANS 2005).

    Short-term impacts to habitat may include minimal disturbance of the sediment where individual bridge piers are constructed. Long-term impacts to marine mammal habitat will be limited to the footprint of the piles and the obstruction they will create following installation. However, this impact is not considered significant as the marine mammals can easily swim around the piles of the new bridge, as they currently swim around the existing bridge piers.

    Proposed Mitigation Measures

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses.

    For the proposed CALTRANS SF-OBB construction activities, CALTRANS worked with NMFS and proposed the following mitigation measures to minimize the potential impacts to marine mammals in the project vicinity. The primary purpose of these mitigation measures is to detect marine mammals within or about to enter designated exclusion zones corresponding to NMFS current injury thresholds and to initiate immediate shutdown or power down of the piling hammer, making it very unlikely potential injury or TTS to marine mammals would occur, and to reduce the intensity of Level B behavioral harassment.

    Use of Noise Attenuation Devices

    To reduce impact on marine mammals, CALTRANS shall use a marine pile driving energy attenuator (i.e., air bubble curtain system), or other equally effective sound attenuation method (e.g., dewatered cofferdam) for all impact pile driving, with the exception of pile proofing.

    Establishment of Exclusion and Level B Harassment Zones

    Before the commencement of in-water construction activities, which include impact pile driving, vibratory pile driving, and mechanical dismantling of existing bridge, CALTRANS shall establish “exclusion zones” where received underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) are higher than 180 dB (rms) and 190 dB (rms) re 1 μPa for cetaceans and pinnipeds, respectively, and “Level B behavioral harassment zones” where received underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) are higher than 160 dB (rms) and 120 dB (rms) re 1 μPa for impulse noise sources (impact pile driving) and non-impulses noise sources (vibratory pile driving and mechanic dismantling), respectively. Before the sizes of actual zones are determined based on hydroacoustic measurements, CALTRANS shall establish these zones based on prior measurements conducted during SF-OBB constructions, as described in Table 1 of this document.

    Table 1—Temporary Exclusion and Level B Harassment Zones for Various Pile Driving and Dismantling Activities Pile driving/dismantling
  • activities
  • Pile size (m) Distance to
  • 120 dB re 1 μPa
  • (rms) (m)
  • Distance to
  • 160 dB re 1 μPa
  • (rms) (m)
  • Distance to
  • 180 dB re 1 μPa
  • (rms) (m)
  • Distance to
  • 190 dB re 1 μPa
  • (rms) (m)
  • Vibratory Driving 24 2,000 NA NA NA 36 2,000 NA NA NA Sheet pile 2,000 NA NA NA Attenuated Impact Driving 24 NA 1,000 235 95 36 NA 1,000 235 95 Unattenuated Proofing 24 NA 1,000 235 95 36 NA 1,000 235 95 Unattenuated Impact Driving H-pile NA 1,000 235 95 Dismantling 2,000 NA 100 100

    Once the underwater acoustic measurements are conducted during initial test pile driving, CALTRANS shall adjust the size of the exclusion zones and Level B behavioral harassment zones, and monitor these zones accordingly.

    NMFS-approved marine mammal observers (MMOs) shall conduct initial survey of the exclusion zones to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zones before impact pile driving of a pile segment begins. If marine mammals are found within the exclusion zone, impact pile driving of the segment would be delayed until they move out of the area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the contractor would wait 15 minutes for pinnipeds and harbor porpoise and 30 minutes for gray whales. If no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it can be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the exclusion zone. This 15-minute criterion is based on scientific evidence that harbor seals in San Francisco Bay dive for a mean time of 0.50 minutes to 3.33 minutes (Harvey and Torok, 1994), and the mean diving duration for harbor porpoises ranges from 44 to 103 seconds (Westgate et al., 1995).

    Once the pile driving of a segment begins it cannot be stopped until that segment has reached its predetermined depth due to the nature of the sediments underlying the Bay. If pile driving stops and then resumes, it would potentially have to occur for a longer time and at increased energy levels. In sum, this would simply amplify impacts to marine mammals, as they would endure potentially higher SPLs for longer periods of time. Pile segment lengths and wall thickness have been specially designed so that when work is stopped between segments (but not during a single segment), the pile tip is never resting in highly resistant sediment layers. Therefore, because of this operational situation, if seals, sea lions, or harbor porpoises enter the safety zone after pile driving of a segment has begun, pile driving will continue and marine mammal observers will monitor and record marine mammal numbers and behavior. However, if pile driving of a segment ceases for 30 minutes or more and a marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone prior to commencement of pile driving, the observer(s) must notify the Resident Engineer (or other authorized individual) immediately and continue to monitor the exclusion zone. Operations may not resume until the marine mammal has exited the exclusion zone.

    Soft Start

    Although marine mammals will be protected from Level A harassment (i.e., injury) through marine mammal observers monitoring a 190-dB exclusion zone for pinnipeds and 180-dB exclusion zone for cetaceans, mitigation may not be 100 percent effective at all times in locating marine mammals. Therefore, in order to provide additional protection to marine mammals near the project area by allowing marine mammals to vacate the area prior to receiving a potential injury, CALTRANS and its contractor will also “soft start” the hammer prior to operating at full capacity. This should expose fewer animals to loud sounds both underwater and above water. This would also ensure that, although not expected, any pinnipeds and cetaceans that are missed during the initial exclusion zone monitoring will not be injured.

    Power Down and Shut-down

    Although power down and shut-down measures will not be required for pile driving and removal activities for reasons explained above, these measures are required for mechanical dismantling of the existing bridge. The contractor performing mechanical dismantling work will stop in-water noise generating machinery when marine mammals are sighted within the designated exclusion zones.

    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 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 Monitoring and Reporting Measures

    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.

    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) Visual Monitoring

    Besides using monitoring for implementing mitigation (ensuring exclusion zones are clear of marine mammals before pile driving begins and power down and shut-down measures for mechanical bridge dismantling), marine mammal monitoring will also be conducted to assess potential impacts from CALTRANS construction activities. CALTRANS will implement onsite marine mammal monitoring for 100% of all unattenuated impact pile driving of H-piles for 180- and 190-dB re 1 µPa exclusion zones and 160-dB re 1 µPa Level B harassment zone, attenuated impact pile driving (except pile proofing) and mechanical dismantling for 180- and 190-dB re 1 µPa exclusion zones. CALTRANS will also monitor 20% of the attenuated impact pile driving for the 160-dB re 1 µPa Level B harassment zone, and 20% of vibratory pile driving and mechanic dismantling for the 120-dB re 1 µPa Level B harassment zone.

    Monitoring of the pinniped and cetacean exclusion zones shall be conducted by a minimum of three qualified NMFS-approved MMOs. Observations will be made using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 × 42 power). MMOs will be equipped with radios or cell phones for maintaining contact with other observers and CALTRANS engineers, and range finders to determine distance to marine mammals, boats, buoys, and construction equipment.

    Data on all observations will be recorded and will include the following information:

    (1) Location of sighting;

    (2) Species;

    (3) Number of individuals;

    (4) Number of calves present;

    (5) Duration of sighting;

    (6) Behavior of marine animals sighted;

    (7) Direction of travel; and

    (8) When in relation to construction activities did the sighting occur (e.g., before, “soft-start”, during, or after the pile driving or removal).

    The reactions of marine mammals will be recorded based on the following classifications that are consistent with the Richmond Bridge Harbor Seal survey methodology (for information on the Richmond Bridge authorization, see 68 FR 66076, November 25, 2003): (1) No response, (2) head alert (looks toward the source of disturbance), (3) approach water (but not leave), and (4) flush (leaves haul-out site). The number of marine mammals under each disturbance reaction will be recorded, as well as the time when seals re-haul after a flush.

    (2) Hydroacoustic Monitoring

    The purpose of the underwater sound monitoring during dismantling of concrete foundations via mechanical means is to establish the exclusion zones of 180 dB re 1 µPa (rms) for cetaceans and 190 dB re 1 µPa (rms) for pinnipeds. Monitoring will occur during the initial use of concrete dismantling equipment with the potential to generate sound pressure levels in excess of 180 dB re 1 µPa (rms). Monitoring will likely be conducted from construction barges and/or boats. Measurements will be taken at various distances as needed to determine the distance to the 180 and 190 dB re 1 µPa (rms) contours.

    The purpose of underwater sound monitoring during impact pile driving will be to verify sound level estimates and confirm that sound levels do not equal or exceed 180 dB re 1 µPa (rms).

    Proposed Reporting Measure

    CALTRANS will notify NMFS prior to the initiation of the pile driving and dismantling activities for the removal of the existing east span. NMFS will be informed of the initial sound pressure level measurements for both pile driving and foundation dismantling activities, including the final exclusion zone and Level B harassment zone radii established for impact and vibratory pile driving and marine foundation dismantling activities.

    Monitoring reports will be posted on the SFOBB Project's biological mitigation Web site (www.biomitigation.org) on a weekly basis if in-water construction activities are conducted. Marine mammal monitoring reports will include species and numbers of marine mammals observed, time and location of observation and behavior of the animal. In addition, the reports will include an estimate of the number and species of marine mammals that may have been harassed as a result of activities.

    In addition, CALTRANS will provide NMFS with a draft final report within 90 days after the expiration of the IHA. This report should detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may have been harassed due to pile driving. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    In addition, NMFS would require CALTRANS to notify NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and NMFS' Stranding Network within 48 hours of sighting an injured or dead marine mammal in the vicinity of the construction site. CALTRANS shall 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).

    In the event that an injured or dead marine mammal is found by CALTRANS that is not in the vicinity of the SF-OBB construction site, CALTRANS would report the same information as listed above as soon as operationally feasible to NMFS.

    Marine Mammal Monitoring Report From Previous IHA

    The most recent marine mammal monitoring report describes the number of harbor seals and California sea lions that were observed within zones of influence (ZOIs) between January 8, 2014 and January 7, 2015 that could result in behavioral harassment. Most of the observations of harbor seals within the behavioral zones occurred within the Coast Guard Cove or Clipper Cove. Monitoring of the vibratory and demolition activity was only required for 20% of the time when those activities occurred but there was often a mix of impact and vibratory driving; therefore, monitoring was conducted from 20-100% of the time for some construction projects. Table 7 of the 2014 monitoring report (CALTRANS 2015) summarizes all observations and estimates the total exposures of marine mammals if there was 100% monitoring for each construction or demolition project as requested by NMFS. The estimated number of exposures is 144 harbor seals which is above the limit of 50 permitted under the Authorization. No sea lions, harbor porpoise or gray whales were observed.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Marine mammal take estimates are based on marine mammal monitoring reports and marine mammal observations made during pile driving activities associated with the SF-OBB construction work authorized under prior IHAs. Pacific harbor seals are the most commonly observed marine mammal (90% of observations during monitoring) near the east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SF-OBB). A harbor seal haul-out site is located on the south side of Yerba Buena Island (YBI) approximately 500 meters from the SF-OBB's closest pier, pier E2, and seals are often observed foraging in Coast Guard Cove (just east of the U.S. Coast Guard Station on YBI), and within Clipper Cove between YBI and Treasure Island. A third foraging site that is used less frequently is approximately 250-500 meters southeast of YBI over a small trench running west to east along the bottom of the San Francisco Bay (Bay). In addition, harbor seals are regularly observed moving north or south under the original SFOBB between Piers E2 and E3, but infrequently east of Pier E4.

    Harbor seal densities were calculated from 657 observations of harbor seals made during 210 days from 2000 to 2014 during monitoring for the East Span of the SFOBB. Two densities were calculated because of the higher density of seals observed foraging near YBI and Treasure Island. Foraging seals tended to remain in the area for several hours while transiting seals passing under the SFOBB were only observed 1-2 times. Therefore, densities east of Pier E3-E8 are much lower than the density than west of Pier E3.

    The area of 2,000-meter threshold for the Level B behavioral harassment zone is 12.57 km2 (12,570,000 m2). Half of that area to the west of Piers E3-E8 (6.29 km2) would have a higher density due to the harbor seals that are frequently observed in the three foraging areas. The range of seals observed within the foraging areas is 0-8 seals and the mean is 3.6 seals per day (combined for all three areas). The other half of the Level B harassment zone would have a lower density due to the infrequent observations of seals moving through the area. In addition the density of seals will vary with season therefore a density for the spring-summer season when seals spend more time onshore as they are pupping and molting and the fall/winter season. Table 2 shows estimated densities in the high and low density areas during the fall/winter and spring/summer seasons.

    Table 2—Expected Harbor Seal Exposures for 2015 Based on the Area and Seasonal Density Estimates, and Number of Days of Pile Driving Density estimates Behavioral zone Days of pile driving * Harbor seal density ** Exposures Fall/Winter High Density 6.29 km2 64 0.77 311 Fall/Winter Low Density 6.29 km2 64 0.5 20 Spring/Summer High Density 6.29 km2 64 0.3 121 Spring/Summer Low Density 6.29 km2 64 0.02 8 Total Exposures 460 seals * It is assumed half of the pile driving days (64 days) will occur in each season. ** The area of the Behavioral Zone 12.59 km2 is divided in half for the high and low density areas for each season.

    This estimate for harbor seals is above the number of seals that have been permitted for take in previous IHAs that have been issued related to this project. However, the estimate presented here represents a more complete picture of the marine mammal density in the project area and the potential for exposure to project activities.

    California sea lions are based on CALTRANS observations over 15 years of monitoring on the Bay Bridge, 2000 to 2014, including baseline monitoring in 2003 before bridge construction began. It should be noted that monitoring was not year round and there was little monitoring required during the period of mid-2010 to mid-2013 due to no pile driving. During 2013 and 2014, there was a large increase in pile driving to construct temporary falsework and for mechanical dismantling so the current estimates of animals do include recent monitoring. California sea lion numbers fluctuate from year to year. For example, in 2014 no sea lions were observed in the harassment zone, while in 2004, 36 sea lions were recorded near the Bay Bridge construction areas during pile driving. The larger number of sea lions in 2004 was probably related to a run of herring that was near the Bay Bridge and sea lions were observed feeding on dense aggregations of herring in the area. Therefore, 50 sea lions is a conservative estimate.

    Harbor porpoises were observed near the tower of the new Bay Bridge in 2013 and 2014. Each of those was a single animal and far out of their normal range for the Bay. If 1 or 2 pods of porpoises were to enter the construction area, then there might be up to 6 takes (pod size of 2-3 porpoises). Based on this NMFS believes that an allowed take of up to 10 harbor porpoises is conservative, but reasonable.

    Gray whale take estimates were based on sighting reports collected by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito (the NMFS stranding facility for northern California). The Center collects whale sightings information from the general public, researchers, and the U.S. Coast Guard. For the gray whale, 5 permitted takes is likely to be a conservative, but reasonable, estimate as they have never been observed within any of the behavioral zones during monitoring. Additionally, there has only been one report of a gray whale swimming under the original East Span of the Bay Bridge a number of years ago.

    Based on these results, and accounting for a certain level of uncertainty regarding the next phase of construction, NMFS concludes that at maximum 460 harbor seals, 50 California sea lions, 10 harbor porpoises, and 5 gray whales could be exposed to noise levels that could cause Level B harassment as a result of the CALTRAN' SF-OBB construction activities. These numbers represent 1.5%, <0.01%, <0.01% and 0.10% of the California stock harbor seal, the U.S. stock California sea lion, the Eastern North Pacific stock gray whale, and the San Francisco-Russian River stock harbor porpoise, respectively (Table 3).

    Table 3—Estimates of the Possible Maximum Numbers of Marine Mammals Taken by Level B Harassment as a Result of the Proposed CALTRANS' SF-OBB Construction Activities Species Stocks Level B takes Percent
  • population
  • (percent)
  • Pinnipeds Harbor seal California 460 1.5 California sea lion U.S. 50 <0.01 Cetaceans Gray whale Eastern North Pacific 5 <0.01 Harbor porpoise San Francisco-Russian River 10 0.10
    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 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”, 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 and Level B harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.

    To avoid repetition, the following discussion applies to the affected stocks of harbor seals, California sea lions, gray whales, and harbor porpoises, given that the best available information indicates that effects of the specified activity on individuals of those stocks will be similar, and there is no information about the population size, status, structure, or habitat use of the areas to warrant separate discussion.

    Pile driving activities associated with this project, as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or displace marine mammals. Even when mitigation measures are employed, the specified activities may result in Level B harassment from underwater sounds generated from pile driving. Takes could occur if individuals of these species are present in the Level B harassment zone while pile driving is occurring.

    These low intensity, localized, and short-term noise exposures (i.e., 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) from impulse sources and 120 dB re 1 μPa (rms) from non-impulse sources), are expected to cause brief startle reactions or short-term behavioral modification by the animals. These brief reactions and behavioral changes are expected to disappear when the exposures cease. The maximum estimated 160 dB isopleths from impact pile driving is 500 m from the pile, and the estimated 120 dB maximum isopleths from vibratory pile driving is approximately 2,000 m from the pile. There is no pinniped haul-out area in the vicinity of the pile driving sites. There is no critical habitat or other biologically important area for marine mammals in the vicinity of the proposed SF-OBB construction area.

    The CALTRANS' specified activities have been described based on best estimates of the planned SF-OBB construction project within the proposed project area. Some of the noises that would be generated as a result of the proposed bridge construction and dismantling project, such as impact pile driving, are high intensity. However, the in-water pile driving for the piles would use small hammers and/or vibratory pile driving methods, coupled with noise attenuation mechanism such as air bubble curtains for impact pile driving. Therefore the resulting exclusion zones for potential TS are expected to be extremely small (< 35 m) from the hammer. In addition, the source levels from vibratory pile driving are expected to be below the TS onset threshold. Given sufficient “notice” through use of soft start (for impact driving), marine mammals are expected to move away from a sound source that is annoying prior to its becoming potentially injurious. The high likelihood that marine mammal detection by trained observers under the environmental conditions described for the project area further enables the implementation of shutdowns to avoid injury, serious injury, or mortality. Therefore, NMFS does not expect that any animals would receive Level A (including injury) harassment or Level B harassment in the form of TTS from being exposed to in-water pile driving associated with SF-OBB construction project.

    The project is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammals' habitat and would not significantly modify existing marine mammal habitat. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range; but, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences.

    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other similar activities, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff, 2006; HDR, 2012; Lerma, 2014). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact pile driving. In response to vibratory driving, several species of pinnipeds (which may become somewhat habituated to human activity in industrial or urban waterways) have been observed to orient towards and sometimes move towards the sound. The pile driving activities analyzed here are similar to, or less impactful than, numerous construction activities conducted in other similar locations, which have taken place with no reported injuries or mortality to marine mammals, and no known long-term adverse consequences from behavioral harassment.

    Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the affected stocks is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stocks as a whole. Level B harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply avoid the project area while the activity is occurring.

    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the following factors: (1) The possibility of injury, serious injury, or mortality may reasonably be considered discountable; (2) the anticipated incidents of Level B harassment are relatively small and consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior; (3) the absence of any significant habitat within the project area, including rookeries, significant haul-outs, or known areas or features of special significance for foraging or reproduction; (4) the presumed efficacy of the proposed mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only short-term effects on individuals and is not expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    Therefore, based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from the CALTRAN'S SF-OBB construction project will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    Table 3 demonstrates the numbers of animals that could be exposed to receive noise levels that could cause Level B behavioral harassment for the proposed work associated with the CALTRANS SF-OBB construction project. These estimates represent 1.5% of the California stock of harbor seal population (estimated at 30,968; Carretta et al. 2014), <0.01% of the U.S. stock of California sea lion population (estimated at 296,750; Carretta et al. 2014), <0.01% of the Eastern North Pacific stock of gray whale population (estimated at 20,990; Carretta et al. 2014), and 0.10% of the San Francisco-Russian River stock of harbor porpoise population (estimated at 9,886; Carretta et al. 2014). These numbers constitute small percentages of the marine mammal stocks that may be taken.

    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, which are expected to reduce the numbers of marine mammals potentially affected by the proposed action, 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 for Taking for Subsistence Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action.

    Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization

    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 18, 2015, through May 17, 2016.

    (2) This Authorization is valid only for activities involving the construction and dismantling of the East Span of SF-OBB, California.

    (3) Species Impacted and Level of Takes

    (a) The species authorized for takings by incidental Level B harassment are the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus).

    (b) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported within 24 hours of the taking to the Director, West Coast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, Telephone (562) 980-4000 and the Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Telephone (301) 427-8400.

    (4) The holder of this Authorization is required to cooperate with the National Marine Fisheries Service and any other Federal, state or local agencies monitoring the impacts of the activity on marine mammals. The holder must notify Monica DeAngelis of the West Coast Regional Office (phone: (562) 980-3232) at least 24 hours prior to starting activities.

    (5) Prohibitions

    (a) The taking, by incidental Level B harassment only, is limited to the species listed under condition 3(a) above and by the numbers listed (see Table 3 of this Federal Register notice). The taking by Level A harassment, injury, serious injury, or death of these species or the taking by harassment, injury, serious injury, or death of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this Authorization.

    (6) Mitigation Requirements

    (a) Use of Noise Attenuation Devices

    Pile driving energy attenuator (such as air bubble curtain system or dewatered cofferdam) shall be used for all impact pile driving of pipe piles, with the exception of pile proofing and H-piles.

    (b) Establishment and Monitoring of Exclusion and Level B Harassment Zones

    (i) For all in-water pile driving and mechanical dismantling activities, CALTRANS shall establish exclusion zones where received underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) are higher than 180 dB (rms) and 190 dB (rms) re 1 µPa for cetaceans and pinnipeds, respectively, and Level B harassment zones where received underwater sound pressure levels (SPLs) are higher than 160 dB (rms) and 120 dB (rms) re 1 µPa for impulse noise sources (impact pile driving) and non-impulses noise sources (vibratory pile driving and mechanic dismantling), respectively.

    (ii) The sizes of the initial exclusion and Level B harassment zones for different types of activities are provided [See Table 1 in this Federal Register notice]. Once hydroacoustic measurements of pile driving and mechanical dismantling activities have been conducted, CALTRANS shall revise the sizes of the zones based on actual measurements.

    (iii) NMFS-approved MMOs shall conduct initial survey of the exclusion zone to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zone for 30 minutes before impact pile driving and mechanical dismantling of bridge foundation. If marine mammals are observed within the exclusion zones, impact pile driving and/or mechanical dismantling activity of the segment shall be delayed until they move out of the area. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, CALTRANS must delay activities 15 minutes for pinnipeds and harbor porpoise and 30 minutes for gray whale. If no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it may be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the relevant exclusion zone.

    (iv) If the time between pile-segment driving is less than 30 minutes, a new 30-minute survey is unnecessary provided the MMOs continue observations during the interruption. If pile driving ceases for 30 minutes or more and a marine mammal is sighted within the designated exclusion zone(s) prior to the commencement of pile-driving, the observer(s) must notify the Resident Engineer (or other authorized individual) immediately (see condition 5(e)).

    (v) For pile driving activities, if a marine mammal is sighted within the exclusion zone after pile-driving has begun, CALTRANS must have a qualified MMO record the species, numbers and behaviors of the animal(s) and report to Monica DeAngelis at the West Coast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, (phone: (562) 980-3232) within 24 hours of the incident.

    (c) Soft Start

    CALTRANS and its contractor shall implement soft start, i.e., starting the pile driving hammer at the lowest power setting and gradually ramp up to full power, prior to operating pile driving hammers at full capacity for both impact and vibratory pile driving.

    (d) Power Down and Shut-down

    (i) For mechanical dismantling of bridge foundation, construction activities that generate underwater noise must be powered down or shutdown if a marine mammal is observed within the established 180 dB or 190 dB re 1 μPa exclusion zones for cetaceans or pinnipeds, respectively.

    (7) Monitoring Requirements

    (a) General.

    (i) The holder of this Authorization must designate a minimum of three biologically-trained, on-site MMOs approved in advance by the National Marine Fisheries Service's West Coast Regional Office, to monitor the area for marine mammals before, during, and after pile driving activities; and before, during, and after mechanical dismantling of marine foundations.

    (ii) The National Marine Fisheries Service must be informed immediately of any proposed changes or deletions to any portions of the monitoring plan.

    (b) Visual Monitoring

    (i) CALTRANS shall implement onsite marine mammal monitoring for 100% of all unattenuated impact pile driving of H-piles for 180- and 190-dB re 1 μPa exclusion zones and 160-dB re 1 μPa Level B harassment zone, attenuated impact pile driving of pipe piles (except pile proofing) and mechanical dismantling for 180- and 190-dB re 1 μPa exclusion zones.

    (ii) CALTRANS shall also monitor 20% of the attenuated impact pile driving for the 160-dB re 1 μPa Level B harassment zone, and 20% of vibratory pile driving and mechanic dismantling for the 120 dB re 1 μPa Level B harassment zone.

    (iii) Marine mammal monitoring shall begin at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the activities, continue for the duration of construction activities, and until 30 minutes after the construction activities.

    (iv) Observations shall be made using high-quality binoculars (e.g., Zeiss, 10 × 42 power). MMOs shall be equipped with radios or cell phones for maintaining contact with other observers and CALTRANS engineers, and range finders to determine distance to marine mammals, boats, buoys, and construction equipment.

    (v) Data on all observations must be recorded and include the following information:

    • Location of sighting;

    • Species;

    • Number of individuals;

    • Number of calves present;

    • Duration of sighting;

    • Behavior of marine animals sighted;

    • Direction of travel;

    • When and where in relation to construction activities did the sighting occur (e.g., before, “soft-start”, during, or after the pile driving or removal; distance from sound source; in or out of exclusion zone or Level B zone); and

    • Other human activities in the area.

    (c) Hydroacoustic Measurements

    At the beginning of pile driving and mechanical dismantling of bridge foundation, CALTRANS shall conduct hydroacoustic measurements to verify the exclusion and Level B harassment zones.

    (7) Reporting Requirements

    (a) CALTRANS shall notify NMFS of the initial sound pressure level measurements for both pile driving and foundation dismantling activities, including the final exclusion zone and Level B harassment zone radii established for impact and vibratory pile driving and marine foundation dismantling activities, within 72 hours after completion of the measurements.

    (b) Monitoring reports shall be posted on the SFOBB Project's biological mitigation Web site (www.biomitigation.org) on a weekly basis if in-water construction activities are conducted. Marine mammal monitoring reports shall include species and numbers of marine mammals observed, time and location of observation and behavior of the animal. In addition, the reports shall include an estimate of the number and species of marine mammals that may have been harassed as a result of activities.

    (c) CALTRANS shall provide NMFS with a draft final report within 90 days after the expiration of the IHA. This report shall detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may have been harassed due to pile driving and mechanical dismantling of bridge foundations. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft final report would be considered the final report. If comments are received, a final report must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    (8) Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    (a) In the unanticipated event that CALTRANS' construction activities 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 (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), CALTRANS shall immediately cease construction operations and immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to [email protected] and [email protected] and NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator ([email protected]). The report must include the following information:

    (i) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    (ii) Type of activity involved;

    (iii) Description of the incident;

    (iv) Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (v) Water depth;

    (vi) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    (vii) Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding preceding the incident;

    (viii) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    (ix) The fate of the animal(s); and

    (x) 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 will work with CALTRANS to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. CALTRANS may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (b) In the event that CALTRANS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), CALTRANS will immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401, and/or by email to [email protected] and [email protected] and NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator ([email protected]). The report must include the same information identified in Condition 8(a) above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with CALTRANS to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (c) In the event that CALTRANS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in Condition 3 of this Authorization (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), CALTRANS shall report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401, and/or by email to [email protected] and [email protected] and NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator ([email protected]) within 24 hours of the discovery. CALTRANS shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. CALTRANS can continue its operations under such a case.

    (9) A copy of this Authorization must be in the possession of all contractors and marine mammal monitors operating under the authority of this Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the take of marine mammals incidental to construction of the East Span of the SF-OBB and made a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on November 4, 2003. Due to the modification of part of the construction project and the mitigation measures, NMFS reviewed additional information from CALTRANS regarding empirical measurements of pile driving noises for the smaller temporary piles without an air bubble curtain system and the use of vibratory pile driving. NMFS prepared a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) and analyzed the potential impacts to marine mammals that would result from the modification of the action. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed on August 5, 2009. The proposed activity and expected impacts remain within what was previously analyzed in the EA and SEA. Therefore, no additional NEPA analysis is warranted. A copy of the SEA and FONSI is available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    NMFS has determined that issuance of the IHA will have no effect on ESA-listed marine mammals, as none are known to occur in the action area.

    Proposed Authorization

    NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to CALTRANS for the potential harassment of small numbers of harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, and gray whales incidental to construction of a replacement bridge for the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in California, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed activity would result in the harassment of only small numbers of harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, and possibly gray whales and will have no more than a negligible impact on these marine mammal stocks.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Perry F. Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09915 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: U.S. Caribbean Commercial Fishermen Census.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-xxxx.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (new information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 1,522.

    Average Hours Per Response: 30 minutes.

    Burden Hours: 761.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for a new information collection.

    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes to conduct a census of small scale fishermen operating in the United States (U.S.) Caribbean. The proposed socio-economic study will collect information on demographics, capital investment in fishing gear and vessels, fishing and marketing practices, economic performance, and miscellaneous attitudinal questions. The data gathered will be used for the development of amendments to fishery management plans which require descriptions of the human and economic environment and socio-economic analyses of regulatory proposals. The information collected will also be used to strengthen fishery management decision-making and satisfy various legal mandates under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, and other pertinent statues.

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Frequency: One time.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Sarah Brabson, OAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09979 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration [Docket No. 1540414365-5365-01] RIN 0660-XC019 Broadband Opportunity Council Notice and Request for Comment AGENCY:

    Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In furtherance of the Presidential Memorandum entitled Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training, which established the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are requesting public comment to inform the deliberations of the Council.1 The Council's objectives are to: (i) Engage with industry and other stakeholders to understand ways the government can better support the needs of communities seeking to expand broadband access and adoption; (ii) identify regulatory barriers unduly impeding broadband deployment, adoption, or competition; (iii) survey and report back on existing programs that currently support or could be modified to support broadband competition, deployment, or adoption; and (iv) take all necessary actions to remove these barriers and realign existing programs to increase broadband competition, deployment, and adoption.2 We welcome input from all interested parties, including the stakeholder groups identified in the Presidential Memorandum.

    1 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training, March 23, 2015, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/23/presidential-memorandum-expanding-broadband-deployment-and-adoption-addr.

    2 Fact Sheet: Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband, March 23, 2015, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/23/fact-sheet-next-steps-delivering-fast-affordable-broadband.

    DATES:

    Submit written comments on or before 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 10, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments may be submitted by email to: [email protected] Include Broadband Opportunity Council in the subject line of the message. Comments submitted by email should be machine-readable and should not be copy-protected. Written comments may also be submitted by mail to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Room 4626, Attn: Broadband Opportunity Council, Washington, DC 20230. Responders should include the name of the person or organization filing the comment, as well as a page number on each page of their submissions. Paper submissions should also include a CD or DVD with an electronic version of the document, which should be labeled with the name and organization of the filer. Please do not include in your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.ntia.doc.gov/federal-register-notice/2015/broadband-opportunity-council-comments without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Information obtained as a result of this notice may be used by the federal government for program planning on a non-attribution basis.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen Hanson, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Room 4626, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-0213; email: [email protected]; or Denise Scott, Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250; telephone: (202)720-1910; email: [email protected]. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA's Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482-7002.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    On January 13, 2015, President Obama announced new Administration efforts to help more people, in more communities around the country, gain access to fast and affordable broadband.3 Communities across the country, including state, local, and tribal governments, are leveraging public and private investments to form new partnerships to bring world-class Internet to their businesses, institutions, and homes. To assist these communities and partnerships, support economic growth, and promote a level playing field for all competitors, President Obama called on the Executive Branch agencies to remove all unnecessary regulatory and policy barriers to broadband build-out, adoption, and competition.

    3 See FACT SHEET: Broadband That Works: Promoting Competition & Local Choice In Next-Generation Connectivity, White House, January 13, 2015, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/13/fact-sheet-broadband-works-promoting-competition-local-choice-next-gener.

    On March 23, 2015, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum establishing a new Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), co-chaired by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. The Council comprises 25 federal agencies (Member Agencies) that can play a role in accelerating broadband deployment and promoting the technology's adoption across the country. To respond to this Presidential Memorandum, Member Agencies will provide a list of actions that they can take to identify and mitigate regulatory barriers, incentivize investment, promote best practices, align funding policies and decisions, and support broadband deployment and adoption. The Presidential Memorandum also directs the Council to consult with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as telecommunications companies, utilities, trade associations, philanthropic entities, policy experts, and other interested parties to identify and assess regulatory barriers and determine possible actions. This Notice seeks public comment to bolster the Council's work and to improve the number and quality of ideas under consideration.

    II. Objectives of This Notice

    This Notice offers an opportunity for all interested parties to share their perspectives and recommend actions the federal government can take to promote broadband deployment, adoption, and competition, including by identifying and removing regulatory barriers unduly impeding investments in broadband technology.4

    4 NTIA defines “broadband deployment” as installing, building, provisioning, funding, or otherwise making available broadband infrastructure, even in cases of laying an empty duct when a trench is open, regardless of technology. This does not preclude satellite or inside wiring. Promoting “broadband adoption” includes providing public access, training, information, affordable devices, and/or affordable broadband service to underserved individuals or groups.

    This Notice seeks comment in several different areas: (i) Ways the federal government can promote best practices, modernize outdated regulations, promote coordination, and offer more services online; (ii) identification of regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, competition, and adoption; (iii) ways to promote public and private investment in broadband; (iv) ways to promote broadband adoption; (v) issues related to state, local, and tribal governments; (vi) issues related to vulnerable communities and communities with limited or no broadband; (vii) issues specific to rural areas; and (viii) ways to measure broadband availability, adoption, and speed.

    III. Questions

    Commenters are encouraged to address any or all of the following questions. Please note in the response the number corresponding to the question(s). For any response, commenters may wish to consider describing specific goals, actions the Administration might take to achieve those goals, the benefits and costs associated with the action, whether the proposal is inter-agency or agency-specific, the rationale and evidence to support it, and the roles of other stakeholders. Specific, actionable proposals for policy mechanisms directed to the Executive Branch agencies included in the Council are most useful. Please note that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are independent regulatory agencies and not included in the Executive Branch. Independent agencies are not members of the Council, although the Presidential Memorandum strongly encourages them to comply with its requirements. As a result, commenters should focus on matters most within the control of the Executive Branch agencies serving on the Council.

    RUS and NTIA seek public comment on the following questions:

    A. Overarching Questions

    1. How can the federal government promote best practices in broadband deployment and adoption? What resources are most useful to communities? What actions would be most helpful to communities seeking to improve broadband availability and use?

    2. How can the federal government best promote the coordination and use of federally-funded broadband assets?

    3. What federal regulations and/or statutes could be modernized or adapted to promote broadband deployment and adoption?

    4. As the federal government transitions to delivering more services online, what should government do to provide information and training to those who have not adopted broadband? What should the federal government do to make reasonable accommodations to those without access to broadband?

    5. How can the federal government best collaborate with stakeholders (state, local, and tribal governments, philanthropic entities, industry, trade associations, consumer organizations, etc.) to promote broadband adoption and deployment?

    B. Addressing Regulatory Barriers to Broadband Deployment, Competition, and Adoption

    6. What regulatory barriers exist within the agencies of the Executive Branch to the deployment of broadband infrastructure?

    7. What federal programs should allow the use of funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure or promotion of broadband adoption but do not do so now?

    8. What inconsistences exist in federal interpretation and application of procedures, requirements, and policies by Executive Branch agencies related to broadband deployment and/or adoption, and how could these be reconciled? One example is the variance in broadband speed definitions.5

    5 The definition of what constitutes high-speed internet, i.e., “broadband,” has evolved over time. The FCC currently defines broadband as 25 Mbps for download speeds and 3 Mbps for upload speeds. See FCC Finds US Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace, Updated Broadband Speed Benchmark to 25Mbps/3 Mbps to Reflect Consumer Demand, Advances in Technology, Public Notice, Federal Communications Commission, January 29, 2015, available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-finds-us-broadband-deployment-not-keeping-pace. USDA uses the 2014 Farm Bill's definition of broadband for rural service areas as 4 Mbps for download speeds and 1 Mbps for upload speeds.

    9. Are there specific regulations within the agencies of the Executive Branch that impede or restrict competition for broadband service, where residents have either no option or just one option? If so, what modifications could agencies make to promote competition in the broadband marketplace?

    10. Are there federal policies or regulations within the Executive Branch that create barriers for communities or entities to share federally-funded broadband assets or networks with other non-federally funded networks?

    11. Should the federal government promote the implementation of federally-funded broadband projects to coincide with other federally-funded infrastructure projects? For example, coordinating a broadband construction project funded by USDA with a road excavation funded by DOT?

    C. Promoting Public and Private Investment in Broadband

    12. How can communities/regions incentivize service providers to offer broadband services, either wired or wireless, in rural and remote areas? What can the federal government do to help encourage providers to serve rural areas?

    13. What changes in Executive Branch agency regulations or program requirements could incentivize last mile investments in rural areas and sparsely populated, remote parts of the country?

    14. What changes in Executive Branch agency regulations or program requirements would improve coordination of federal programs that help communities leverage the economic benefits offered by broadband?

    15. How can Executive Branch agencies incentivize new entrants into the market by lowering regulatory or policy barriers?

    D. Promoting Broadband Adoption

    16. What federal programs within the Executive Branch should allow the use of funding for broadband adoption, but do not do so now?

    17. Typical barriers to broadband adoption include cost, relevance, and training. How can these be addressed by regulatory changes by Executive Branch agencies?

    E. Issues Related to State, Local, and Tribal Governments

    18. What barriers exist at the state, local, and/or tribal level to broadband deployment and adoption? How can the federal government work with and incentivize state, local, and tribal governments to remove these barriers?

    19. What federal barriers do state, local, and tribal governments confront as they seek to promote broadband deployment and adoption in their communities?

    20. What can the federal government do to make it easier for state, local, and tribal governments or organizations to access funding for broadband?

    21. How can the federal government support state, local, and tribal efforts to promote and/or invest in broadband networks and promote broadband adoption? For example, what type of capacity-building or technical assistance is needed?

    F. Issues Related to Vulnerable Communities and Communities With Limited or No Broadband

    22. How can specific regulatory policies within the Executive Branch agencies be altered to remove or reduce barriers that prevent vulnerable populations from accessing and using broadband technologies? Vulnerable populations might include, but are not limited to, veterans, seniors, minorities, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, low-income individuals and families, and the unemployed.

    23. How can the federal government make broadband technologies more available and relevant for vulnerable populations?

    G. Issues Specific to Rural Areas

    24. What federal regulatory barriers can Executive Branch agencies alter to improve broadband access and adoption in rural areas?

    25. Would spurring competition to offer broadband service in rural areas expand availability and, if so, what specific actions could Executive Branch agencies take in furtherance of this goal?

    26. Because the predominant areas with limited or no broadband service tend to be rural, what specific provisions should Executive Branch agencies consider to facilitate broadband deployment and adoption in such rural areas?

    H. Measuring Broadband Availability, Adoption, and Speeds

    27. What information about existing broadband services should the Executive Branch collect to inform decisions about broadband investment, deployment, and adoption? How often should this information be updated?

    28. Are there gaps in the level or reliability of broadband-related information gathered by other entities that need to be filled by Executive Branch data collection efforts?

    29. What additional research should the government conduct to promote broadband deployment, adoption, and competition?

    30. How might the federal government encourage innovation in broadband deployment, adoption, and competition?

    Dated: April 24, 2105. Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information. Lisa Mensah, Under Secretary for Rural Development.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09996 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-60-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0008] Change to Internet Usage Policy To Permit Oral Authorization for Video Conferencing Tools by Patent Examiners AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) established an Internet usage policy in 1999, and this Internet usage policy permits patent examiners to communicate via the Internet only with individuals who have a written authorization in the application. This Internet usage policy also applies to USPTO video conferencing tools such as WebEx for use by patent examiners. The USPTO is updating its Internet usage policy by modifying the authorization requirements to now permit oral authorization for video conferencing tools, such as WebEx, to be provided by the patent applicant/practitioner to patent examiners before an interview is conducted.

    DATES:

    Effective: The change to the Internet usage policy set forth in this notice is effective on April 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mark Polutta, Senior Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy at (571) 272-7709.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The USPTO adopted an Internet usage policy in 1999. See Internet Usage Policy, 64 FR 33056 (June 21, 1999). The Patents portion of the Internet usage policy has been incorporated into section 502.03 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). The Trademarks portion of the Internet usage policy has been superseded by the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, which contains the relevant guidance on this subject matter for trademark examining attorneys, trademark applicants, and registration owners.

    In accordance with the Internet usage policy as adopted in 1999, patent examiners may communicate via the Internet only with individuals who have a written authorization in the application. See MPEP 502.03 (9th ed. 2014). This Internet usage policy also applies to USPTO video conferencing tools, such as WebEx, used by patent examiners.

    The USPTO is updating its Internet usage policy by modifying the authorization requirements for patent examination to now include oral authorization for video conferencing tools such as WebEx in view of the more prevalent and accepted use of electronic communications and improvements in internet security. The USPTO will now accept oral authorization by the patent applicant/practitioner (practitioner) to participate in a video conference. Practitioners may request a video conference just as they would request a telephone or in-person interview with the examiner. For applicants that are juristic entities, see MPEP 401, which explains that a juristic entity must be represented by a registered practitioner.

    Under the updated Internet usage policy, patent examiners may now use USPTO video conferencing tools, e.g., WebEx, to conduct examiner interviews in both published and unpublished applications without written authorization in the application. Authorization by the practitioner (which may be oral) to conduct a video conference is still required and must be obtained prior to sending a meeting invitation using email, calendar/scheduler applications, or USPTO video conferencing tools. Authorization is required to confirm that the practitioner is able to conduct a video conference and to confirm the email address to which the invitation will be sent. The patent examiner should note on the record the details of the authorization either in the interview summary or a separate communication. This authorization is limited to the video conference interview being arranged (including the meeting invitation) and does not extend to other communications regarding the application.

    Although this change in Internet usage policy provides applicant's representative with an alternative to providing a written authorization to conduct an interview using USPTO video conferencing tools, the best practice is to have such written authorization of record in the file.

    All Internet communications between UPSTO employees and practitioners must be made using USPTO tools. Video conferencing communications regarding a patent application must be hosted by USPTO personnel. No personal phones, non-USPTO email, PDAs, etc. may be used by USPTO employees for official communications.

    In accordance with MPEP 502.03 and 713.04, all communications with regard to the merits of a patent application between USPTO employees and applicants must be made of record.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10051 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0097, Process for Review of Swaps for Mandatory Clearing AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“Commission” or “CFTC”) is announcing an opportunity for public comment on the proposed collection of certain information by the agency. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”), Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, and to allow 60 days for public comment. This notice solicits comments on reporting and recordkeeping requirements relating to information management requirements for derivatives clearing organizations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by “Process for Review of Swaps for Mandatory Clearing,” by any of the following methods:

    The Agency's Web site, at http://comments.cftc.gov/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site.

    Mail: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as Mail above.

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

    Please submit your comments using only one method.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eileen Chotiner, Division of Clearing and Risk, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581, (202) 418-5467; email: [email protected], and refer to OMB Control No. 3038-0097.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the PRA, Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of Information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3 and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, the Commission is publishing notice of the proposed extension of the collection of information listed below.

    Title: Process for Review of Swaps for Mandatory Clearing (OMB Control No. 3038-0097). This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: The Commodity Exchange Act and Commission regulations require a derivatives clearing organization (“DCO”) that wishes to accept a swap for clearing to be eligible to clear the swap and to submit the swap to the Commission for a determination as to whether the swap is required to be cleared. Commission Regulation 39.5 sets forth the process for these submissions. The Commission will use the information in this collection to determine whether a DCO that wishes to accept a swap for clearing is eligible to clear the swap and whether the swap should be required to be cleared.

    With respect to the collection of information, the CFTC invites comments on:

    • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information will have a practical use;

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

    • Ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Ways to minimize the burden of collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    All comments must be submitted in English, or if not, accompanied by an English translation. Comments will be posted as received to http://www.cftc.gov. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. If you wish the Commission to consider information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, a petition for confidential treatment of the exempt information may be submitted according to the procedures established in section 145.9 of the Commission's regulations.1

    1 17 CFR 145.9.

    The Commission reserves the right, but shall have no obligation, to review, pre-screen, filter, redact, refuse or remove any or all of your submission from http://www.cftc.gov that it may deem to be inappropriate for publication, such as obscene language. All submissions that have been redacted or removed that contain comments on the merits of the Information Collection Request will be retained in the public comment file and will be considered as required under the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws, and may be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Burden Statement: The respondent burden for this collection is estimated to be 40 hours per response.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: Derivatives clearing organizations.

    Estimated number of respondents: 14.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 560.

    Frequency of collection: Daily, annual, and on occasion.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09994 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Defense Acquisition University, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Meeting notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing this to notice to announce a Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors. This meeting will be open to the public.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    DAU Headquarters, 9820 Belvoir Road, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Caren Hergenroeder, Protocol Director, DAU. Phone: 703-805-5134. Fax: 703-805-5940. Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. § 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR § 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of this meeting is to report back to the Board of Visitors on continuing items of interest.

    Agenda 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Announcements 9:05 a.m. Recognition of Board members 9:20 a.m. DAU Update 10:20 a.m. Break 10:35 a.m. Acquisition Workforce Training Perceptions 11:30 a.m. Board of Visitors “Way Ahead” 12:15 p.m. Ethics Training 1:30 p.m. Adjourn

    Public's Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552b and 41 CFR §§ 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and the availability of space, this meeting is open to the public. However, because of space limitations, allocation of seating will be made on a first-come, first served basis. Persons desiring to attend the meeting should call Ms. Caren Hergenroeder at 703-805-5134.

    Written Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140, and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the public or interested organizations may submit written statements to the Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors about its mission and functions. Written statements may be submitted at any time or in response to the stated agenda of a planned meeting of the Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors.

    All written statements shall be submitted to the Designated Federal Officer for the Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors, and this individual will ensure that the written statements are provided to the membership for their consideration.

    Statements being submitted in response to the agenda mentioned in this notice must be received by the Designated Federal Officer at least five calendar days prior to the meeting which is the subject of this notice. Written statements received after this date may not be provided to or considered by the Defense Acquisition University Board of Visitors until its next meeting. Committee's Designated Federal Officer or Point of Contact: Ms. Christen Goulding, 703-805-5412, [email protected].

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09936 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity Meeting AGENCY:

    Office of Postsecondary Education, National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), U.S. Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of the time and location of a meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This meeting notice is an update to the previous notice published in the Federal Register (59 FR 16369) on March 27, 2015, and sets forth the time and location for the June 25-26, 2015 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). The notice of this meeting is required under Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and Section 114(d)(1)(B) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended.

    DATES:

    The NACIQI meeting will be held on June 25-26, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Sheraton Pentagon City, 900 S. Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204.

    ADDRESSES:

    U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, 1990 K Street NW., Room 8072, Washington, DC 20006.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Patricia Howes, Committee Coordinator, NACIQI, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW., Room 8061, Washington, DC 20006-8129, telephone: (202) 502-7769, fax: (202) 502-7874, or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NACIQI's Statutory Authority and Function: The NACIQI is established under Section 114 of the HEA of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1011c. The NACIQI advises the Secretary of Education about:

    • The establishment and enforcement of the criteria for recognition of accrediting agencies or associations under Subpart 2, Part H, Title IV, of the HEA, as amended.

    • The recognition of specific accrediting agencies or associations or a specific State approval agency.

    • The preparation and publication of the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies and associations.

    • The eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education under Title IV, of the HEA, together with recommendations for improvement in such process.

    • The relationship between (1) accreditation of institutions of higher education and the certification and eligibility of such institutions, and (2) State licensing responsibilities with respect to such institutions.

    • Any other advisory function relating to accreditation and institutional eligibility that the Secretary may prescribe.

    Access to Records of the Meeting: The Department will post the official report of the meeting on the NACIQI Web site 90 days after the meeting. Pursuant to the FACA, the public may also inspect the materials at 1990 K Street NW., Washington, DC, by emailing [email protected] or by calling (202) 219-7067 to schedule an appointment.

    Reasonable Accommodations: The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you will need an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting (e.g., interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials in an alternate format), notify the contact person listed in this notice at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting date. Although we will attempt to meet a request received after that date, we may not be able to make available the requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time to arrange it.

    Electronic Access to this Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Delegation of Authority: The Secretary of Education has delegated authority to Jamienne S. Studley, Deputy Under Secretary, to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.

    Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1011c.

    Jamienne S. Studley, Deputy Under Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09978 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2015-ICCD-0018] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS: 2017) Recruitment for Item Validation and Operational Field Tests AGENCY:

    Institute of Education Sciences/National Center for Education Statistics (IES), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting Docket ID number ED-2015-ICCD-0018 or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. If the regulations.gov site is not available to the public for any reason, ED will temporarily accept comments at [email protected] Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted; ED will ONLY accept comments during the comment period in this mailbox when the regulations.gov site is not available. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Mailstop L-OM-2-2E319, Room 2E105, Washington, DC 20202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Kashka Kubzdela, 202-502-7411.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS: 2017) Recruitment for Item Validation and Operational Field Tests.

    OMB Control Number: 1850-0911.

    Type of Review: A reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 8,128.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 1,794.

    Abstract: The Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS:2017) is the first study sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), to follow a nationally-representative sample of students as they enter and move through the middle grades (grades 6-8). The data collected through repeated measures of key constructs will provide a rich descriptive picture of the academic experiences and development of students during these critical years and will allow researchers to examine associations between contextual factors and student outcomes. The study will focus on student achievement in mathematics and literacy along with measures of student socioemotional wellbeing and other outcomes. The study will also include a special sample of students with different types of disabilities that will provide descriptive information on their outcomes, educational experiences, and special education services. Baseline data for the MGLS:2017 will be collected from a nationally-representative sample of 6th grade students in winter of 2017 with annual follow-ups in winter 2018 and winter 2019 when most of the students in the sample will be in grades 7 and 8, respectively. This request is to contact and recruit public school districts and public and private schools to participate in the winter 2016 concurrent item validation and operational field tests for the MGLS: 2017. The primary purpose of the Item Validation Field Test is to determine the psychometric properties of items and the predictive potential of assessment and survey items so that valid, reliable, and useful assessment and survey instruments can be composed for the main study. The primary purposes of the Operational Field Test are to obtain information on recruiting, particularly for the targeted disability groups; on obtaining a tracking sample that can be used to study mobility patterns in subsequent years; and on administrative procedures.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09946 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Assessment Governing Board Quarterly Board Meeting AGENCY:

    National Assessment Governing Board, U.S. Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of open and closed meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice sets forth the agenda for the May 14-16, 2015 Quarterly Meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board (hereafter referred to as Governing Board). This notice provides information to members of the public who may be interested in attending the meeting or providing written comments on the meeting. The notice of this meeting is required under Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

    DATES:

    The Quarterly Board meeting will be held on the following dates:

    • May 14, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. • May 15, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. • May 16, 2015 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ADDRESSES:

    May 14: Assessment Development Committee—Hotel Indigo: 400 Brown Street, Columbus, Indiana May 14: Executive Committee—Columbus Visitor's Center, 501 5th Street, Columbus, Indiana May 15: Full Board: The Commons, 300 Washington Street, Columbus, Indiana. Committee Meetings: May 15: Assessment Development Committee—The Commons May 15: Committee on Standards, Design and Methodology: Zaharakos, 329 Washington Street, Columbus, Indiana. May 15: Reporting and Dissemination Committee—Columbus Visitors Center May 16: Nominations Committee—The Commons May 16: Full Board—The Commons
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Munira Mwalimu, Executive Officer, 800 North Capitol Street NW., Suite 825, Washington, DC 20002, telephone: (202) 357-6938, fax: (202) 357-6945.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Statutory Authority and Function: The National Assessment Governing Board is established under Title III—National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act, Public Law 107-279. Information on the Board and its work can be found at www.nagb.gov.

    The Board is established to formulate policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The Board's responsibilities include the following: Selecting subject areas to be assessed, developing assessment frameworks and specifications, developing appropriate student achievement levels for each grade and subject tested, developing standards and procedures for interstate and national comparisons, improving the form and use of NAEP, developing guidelines for reporting and disseminating results, and releasing initial NAEP results to the public.

    Detailed Meeting Agenda: May 14-16, 2015 May 14: Committee Meetings Assessment Development Committee: Open Session: 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Executive Committee: Open Session: 4:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; Closed Session: 5:00 p.m.-5:45 p.m. May 15: Full Board and Committee Meetings Full Board: Open Session: 8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m.; Open Session 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Committee Meetings Assessment Development Committee (ADC): Open Session: 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Reporting and Dissemination Committee (R&D): Open Session: 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Committee on Standards, Design and Methodology (COSDAM): Open Session: 10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; Closed Session: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 16: Full Board and Committee Meetings Nominations Committee: Closed Session: 7:30 a.m.-8:15 a.m. Full Board: Closed Session: 8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. Open Session 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

    On May 14, 2015, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the Assessment Development Committee will meet in open session to review NAEP contextual variables. The Executive Committee will convene in open session on May 14, 2015 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and thereafter in closed session from 5:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. During the closed session, the Executive Committee will receive and discuss cost estimates on various options for implementing NAEP's Assessment Schedule for 2014-2024 and will discuss NAEP's budgetary needs for the President's FY 2017 budget. The implications of the cost estimates and funds in support of the NAEP Assessment Schedule and future NAEP activities will also be discussed. This meeting must be conducted in closed session because public disclosure of this information would likely have an adverse financial effect on the NAEP program by providing confidential cost details and proprietary contract costs of current contractors to the public. Discussion of this information would be likely to significantly impede implementation of a proposed agency action if conducted in open session. Such matters are protected by exemption 9(B) of § 552b of Title 5 U.S.C.

    On May 15, 2015, the full Board will meet in open session from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The Board will review and approve the May 15-16, 2015 Board meeting agenda and meeting minutes from the March 2015 Quarterly Board meeting. This session will be followed by the Chairman's remarks and welcome remarks from Dale Nowlin, Governing Board member and Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. Thereafter, the full Board will receive update reports from the Deputy Executive Director of the Governing Board, the Acting Director of the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The Board will recess for Committee meetings from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    The Assessment Development Committee and the Reporting and Dissemination Committee will meet in open sessions from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Committee on Standards, Design and Methodology (COSDAM) will meet in open session from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and thereafter in closed session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During the closed session COSDAM will discuss information regarding analyses of the 2014 grade 8 Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment, and discuss secure NAEP TEL data. This part of the meeting must be conducted in closed session because the analysis involves the use of secure data for the NAEP TEL assessment. Public disclosure of secure data would significantly impede implementation of the NAEP assessment program if conducted in open session. Such matters are protected by exemption 9(B) of § 552b of Title 5 U.S.C.

    Following the Committee meetings, the Board will convene in open session from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to discuss the Governing Board's Strategic Planning Initiative. This session will be followed by discussions on the NAEP Assessment Literacy Initiative led by the Work Group Chair from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. From 4:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. the Board will discuss a draft resolution on NAEP Trend Reporting.

    The May 15, 2015 session of the Board meeting will adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

    On May 16, 2015, the Nominations Committee will meet in closed session from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. to discuss candidates for the eight Board vacancies for terms beginning on October 1, 2015 and begin discussion of the process for nominating candidates for terms beginning in October 2016. The Committee's discussions pertain solely to internal personnel rules and practices of an agency and information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. As such, the discussions are protected by exemptions 2 and 6 of § 552b(c) of Title 5 of the United States Code.

    Thereafter, the Board will meet in closed session from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. to review and discuss independent government costs estimates for subjects to be assessed under the NAEP Schedule of Assessments. During the closed session, the Board will receive and discuss cost estimates on various options for implementing NAEP's Assessment Schedule through the year 2024 and will discuss NAEP's budgetary needs for the President's FY 2017 budget request. The implications of the cost estimates and funds in support of the NAEP Assessment Schedule and future NAEP activities will also be discussed. This session will be an in-depth briefing and discussion to examine cost projections which will impact the NAEP schedule through 2024. This part of the meeting must be conducted in closed session because public disclosure of this information would likely have an adverse financial effect on the NAEP program by providing contractors attending the Board meeting an unfair advantage in procurement and contract negotiations for NAEP. Discussion of this information would be likely to significantly impede implementation of a proposed agency action if conducted in open session. Such matters are protected by exemption 9(B) of § 552b of Title 5 U.S.C.

    Following the closed session, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., the incoming Executive Director will provide remarks to the full Board in open session. The Board will then receive reports from the standing committees and take action on a recommendation from the Reporting and Dissemination Committee on NAEP Core Contextual Variables. The May 16, 2015 meeting is scheduled to adjourn at 11:00 a.m.

    Access to Records of the Meeting: Pursuant to FACA requirements, the public may also inspect the meeting materials at www.nagb.gov on Friday, May 8, 2015 by 9:00 a.m. ET. The official verbatim transcripts of the public meeting sessions will be available for public inspection no later than 30 calendar days following the meeting.

    Reasonable Accommodations: The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you will need an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting (e.g., interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials in an alternate format), notify the contact person listed in this notice at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting date. Although we will attempt to meet a request received after that date, we may not be able to make available the requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time to arrange it.

    Electronic Access to this Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Authority:

    Pub. L. 107-279, Title III—National Assessment of Educational Progress § 301.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Mary Crovo, Deputy Executive Director, National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), U.S. Department of Education.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09956 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2015-ICCD-0051] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; U.S. Department of Education Pre-Authorized Debit Account Brochure and Application AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting Docket ID number ED-2015-ICCD-0051 or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. If the regulations.gov site is not available to the public for any reason, ED will temporarily accept comments at [email protected] Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted; ED will ONLY accept comments during the comment period in this mailbox when the regulations.gov site is not available. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, LBJ, Mailstop L-OM-2-2E319, Room 2E105, Washington, DC 20202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Beth Grebeldinger, (202) 377-4018.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: US Department of Education Pre-Authorized Debit Account Brochure and Application

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0025

    Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 1,600

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 133

    Abstract: The Preauthorized Debit Account Brochure and Application (PDA Application) serves as the means by which an individual with a defaulted federal education debt (student loan or grant overpayment) that is held by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) requests and authorizes the automatic debiting of payments toward satisfaction of the debt from the borrower's checking or savings account. The PDA Application explains the automatic debiting process and collects the individual's authorization for the automatic debiting and the bank account information needed by ED to debit the individual's account.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09947 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-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: ER15-1556-000.

    Applicants: Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation.

    Description: Notice of Cancellation of Interconnection Agreement with Allegany Limited Partnership of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5182.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1557-000.

    Applicants: Entrust Energy East, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Notice of Succession and Revised Market-Based Rate Tariff to be effective 4/22/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5200.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1558-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): 2403R2 Sunflower-ITC Interconnection Agreement to be effective 12/31/9998.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5229.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    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: April 23, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09970 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-414-001.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc., Emera Energy Services Subsidiary No. 1 LLC, Central Maine Power Company, New England Power Company, Northeast Utilities Service Company (as, The United Illuminating Company, Vermont Transco, LLC, Unitil Energy Systems, Inc., New Hampshire Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: ER15-414 ROE Compliance Filing to be effective 10/16/2014.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5315.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1120-001.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Tariff Amendment per 35.17(b): Service Agreement No. 14-00081 NPC and Aiya LGIA Change in Effective Date to be effective 12/31/9998.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5310.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1121-001.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Tariff Amendment per 35.17(b): Service Agreement No. 12-00082 NPC and Moapa LGIA Change in Effective Date to be effective 12/31/9998.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5318.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1122-001.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Tariff Amendment per 35.17(b): Service Agreement No. 14-00076 NPC and Playa Change in Effective Date to be effective 12/31/9998.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5001.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1549-000.

    Applicants: Central Maine Power Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Executed CSIA with Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC to be effective 3/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5284.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1550-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C., The Dayton Power and Light Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): DP&L submits Original Service Agreement No. 4133 to be effective 4/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5290.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1551-000.

    Applicants: Central Maine Power Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Executed CSIA with FPL Energy Cape LLC to be effective 4/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5292.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1552-000.

    Applicants: Central Maine Power Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Executed CSIA with FPL Energy Wyman LLC to be effective 4/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5300.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1553-000.

    Applicants: Central Maine Power Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Executed CSIA with FPL Energy Wyman IV LLC to be effective 4/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/22/15.

    Accession Number: 20150422-5305.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/13/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1554-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): 2015-04-23_SA 2780 ATC-Minnesota Power OCSA to be effective 6/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5081.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1555-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): 2015-04-23_SA 2781 ATC-Superior Water Light & Power OCSA to be effective 6/23/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/23/15.

    Accession Number: 20150423-5087.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/14/15.

    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: April 23, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09969 Filed 4-28-15; 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: PR15-24-001.

    Applicants: Centana Intrastate Pipeline, LLC.

    Description: Submits tariff filing per 284.123(b), (e) + (g): CIPCO SOC Settlement Filing to be effective 3/1/2015; Filing Type: 1270.

    Filed Date: 4/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20150416-5082.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/7/15.

    284.123(g) Protests Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/7/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-892-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Capacity Release Agreement—4/17/2015 to be effective 4/17/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20150416-5129.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-893-000.

    Applicants: Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Amendment to Neg Rate Agmt (FPL 41619-4) to be effective 4/16/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20150416-5170.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-894-000.

    Applicants: Cheyenne Plains Gas Pipeline Company, L.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.601: Negotiated Rate Agreements (Mieco) to be effective 4/17/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20150416-5232.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-895-000.

    Applicants: Centra Pipelines Minnesota Inc.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Updated Index of Shippers April 2015 to be effective 6/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/17/15.

    Accession Number: 20150417-5082.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-896-000.

    Applicants: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.403: SS-2 Inventory Adjustment Filing to be effective 5/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/17/15.

    Accession Number: 20150417-5086.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-897-000.

    Applicants: Horizon Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Filing to Substitute Published Index Prices to be effective 6/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/17/15.

    Accession Number: 20150417-5299.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 4/29/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified date(s). Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: April 20, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09968 Filed 4-28-15; 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: RP15-898-000.

    Applicants: Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Nicor Gas Negotiated Rate to be effective 5/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150420-5188.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-899-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Capacity Release Agreement—4/18/2015 to be effective 4/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150420-5236.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-900-000.

    Applicants: Horizon Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate—Nicor Gas to be effective 5/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150420-5254.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/4/15.

    Docket Numbers: RP15-901-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC.

    Description: Section 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Negotiated Rate—Quicksilver to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 4/20/15.

    Accession Number: 20150420-5269.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/4/15.

    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: April 21, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09971 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0086; FRL-9925-72] Full SFIREG; Notice of Public Meeting AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO)/State, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG), Full Committee will hold a 2-day meeting, beginning on June 1, 2015, and ending June 2, 2015. This notice announces the location and times for the meeting and sets forth the tentative agenda topics.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Monday, June 1, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

    To request accommodation of a disability, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATON CONTACT, preferably at least 10 days prior to the meeting, to give EPA as much time as possible to process your request.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at EPA. One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.) 2777 Crystal Dr., Arlington, VA., First Floor, South Conference Room.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ron Kendall, Field and External Affairs Division (7506P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (703) 305-5561; fax number: (703) 305-5884; email address: [email protected] or Amy Bamber, SFIREG Executive Secretary, at [email protected]

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

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are interested in pesticide regulation issues affecting states and any discussion between EPA and SFIREG on FIFRA field implementation issues related to human health, environmental exposure to pesticides, and insight into EPA's decision-making process. You are invited and encouraged to attend the meetings and participate as appropriate. Potentially affected entities may include, but are not limited to persons who are or may be required to conduct testing of chemical substances under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA), or FIFRA and those who sell, distribute or use pesticides, as well as any nongovernment organization. If you have any questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    B. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0086, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Tentative Agenda Topics 1. OPP/OECA Program Updates 2. Update on SmartLabel and the E-Enterprise project 3. Design for the Environment (DfE) logos on pesticide labels 4. SFIREG Guidance on State Managed Pollinator Plans 5. Report on first OPP/OECA Project Officer Training Session 6. Federal Credentials update on any revisions to the state/tribal guidance to clarify regional flexibility in determining inspector experience 7. Discuss adjustments to inspection time allocations (Results of SLA survey) 8. EPA Spanish Labeling Workgroup 9. Discussion on Office of Inspector General (OIG) Quick Action Report on Region 8 10. Review of FY 2016-17 NPM Guidance III. How can I request to participate in this meeting?

    This meeting is open for the public to attend. You may attend the meeting without further notification.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.

    Dated: April 14, 2015. Jacqueline E. Mosby, Director, Field and External Affairs Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09887 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of the Termination of the Receivership of 10318, Paramount Bank Farmington Hills, Michigan

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) as Receiver for Paramount Bank, Farmington Hills, Michigan (“the Receiver”) intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed receiver of Paramount Bank on December 10, 2010. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this Notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this Notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 32.1, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09895 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION Notice of Agreements Filed

    The Commission hereby gives notice of the filing of the following agreements under the Shipping Act of 1984. Interested parties may submit comments on the agreements to the Secretary, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, DC 20573, within twelve days of the date this notice appears in the Federal Register. Copies of the agreements are available through the Commission's Web site (www.fmc.gov) or by contacting the Office of Agreements at (202) 523-5793 or [email protected]

    Agreement No.: 011426-057.

    Title: West Coast of South America Discussion Agreement.

    Parties: CMA CGM S.A.; Compania Chilena de Navigacion Interoceanica, S.A; Frontier Liner Services, Inc.; Hamburg-Süd; Hapag-Lloyd AG and Norasia Container Lines Limited (acting as a single party); King Ocean Services Limited, Inc.; Mediterranean Shipping Company, SA; Seaboard Marine Ltd.; and Trinity Shipping Line.

    Filing Party: Wayne R. Rohde, Esq.; Cozen O'Conner; 1627 I Street NW., Suite 1100; Washington, DC 20006-4007.

    Synopsis: The amendment deletes Compania Sudamericana de Vapores, S. A. as a party to the agreement.

    Agreement No.: 012328.

    Title: CSCL/CMA CGM/UASC/HSD Vessel Sharing Agreement.

    Parties: China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd. and China Shipping Container Lines (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd. (collectively known as China Shipping); United Arab Shipping Company S.A.G.; CMA CGM S.A.; and Hamburg Sud.

    Filing Party: Brett M. Esber, Esquire; Blank Rome LLP; 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW.; Washington, DC 20037.

    Synopsis: The agreement authorizes the parties to share vessels on a new weekly service in the trade between China and Panama, on the one hand, and the East Coast of the U.S. on the other hand.

    Agreement No.: 201175-005.

    Title: Port of NY/NJ Sustainable Services Agreement.

    Parties: APM Terminals Elizabeth, LLC; GCT Bayonne LP; GCT New York LP; Maher Terminals LLC; and Port Newark Container Terminal LLC.

    Filing Party: Carol N. Lambos, Esq.; The Lambos Firm, LLP; 303 South Broadway, Suite 410; Tarrytown, NY 10591.

    Synopsis: The amendment changes the name of APM Terminals North America, Inc. to APM Terminals Elizabeth, LLC.

    Agreement No.: 201210-002.

    Title: Port of NY/NJ Port Authority/Marine Terminal Operators Agreement.

    Parties: APM Terminals Elizabeth, LLC; GCT Bayonne LP; GCT New York LP; Maher Terminals LLC; and Port Newark Container Terminal LLC.

    Filing Party: Carol N. Lambos, Esq.; The Lambos Firm, LLP; 303 South Broadway Suite 410; Tarrytown, NY 10591.

    Synopsis: The amendment changes the name of APM Terminals North America, Inc. to APM Terminals Elizabeth, LLC.

    By Order of the Federal Maritime Commission.

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Rachel E. Dickon, Assistant Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10011 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6730-AA-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [OMB Control No. 9000-0079; Docket 2015-0076; Sequence 12] Information Collection; Corporate Aircraft Costs AGENCY:

    Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for public comments regarding an extension to an existing OMB clearance.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Regulatory Secretariat Division will be submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request to review and approve an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement concerning corporate aircraft costs.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by Information Collection 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs, by any of the following methods:

    • Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov.

    Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching the OMB control number. Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “Information Collection 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs” on your attached document.

    • Fax: 202-501-4067.

    • Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs, in all correspondence related to this collection. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal and/or business confidential information provided.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Kathy Hopkins, Federal Acquisition Policy Division, GSA, 202-969-7226 or via email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A. Purpose

    Government contractors that use company aircraft must maintain logs of flights containing specified information (e.g., destination, passenger name, purpose of trip, etc.). This information, as required by FAR 31.205-46, Travel Costs, is used to ensure that costs of owned, leased or chartered aircraft are properly charged against Government contracts and that directly associated costs of unallowable activities are not charged to such contracts.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Number of Respondents: 3,000.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Total Responses: 3,000.

    Average Burden per Response: 6 hours.

    Total Burden Hours: 18,000.

    C. Public Comments

    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and whether it will have practical utility; whether our estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Obtaining Copies of Proposals: Requesters may obtain a copy of the information collection documents from the General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, telephone 202-501-4755. Please cite OMB Control No. 9000-0079, Corporate Aircraft Costs, in all correspondence.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Edward Loeb, Acting Director, Federal Acquisition Policy Division, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of Governmentwide Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09983 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0001] Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    This notice announces a forthcoming meeting of a public advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The meeting will be open to the public.

    Name of Committee: Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee.

    General Function of the Committee: To provide advice and recommendations to the Agency on FDA's regulatory issues.

    Date and Time: The meeting will be held on June 1, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Location: FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31 Conference Center, the Great Room (Rm.1503), Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. For those unable to attend in person, the meeting will also be available via Webcast. The Webcast will be available at the following link: https://collaboration.fda.gov/cbertseac/. When accessing the Webcast please enter as a guest. Answers to commonly asked questions including information regarding special accommodations due to a disability, visitor parking, and transportation may be accessed at: http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm408555.htm.

    Contact Person: Bryan Emery or Rosanna Harvey, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 6132, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-8054 or 240-402-8072; or FDA Advisory Committee Information Line, 1-800-741-8138 (301-443-0572 in the Washington, DC area). A notice in the Federal Register about last minute modifications that impact a previously announced advisory committee meeting cannot always be published quickly enough to provide timely notice. Therefore, you should always check the Agency's Web site at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/default.htm and scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link, or call the advisory committee information line to learn about possible modifications before coming to the meeting.

    Agenda: On June 1, 2015, the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee will meet in open session to hear update presentations on the following topics: (1) The variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) situation worldwide and an update on the United Kingdom's Transfusion Medicine Epidemiological Review; (2) vCJD in the United States; and, (3) the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) situation worldwide and the United States Department of Agriculture's regulatory approaches to reduce the risk of food-borne exposure of BSE. Following the update presentations, in open session, the committee will hear presentations from FDA on current measures to reduce risk of vCJD from transfusion in the U.S., and a mathematical model of the risk reduction achievable under the current and alternative geographically based donor deferral policies when implemented in conjunction with the use of leukocyte reduction of blood components. The committee will then discuss FDA's geographically based donor deferral policies and other strategies, including leukocyte reduction of blood components, to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted vCJD. FDA will seek advice from the committee in developing future recommendations to reduce this risk.

    FDA intends to make background material available to the public no later than 2 business days before the meeting. If FDA is unable to post the background material on its Web site prior to the meeting, the background material will be made publicly available at the location of the advisory committee meeting, and the background material will be posted on FDA's Web site after the meeting. Background material is available at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/default.htm. Scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link.

    Procedure: Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee. Written submissions may be made to the contact person on or before May 25, 2015. Oral presentations from the public will be scheduled between approximately 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Those individuals interested in making formal oral presentations should notify the contact person and submit a brief statement of the general nature of the evidence or arguments they wish to present, the names and addresses of proposed participants, and an indication of the approximate time requested to make their presentation on or before May 15, 2015. Time allotted for each presentation may be limited. If the number of registrants requesting to speak is greater than can be reasonably accommodated during the scheduled open public hearing session, FDA may conduct a lottery to determine the speakers for the scheduled open public hearing session. The contact person will notify interested persons regarding their request to speak by May 18, 2015.

    Persons attending FDA's advisory committee meetings are advised that the Agency is not responsible for providing access to electrical outlets.

    FDA welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Bryan Emery at least 7 days in advance of the meeting.

    FDA is committed to the orderly conduct of its advisory committee meetings. Please visit our Web site at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm111462.htm for procedures on public conduct during advisory committee meetings.

    Notice of this meeting is given under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. app. 2).

    Dated: April 24, 2015. Peter Lurie, Associate Commissioner for Public Health Strategy and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2015-10026 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2014-D-0090] Retrospective Review of Premarket Approval Application Devices; Striking the Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the progress of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) on its 2014-2015 Strategic Priority “Strike the Right Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection.” To achieve this priority, CDRH established a goal to assure the appropriate balance between premarket and postmarket data collection to facilitate and expedite the development and review of medical devices, in particular high-risk devices of public health importance, and established a target date of December 31, 2014, by which to review 50 percent of product codes subject to a premarket approval application (PMA) that are legally marketed to determine whether or not, based on our current understanding of the technology, to rely on postmarket controls to reduce premarket data collection, to shift some premarket data collection to the postmarket setting, or to pursue down-classification. CDRH has taken such actions periodically in the past consistent with the medical device statutory framework but typically has done so on an ad hoc basis. CDRH also will require more data or up-classify a device, if warranted, based on the current state of the science; however, up-classification is not warranted for the devices subject to this retrospective review because they are already in the highest risk classification. In this document, CDRH is providing its current thinking on reviewed product types to solicit comments on the product codes that have been identified as candidates for reclassification, for reliance on postmarket controls to reduce premarket data collection, or a shift in premarket data collection to the postmarket setting.

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments by June 29, 2015. See section IV for more information on how to submit comments to this document and properly identify the device(s) the comment concerns.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Identify comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document and with the product code(s) for the device(s) the comment concerns.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nancy Braier, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5454, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-5676.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    One of three Strategic Priorities for 2014-2015 in CDRH is to “Strike the Right Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection” (Ref. 1).1 CDRH's vision is for patients in the United States to have first in the world access to high-quality, safe, and effective medical devices of public health importance. A key determinant of early U.S. patient access to high-quality, safe, and effective devices is the extent of premarket data that device developers provide to FDA. Once a device developer decides to seek U.S. marketing approval or clearance, the extent of data that is collected premarket has an impact upon the length of time needed to complete a premarket submission—the more data to be collected premarket, the longer it may take to acquire the data and make the submission. Consequently, such data collection issues affect when U.S. patients have access to a medical device. On the other hand, it is also important that there is sufficient data to demonstrate a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness before a device subject to a premarket approval application (PMA) is approved for marketing in the United States. For this reason, it is important that CDRH strike the right balance between premarket and postmarket data collection. If CDRH can shift—when appropriate—some premarket data collection to the postmarket setting, CDRH could improve patient access to high-quality, safe, and effective medical devices of public health importance. However, patient safety could be undermined if CDRH shifted some data collection from the premarket to the postmarket setting without adequate assurances that necessary and timely data collection will occur. For this reason, CDRH strives to balance the premarket data and postmarket collection, in accordance with section 513(a)(3)(C) (21 U.S.C. 360c(a)(3)(C)) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act), which directs CDRH to consider whether the extent of data that otherwise would be required for approval of a PMA with respect to effectiveness can be reduced through reliance on postmarket controls.

    1 CDRH's 2014-2015 Strategic Priorities include “Strengthen the Clinical Trial Enterprise” and “Provide Excellent Customer Service,” in addition to “Strike the Right Balance Between Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection” (Ref. 1).

    In order to achieve the proper balance between premarket and postmarket data collection, CDRH resolved in its Strategic Priorities for 2014-2015 to take several actions. CDRH committed to developing and seeking public comment on a framework for when it would be appropriate to shift premarket data collection to the postmarket setting. Pursuant to this commitment, CDRH and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) issued the draft guidance, “Balancing Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection for Devices Subject to Premarket Approval” on April 23, 2014 (78 FR 22690). This draft guidance proposed an FDA policy of balancing premarket and postmarket data collection during the Agency's review of PMAs. This guidance outlined how FDA would consider the role of postmarket information in determining the appropriate type and amount of data that should be collected in the premarket setting to support premarket approval, while still meeting the statutory standard of a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. Comments on this draft guidance were collected through July 22, 2014, and the guidance was finalized on April 13, 2015 (Ref. 2). Furthermore, under existing authorities, CDRH and CBER issued a draft guidance document on April 23, 2014 (78 FR 22691), entitled “Expedited Access for Premarket Approval Medical Devices Intended for Unmet Medical Need for Life Threatening or Irreversibly Debilitating Diseases or Conditions.” This draft guidance described FDA's proposal for a new, voluntary expedited access PMA program for certain medical devices to facilitate patient access to these devices by expediting the development, assessment, and review of certain devices that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for life threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. To expedite access for devices addressing unmet needs, this pathway to market would shift appropriate premarket data collection to the postmarket setting while maintaining the statutory standard of a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. Comments on this draft guidance were collected through July 22, 2014, and the guidance was finalized and issued on April 13, 2015 (Ref. 3). In addition, CDRH is currently developing a mechanism to prospectively assure the appropriate balance of premarket and postmarket data collection for new devices subject to a PMA.

    Another action in pursuit of the goal to strike the right balance between premarket and postmarket data collection is to commit to conducting a retrospective review of all PMA product codes (procodes) with active PMAs approved prior to 2010 to determine whether data typically collected premarket could be shifted to the postmarket setting, premarket data collection could be reduced through reliance on postmarket controls, or devices could be reclassified (down-classified) in light of our current understanding of the technology (Ref. 1). In general, some premarket data collections for class III devices that are currently marketed may be reduced through reliance on postmarket controls, or shifted to the postmarket setting if warranted based on CDRH's review experience as well as the postmarket performance and the current body of evidence regarding the benefit-risk profile of these devices. CDRH currently receives PMA submissions on the majority of these class III devices, and a change in premarket data collection is expected to expedite the approval of future PMA submissions. CDRH has periodically taken such actions consistent with the medical device statutory framework but has typically done so on an ad hoc basis. On the other hand, CDRH routinely requires more data when warranted based on our current understanding of that type of technology or based on issued raised by the data submitted by a sponsor for their device. CDRH will also up-classify a device, if warranted, based on the current state of the science. For example, in May 2014, CDRH proposed to up-classify surgical mesh when intended for use for pelvic organ prolapse (79 FR 24634), and in June 2014, CDRH issued a final order up-classifying sunlamps and sunlamp products (tanning beds/booths) (79 FR 31205). However, up-classification is not warranted for the devices subject to this retrospective review, because they are already in the highest risk classification.

    During this retrospective review, the devices are analyzed according to procode. CDRH targeted the date of December 31, 2014, to review 50 percent of procodes subject to a PMA that are legally marketed to determine whether or not to change premarket data collection by shifting to the postmarket setting, reducing premarket data collection through reliance on postmarket controls, or pursuing reclassification (Ref. 1). This target extends to have 75 percent completed by June 30, 2015, and 100 percent completed by December 31, 2015.

    The purpose of this Federal Register notice is to solicit comments on the procodes that have been identified as candidates for reclassification, a reduction in premarket data collection through reliance on postmarket controls, or a shift in premarket data collection to postmarket for those procodes reviewed through December 31, 2014. Efforts to reclassify and to communicate changes to data collections with stakeholders will be prioritized based on both the public health impact and Center resources.

    II. Progress Toward Goal Targets

    Retrospective analysis of the class III medical device procodes is intended to determine if current classifications and data collections remain appropriate for determining a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. As our understanding of the technology associated with individual medical devices has increased and we have a better understanding of the risks associated with the technology of each device, the type and amount of data that is needed to demonstrate a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness evolve. This evolution to require the least burdensome amount of data to evaluate device effectiveness follows the least burdensome provisions of the FD&C Act (section 513(a)(3)(D)(ii)). Under section 513 of the FD&C Act, a device is a class III device and requires premarket approval if general controls and special controls are insufficient to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device, and if the device is to be used for supporting or sustaining human life or of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health or if the device presents a potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury. In order to reclassify a class III device into class II, the device must meet the statutory criteria for class II: A device which cannot be classified as a class I device, because general controls are insufficient to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device, and for which there is sufficient information to establish special controls to provide such assurance. As new information becomes available over time, the accumulated information available for a device may be sufficient to establish special controls to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness; therefore, the classification of the device may be changed either up or down.

    In February 2014, CDRH began its retrospective review with procodes associated with active PMAs approved prior to 2010. PMA procodes created since 2010 were not included in this retrospective review because these recently created procodes do not yet have sufficient new information for a change in FDA's current understanding of the device's postmarket performance profile. As of December 31, 2014, CDRH reviewed 69 percent of the procodes included in this retrospective review, exceeding its 50 percent review target.

    The results of this analysis include recommendations for procodes that are candidates for reclassification, a reduction in premarket data collection through reliance on postmarket controls, or a shift in premarket data collection to postmarket collection. These results are published online at http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofMedicalProductsandTobacco/CDRH/CDRHVisionandMission/default.htm. As discussed in further detail, for the purposes of this retrospective review, we evaluated each procode on a balance of factors to determine the current benefit-risk profile and if our review indicates special controls could be established to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. If so, the corresponding procode was listed in the category “Candidates for Reclassification to Class II” (Table 1). If it was determined that special controls would not be sufficient to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device, then the procode was evaluated to determine if some premarket data collection for PMA submission could be shifted to postmarket collection, or if premarket data collection could be reduced through reliance on postmarket controls. If it was determined that a change of data collection could continue to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device, then the procode was listed in the category “Candidates for reduction of data collection through reliance on postmarket controls or shift of data collection from premarket to postmarket” (Table 2). This category includes procodes for which premarket data collection could be shifted to postmarket data collection, premarket data collection could be decreased through reliance on postmarket controls, or postmarket data could no longer be needed. Finally, Table 3 includes procodes for which a reduction in data collection through reliance on postmarket controls or shift in data collection from premarket to postmarket and/or reclassification occurred in 2014, during FDA's retrospective review of PMAs.

    In this retrospective review, postmarket performance data, technology and performance considerations, and other relevant considerations were evaluated for each procode. These factors were used to evaluate the current benefit-risk profile to determine if the devices are good candidates for a reduction in premarket data collection through reliance on postmarket controls, a shift of premarket data collection to postmarket, or reclassification. Postmarket performance data (including recent PMA Annual Reports, literature reviews, total product lifecycle reports, medical device reporting analysis, market penetration, and recall analysis) were investigated for any performance concerns or problems that outpace any increases in device use or acceptance. In evaluating the technology and performance considerations for the procodes, performance concerns or problems that were uncovered in the review of postmarket data were considered unfavorable factors for a change in data collection or reclassification. Favorable factors to indicate a device is a good candidate for a change in data collection or reclassification included if risks are now well understood and determined to be moderate to low, technology uncertainties have been alleviated, performance standards or non-clinical tests have been developed that could be surrogates for some clinical testing, the need for a controlled study could be eliminated due to defined objective performance criteria, the device has been shown to have good short-term performance, or concerns are limited to long-term performance or rare adverse events.

    Finally, several relevant considerations were evaluated for each procode. Unfavorable factors for devices to be considered candidates for a change in data collection or reclassification included if there have been significant changes implemented to address safety or effectiveness since the devices have been on the market or if the review of annual reports and manufacturing changes has been important to maintain safety of the devices. Furthermore, if there were a limited number of approvals or limited clinical use of the devices, this was considered an additional unfavorable factor for the devices to be considered candidates for a change in data collection or reclassification, due to inadequate data needed to conduct this scientific assessment.

    After completion of this retrospective review, FDA will prioritize the procodes identified as candidates for reclassification (Table 1) according to public health impact and Center resources, in order to determine the top priority procodes for which reclassification would have the greatest impact. The procodes identified as top priority candidates for reclassification will proceed through the reclassification procedures according to 21 CFR part 860. FDA will also prioritize the procodes identified as candidates for a change in data collection (Table 2) according to public health impact and Center resources, in order to determine which reductions of or shifts to data collection would have the greatest impact. The FDA encourages firms to submit a presubmission to get feedback on their data collection plan or contact the appropriate review branch for additional information if they are in the process of developing a device in one of these categories.

    III. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This document refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR part 814 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0231.

    IV. Comments

    Interested persons may submit either electronic comments regarding this document to http://www.regulations.gov or written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES). It is only necessary to send one set of comments. Identify comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document and the product code(s) for the device(s) the comment concerns. Citizen petitions and petitions for reclassification should not be submitted to the docket. Rather, for instructions on how to appropriately submit citizen petitions and petitions for reclassification, please see 21 CFR 10.30 and 860.123, respectively. 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.

    V. References

    The following references have been placed on display in the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES) and may be seen by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    1. FDA, “CDRH 2014-2015 Strategic Priorities,” 2014, available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofMedicalProductsandTobacco/CDRH/CDRHVisionandMission/UCM384576.pdf. 2. “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Balancing Premarket and Postmarket Data Collection for Devices Subject to Premarket Approval,” April 2015, available at http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-meddev-gen/documents/document/ucm393994.pdf. 3. “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Expedited Access for Premarket Approval and De Novo Medical Devices Intended for Unmet Medical Need for Life Threatening or Irreversibly Debilitating Diseases or Conditions,” April 2015, available at http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-meddev-gen/documents/document/ucm393978.pdf. Dated: April 22, 2015. Peter Lurie, Associate Commissioner for Public Health Strategy and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09884 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2014-E-0102] Determination of Regulatory Review Period for Purposes of Patent Extension; Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the regulatory review period for Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System and is publishing this notice of that determination as required by law. FDA has made the determination because of the submission of an application to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Commerce, for the extension of a patent which claims that medical device.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written petitions (two copies are required) and written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit petitions electronically to http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FDA-2013-S-0610.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Beverly Friedman, Office of Management, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10001 New Hampshire Ave., Hillandale Campus, Rm. 3180, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-7900.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-417) and the Generic Animal Drug and Patent Term Restoration Act (Pub. L. 100-670) generally provide that a patent may be extended for a period of up to 5 years so long as the patented item (human drug product, animal drug product, medical device, food additive, or color additive) was subject to regulatory review by FDA before the item was marketed. Under these acts, a product's regulatory review period forms the basis for determining the amount of extension an applicant may receive.

    A regulatory review period consists of two periods of time: A testing phase and an approval phase. For medical devices, the testing phase begins with a clinical investigation of the device and runs until the approval phase begins. The approval phase starts with the initial submission of an application to market the device and continues until permission to market the device is granted. Although only a portion of a regulatory review period may count toward the actual amount of extension that the Director of Patents and Trademarks may award (half the testing phase must be subtracted as well as any time that may have occurred before the patent was issued), FDA's determination of the length of a regulatory review period for a medical device will include all of the testing phase and approval phase as specified in 35 U.S.C. 156(g)(3)(B).

    FDA has approved for marketing the medical device, Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System. Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System is indicated for improving coronary luminal diameter in subjects with symptomatic heart disease due to de novo native coronary artery lesions (length ≤32 millimeters (mm)) with reference vessel diameter of ≥2.25 mm and ≤4.25 mm. Subsequent to this approval, the USPTO received a patent term restoration application for Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System (U.S. Patent No. 7,828,766) from Abbott Cardiovascular Systems Inc., and the USPTO requested FDA's assistance in determining this patent's eligibility for patent term restoration. In a letter dated May 22, 2014, FDA advised the USPTO that this medical device had undergone a regulatory review period and that the approval of Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System represented the first permitted commercial marketing or use of the product. Thereafter, the USPTO requested that FDA determine the product's regulatory review period.

    FDA has determined that the applicable regulatory review period for Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System is 178 days. Of this time, zero (0) days occurred during the testing phase of the regulatory review period, while 178 days occurred during the approval phase. These periods of time were derived from the following dates:

    1. The date an exemption under section 520(g) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360j(g)) involving this device became effective: Not Applicable. Applicant did not perform clinical investigations utilizing the patented device, but, rather, sought and was granted marketing approval based on a supplemental filing to a previously approved premarket approval application (PMA).

    2. The date an application was initially submitted with respect to the device under section 515 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 360e): June 27, 2012. FDA has verified the applicant's claim that the PMA for Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System (PMA P110019S025) was initially submitted June 27, 2012.

    3. The date the application was approved: December 21, 2012. FDA has verified the applicant's claim that PMA P110019S025 was approved on December 21, 2012.

    This determination of the regulatory review period establishes the maximum potential length of a patent extension. However, the USPTO applies several statutory limitations in its calculations of the actual period for patent extension. In its application for patent extension, this applicant seeks 178 days of patent term extension.

    Anyone with knowledge that any of the dates as published are incorrect may submit to the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES) either electronic or written comments and ask for a redetermination by June 29, 2015. Furthermore, any interested person may petition FDA for a determination regarding whether the applicant for extension acted with due diligence during the regulatory review period by October 26, 2015. To meet its burden, the petition must contain sufficient facts to merit an FDA investigation. (See H. Rept. 857, part 1, 98th Cong., 2d sess., pp. 41-42, 1984.) Petitions should be in the format specified in 21 CFR 10.30.

    Interested persons may submit to the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES) electronic or written comments and written or electronic petitions. It is only necessary to send one set of comments. Identify comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document. If you submit a written petition, two copies are required. A petition submitted electronically must be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FDA-2013-S-0610. Comments and petitions that have not been made publicly available on http://www.regulations.gov may be viewed in the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Dated: April 23, 2015. Peter Lurie, Associate Commissioner for Public Health Strategy and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2015-09902 Filed 4-28-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-1213] Environmental Assessment: Questions and Answers Regarding Drugs With Estrogenic, Androgenic, or Thyroid Activity; Draft Guidance for Industry; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Environmental Assessment: Questions and Answers Regarding Drugs With Estrogenic, Androgenic, or Thyroid Activity.” This guidance is intended to supplement CDER's guidance for industry on “Environmental Assessment of Human Drug and Biologics Applications,” issued July 1998, by addressing specific considerations for drugs that have potential estrogenic, androgenic, or thyroid pathway activity (E, A, or T activity) in environmental organisms. It is intended to help sponsors of such drugs determine whether they should submit environmental assessments (EA) for new drug applications (NDAs) and certain NDA supplements, and to clarify what information such sponsors should include if they submit a claim of categorical exclusion instead of an EA.

    DATES:

    Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the Agency considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by June 29, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit written requests for single copies of the draft guidance to the Division of Drug Information, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10001 New Hampshire Ave., Hillandale Building, 4th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your requests. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance document.

    Submit electronic comments on the draft guidance to http://www.regulations.gov. Submi