Federal Register Vol. 80, No.94,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 94 (May 15, 2015)

Page Range27851-28151
FR Document

80_FR_94
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 28048 - Notification of Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 27851 - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to YemenPDF
80 FR 28015 - Sunshine Act MeetingsPDF
80 FR 27950 - Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 28047 - Georges Creek Railway, LLC-Operation Exemption-Lines of CSX Transportation, Inc.PDF
80 FR 27973 - Food and Drug Administration-American Urological Association-Society of Urologic Oncology Workshop on Partial Gland Ablation for Prostate Cancer; Public WorkshopPDF
80 FR 27952 - Consumer Advisory CommitteePDF
80 FR 27857 - Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying BenefitsPDF
80 FR 27897 - Reorganization and Expansion of Foreign-Trade Zone 49 Under Alternative Site Framework, Newark/Elizabeth, New JerseyPDF
80 FR 27896 - Approval of Subzone Status; Spectro Coating Corporation d/b/a Claremont Flock, LLC, Leominster, MassachusettsPDF
80 FR 27994 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Manufactured Housing Operations FormsPDF
80 FR 27994 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Direct Housing Program FormsPDF
80 FR 27990 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
80 FR 28002 - Notice of Federal Competitive Coal Lease Sale, UtahPDF
80 FR 27985 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
80 FR 27897 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 84-Houston, Texas; Authorization of Production Activity MHI Compressor International Corporation (Gas Compressors, Compressor Sets, Electrical Generators and Generating Sets), Pearland, TexasPDF
80 FR 28043 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel WATERBOUND; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 27987 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
80 FR 28043 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel HULA GIRL; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 28044 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel ZUIMACO; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 27984 - Kentucky; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
80 FR 28046 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel LIMITLESS; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 28045 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel SEA FOX; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 28044 - Request for Comments of a Previously Approved Information Collection: Requirements for Eligibility of U.S.-Flag Vessels of 100 Feet or Greater in Registered Length To Obtain a Fishery EndorsementPDF
80 FR 27990 - Kentucky; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
80 FR 27874 - Proposed Priority and Definitions-Demonstration and Training Program: Career Pathways for Individuals With DisabilitiesPDF
80 FR 27868 - Proposed Priority-Rehabilitation Training: Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center-Youth With DisabilitiesPDF
80 FR 27985 - Tennessee; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
80 FR 27988 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
80 FR 27982 - Certificate of Alternative Compliance for the P/V LUCIA, 1257462PDF
80 FR 27983 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Guarantee of PaymentPDF
80 FR 27853 - Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR): Reinstatement of Exemptions Related to Temporary Exports, Carnets, and Shipments Under a Temporary Import BondPDF
80 FR 27858 - Special Local Regulation; Annual Marine Events on the Colorado River, Between Davis Dam (Bullhead City, Arizona) and Headgate Dam (Parker, Arizona) Within the San Diego Captain of the Port ZonePDF
80 FR 27998 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Application for FHA Insured MortgagesPDF
80 FR 27996 - Notice of Emergency Information Collection and Request for Comment: Assessment of Technology Needs in HUD-Subsidized HousingPDF
80 FR 27995 - Notice of Extension of Time for Completion of Manufacturer Notification and Correction PlanPDF
80 FR 27853 - Noise, Fuel Burn, and Emissions Modeling Using the Aviation Environmental Design Tool Version 2bPDF
80 FR 27949 - Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) ProgramsPDF
80 FR 27859 - National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund SitePDF
80 FR 27883 - National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund SitePDF
80 FR 28007 - Agency Information Collection Activities: United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) Revenue Information Collection-OMB Control Number 1012-0NEW; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 27971 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 28046 - Eighteen Thirty Group, LLC-Acquisition Exemption-Lines of CSX Transportation, Inc.PDF
80 FR 27895 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Discuss Potential Project TopicsPDF
80 FR 28003 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Royalty and Production Reporting--OMB Control Number 1012-0004; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 27863 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna FisheriesPDF
80 FR 27951 - Application for Final Commitment for a Long-Term Loan or Financial Guarantee in Excess of $100 Million: AP088970XXPDF
80 FR 27951 - Application for Final Commitment for a Long-Term Loan or Financial Guarantee in Excess of $100 Million: AP088969XXPDF
80 FR 27941 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, PaducahPDF
80 FR 28048 - Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee Membership ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 27975 - U.S. National Authority for the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel; Notice of Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 28047 - San Joaquin Valley Railroad Co.-Lease Amendment and Operation Exemption Including Interchange Commitment-BNSF Railway CompanyPDF
80 FR 27928 - First Responder Network Authority; First Responder Network Authority Board MeetingsPDF
80 FR 28009 - Sugar From Mexico; Revised Schedule for the Subject InvestigationsPDF
80 FR 27942 - New York Public Service Commission, New York Power Authority, New York State Energy Research, and Development Authority v. New York Independent System Operator, Inc.; Notice of ComplaintPDF
80 FR 27947 - Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 27945 - Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C., Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 27944 - Warmsprings Irrigation District; Notice of Effectiveness of Withdrawal of License ApplicationPDF
80 FR 27942 - Tri-Dam Project; Notice of Application and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and ProtestsPDF
80 FR 27948 - Huskilson, Christopher G.; Aftanas, Stephen D.; Balfour, Scott C.; Bennett, Robert R.; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 27948 - Greenleaf Power Management LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 27898 - FY 15 Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants ProgramPDF
80 FR 28009 - Importer of Controlled Substances Registration: Cambrex Charles CityPDF
80 FR 27943 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 27854 - Schedules of Controlled Substances: Extension of Temporary Placement of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances ActPDF
80 FR 28011 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know ActPDF
80 FR 28050 - Agency Information Collection (Supplier Perception Survey) Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 27897 - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Public MeetingsPDF
80 FR 27927 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 27953 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 27929 - Procurement List Proposed Addition and DeletionsPDF
80 FR 27930 - Information Collection To Be Submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval Under the Paperwork Reduction Act; Initial CertificationPDF
80 FR 27928 - Marine Mammals; File No. 19526PDF
80 FR 27885 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Forms: Applications, Periodic Reporting and NoticesPDF
80 FR 28050 - Proposed Information Collection (Notice of Lapse-Government Life Insurance); Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 27970 - General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR; Information Collection; Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free WorkplacePDF
80 FR 27945 - Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 28014 - Notice of Information CollectionPDF
80 FR 28016 - Privacy Act of 1974; New and Revised Systems of RecordsPDF
80 FR 28010 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Water ActPDF
80 FR 27886 - Inviting Applications for Value-Added Producer GrantsPDF
80 FR 27887 - Notice of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Community Development Initiative for Fiscal Year 2015PDF
80 FR 27896 - Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment AssistancePDF
80 FR 28011 - Proposed Collection, Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 27944 - Enterprise Texas Pipeline LLC; Notice of Staff Protest To Petition for Rate ApprovalPDF
80 FR 27947 - Blue Cube Operations LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 27946 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 28010 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Revision of a Previously Approved Collection; COPS Extension Request FormPDF
80 FR 28027 - Business Development Corporation of America, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 28031 - The MainStay Funds, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 28036 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 28021 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 28014 - Notice of Centennial Challenges 3D Printed Habitat Challenge-Design CompetitionPDF
80 FR 27930 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0092, Customer Clearing Documentation and Timing of Acceptance for ClearingPDF
80 FR 27939 - 36(b)(1) Arms Sales NotificationPDF
80 FR 27961 - Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge S.A.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Orders To Aid Public CommentPDF
80 FR 27932 - 36(b)(1) Arms Sales NotificationPDF
80 FR 27862 - Specifications for Medical Examinations of Coal MinersPDF
80 FR 27954 - ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public CommentPDF
80 FR 27983 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Entry and Manifest of Merchandise Free of Duty, Carrier's Certificate and ReleasePDF
80 FR 27936 - 36(b)(1) Arms Sales NotificationPDF
80 FR 27878 - Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans-Covered Birth Defects and Spina BifidaPDF
80 FR 27975 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 28021 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Floor Broker Errors and the Use of Floor Broker Error AccountsPDF
80 FR 28035 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ICE Clear Europe Limited; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Finance Procedures To Add Clearstream Banking as a Triparty Collateral Service ProviderPDF
80 FR 27934 - 36(b)(1) Arms Sales NotificationPDF
80 FR 28013 - Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety StandardsPDF
80 FR 27978 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 27978 - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 27981 - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 27980 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 27978 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 27981 - National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 27979 - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 27981 - National Cancer Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 27979 - National Cancer Institute; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 27982 - National Cancer Institute; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 27979 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 27901 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Shallow Geohazard Survey in the Beaufort Sea, AlaskaPDF
80 FR 27925 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Draft Recovery Plan for the Cook Inlet Beluga WhalePDF
80 FR 28037 - Data Collection Available for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 28039 - Tennessee Disaster Number TN-00087PDF
80 FR 28037 - SBIR/STTR Logo Design Competition Announcement; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 28039 - Florida Disaster #FL-00105PDF
80 FR 27949 - Mid-Atlantic Hydro, LLC; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 27948 - Spartanburg Water System; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 27945 - Village of Morrisville, Vermont; Notice of Authorization for Continued Project OperationPDF
80 FR 27941 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program: FormsPDF
80 FR 27973 - Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 27975 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Announcement of Office of Management and Budget Approval; Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Food and Drug Administration Service DeliveryPDF
80 FR 27856 - Passports: Official Passports for Officials or Employees of State, Local, Tribal or Territorial Governments Traveling Abroad and Carrying Out Official Duties in Support of the U.S. GovernmentPDF
80 FR 27972 - Investigational New Drug Applications Prepared and Submitted by Sponsor-Investigators; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 28015 - Change in Postal PricesPDF
80 FR 28002 - Notice of Temporary Closures of Public Land in Washoe County, NevadaPDF
80 FR 28049 - Expanded Access to Non-VA Care Through the Veterans Choice Program Activities: Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 28039 - Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of WaterPDF
80 FR 27938 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 27999 - Tribal Education Department Grant ProgramPDF
80 FR 28041 - Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions on Proposed Highways in ColoradoPDF
80 FR 27926 - Availability of Seats for National Marine Sanctuary Advisory CouncilsPDF
80 FR 28101 - Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing ProgramsPDF
80 FR 28054 - Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing ProgramsPDF
80 FR 27997 - Federal Property Suitable as Facilities To Assist the HomelessPDF
80 FR 28001 - Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Aiya Solar Project, Clark County, NevadaPDF
80 FR 27862 - Suspension of September 1, 2015 Digital Transition Date for Low Power Television and TV Translator StationsPDF

Issue

80 94 Friday, May 15, 2015 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Food and Nutrition Service

See

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

See

Rural Housing Service

Census Bureau Census Bureau RULES Foreign Trade Regulations: Reinstatement of Exemptions Related to Temporary Exports, Carnets, and Shipments under a Temporary Import Bond, 27853-27854 2015-11809 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 27971-27972 2015-11798 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Michigan Advisory Committee, 27895-27896 2015-11794 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Special Local Regulations: Annual Marine Events on the Colorado River, Between Davis Dam and Headgate Dam Within the San Diego Captain of the Port Zone, 27858-27859 2015-11808 NOTICES Certificate of Alternative Compliance for the P/V LUCIA, 1257462, 27982-27983 2015-11813 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

Economic Development Administration

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Committee for Purchase Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Initial Certification, 27930 2015-11754 Procurement List; Additions and Deletions, 27929-27930 2015-11755 Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Customer Clearing Documentation and Timing of Acceptance for Clearing, 27930-27932 2015-11726 Defense Department Defense Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 27938-27939 2015-11671 Arms Sales, 27932-27941 2015-11714 2015-11719 2015-11723 2015-11725 Drug Drug Enforcement Administration RULES Schedules of Controlled Substances: UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48; Extension of Temporary Placement in Schedule I, 27854-27856 2015-11765 NOTICES Importer of Controlled Substances Registration: Cambrex Charles City, 28009-28010 2015-11768 Economic Development Economic Development Administration NOTICES Petitions: Trade Adjustment Assistance, 27896 2015-11738 Education Department Education Department PROPOSED RULES Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria: Demonstration and Training Program; Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities, 27874-27878 2015-11829 Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center—Youth with Disabilities, 27868-27873 2015-11826 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Health Education Assistance Loan Program; Forms, 27941 2015-11691 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

NOTICES Meetings: Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah, 27941-27942 2015-11788
Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plans: National Priorities List Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site, 27859-27862 2015-11801 PROPOSED RULES National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plans: National Priorities List Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site, 27883-27884 2015-11800 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance Programs, 27949-27950 2015-11802 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.; Weekly Receipts, 27950-27951 2015-11948 Export Import Export-Import Bank NOTICES Applications for Long-Term Loans or Financial Guarantees in Excess of $100 million, 27951-27952 2015-11789 2015-11790 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Noise, Fuel Burn, and Emissions Modeling Using the Aviation Environmental Design Tool, 27853 2015-11803 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Low Power Television and TV Translator Stations: Suspension of Digital Transition Date, 27862-27863 2015-10226 NOTICES Meetings: Consumer Advisory Committee, 27952-27953 2015-11859 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Direct Housing Program Forms, 27994-27995 2015-11849 Manufactured Housing Operations Forms, 27994 2015-11850 Flood Hazard Determinations, 27985-27986, 27988-27990 2015-11816 2015-11844 Flood Hazard Determinations; Changes, 27987-27988, 27990-27994 2015-11840 2015-11848 Major Disaster Declarations: Kentucky; Amendment No. 1, 27990 2015-11833 Tennessee; Amendment No. 2, 27985 2015-11818 Major Disasters and Related Determinations: Kentucky, 27984-27985 2015-11837 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications: Tri-Dam Project, 27942-27943 2015-11772 Authorizations for Continued Project Operations: Village of Morrisville, VT, 27945-27946 2015-11692 Combined Filings, 27943-27944, 27946-27947 2015-11734 2015-11766 Complaints: New York Public Service Commission, et al. v. New York Independent System Operator, Inc., 27942 2015-11776 Filings: Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC, et al., 27945 2015-11774 Huskilson, Christopher G., et al., 27948 2015-11771 Oncor Electric Delivery Co., LLC, 27945 2015-11747 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: Blue Cube Operations, LLC, 27947-27948 2015-11735 Greenleaf Power Management, LLC, 27948 2015-11770 License Applications: Warmsprings Irrigation District; Withdrawal, 27944 2015-11773 Petitions for Rate Approvals: Enterprise Texas Pipeline, LLC; Staff Protest, 27944-27945 2015-11736 Preliminary Permit Applications Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications: Spartanburg Water System, 27948-27949 2015-11693 Preliminary Permit Applications: Mid-Atlantic Hydro, LLC, 27949 2015-11694 Requests under Blanket Authorization: Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, LLC, 27947 2015-11775 Federal Highway Federal Highway Administration NOTICES Federal Agency Actions: Colorado Highways, 28041-28043 2015-11641 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 27953-27954 2015-11757 Federal Trade Federal Trade Commission NOTICES Consent Orders: Holcim, Ltd. and Lafarge S.A., 27961-27970 2015-11724 ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., 27954-27961 2015-11721 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Food and Drug Administration Service Delivery, 27975 2015-11689 Guidance for Industry and Staff: Investigational New Drug Applications by Sponsor-Investigators, 27972-27973 2015-11685 Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products, 27973-27975 2015-11690 Meetings: Food and Drug Administration-American Urological Association-Society of Urologic Oncology Workshop on Partial Gland Ablation for Prostate Cancer, 27973 2015-11897 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Forms -- Applications, Periodic Reporting and Notices, 27885-27886 2015-11752 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Approvals of Subzone Status: Spectro Coating Corporation d/b/a Claremont Flock, LLC, Leominster, MA, 27896-27897 2015-11855 Production Activities: MHI Compressor International Corp., Foreign-Trade Zone 84, Houston, TX, 27897 2015-11843 Reorganizations under Alternative Site Frameworks: Foreign-Trade Zone 49, Newark/Elizabeth, NJ, 27897 2015-11856 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Acquisition Regulation; Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace, 27970-27971 2015-11749 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

RULES Specifications for Medical Examinations of Coal Miners; CFR Correction, 27862 2015-11722 NOTICES Meetings: U.S. National Authority for the World Health Organization Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, 27975 2015-11785
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

See

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals Assessment of Technology Needs in HUD-Subsidized Housing, 27996-27997 2015-11806 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Federal Housing Administration Insured Mortgages, 27998-27999 2015-11807 Federal Property Suitable as Facilities to Assist the Homeless, 27997-27998 2015-11457 Manufacturer Notification and Correction Plan; Extension of Time for Completion, 27995-27996 2015-11805 Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Aiya Solar Project, Clark County, NV, 28001-28002 2015-11298 Tribal Education Department Grant Program, 27999-28000 2015-11658 Interior Interior Department See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Land Management Bureau

See

Office of Natural Resources Revenue

International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Sugar from Mexico, 28009 2015-11777 Justice Department Justice Department See

Drug Enforcement Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Community Oriented Policing Services Extension Request Form, 28010-28011 2015-11733 Consent Decrees under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, 28011 2015-11764 Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Water Act, 28010 2015-11743
Labor Department Labor Department See

Labor Statistics Bureau

See

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Labor Statistics Labor Statistics Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 28011-28013 2015-11737 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Coal Lease Sales: Utah, 28002-28003 2015-11845 Temporary Closures of Public Lands: Washoe County, NV, 28002 2015-11682 Maritime Maritime Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Requirements for Eligibility of U.S.-Flag Vessels of 100 Feet or Greater in Registered Length to Obtain a Fishery Endorsement, 28044 2015-11834 Requests for Administrative Waivers of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel HULA GIRL, 28043-28044 2015-11839 Vessel LIMITLESS, 28046 2015-11836 Vessel SEA FOX, 28045-28046 2015-11835 Vessel WATERBOUND, 28043 2015-11841 Requests for Administrative Waivers of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel ZUIMACO, 28044-28045 2015-11838 Mine Mine Safety and Health Administration NOTICES Petitions for Modification: Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards, 28013-28014 2015-11713 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 28014-28015 2015-11746 Centennial Challenges 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, 28014 2015-11727 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 2015-11702 27975-27980 2015-11717 Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 27978, 27981 2015-11710 2015-11711 National Cancer Institute, 2015-11703 2015-11704 27979, 27981-27982 2015-11705 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 27978 2015-11712 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 27978, 27980-27981 2015-11709 2015-11708 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 27981 2015-11707 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 27979 2015-11706 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 27863-27867 2015-11791 NOTICES Applications: National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils, 27926-27927 2015-11630 Endangered and Threatened Species: Cook Inlet Beluga Whale; Draft Recovery Plan, 27925-27926 2015-11700 Funding Availability: Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program, 27898-27901 2015-11769 Meetings: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States, 27897-27898 2015-11759 New England Fishery Management Council, 27927-27928 2015-11758 Permits: Marine Mammals; File No. 19526, 27928 2015-11753 Takes of Marine Mammals: Shallow Geohazard Survey; Beaufort Sea, Alaska, 27901-27925 2015-11701 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration NOTICES Meetings: First Responder Network Authority Board, 27928-27929 2015-11778 Natural Resources Office of Natural Resources Revenue NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Royalty and Production Reporting, 28003-28007 2015-11792 United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, 28007-28009 2015-11799 Pension Benefit Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation RULES Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans: Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits, 27857-27858 2015-11858 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Changes in Postal Prices, 28015-28016 2015-11684 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 28015 2015-11978 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS Yemen: Continuation of National Emergency (Notice of May 13, 2015), 27851 2015-11987 Railroad Retirement Railroad Retirement Board NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 28016-28021 2015-11745 Rural Business Rural Business-Cooperative Service NOTICES Inviting Applications for Value-Added Producer Grants, 27886-27887 2015-11742 Rural Housing Service Rural Housing Service NOTICES Applications: Rural Community Development Initiative, 27887-27895 2015-11741 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2015-11728 28021, 28036-28037 2015-11729 Applications: Business Development Corporation of America, et al., 28027-28031 2015-11731 The MainStay Funds, et al., 28031-28035 2015-11730 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 28021-28027 2015-11716 ICE Clear Europe, Ltd., 28035-28036 2015-11715 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 28037-28039 2015-11699 Disaster Declarations: Florida, 28039 2015-11696 Tennessee; Amendment 2, 28039 2015-11698 SBIR/STTR Logo Design Competition Announcement; Correction, 28037 2015-11697 State Department State Department RULES Passports: Official Passports for Officials or Employees of State, Local, Tribal or Territorial Governments Traveling Abroad and Carrying Out Official Duties in Support of the U.S. Government, 27856-27857 2015-11687 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs Using Oral Fluid, 28054-28101 2015-11523 Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs Using Urine, 28101-28151 2015-11524 Surface Transportation Surface Transportation Board NOTICES Acquisition Exemptions; Lines of CSX Transportation, Inc.: Eighteen Thirty Group, LLC, 28046 2015-11796 Lease Amendments and Operation Exemptions: San Joaquin Valley Railroad Co.; BNSF Railway Co., 28047 2015-11781 Operation Exemptions: Georges Creek Railway, LLC; Lines of CSX Transportation, Inc., 28047 2015-11915 Susquehanna Susquehanna River Basin Commission NOTICES Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of Water, 28039-28041 2015-11673 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Highway Administration

See

Maritime Administration

See

Surface Transportation Board

Treasury Treasury Department See

United States Mint

Customs U.S. Customs and Border Protection NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals Guarantee of Payment, 27983-27984 2015-11812 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Entry and Manifest of Merchandise Free of Duty, Carrier's Certificate and Release, 27983 2015-11720 U.S. Mint United States Mint NOTICES Meetings: Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, 28048-28049 2015-12000 Requests for Nominations: Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, 28048 2015-11786 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department PROPOSED RULES Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans: Covered Birth Defects and Spina Bifida, 27878-27883 2015-11718 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Expanded Access to Non-VA Care Through the Veterans Choice Program, 28049-28050 2015-11678 Notice of Lapse -- Government Life Insurance, 28050-28051 2015-11750 Supplier Perception Survey, 28050 2015-11763 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Health and Human Services Department, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 28054-28151 2015-11523 2015-11524 Reader Aids

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

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80 94 Friday, May 15, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Chapter I Noise, Fuel Burn, and Emissions Modeling Using the Aviation Environmental Design Tool Version 2b AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Policy statement.

SUMMARY:

This document provides a statement of FAA policy concerning the required use of the Aviation Environmental Design Tool version 2b (AEDT 2b) to analyze noise, fuel burn, and emissions for FAA actions. The policy statement is intended to ensure consistency and quality of analysis performed to assess noise, fuel burn, and emissions impacts of such actions under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.

DATES:

Effective May 29, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Fabio Grandi, Office of Environment and Energy (AEE), Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591; Telephone: (202) 267-9099.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

FAA Order 1050.1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, describes FAA policies and procedures for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Aircraft noise, air pollutant emissions, and fuel burn are interdependent and occur simultaneously throughout all phases of flight. AEDT 2b is a comprehensive software tool that provides information to FAA stakeholders on each of these specific environmental impacts. AEDT 2b facilitates environmental review activities required under NEPA by consolidating the modeling of these environmental impacts in a single tool. For air traffic airspace and procedure actions, AEDT 2b replaces AEDT 2a, which was released by the FAA in March 2012. For other FAA actions, AEDT 2b replaces the Integrated Noise Model (INM) for analyzing aircraft noise and the Emissions and Dispersion Modeling System (EDMS) for developing emissions inventories and modeling emissions dispersion. AEDT 2b applies to analyses initiated after May 29, 2015.

Policy Statement

Effective May 29, 2015, AEDT 2b replaces AEDT 2a, INM, and EDMS as the required tool for noise, fuel burn, and emissions modeling of FAA actions. Consistent with current FAA policy and practice, the use of AEDT 2b is not required for projects whose analysis began before the effective date of this policy. In the event AEDT 2b is updated after the environmental analysis process is underway, the updated version may, but need not, be used to provide additional disclosure concerning noise, fuel burn, and emissions.

This policy statement is issued to ensure consistency and quality of analysis performed to comply with requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.

Issued in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2015. Curtis Holsclaw, Deputy Director, Office of Environment and Energy.
[FR Doc. 2015-11803 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of the Census 15 CFR Part 30 [Docket Number: 140821699-5179-02] RIN 0607-AA53 Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR): Reinstatement of Exemptions Related to Temporary Exports, Carnets, and Shipments Under a Temporary Import Bond AGENCY:

Bureau of the Census, Commerce Department.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau) issued a final rule amending the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) to eliminate the reporting requirement for temporary exports, which includes Carnets, and goods previously imported on a Temporary Import Bond (TIB). This final rule is being implemented to ensure consistency with the Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Convention) and reduce filing burden on the trade community. On September 12, 2014, the Census Bureau published this rule on an interim final basis. The Census Bureau is finalizing this rule without change.

DATES:

Effective Date: This rule is effective May 15, 2015. The interim rule published on September 12, 2014 (79 FR 54588), became effective September 12, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dale C. Kelly, Chief, International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Room 6K032, Washington, DC 20233-6700, by phone (301) 763-6937, by fax (301) 763-8835, or by email <[email protected]>.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

The Census Bureau is responsible for collecting, compiling, and publishing export trade statistics for the United States under the provisions of Title 13, United States Code (U.S.C.), Chapter 9, Section 301(a). The Automated Export System (AES) is the primary instrument used for collecting export trade data, which are used by the Census Bureau for statistical purposes. Through the AES, the Census Bureau collects Electronic Export Information (EEI), the electronic equivalent of the export data formerly collected on the Shipper's Export Declaration, pursuant to the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR), Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 30. Filing in the AES is not required for shipments excluded in Section 30.2(d) and shipments exempted in Subpart D that are not subject to Section 30.2(a)(1)(iv).

The Census Bureau published a Final Rule in the Federal Register on March 14, 2013 (78 FR 16366), that removed the exemptions for Carnets and other temporary exports and goods previously imported under a Temporary Import Bond (TIB) exported in the same condition. The Department of the Treasury and members of the trade community raised concerns about the new AES filing requirement for Carnets, which is an international customs and temporary export-import document that is used to clear customs without paying duties and import taxes on merchandise that will be reexported within 12 months. The concerns centered on whether mandatory AES filing for Carnets may be contrary to the ATA Convention, to which the U.S. is a contracting party. In addition, there was concern that unless the exemptions were reinstated, it would be extremely difficult to comply with the FTR, particularly for goods moving on a foreign Carnet. To address these concerns, the Census Bureau and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determined it was necessary to reinstate the exemptions from filing for temporary exports, including Carnets, and goods that were previously imported under a TIB for return in the same condition as when exported.

In accordance with the Interim Final Rule published on September 12, 2014, this rule clarifies that the reporting requirement for temporary exports, which includes Carnets, and goods previously imported on a TIB is eliminated. This revision reinstates exemptions for temporary exports/Carnets and for goods that were imported under a TIB for return in the same condition as when imported. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concur with the provision contained in this rule.

Summary of Comments and Responses

The Census Bureau received one comment on the Interim Final Rule published in the Federal Register on September 12, 2014 (79 FR 54588). A summary of the comment and the Census Bureau's response is provided below.

Comment: Clarify if exporters are required to file Electronic Export Information (EEI) if items are shipped into the U.S. under a foreign obtained ATA Carnet, and then re-exported, never returning to the U.S. Additionally, clarify if exporters are required to file EEI if items are exported under a U.S. obtained ATA Carnet and will be returned within 12 months under the same Carnet.

Response: The Census Bureau clarifies here that reporting of EEI is not required for exports moving under either a U.S. or foreign issued Carnets. All Carnet shipments are exempt from EEI filing under Foreign Trade Regulations, Section 30.37(q) or (r).

Rulemaking Requirements Administrative Procedure Act

The Census Bureau finds good cause pursuant to Title 5, U.S.C., 553(b)(3)(B) to waive prior notice and opportunity for public comment, as contrary to the public interest. The Census Bureau is undertaking this amendment in order to reduce filing burden on the trade community and to ensure consistency with the ATA Carnets for the Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Convention). In particular, this rule reinstates the previous filing exemptions in § 30.37(q) and (r) of the FTR for temporary exports, including Carnets, and goods that were imported under a TIB for return in the same condition as when imported, which will ensure consistency with the ATA Convention, reduce filing requirements, avoid confusion, and ease compliance with the FTR. Additionally, and for similar reasons, the Census Bureau finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this rule. This rule allows for an exemption to the AES filing requirements and imposes no additional requirements or obligations on any member of the public; therefore, delaying its effectiveness is unnecessary.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities.

The purpose and goal of this rule are explained in the preamble, and are not repeated here. This rule does not mandate any new filing requirements and does not directly impact any small or large entities. We received no comments on the certification in the proposed rule; accordingly, no Regulatory Flexibility analysis is required and none has been prepared.

Executive Orders

This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, and has been drafted according to the requirements of those Executive Orders. It has also been determined that this rule does not contain policies with federalism implications as that term is defined under Executive Order 13132.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not contain any information collection subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). However, notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a current and valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 30

Economic statistics, Exports, Foreign trade, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

PART 30—FOREIGN TRADE REGULATIONS Accordingly, as discussed above, the Interim Final Rule amending 15 CFR part 30, which was published at 79 FR 54588 on September 12, 2014, is adopted as a final rule without change. Dated: May 7, 2015. John H. Thompson, Director, Bureau of the Census.
[FR Doc. 2015-11809 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Drug Enforcement Administration 21 CFR Part 1308 [Docket No. DEA-414] Schedules of Controlled Substances: Extension of Temporary Placement of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act AGENCY:

Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice.

ACTION:

Final order.

SUMMARY:

The Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is issuing this final order to extend the temporary placement of (1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone (UR-144), [1-(5-fluoro-pentyl)-1H-indol-3-yl](2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone (5-fluoro-UR-144, XLR11) and N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (APINACA, AKB48), including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible, in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The current final order temporarily placing UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 in schedule I is due to expire on May 15, 2015. This final order will extend the temporary scheduling of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 to May 15, 2016, or until the permanent scheduling action for these three substances is completed, whichever occurs first.

DATES:

This final order is effective May 15, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

John R. Scherbenske, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration; Mailing Address: 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152; Telephone: (202) 598-6812.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On May 16, 2013, the Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration published a Final Order in the Federal Register (78 FR 28735) amending 21 CFR 1308.11(h) to temporarily place three synthetic cannabinoids, namely (1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone (UR-144), [1-(5-fluoro-pentyl)-1H-indol-3-yl](2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone (5-fluoro-UR-144, XLR11), and N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (APINACA, AKB48), in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of 21 U.S.C. 811(h). That final order, which became effective on the date of publication, was based on findings by the Deputy Administrator of the DEA that the temporary scheduling of these three synthetic cannabinoids was necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(h)(1). At the time the final order took effect, section 201(h)(2) of the CSA, 21 U.S.C. 811(h)(2), required that the temporary scheduling of a substance expires at the end of two years from the date of issuance of the order scheduling the substance, except that the Attorney General may, during the pendency of proceedings under 21 U.S.C. 811(a)(1) with respect to the substance, extend the temporary scheduling of that substance for up to one year. Proceedings for the permanent scheduling of a substance under 21 U.S.C. 811(a) may be initiated by the Attorney General (delegated to the Administrator of the DEA pursuant to 28 CFR 0.100) on his or her own motion, at the request of the Secretary of Health and Human Services,1 or on the petition of any interested party.

1 Because the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has delegated to the Assistant Secretary for Health of the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to make domestic drug scheduling recommendations, for purposes of this Final Order, all subsequent references to “Secretary” have been replaced with “Assistant Secretary.”

In this case, the DEA initiated permanent scheduling proceedings on its own motion pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(a). The DEA has gathered and reviewed the available information regarding the pharmacology, chemistry, trafficking, actual abuse, pattern of abuse, and the relative potential for abuse for these three synthetic cannabinoids. On August 31, 2013, the DEA submitted a request to the HHS to provide the DEA with a scientific and medical evaluation of available information and a scheduling recommendation for UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(b) and (c). Upon evaluating the scientific and medical evidence, the HHS on May 12, 2015, submitted to the Administrator of the DEA its three scientific and medical evaluations entitled, “Basis For the Recommendation to Place 1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl 2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl methanone (UR-144) and its Salts in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA),” “Basis For the Recommendation to Place 1-(5-fluoro-pentyl)-1H-indol-3-yl](2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl methanone (XLR11) and its Salts in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA),” and “Basis For the Recommendation to Place N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (AKB48) and its Salts in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).” Upon receipt of the scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendations from the HHS, the DEA reviewed the documents and all other relevant data, and conducted its own eight-factor analysis of the abuse potential of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(c). The DEA is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Placement of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 into schedule I. The Administrator thereby has initiated proceedings regarding UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 in accordance with 21 U.S.C. 811(a)(1). Therefore, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(h)(2), the Administrator of the DEA hereby orders that the temporary scheduling of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48, including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible, be extended to May 15, 2016, or until the proceedings to permanently schedule these three substances is completed, whichever occurs first.

In accordance with this final order, the schedule I requirements for handling UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48, including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible, will remain in effect until May 15, 2016, or until the permanent scheduling proceeding is completed, whichever occurs first.

Regulatory Matters

Section 201(h) of the CSA, 21 U.S.C. 811(h), provides for an expedited temporary scheduling action where such action is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. As provided in this subsection, the Attorney General may, by order, schedule a substance in schedule I on a temporary basis. Section 201(h) of the CSA, 21 U.S.C. 811(h) also provides that the temporary scheduling of a substance shall expire at the end of two years from the date of the issuance of the order scheduling such substance, except that the Attorney General may, during the pendency of proceedings to permanently schedule the substance, extend the temporary scheduling for up to one year.

Inasmuch as section 201(h) of the CSA directs that temporary scheduling actions be issued by order and sets forth the procedures by which such orders are to be issued and extended, the DEA believes that the notice and comment requirements of section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553, do not apply to this extension of the temporary scheduling action. In the alternative, even assuming that this action might be subject to section 553 of the APA, the Administrator finds that there is good cause to forgo the notice and comment requirements of section 553, as any further delays in the process for extending the temporary scheduling order would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest in view of the manifest urgency to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. Further, the DEA believes that this final order extending the temporary scheduling action is not a “rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 601(2), and, accordingly, is not subject to the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The requirements for the preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis in 5 U.S.C. 603(a) are not applicable where, as here, the DEA is not required by section 553 of the APA or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking.

Additionally, this action is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), section 3(f), and, accordingly, this action has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

This action 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 Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) it is determined that this action does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Pursuant to section 808(2) of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), “any rule for which an agency for good cause finds * * * that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, shall take effect at such time as the Federal agency promulgating the rule determines.” 5 U.S.C. 808(2). It is in the public interest to maintain the temporary placement of UR-144, XLR11, and AKB48 in schedule I because they pose a public health risk. The temporary scheduling action was taken pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(h), which is specifically designed to enable the DEA to act in an expeditious manner to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. 21 U.S.C. 811(h) exempted the temporary scheduling order from standard notice and comment rulemaking procedures to ensure that the process moved swiftly, and this extension of the temporary scheduling order continues to serve that purpose. For the same reasons that underlie 21 U.S.C. 811(h), that is, the DEA's need to place these substances in schedule I because they pose an imminent hazard to public safety, it would be contrary to the public interest to delay implementation of this extension of the temporary scheduling order. Therefore, in accordance with section 808(2) of the CRA, this final order extending the temporary scheduling order shall take effect immediately upon its publication. Pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Congressional Review Act) (5 U.S.C. 801-808), the DEA has submitted a copy of this final order to both Houses of Congress and to the Comptroller General.

Dated: May 12, 2015. Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-11765 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-09-P
DEPARTMENT OF STATE 22 CFR Part 51 [Public Notice: 9133] RIN 1400-AD83 Passports: Official Passports for Officials or Employees of State, Local, Tribal or Territorial Governments Traveling Abroad and Carrying Out Official Duties in Support of the U.S. Government AGENCY:

Department of State.

ACTION:

Interim final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule amends the passport rules for the Department of State to authorize issuing an official passport to an official or employee of a state, local, tribal, or territorial government traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government.

DATES:

This rule is effective May 15, 2015.

The Department of State will accept comments until July 14, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may make comments by any of the following methods, and you must include the RIN in the subject line of your message.

Mail (paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions): ATTN: RIN 1400-AD83, Alice Kottmyer, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser (L/M), U.S. Department of State, Room 4325, 2201 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20520.

Email: [email protected]

• Persons with access to the Internet may view this rule and submit comments by going to www.regulations.gov, and searching for the rule by its RIN, 1400-AD83.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alice Kottmyer, Attorney-Adviser, [email protected], 202-647-2318.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

22 CFR 51.3(b) provides that an “official passport” may be issued to: An official or employee of the U.S. government traveling abroad to carry out official duties; spouses and family members of such persons; and, when authorized by the Department of State, U.S. government contractors traveling abroad to carry out official duties on behalf of the U.S. government.

Increasingly, the federal government utilizes officials or employees of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in support of federal activities, both domestically and overseas, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force. When required to travel internationally in support of such federal activities, these individuals are not currently eligible for official passports. Issuance of an official passport to such individuals signifies to foreign governments that they are carrying out official duties in support of the U.S. government. The activities undertaken by these officials are often of pressing national security, law enforcement, or humanitarian importance and occur with little advance notice. It is in the U.S. government's interest to provide these individuals the travel documents necessary to allow them to travel in a timely manner.

Under 22 U.S.C. 211a et seq., the Secretary of State has the authority to make rules for the granting and issuance of passports. The Department is amending section 51.3(b) of 22 CFR to authorize issuing official passports to an official or employee of a state, local, tribal, or territorial government traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government.

Regulatory Findings Administrative Procedure Act

The Department is publishing this rule as an interim final rule, effective on the date of publication, pursuant to the “good cause” exemption of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B). The Department finds that delaying the effect of this rule until after notice and comment would be impractical, unnecessary, and contrary to public interest. The Department finds that providing the necessary travel documents to these individuals to allow them to travel in support of U.S. government interests provides a compelling justification for immediate approval of this rule. Therefore, this rule is effective on the date of publication. See 5 U.S.C. 553(d). However, the Department solicits—and welcomes—comments on this rulemaking, and will address relevant comments in a final rule.

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 rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6).

Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995

This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local, tribal, or territorial governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any year and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.

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 effect on the economy of $100 million or more. See 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

This rule is not economically significant under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f)(1), because it will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. The Department expects the rule's impact on the public to be minimal. The Department has reviewed this rule to ensure its consistency with the regulatory philosophy and principles set forth in the Executive Orders.

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.

Executive Order 13175—Effect on Tribes

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

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 Part 51

Passports.

Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the preamble, 22 CFR part 51 is amended as follows:

PART 51—PASSPORTS 1. The authority citation for part 51 continues to read as follows: Authority:

8 U.S.C. 1504; 18 U.S.C. 1621; 22 U.S.C. 211a, 212, 213, 213n (Pub. L. 106-113 Div. B, Sec. 1000(a)(7) [Div. A, Title II, Sec. 236], 113 Stat. 1536, 1501A-430); 214, 214a, 217a, 218, 2651a, 2671(d)(3), 2705, 2714, 2721, & 3926; 26 U.S.C. 6039E; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 42 U.S.C. 652(k) [Div. B, Title V of Pub. L. 103-317, 108 Stat. 1760]; E.O. 11295, Aug. 6, 1966, FR 10603, 3 CFR, 1966-1970 Comp., p. 570; Sec. 1 of Pub. L. 109-210, 120 Stat. 319; Sec. 2 of Pub. L. 109-167, 119 Stat. 3578; Sec. 5 of Pub. L. 109-472, 120 Stat. 3554; Pub. L. 108-447, Div. B, Title IV, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 2809; Pub. L. 108-458, 118 Stat. 3638, 3823 (Dec. 17, 2004).

2. Revise paragraph (b) of § 51.3 to read as follows:
§ 51.3 Types of passports.

(b) Official passport. When authorized by the Department, an official passport may be issued to:

(1) An official or employee of the U.S. government traveling abroad to carry out official duties, and family members of such persons;

(2) A U.S. government contractor traveling abroad to carry out official duties on behalf of the U.S. government; or

(3) An official or employee of a state, local, tribal, or territorial government traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government.

Patrick F. Kennedy, Undersecretary For Management.
[FR Doc. 2015-11687 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4710-24-P
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION 29 CFR Part 4022 Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule amends the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's regulation on Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans to prescribe interest assumptions under the regulation for valuation dates in June 2015. The interest assumptions are used for paying benefits under terminating single-employer plans covered by the pension insurance system administered by PBGC.

DATES:

Effective June 1, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine B. Klion ([email protected]), Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-4024. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

PBGC's regulation on Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4022) prescribes actuarial assumptions—including interest assumptions—for paying plan benefits under terminating single-employer plans covered by title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The interest assumptions in the regulation are also published on PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

PBGC uses the interest assumptions in Appendix B to Part 4022 to determine whether a benefit is payable as a lump sum and to determine the amount to pay. Appendix C to Part 4022 contains interest assumptions for private-sector pension practitioners to refer to if they wish to use lump-sum interest rates determined using PBGC's historical methodology. Currently, the rates in Appendices B and C of the benefit payment regulation are the same.

The interest assumptions are intended to reflect current conditions in the financial and annuity markets. Assumptions under the benefit payments regulation are updated monthly. This final rule updates the benefit payments interest assumptions for June 2015.1

1 Appendix B to PBGC's regulation on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4044) prescribes interest assumptions for valuing benefits under terminating covered single-employer plans for purposes of allocation of assets under ERISA section 4044. Those assumptions are updated quarterly.

The June 2015 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 0.75 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for May 2015, these interest assumptions are unchanged.

PBGC has determined that notice and public comment on this amendment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This finding is based on the need to determine and issue new interest assumptions promptly so that the assumptions can reflect current market conditions as accurately as possible.

Because of the need to provide immediate guidance for the payment of benefits under plans with valuation dates during June 2015, PBGC finds that good cause exists for making the assumptions set forth in this amendment effective less than 30 days after publication.

PBGC has determined that this action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

Because no general notice of proposed rulemaking is required for this amendment, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 does not apply. See 5 U.S.C. 601(2).

List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 4022

Employee benefit plans, Pension insurance, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

In consideration of the foregoing, 29 CFR part 4022 is amended as follows:

PART 4022—BENEFITS PAYABLE IN TERMINATED SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 4022 continues to read as follows: Authority:

29 U.S.C. 1302, 1322, 1322b, 1341(c)(3)(D), and 1344.

2. In appendix B to part 4022, Rate Set 260, as set forth below, is added to the table. Appendix B to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for PBGC Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation
  • date
  • On or after Before Immediate annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 260 6-1-15 7-1-15 0.75 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8
    3. In appendix C to part 4022, Rate Set 260, as set forth below, is added to the table. Appendix C to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for Private-Sector Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation
  • date
  • On or after Before Immediate annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 260 6-1-15 7-1-15 0.75 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8
    Issued in Washington, DC, on this 6th day of May 2015. Judith Starr, General Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11858 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7709-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket No. USCG-2015-0252] Special Local Regulation; Annual Marine Events on the Colorado River, Between Davis Dam (Bullhead City, Arizona) and Headgate Dam (Parker, Arizona) Within the San Diego Captain of the Port Zone AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of enforcement of regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard will enforce the Great Western Parker Tube Float marine event and associated waterway special local regulations from 7 a.m. through 4 p.m. on June 6, 2015. This annual marine event occurs in the navigable waters of the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona, covering eight miles of the waterway from the La Paz County Park to the Headgate Dam. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of the participants, crew, spectators, safety vessels, and general users of the waterway. During the enforcement period, persons and vessels are prohibited from entering into, transiting through, or anchoring within this regulated area unless authorized by the Captain of the Port, or his designated representative.

    DATES:

    The regulations in 33 CFR 100.1102, Table 1, item 9 will be enforced from 7 a.m. through 4 p.m. on June 6, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this document, call or email Petty Officer Nick Bateman, Waterways Management, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego, CA; telephone 619-278-7656, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Coast Guard will enforce the special local regulations for the annual Great Western Parker Tube Float in 33 CFR 100.1102, Table 1, Item 9 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 6, 2015.

    Under the provisions of 33 CFR 100.1102, persons and vessels are prohibited from entering into, transiting through, or anchoring within this regulated area of the Colorado River unless authorized by the Captain of the Port, or his designated representative. The Coast Guard may be assisted by other Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies in enforcing this regulation.

    This document is issued under authority of 33 CFR 100.1102 and 5 U.S.C. 552(a). In addition to this document in the Federal Register, the Coast Guard will provide the maritime community with extensive advance notification of this enforcement period via the Local Notice to Mariners and local advertising by the event sponsor.

    If the Captain of the Port Sector San Diego or his designated representative determines that the regulated area need not be enforced for the full duration stated on this document, he or she may use a Broadcast Notice to Mariners or other communications coordinated with the event sponsor to grant general permission to enter the regulated area.

    Dated: May 4, 2015. J.S. Spaner, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port San Diego.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11808 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005; FRL-9927-72-Region 5] National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 is publishing a direct final Notice of Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site (Site), located in Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan from the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL, promulgated pursuant to Section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix to the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). This direct final deletion is being published by EPA with the concurrence of the State of Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), because EPA has determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    This direct final deletion is effective July 14, 2015 unless EPA receives adverse comments by June 15, 2015. If adverse comments are received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final deletion in the Federal Register informing the public that the deletion will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005, by one of the following methods:

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

    Email: Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, at [email protected] or Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, at [email protected]

    Fax: Gladys Beard, NPL Deletion Process Manager at (312) 697-2077.

    Mail: Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6552, or Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SI-7J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 353-6196 or (800) 621-8431.

    Hand delivery: Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SI-7J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604. Such deliveries are only accepted during the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, excluding federal holidays.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information may not be 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 at http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at:

    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, Phone: (312) 353-1063, Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, excluding federal holidays.

    • Hartford Public Library, 15 Franklin Street, Hartford, MI 49057, Phone: (269) 621-3408, Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6552, or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Contents I. Introduction II. NPL Deletion Criteria III. Deletion Procedures IV. Basis for Site Deletion V. Deletion Action I. Introduction

    EPA Region 5 is publishing this direct final Notice of Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site (Site) from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comment on this action. The NPL constitutes appendix B of 40 CFR part 300, which is the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA promulgated pursuant to Section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (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). This deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Site is issued in accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e) and is consistent with the Notice of Policy Change: Deletion of Site Listed on the National Priorities List, (49 FR 37070) on September 21, 1989. As described in 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.

    Because EPA considers this action to be noncontroversial and routine, this action will be effective July 14, 2015 unless EPA receives adverse comments by June 15, 2015. Along with this direct final Notice of Deletion, EPA is co-publishing a Notice of Intent to Delete in the “Proposed Rules” section of the Federal Register. If adverse comments are received within the 30-day public comment period on this deletion action, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of this direct final Notice of Deletion before the effective date of the deletion, and the deletion will not take effect. EPA will, as appropriate, prepare a response to comments and continue with the deletion process on the basis of the Notice of Intent to Delete and the comments already received. There will be no additional opportunity to comment.

    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 Burrows Sanitation Site and demonstrates how it meets the deletion criteria. Section V discusses EPA's action to delete the site from the NPL unless adverse comments are received during the public comment period.

    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 at these sites even if the 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 Burrows Sanitation Site:

    (1) EPA consulted with the State of Michigan prior to developing this direct final Notice of Deletion and the Notice of Intent to Delete co-published today in the “Proposed Rules” section of the Federal Register.

    (2) EPA has provided the State thirty (30) working days for review of this notice and the parallel Notice of Intent to Delete prior to their publication today, and the State, through the MDEQ, has concurred on the deletion of the Site from the NPL.

    (3) Concurrently with the publication of this direct final Notice of Deletion, a notice of the availability of the parallel Notice of Intent to Delete is being published in a major local newspaper, the “Tri-City Record Newspaper”. The newspaper notice announces the 30-day public comment period concerning the Notice of Intent to Delete the Site from the NPL.

    (4) 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.

    (5) If adverse comments are received within the 30-day public comment period on this deletion action, EPA will publish a timely notice of withdrawal of this direct final Notice of Deletion before its effective date and will prepare a response to comments and continue with the deletion process on the basis of the Notice of Intent to Delete and the comments already received.

    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 information provides EPA's rationale for deleting the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site from the NPL.

    Site Background and History

    The Burrows Sanitation Site (CERCLIS ID: MID98410617) is approximately 10 acres. The Site is located on 54th Avenue in Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan. The property is located in a rural part of Hartford on a portion of property owned by a resident of Hartford Township. Much of the Site is covered with trees, and there are intermittent open areas to the east and northwest of the Site. The property owner lives west of the Site and another homeowner lives south of the Site across 54th Avenue. There are approximately 150 people living in residences further west along 54th Avenue in a trailer park and a small number of other homes. The residences have historically obtained water from private wells that vary in depth up to 100 feet.

    The Site property became contaminated when it was owned by Duane and Evelyn Funk, who agreed to allow Burrows Sanitation, a small septic hauler, to dispose of waste on a remote portion of their property. Burrows Sanitation disposed of wastes on the Site which it had collected from Du-Wel Products Inc., Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company (AUSCO), and Whirlpool Corporation. The wastes were primarily by-products of metal finishing and plating operations, which consisted of hydroxide sludges containing chromium, other metals, as well as some cyanide. The metal hydroxide wastes were deposited in unlined pits when the disposal was taking place between 1970 and 1977.

    Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study

    In 1976, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) took samples from the Site and found elevated levels of copper, chromium and cyanide. In 1984, MDNR conducted further investigations which led it to conclude that the Site posed a human health threat. In July 1984, the Funks, Du-Wel, AUSCO and Whirlpool signed an Administrative Order of Consent (AOC). Pursuant to the AOC, this group of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) proceeded to excavate and remove sludges and contaminated soil from previously identified areas of the Site for off-site disposal.

    EPA began remedial planning as the Burrows Sanitation Site was proposed for the NPL on September 8, 1983, (48 FR 40674). The Site was listed on the NPL on September 21, 1989, (49 FR 37070).

    Record of Decision Findings

    The objectives of the 1986 Record of Decision (ROD) for the Site included the following:

    The remedial action objectives for the selected remedy at the Burrows Sanitation Site are to protect human health by preventing dermal exposure and ingestion of contaminated sludge and soil from the site, prevent ingestion of contaminated groundwater exceeding drinking water criteria, and prevent exposure of aquatic life from contaminated surface waters. The remedy will achieve Safe Drinking Water Act Primary and Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) by groundwater treatment and by surface and subsurface soil excavation and off-site disposal.

    The components of the 1986 ROD for the Site included the following:

    • Purge and treat the contaminated groundwater for approximately 3 years;

    • Drain the artificial Northwest Wetland; and

    • Remove and treat approximately 250 cubic yards of metal hydroxide sludge from the Spill Area No. 2 and the Northwest Wetland. Dispose of the treated waste at an off-site RCRA facility which is in compliance with EPA policy.

    The 1991 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for the Site included the following differences to the 1986 ROD:

    • A scaled down groundwater extraction system based on additional groundwater monitoring since the 1986 ROD.

    • Off-site treatment of contaminated groundwater instead of on-site treatment.

    The 1991 ESD also documented that the soil removal and off-site disposal actions outlined in the 1986 ROD had been completed.

    The 1994 ESD for the Site documented the change in the EPA MCL for chromium which was raised from 50 ppb to 100 ppb (effective July 30, 1992).

    Response Actions

    The first phase of the Remedial Action (RA) was completed in May, 1989. During this first phase of the RA, 320 cubic yards of contaminated surface soils and sediments from the spill area identified in the RI/FS were excavated and transported off-site to a RCRA facility. The soil removal was based on soil sampling investigation results completed and reported in 1986, which outlined the area of contaminated soil and how deeper soils for the location at the water table produced chemical concentrations comparable to background. The blockage in the artificial Northwest Wetland was removed and re-channeled. As a result, only the groundwater remained to be treated.

    The additional groundwater investigations undertaken in 1989 involved the installation of five new PVC monitoring well nests on the Site. Three rounds of additional groundwater sampling were completed at the Burrows Site in 1990, one each in March, June, and September of that year. Groundwater samples were analyzed for the chemicals of concern, which included dissolved zinc, dissolved chromium, dissolved copper, dissolved lead, and dissolved nickel. Analytical results for the three rounds of groundwater sampling determined that all chemicals of concern were below the groundwater cleanup standards except for an exceedance of dissolved chromium.

    The groundwater extraction system including an extraction well, storage tank, and associated equipment for extracting groundwater and removing it for off-site treatment was constructed at the Site between July and September 1991. Groundwater extraction began at the Burrows Site in August of 1992 and continued until December 1993. During that period a total of 2,600,000 gallons of groundwater were extracted and taken for off-site treatment and disposal to the Kalamazoo, Michigan Water Reclamation Plant.

    Remedial Action construction activities officially concluded in April of 1993 with the completion and signing of the Preliminary Close-Out Report for the Burrows Site.

    Institutional Controls

    Institutional Controls (“ICs”) are non-engineered instruments, such as administrative and legal controls, that help to minimize the potential for exposure to contamination and that protect the integrity of the remedy. ICs are required to assure the long-term protectiveness for any areas which do not allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure (UU/UE). As explained further, none of EPA's decision documents (ROD, ESD, CD or Amended CD) for this Site required ICs in order to assure Site protectiveness since UU/UE would be allowed for all Site areas. The remedy is considered by EPA to be protective of human health and the environment without the need for ICs.

    EPA sent out a letter in October 1999 notifying the Burrows Settling Defendants of Completion of Remedial Action under the requirements of the 1992 Amended CD. Site access and use of the land by property owners is now unrestricted, based on completion of the remedial action requirements under the 1992 Amended CD. Both the 1990 CD and the 1992 Amended CD provided that after EPA certification of completion of the remedial action, additional response actions could be required if conditions previously unknown to the United States are discovered or information is received which indicate that the remedial action is not protective of human health and the environment. EPA believes the remedial action completed at this Site is protective of human health and the environment, and it does not plan to require additional remedial action.

    Cleanup Goals

    The post-ROD groundwater monitoring conducted to date by EPA shows that the groundwater has met the drinking water standards outlined in the decision documents and the Amended CD. Therefore, the remedial action conducted at the Site has achieved UU/UE for all site areas. Since the Site remedy has achieved UU/UE, no ICs are required at the Site to assure long-term protectiveness.

    MDEQ has conducted independent residential well sampling in the area surrounding the Burrows Site through various County Health Departments from 2002 to 2014. EPA concurred with the MDEQ residential well sampling program. MDEQ contacted the Van Buren-Cass County District Health Department to arrange for sampling of local residential wells beginning in 2002. Van Buren-Cass County District Health Department implemented an annual sampling program for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at local residential wells. The 2007 sampling results at the five locations were consistent with previous results, which demonstrated that the presence of volatile organic compounds was not detected at the residential wells sampled. MDEQ stated they planned to include metals in the residential well sampling program beginning in 2008.

    Since the 2008 five year review, MDEQ coordinated with Berrien County to collect samples at local residential wells. The 2012 and 2013 results continued to show no detections of volatile organic compounds. Some of the locations were also sampled for metals analysis. None of the metals were detected at concentrations above MCLs although residences exceeded the aesthetic drinking water value of 0.3 mg/l for iron in a range of 0.72-1.42 mg/l. Since no site-related impacts have been seen in the area residential well monitoring conducted over the last several years, MDEQ now believes that it is appropriate to delete the site from the NPL.

    While MDEQ had historical concerns regarding the adequacy of groundwater plume characterization, MDEQ now agrees that the implemented remedial actions have been sufficient to address the known risks at the Site.

    EPA has determined that the Site is subject to zoning by the local government and the Site is currently zoned for agricultural use. However, limiting the Site to agricultural land use is not a condition of the Superfund remedy.

    Operation and Maintenance

    The implemented remedial actions have been sufficient to address the known risks at the Site. In addition, no-site related impacts have been seen in the residential wells that have been monitored by the MDEQ over the past several years. Effective immediately, the MDEQ will terminate monitoring of the residential wells in the vicinity of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site.

    Five-Year Review

    A Five Year Review Report for the Site was completed in February 2013. In the report, EPA viewed the Burrows Sanitation Site as eligible for deletion from the NPL. There were no recommendations and follow-up actions noted in the 2013 Five Year Review Report. Since all clean up goals have been achieved and the site is now unlimited use/unrestricted exposure no additional Five Year Reviews are necessary.

    Community Involvement

    Public participation activities have been satisfied as required in CERCLA Section 113(k), 42 U.S.C. 9613(k), and CERCLA section 117, 42 U.S.C. 9617. Documents in the deletion docket which EPA relied on for recommendation of the deletion of this site from the NPL are available to the public in the information repositories and at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Determination That the Site Meets the Criteria for Deletion in the NCP

    The implemented remedy achieves the degree of cleanup specified in the ROD for all pathways of exposure. All selected remedial action objectives and clean-up goals are consistent with agency policy and guidance. No further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment at the Site.

    The NCP (40 CFR 300.425(e)) states that a site may be deleted from the NPL when no further response action is appropriate. EPA, in consultation with the State of Michigan, has determined that all required response actions have been implemented and no further response action by the responsible parties is appropriate.

    V. Deletion Action

    EPA, with concurrence from the State of Michigan through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA have been completed. Therefore, EPA is deleting the Site from the NPL.

    Because EPA considers this action to be noncontroversial and routine, EPA is taking it without prior publication. This action will be effective July 14, 2015 unless EPA receives adverse comments by June 15, 2015. If adverse comments are received within the 30-day public comment period, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of this direct final Notice of Deletion before the effective date of the deletion, and it will not take effect. EPA will prepare a response to comments and continue with the deletion process on the basis of the Notice of Intent to Delete and the comments already received. There will be no additional opportunity to comment.

    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, and Water supply.

    Dated: April 30, 2015. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, Region 5.

    For the reasons set out in this document, 40 CFR part 300 is amended as follows:

    PART 300—NATIONAL OIL AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES POLLUTION CONTINGENCY PLAN 1. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3CFR, 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.

    Appendix B to Part 300—[Amended] 2. Table 1 of appendix B to part 300 is amended by removing the entry “MI Burrows Sanitation, Hartford.”
    [FR Doc. 2015-11801 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 42 CFR Part 37 Specifications for Medical Examinations of Coal Miners CFR Correction

    In Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1 to 399, revised as of October 1, 2014, on page 195, in § 37.204, remove the second introductory paragraph.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11722 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 74 [DA 15-486] Suspension of September 1, 2015 Digital Transition Date for Low Power Television and TV Translator Stations AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; suspension of regulations.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) announced that, effective May 15, 2015, the September 1, 2015 digital transition date for low power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations is hereby suspended. The Commission will decide on a new transition date in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185. Until a decision is reached in the rulemaking and the Commission can determine the effect of the future incentive auction and repacking, LPTV and TV translator stations may delay completing construction of their digital facilities.

    DATES:

    Effective May 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shaun Maher, Video Division, Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, [email protected], (202) 418-2324.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Effective May 15, 2015, the September 1, 2015 digital transition date for LPTV and TV translator stations is suspended pending final action in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185 (79 FR 70824 (Nov. 28, 2014)). The Commission will decide on a new transition date in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185. Until a decision is reached in the rulemaking and the Commission can determine the effect of the future incentive auction and repacking, LPTV and TV translator stations may delay completing construction of their digital facilities. Class A television stations are still subject to the September 1, 2015 transition date and analog Class A stations may no longer operate in analog mode after 11:59 p.m., local time, on September 1, 2015. Class A television stations that have not completed constructing their digital facilities by the transition date must go silent while they complete construction.

    Class A television stations are also reminded that the Commission has designated May 29, 2015, as the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline by which Class A television stations' digital facilities must be licensed in order to be eligible for protection in the repacking process that will be part of the incentive auction. In order for a Class A television station's digital facility to be afforded protection in the repacking process, it must be licensed or have an application for a license to cover on file by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Although Class A television stations may wait until the September 1, 2015, digital transition deadline to complete construction and license their digital facilities, those that do not have their digital facilities licensed by May 29, 2015, will be afforded protection based only on the coverage area and population served by their analog facilities.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 74

    Television.

    Federal Communications Commission. Barbara Kreisman, Chief, Video Division, Media Bureau.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 74 as follows:

    PART 74—EXPERIMENTAL RADIO, AUXILIARY, SPECIAL BROADCAST AND OTHER PROGRAM DISTRIBUTIONAL SERVICES 1. The authority citation for part 74 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 307, 309, 336 and 554.

    2. In § 74.731, revise paragraph (l) to read as follows:
    § 74.731 Purpose and permissible service.

    (l) After 11:59 p.m. local time on September 1, 2015, Class A television stations may no longer operate any facility in analog (NTSC) mode.

    [FR Doc. 2015-10226 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 120328229-4949-02] RIN 0648-XD902 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; General and Angling category retention limit adjustments for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT); Purse Seine category BFT fishery start date.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is adjusting the General category BFT daily retention limit for June 1 through August 31, 2015, and the Angling category BFT daily retention limit for the remainder of 2015. In addition, NMFS is announcing July 6, 2015, as the start date for this year's Purse Seine category fishery. The General category daily retention limit is adjusted to four large medium or giant BFT. This adjustment applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing commercially for BFT. The Angling category daily retention limit is adjusted to: Two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip for charter vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/Headboat permits when fishing recreationally); and one school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits). These retention limits are effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT. These actions are based on consideration of the applicable regulatory determination criteria.

    DATES:

    The Angling category retention limit is effective May 15, 2015 through December 31, 2015. The General category retention limit is effective June 1, 2015, through August 31, 2015. The Purse Seine category fishery will start July 6, 2015, and continue through December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978-281-9260.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and in accordance with implementing regulations. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota.

    The currently codified baseline U.S. quota is 923.7 mt (not including the 25 mt ICCAT allocated to the United States to account for bycatch of BFT in pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant Gear Restricted Area). Among other things, Amendment 7 revised the allocations to all quota categories, effective January 1, 2015. See § 635.27(a).

    The 2015 BFT fishing year, which is managed on a calendar-year basis and subject to an annual quota, began January 1, 2015. The Angling category season opened January 1, 2015, and continues through December 31, 2015. The size classes of BFT are summarized in Table 1. Please note that large school and small medium BFT traditionally have been managed as one size class, as described below, i.e., a limit of one large school/small medium BFT (measuring 47 to less than 73 inches).

    Table 1—BFT Size Classes Size class Curved fork length School 27 to less than 47 inches (68.5 to less than 119 cm). Large school 47 to less than 59 inches (119 to less than 150 cm). Small medium 59 to less than 73 inches (150 to less than 185 cm). Large medium 73 to less than 81 inches (185 to less than 206 cm). Giant 81 inches or greater (206 cm or greater).

    Currently, the default Angling category daily retention limit of one school, large school, or small medium BFT applies (§ 635.23(b)(2)). This retention limit applies to HMS Angling and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels (when fishing recreationally for BFT). In 2014, NMFS adjusted the daily retention limit from the default level to one school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits); and two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT for charter vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/Headboat permits when fishing recreationally), effective May 8 through December 31 (79 FR 25707, May 6, 2014).

    The General category season was open January 1 through March 31, 2015 (the “January” category time period), resumes on June 1, 2015, and continues through December 31, 2015. Unless changed, the General category daily retention limit would be the default retention limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip (§ 635.23(a)(2)). The General category default retention limit applies to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing commercially for BFT.

    For the 2014 fishing year, NMFS adjusted the General category limit from the default level of one large medium or giant BFT as follows: Two large medium or giant BFT for January (78 FR 77362, December 23, 2013), four large medium or giant BFT for June through August (79 FR 30745, May 29, 2014), and four large medium or giant BFT for September through December (79 FR 50854, August 26, 2014). NMFS adjusted the daily retention limit for the 2015 January subquota period from the default level of one large medium or giant BFT to three large medium or giant BFT (79 FR 77943, December 29, 2014). In that action, NMFS also transferred 21 mt of BFT quota from the December 2015 subquota to the January 2015 subquota period.

    Adjustment of Daily Retention Limits

    In adjusting the daily retention limits in this action, NMFS considered the factors required by regulatory criteria, as discussed in more detail, below.

    Under § 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the General category daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a maximum of five per vessel. Under § 635.23(b)(3), NMFS may increase or decrease the Angling category retention limit for any size class of BFT. Any adjustments to retention limits must be based on consideration of the relevant criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8), which include: The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock; the catches of the particular category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made; the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT before the end of the fishing year; the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded; effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding and overfishing; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of BFT; effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the category's quota; review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the BFT on the fishing grounds; optimizing fishing opportunity; accounting for dead discards, facilitating quota monitoring, supporting other fishing monitoring programs through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue; and support of research through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue. Recreational retention limits may be adjusted separately for specific vessel type, such as private vessels, headboats, or charter vessels.

    NMFS has considered these criteria and their applicability to the General category BFT retention limit for June-August 2015 and to the Angling category BFT retention limit for the remainder of 2015. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following. Biological samples collected from BFT landed by recreational and commercial fishermen and provided by BFT dealers continue to provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. A principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full Angling category quota and the June—August General category subquota without exceeding them based upon the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP goal: “Consistent with other objectives of this FMP, to manage Atlantic HMS fisheries for continuing optimum yield so as to provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production, providing recreational opportunities, preserving traditional fisheries, and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems.” It is also important that NMFS constrain landings to BFT subquotas both to adhere to the FMP quota allocations and to ensure that landings are as consistent as possible with the pattern of fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age) that was assumed in the projections of stock rebuilding.

    NMFS also considered the fact that it is in the process of proposing a rule that would implement and give domestic effect to the 2014 ICCAT recommendation on western Atlantic BFT management, which increased the U.S. BFT quota for 2015 and 2016 by 14 percent from the 2014 level. The domestic subquotas to be proposed in that action would result from application of the allocation process established in Amendment 7 to the increased U.S. quota. As explained below, however, the retention limits being set in this action are not dependent on those quota increases.

    The currently codified Angling category quota is 168.6 mt (94.9 mt for school BFT, 69.8 mt for large school/small medium BFT, and 3.9 mt for large medium/giant BFT). If the proposed quota rule (discussed above) is finalized as proposed, the Angling category quota could be expected to increase to 195.2 mt (108.4 mt for school BFT, 82.3 mt for large school/small medium BFT, and 4.5 mt for large medium/giant BFT). The currently codified General category quota is 403 mt. Each of the General category time periods (“January,” June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a portion of the annual General category quota. The codified June through August subquota is 201.5 mt. Under the proposed quota rule NMFS is preparing, the General category quota would increase to 466.7 mt and the June through August General category subquota would increase to 233.3 mt.

    Angling Category Daily Retention Limit Adjustment

    In addition to the considerations that apply to both the General and Angling category retention limit adjustments, described above, NMFS has considered the regulatory determination criteria and their applicability to the Angling category BFT retention limit. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following. Under the Angling category limits in effect for 2014 (described above), Angling category landings were approximately 112 mt (62 percent of the 182-mt subquota), with 24.7 mt of school BFT landed (26 percent of the 94.9-mt school BFT subquota). Given that the landings fell short of the available quota, that additional quota is anticipated to be available this year as a result of the 2014 ICCAT recommendation, and considering the regulatory criteria above, NMFS has determined that the Angling category retention limit applicable to participants on HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels should be adjusted upwards from the default level. NMFS has also concluded that implementation of separate limits for private and charter/headboat vessels remains appropriate, recognizing the different nature, socio-economic needs, and recent landings results of the two components of the recreational BFT fishery. For example, charter operators historically have indicated that a multi-fish retention limit is vital to their ability to attract customers. In addition, Large Pelagics Survey estimates indicate that charter/headboat BFT landings averaged approximately 30 percent of recent recreational landings for 2013 through 2014, with the remaining 70 percent landed by private vessels.

    Therefore, for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits), the limit is one school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip (i.e., one BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). For charter vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/Headboat permits), the limit is two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip when fishing recreationally for BFT (i.e., two BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). These retention limits are effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing.

    NMFS anticipates that the BFT daily retention limits in this action will result in landings during 2015 that would not exceed the available subquotas (both those codified and as expected to be proposed). Lower retention limits could result in substantial underharvest of the codified Angling category subquota, and increasing the daily limits further may risk exceeding the available quota, contrary to the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Further increasing the school BFT retention limit for private and charter vessels could be possible without exceeding the annual school BFT subquota (both the amount currently codified and the amount that NMFS anticipates proposing in the quota rule shortly), given that the 2014 Angling category landings represented 66 percent of the currently-codified Angling category quota and 57 percent of the soon-to-be-proposed Angling category quota. Nevertheless, NMFS has concluded that retention limits consistent with last year's remain appropriate given the need to not exceed the ICCAT tolerance limit on school BFT and other considerations, such as potential effort shifts to BFT fishing as a result of current, reduced recreational retention limits for New England groundfish and striped bass. NMFS will monitor 2015 landings closely and will make further adjustments, including closure if necessary, with an inseason action if warranted.

    General Category Daily Retention Limit Adjustment

    In addition to the considerations that apply to both the General and Angling category retention limit adjustments, described above, NMFS has considered the regulatory determination criteria and their applicability to the General category BFT retention limit for the June—August 2015 General category fishery. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following. Commercial-size BFT are anticipated to migrate to the fishing grounds off the northeast U.S. coast by early June. Based on General category landings rates during the June through August time period over the last several years, it is highly unlikely that the June through August subquota (both the currently codified amount and the amount that will be proposed) will be filled with the default daily retention limit of one BFT per vessel, and it may not be filled at a three-BFT limit if recent patterns of BFT availability and landings rates continue. During the June—August 2013 period, under a three-fish limit, BFT landings were approximately 108 mt (50 percent of the available subquota for that period). In the June—August 2014 period, under a four-fish limit, BFT landings were approximately 107 mt (49 percent of the subquota). For the entire 2014 fishing year, 94.6 percent of the General category quota was filled.

    A limit lower than four fish could result in unused quota being added to the later portion of the General category season (i.e., rolling forward to the subsequent subquota time period). Increasing the daily retention limit from the default may mitigate rolling an excessive amount of unused quota from one time-period subquota to the next. However, increasing the daily limit to five fish may risk exceeding the available June—August subquota. NMFS has also received comment over recent years from General category fishery participants and BFT dealers that a five-fish limit at this time of year may negatively affect market prices as the fish quality tends to be lower earlier in the year. Increasing the daily retention limit to four fish will increase the likelihood that the General category BFT landings will approach, but not exceed, the annual quota, as well as increase the opportunity for catching BFT harvest during the June through August subquota period. Increasing (and sometimes maximizing) opportunity within each subquota period is also important because of the migratory nature and seasonal distribution of BFT. In a particular geographic region, or waters accessible from a particular port, the amount of fishing opportunity for BFT may be constrained by the short amount of time the BFT are present.

    Based on these considerations, NMFS has determined that a four-fish General category retention limit is warranted. It would provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. quota of BFT, without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery; allow the collection of a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes; and be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Therefore, NMFS increases the General category retention limit from the default limit to four large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip, effective June 1, 2015, through August 31, 2015.

    Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, during the June through August period, whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the day/trip limit of four fish applies and may not be exceeded upon landing. This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeting fishing for BFT, and applies to those vessels permitted in the General category, as well as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels fishing commercially for BFT.

    These retention limit adjustments are intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. quota of BFT without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; and to be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. The adjustments are consistent with the quotas previously implemented and analyzed in the 2011 BFT quota final rule, as adjusted by the final rule to implement Amendment 7, and consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, and are not expected to negatively impact stock health. The adjustments also are supported by the Supplemental Environmental Assessment prepared for the 2013 quota specifications and the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Regulatory Impact Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis prepared for Amendment 7.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely through the mandatory landings and catch reports. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. General, HMS Charter/Headboat, Harpoon, and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov.

    HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat category permit holders may catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at § 635.26. Anglers are also reminded that all BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize survival, and without removing the fish from the water, consistent with requirements at § 635.21(a)(1). For additional information on safe handling, see the “Careful Catch and Release” brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments or closures are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. Subsequent actions, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments.

    Purse Seine Category BFT Fishery Start Date

    Amendment 7 revised the fishery start date to be set annually by NMFS between June 1 and August 15. The start date was made more flexible to optimize fishing opportunity for Purse Seine category vessels and to minimize potential gear conflicts or the impacts of oversupply on the market.

    Under § 635.27(a)(4), NMFS may start the Purse Seine category BFT fishery between June 1 and August 15. Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine category fishery will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of BFT, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. In the past, NMFS has received comments from fishermen that use commercial handgear expressing concern that purse seining activity may disrupt their ability to capture BFT at the surface (i.e., harpoon gear) if purse seining occurs early in the season (i.e., in the month of June) and for rod and reel fishing if the activities are concentrated later in the season (i.e., mid-July through the fall). NMFS has also received comments expressing concern about potential oversupply of the market by purse seine vessel(s) offloading a large amount of fish at once, and, as a result, lower ex-vessel prices, particularly early in the season (i.e., the month of June) when fish quality and prices tend to be lower.

    In 2004 through 2014, the Purse Seine category BFT fishery started on July 15 of each year (68 FR 74504, December 24, 2003). Since 2006, Purse Seine category landings have been low relative to available quota for the category, with no BFT harvested in 2008, 2010, and 2011.

    Based on these considerations, NMFS has determined that a 2015 Purse Seine category BFT fishery start date of July 6 is warranted. The July 6 start date would alleviate issues with potential gear conflicts in June and early July (including over the July 4 holiday weekend) and concerns about market impacts caused by potential oversupply, thus balancing the needs of the Harpoon, General, and Purse Seine category fisheries. It would provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. BFT quota, without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help achieve optimum yield in the Purse Seine category BFT fishery; and be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Therefore, NMFS sets the purse seine fishery start date for July 6, 2015, through December 31, 2015.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the Purse Seine category BFT fishery closely through the mandatory landings and catch reports. Consistent with the regulations implementing Amendment 7, purse seine vessel operators are required to use their vessel monitoring system (VMS) to report to NMFS as follows: For each purse seine set, as instructed by NMFS, the date and area of the set, and the length of all BFT retained (actual), and the length of all BFT discarded dead or alive (approximate), must be reported within 12 hours of the completion of the retrieval of each set.

    Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons:

    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended, provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Based on available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, among other considerations, adjustment to the General and Angling category BFT daily retention limits from the default levels is warranted. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment to the BFT daily retention limit from the default level would result in minimal risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended, also provide the flexibility to set the Purse Seine category BFT fishery start date between June 1 and August 15 based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of BFT, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS provides notification of retention limit adjustments and the purse seine fishery start date by publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on hmspermits.noaa.gov.

    Delays in increasing these retention limits would adversely affect those HMS General, Angling, and Charter/Headboat category vessels that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the default retention limit of one school, large school, or small medium BFT per day/trip for the Angling category, or one BFT per day/trip for the General category, and may exacerbate the problem of low catch rates and quota rollovers. In addition, delays in starting the Purse Seine category BFT fishery would adversely affect those purse seine vessels that would otherwise harvest BFT during that time. Limited opportunities to harvest the respective quotas may have negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available quota within the time periods designated in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Purse Seine category fishermen need sufficient advance notice of the specific start date of the fishery in order to plan fishing trips, including meeting VMS requirements and arranging for observer coverage. Adjustment of the General category retention limit needs to be effective June 1, 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter, to minimize any unnecessary disruption in fishing patterns, to allow the impacted sectors to benefit from the adjustment, and to not preclude fishing opportunities for fishermen who have access to the fishery only during this time period. In addition, fisheries under the Angling category daily retention limit are currently underway and delaying this action would be contrary to the public interest. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.

    This action is being taken under §§ 635.23(a)(4), 635.23(b)(3), and 635.27(a)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11791 Filed 5-12-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 94 Friday, May 15, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0034] Proposed Priority—Rehabilitation Training: Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center—Youth With Disabilities AGENCY:

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Proposed priority.

    [CFDA Number: 84.264H.] SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority under the Rehabilitation Training program. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and later years. This priority is designed to ensure that professionals working in State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies receive the technical assistance they need to provide youth with disabilities with services and supports that lead to postsecondary education and competitive integrated employment.

    DATES:

    We must receive your comments on or before June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under “Are you new to the site?”

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you mail or deliver your comments about these proposed regulations, address them to Tara Jordan, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5040, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800.

    Privacy Note:

    The Department's policy is to make all comments received from members of the public available for public viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly available.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tara Jordan. Telephone: (202) 245-7341 or by email: [email protected].

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priority, we urge you to identify clearly the specific section of the proposed priority that each comment addresses.

    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from this proposed priority. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.

    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about these proposed regulations by accessing Regulations.gov. You may also inspect the comments in person in room 5040, 550 12th Street SW., PCP, Washington, DC, 20202-2800, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. Please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Purpose of Program: Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Rehabilitation Services Administration makes grants to States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations (including institutions of higher education) to support projects that provide training, traineeships, and technical assistance designed to increase the numbers of, and improve the skills of, qualified personnel (especially rehabilitation counselors) who are trained to: provide vocational, medical, social, and psychological rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities; assist individuals with communication and related disorders; and provide other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act.

    Program Authority:

    29 U.S.C. 772(a)(1).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 385.

    Proposed Priority:

    This notice contains one proposed priority.

    Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center—Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y).

    Background:

    State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies provide employment-related services to students and youth with disabilities in order to facilitate a smooth transition from school to post-school activities and to assist them in obtaining the training and skills they need to achieve competitive integrated employment. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) amended the Rehabilitation Act by expanding the kinds of services that State VR agencies may provide to students and youth with disabilities and adding definitions of the terms “student with a disability” and “youth with a disability”.

    The new definition for “student with a disability” at section 7(37)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended by WIOA, renumbered here for ease of reading, is an individual with a disability who—

    (a)(1)(i) is not younger than the earliest age for the provision of transition services under section 614(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII); or

    (ii) if the State involved elects to use a lower minimum age for receipt of pre-employment transition services under this Act, is not younger than that minimum age; and

    (2)(i) is not older than 21 years of age; or

    (ii) if the State law for the State provides for a higher maximum age for receipt of services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), is not older than that maximum age; and

    (b)(1) is eligible for, and receiving, special education or related services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1411 et seq.); or

    (2) is an individual with a disability, for purposes of section 504.

    The new definition for “youth with a disability” at section 7(42)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended by WIOA, also renumbered here for ease of reading, is an individual with a disability who (a) is not younger than 14 years of age; (b) is not older than 24 years of age.

    Historically, State VR agencies have had difficulty in locating and serving students with disabilities who are not served under the IDEA and youth with disabilities who are no longer in school. Therefore, the proposed Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y) would focus on providing technical assistance to State VR agencies on locating and serving students with disabilities not served under the IDEA and youth with disabilities who are not enrolled in school and who are not employed. Additionally, the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, jointly funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), already provides technical assistance on the provision of transition services to students who are served under the IDEA.

    The difficulty in locating and serving students with disabilities who are not served under the IDEA arises because these students usually do not have a lead teacher or advocate in the school system with the responsibility to facilitate the connection of students with disabilities to VR or to other services in the community. Without these connections, students may not obtain the necessary services and supports they need to be successful in education and training programs or competitive integrated employment after exiting high school.

    Similarly, youth with disabilities who are not enrolled in school are usually not connected to the local adult service systems and, as a consequence, are not referred to the State VR agency for transition services or to other programs and services they may need. In particular, youth with disabilities who are high school dropouts, exiting the foster care system, or juvenile offenders are at high risk for not transitioning into successful and economically self-sufficient adult lives, and the consequences of this failure are considerable. Students with disabilities, particularly students with emotional or behavioral disabilities and learning disabilities, are at greater risk for dropping out of school (Lehr, et al. 2004). Youth with disabilities who drop out of high school experience substantial economic and social problems, including unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and incarceration. In addition, youth with disabilities who age out of the foster care system or are exiting correctional facilities often have multiple needs and may face additional challenges in connecting to appropriate community services and supports.

    There are a number of promising and innovative practices aimed at assisting students and youth with disabilities to succeed in transitioning to adulthood, particularly education and competitive integrated employment, which are useful to State VR agencies. “Guideposts for Success” is a comprehensive resource of such practices focusing on the needs of youth with disabilities and vulnerable populations, such as youth in foster care and youth involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system (see http://www.ncwd-youth.info/topic/guideposts). Early transition planning, information about career options and exposure to the world of work, including structured internships, the involvement of family members, and/or other caring adults can assist students and youth with disabilities to meet the challenges they face and may lead to better post-school outcomes. Students with disabilities who are engaged in courses that they choose and that they believe will prepare them for life, including career technical and cooperative education classes, are less likely to drop out (Dunn, Chambers and Rabren, 2004).

    In addition, collaboration among State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), State VR agencies, and other service providers helps to ensure the delivery of coordinated transition services. (Landmark, et al., 2010; National Council on Disability, 2008). Systems coordination promotes easier access to services for students and youth with disabilities and strengthens results and accountability leading to more positive outcomes (Russ and Fryar 2014).

    The proposed VRTAC-Y would provide training and technical assistance to State VR agencies to assist them in identifying and serving students and youth with disabilities; designing and implementing collaborative and integrative approaches to serving students and youth with disabilities; and strengthening and expanding coordination of services to students and youth with disabilities, particularly those not served under the IDEA.

    References:

    Dunn, C., Chambers, D. and Rabren, K. (2004). Variables Affecting Students' Decision to Drop Out of School. Remedial and Special Education, 25, 314. Landmark, L.J., Ju, S., and Zhang, D. (2010). Substantiated Best Practices in Transition: Fifteen Plus Years Later. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 33(3). Lehr, C.A., Johnson, D.R., Bremer, C.D., Cosio, A., & Thompson, M. (2004). Essential tools: Increasing rates of school completion: Moving from policy and research to practice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. National Council on Disability (2008). The Rehabilitation Act: Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth. Retrieved from: http://www.ncd.gov/policy/employment. Russ, E. and Fryar, G. (December 2014). Creating Access to Opportunities for Youth in Transition from Foster Care: An AYPF Policy Brief. American Youth Policy Forum.

    Proposed Priority:

    The purpose of this proposed priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish a Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center—Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y). The focus of this proposed priority is to provide technical assistance (TA) to State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to improve services to and outcomes of: (1) students with disabilities, as defined in section 7(37) of the Rehabilitation Act, who are in school and who are not receiving services under the IDEA; and (2) youth with disabilities, as defined in section 7(42) of the Rehabilitation Act, who are no longer in school and who are not employed. For purposes of this priority, “Students and youth with disabilities” refers to these two groups.

    The VRTAC-Y is designed to achieve, at a minimum, the following outcomes:

    (a) Assist State VR agencies to identify and meet the VR needs of students and youth with disabilities consistent with section 101(a)(15) of the Rehabilitation Act;

    (b) Improve the ability of State VR agencies to develop partnerships with State and local agencies, service providers, or other entities to ensure that students and youth with disabilities are referred for VR services and have access to coordinated supports, services, training, and employment opportunities, including: (1) increasing the number of referrals and applications received by State VR agencies from agencies, service providers and others serving students and youth with disabilities; and (2) increasing the number of students and youth with disabilities receiving VR services;

    (c) Improve the ability of VR personnel to develop individualized plans for employment that ensure the successful transition of students and youth with disabilities and the achievement of post-school goals; and

    (d) Increase the number of students and youth with disabilities served by VR agencies (particularly dropouts, foster care youth and youth involved in the correctional system) who are engaged in education and training programs leading to the attainment of postsecondary skills and credentials needed for employment in high-demand occupations.

    Topic Areas

    Under this proposed priority, the VRTAC-Y must develop and provide training and TA to State VR agency staff and related rehabilitation professionals and service providers in the following topic areas:

    (a) Developing and maintaining formal and informal partnerships and relationships with relevant stakeholders (including, but not limited to, school systems, institutions of higher education (IHEs), State and local service agencies, community rehabilitation programs, correctional facilities and programs, and employers) to increase referral of students and youth with disabilities to the State VR system for the supports and services they need to achieve competitive integrated employment;

    (b) Developing and implementing outreach policies and procedures using evidence-based and promising practices that ensure that students and youth with disabilities in the State are located, identified, and evaluated for services; and

    (c) Developing and implementing collaborative and coordinated service strategies, such as higher education and training services; and internship, apprenticeship, and other work experience services designed to increase the number of students and youth with disabilities who are served by the State VR agency who obtain competitive integrated employment.

    Project Activities

    Under this proposed priority, the VRTAC-Y must, at a minimum, conduct the following activities:

    Knowledge Development Activities

    (a) In the first year, collect information from the literature and from existing Federal, State, and other programs on evidence-based and promising practices relevant to the work of the VRTAC-Y and make this information publicly available in a searchable, accessible, and useful format. The VRTAC-Y must review, at a minimum:

    (1) State VR agency State plan descriptions of outreach plans and procedures, coordination and collaboration with other agencies, and coordination and collaboration with education officials relating to students and youth with disabilities;

    (2) State VR agency formal interagency agreements with SEAs for the coordination of transition services, including the provision of pre-employment transition services;

    (3) The results of State VR agency monitoring conducted by RSA, when available;

    (4) State VR agency program and performance data; and

    (5) Information on promising practices and VR needs of students and youth with disabilities from TA centers that serve relevant public and private non-profit agencies, as well as existing RSA and OSEP TA centers and RSA and OSEP Parent Training and Information Centers.

    (b) In the first year, conduct a survey of relevant stakeholders and VR service providers to identify TA needs that the VRTAC-Y can meet and develop a process by which TA solutions can be offered to State VR agencies and their partners. The VRTAC-Y must survey, at a minimum:

    (1) State VR agency staff;

    (2) Relevant RSA staff;

    (3) Grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research that are researching topics related to the work of the VRTAC-Y; and

    (4) Educators or other professionals conducting research on topics related to the work of the VRTAC-Y.

    Technical Assistance and Dissemination Activities

    (a) Over the five-year grant period, provide intensive TA to a minimum of 10 State VR agencies and their associated rehabilitation professionals and service providers in the topic areas set out in this proposed priority.1 In each of the second, third, fourth, and fifth years of the project, the VRTAC-Y must provide intensive TA to at least two different State VR agencies. Applicants must clearly describe the application process and selection criteria for the State VR agencies that would receive intensive TA. Such TA must include:

    1 For the purposes of this proposed priority, “intensive TA” means TA services often provided on-site and requiring a stable, ongoing relationship between the TA Center staff and the TA recipient. “TA services” are defined as a negotiated series of activities designed to reach a valued outcome. Intensive TA should result in changes to policy, programs, practices, or operations that support increased recipient capacity or improved outcomes at one or more systems levels.

    (1) For topic area (a)—

    (i) Identification of key stakeholders in the State or region who can improve the State VR agency's ability to perform outreach activities and meet the employment and training needs of students and youth with disabilities;

    (ii) Effective marketing and outreach to school and community services personnel, such as how best to present information about VR supports, training, and programming for students and youth with disabilities; and

    (iii) How to develop formal and informal service and outreach agreements with relevant stakeholders to meet the employment and training needs of students and youth with disabilities.

    (2) For topic area (b)—

    (i) How to conduct an analysis and assessment of outreach strategies to determine gaps between service delivery systems, as well as the need for coordinated services and supports across service systems for students and youth with disabilities;

    (ii) How to access and leverage partnerships across agencies and service delivery systems to increase the number of students and youth with disabilities provided with relevant and accessible information regarding services available through the State VR agency.

    (3) For topic area (c)—

    (i) Evidence-based and promising practices in the development and implementation of vocational services to meet the employment and training needs of students and youth with disabilities;

    (ii) How to incorporate students and youth with disabilities into training programs in which they have been historically underrepresented; and

    (iii) How to assist students and youth with disabilities in accessing customized vocational, occupational, or certification training or other career training that is directly responsive to employer needs and hiring requirements, including, but not limited to, training offered by providers under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, H-1B Ready to Work Partnership Grants, and Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants, including two-year and four-year IHEs.

    (b) In the first year, develop and refine a minimum of five curriculum guides for VR staff training in topics related to the work of the VRTAC-Y, which must include:

    (1) Partnership development across service delivery systems for purposes of leveraging resources and coordinating supports, services, training, and employment opportunities for students and youth with disabilities;

    (2) Development, implementation, and dissemination of effective model outreach strategies, policies, and procedures to improve access for students and youth with disabilities to VR services and supports;

    (3) Development of customized training, other career training, and work experience programs for students and youth with disabilities;

    (4) Development and delivery of support services to providers of career training programs that facilitate completion of training and result in competitive integrated employment for students and youth with disabilities; and

    (5) Delivery of support services to employers who hire students and youth with disabilities from customized or career training programs or who offer internships and work experience opportunities.

    (c) Provide a range of targeted and general TA products and services on the topic areas in this proposed priority. Such TA must include, at a minimum, the following activities:

    (1) Developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art information technology (IT) platform sufficient to support Webinars, teleconferences, video conferences, and other virtual methods of dissemination of information and TA;

    Note:

    All products produced by the VRTAC-Y must meet government and industry-recognized standards for accessibility, including section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The VRTAC-Y may either develop a new platform or system, or modify existing platforms or systems, so long as the requirements of the priority are met.

    (2) Ensuring that all TA products are sent to the National Center for Rehabilitation Training Materials, including: course curricula; audiovisual materials; Webinars; examples of emerging and best practices related to the topic areas in this proposed priority; and any other TA products; and

    (3) Providing a minimum of four Webinars or video conferences on each of the topic areas in this proposed priority to describe and disseminate information about emerging and promising practices in each area.

    Coordination Activities

    (a) Establish a community of practice for all interested State VR agencies that will act as a vehicle for communication, exchange of information among State VR agencies and partners, and a forum for sharing the results of TA projects that are in progress or have been completed. Such community of practice must be focused on partnerships across service systems, outreach and identification strategies for students and youth with disabilities, and the development and provision of vocational services and vocational training to students and youth with disabilities.

    (b) Communicate and coordinate, on an ongoing basis, with other Department-funded projects and those supported by the Departments of Labor and Commerce; and

    (c) Maintain ongoing communications with the RSA project officer.

    Application Requirements

    To be funded under this proposed priority, applicants must meet the proposed application requirements in this proposed priority. RSA encourages innovative approaches to meet these requirements. The proposed application requirements are:

    (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application, under “Significance of the Project,” how the proposed project will—

    (1) Address State VR agencies' capacity to meet the employment and training needs of students and youth with disabilities. To meet this requirement, the applicant must:

    (i) Demonstrate knowledge of emerging and best practices in conducting outreach and providing VR services to students and youth with disabilities;

    (ii) Demonstrate knowledge of current applicable Federal statutes and regulations, current RSA guidance, and State and Federal initiatives designed to improve employment outcomes for students and youth with disabilities; and

    (iii) Present information about the difficulties that State VR agencies and service providers have encountered in developing and implementing effective outreach and service delivery plans for students and youth with disabilities; and

    (2) Result in increases in both the number of students and youth with disabilities receiving services from State VR agencies and related agencies and the number and quality of employment outcomes in competitive integrated employment for students and youth with disabilities;

    (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application, under “Quality of Project Services,” how the proposed project will—

    (1) Achieve its goals, objectives, and intended outcomes. To meet this requirement, the applicant must provide—

    (i) Measurable intended project outcomes;

    (ii) A plan for how the proposed project will achieve its intended outcomes; and

    (iii) A plan for communicating and coordinating with key staff in State VR agencies, State and local partner programs, advocates for students and youth with disabilities, RSA partners such as the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), and other TA Centers and relevant programs within the Departments of Education, Labor, and Commerce;

    (2) Use a conceptual framework to develop project plans and activities, describing any underlying concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, or theories, as well as the presumed relationships or linkages among these variables, and any empirical support for this framework;

    (3) Be based on current research and make use of evidence-based and promising practices. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe—

    (i) The current research on emerging, promising, and evidence-based practices in the topic areas in this proposed priority;

    (ii) How the current research about adult learning principles and implementation science will inform the proposed TA; and

    (iii) How the proposed project will incorporate current research and evidence-based practices in the development and delivery of its products and services;

    (4) Develop products and provide services that are of high quality and sufficient intensity and duration to achieve the intended outcomes of the proposed project. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

    (i) Its proposed activities to identify or develop the knowledge base on emerging and promising practices in the topic areas in this proposed priority;

    (ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA; 2

    2 For the purposes of this priority, “universal, general technical assistance” means TA and information provided to independent users through their own initiative, resulting in minimal interaction with TA center staff and including one-time, invited or offered conference presentations by TA center staff. This category of TA also includes information or products, such as newsletters, guidebooks, or research syntheses, downloaded from the TA center's Web site by independent users. Brief communications by TA center staff with recipients, either by telephone or email, are also considered universal, general TA.

    (iii) Its proposed approach to targeted, specialized TA,3 which must identify—

    3 For the purposes of this priority, “targeted, specialized technical assistance” means TA services based on needs common to multiple recipients and not extensively individualized. A relationship is established between the TA recipient and one or more TA center staff. This category of TA includes one-time, labor-intensive events, such as facilitating strategic planning or hosting regional or national conferences. It can also include episodic, less labor-intensive events that extend over a period of time, such as facilitating a series of conference calls on single or multiple topics that are designed around the needs of the recipients. Facilitating communities of practice can also be considered targeted, specialized TA.

    (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this approach; and

    (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of State VR agencies to work with the proposed project, assessing, at a minimum, their current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to effectively respond to the TA, as appropriate;

    (iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA, which must identify—

    (A) The intended recipients of the products and services under this approach;

    (B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of the State VR agencies to work with the proposed project including the State VR agencies' commitment to the TA initiatives, appropriateness of the initiatives, current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to respond effectively to the TA, as applicable;

    (C) Its proposed plan for assisting State VR agencies to build training systems that include professional development based on adult learning principles and coaching; and

    (D) Its proposed plan for developing intensive TA agreements with State VR agencies to provide intensive, sustained TA. The plan must describe how the intensive TA agreements will outline the purposes of the TA, the intended outcomes of the TA, and the measurable objectives of the TA that will be evaluated;

    (5) Develop products and implement services to maximize the project's efficiency. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

    (i) How the proposed project will use technology to achieve the intended project outcomes; and

    (ii) With whom the proposed project will collaborate and the intended outcomes of this collaboration;

    (c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the Evaluation Plan,” how the proposed project will—

    (1) Measure and track the effectiveness of the TA provided. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe its proposed approach to—

    (i) Collecting data on the effectiveness of each TA activity from State VR agencies, partners, or other sources, as appropriate; and

    (ii) Analyzing data and determining the effectiveness of each TA activity, including any proposed standards or targets for determining effectiveness. At a minimum, the VRTAC-Y must analyze data on school and service system referrals to State VR agencies and employment outcomes of students and youth with disabilities, including type of employment, wages, hours worked, weeks of employment, and public benefits received;

    (2) Collect and analyze data on specific and measurable goals, objectives, and intended outcomes of the project, including measuring and tracking the effectiveness of the TA provided. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

    (i) Its proposed evaluation methodologies, including instruments, data collection methods, and analyses;

    (ii) Its proposed standards or targets for determining effectiveness;

    (iii) How it will use the evaluation results to examine the effectiveness of its implementation and its progress toward achieving the intended outcomes; and

    (iv) How the methods of evaluation will produce quantitative and qualitative data that demonstrate whether the project and individual TA activities achieved their intended outcomes;

    (d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Adequacy of Project Resources,” how—

    (1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have historically been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, as appropriate;

    (2) The proposed key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to provide TA to State VR agencies and their partners in each of the topic areas in this proposed priority and to achieve the project's intended outcomes;

    (3) The applicant and any key partners have adequate resources to carry out the proposed activities; and

    (4) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the anticipated results and benefits;

    (e) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the Management Plan,” how—

    (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

    (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and

    (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks;

    (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors that will be allocated to the project and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes, including an assurance that such personnel will have adequate availability to ensure timely communications with stakeholders and RSA;

    (3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and services provided are of high quality; and

    (4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of State and local personnel, TA providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its development and operation.

    Types of Priorities:

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).

    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).

    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    Final Priority:

    We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:

    This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this proposed regulatory action is “significant” and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a “significant regulatory action” as an action likely to result in a rule that may—

    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as an “economically significant” rule);

    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the Executive order.

    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

    We have also reviewed this proposed regulatory action under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency—

    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify);

    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account—among other things and to the extent practicable—the costs of cumulative regulations;

    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);

    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and

    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or provide information that enables the public to make choices.

    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency “to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include “identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.”

    We are issuing this proposed priority only on a reasoned determination that its benefits would justify its costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that would maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.

    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions.

    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.

    The benefits of the Rehabilitation Training program have been well established over the years through the successful completion of similar projects. This proposed priority will better prepare State VR agency personnel to assist the students and youth with disabilities who are the focus of this priority to achieve competitive integrated employment in today's challenging labor market.

    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.

    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program.

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    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.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Sue Swenson, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11826 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0061] Proposed Priority and Definitions—Demonstration and Training Program: Career Pathways for Individuals With Disabilities AGENCY:

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Proposed priority and definitions.

    [CFDA Number: 84.235N.] SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority and definitions under the Demonstration and Training program. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority and one or more of these definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and later years. This priority and these definitions are designed to support projects that develop and implement career pathways for individuals with disabilities.

    DATES:

    We must receive your comments on or before June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under “Are you new to the site?”

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you mail or deliver your comments about these proposed regulations, address them to RoseAnn Ashby, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5055, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800.

    Privacy Note:

    The U.S. Department of Education's (Department's) policy is to make all comments received from members of the public available for public viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly available.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    RoseAnn Ashby. Telephone: (202) 245-7258 or by email: [email protected]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priority and definitions, we urge you to identify clearly the specific section of the proposed priority or definition that each comment addresses.

    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from this proposed priority and these proposed definitions. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.

    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about this notice by accessing Regulations.gov. You may also inspect the comments in person in Room 5055, 550 12th Street SW., PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2800, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. Please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Demonstration and Training Program is to provide competitive grants to, or enter into contracts with, eligible entities to expand and improve rehabilitation and other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act), or to further the purposes and policies in sections 2(b) and 2(c) of the Rehabilitation Act by supporting activities that increase the provision, extent, availability, scope, and quality of rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act.

    Program Authority:

    29 U.S.C. 773(b).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 373.

    Proposed Priority

    This notice contains one proposed priority.

    Career Pathways for Individuals With Disabilities Background

    Despite largely positive trends in U.S. economic indicators, including a declining trend in the overall unemployment rate,1 employers report difficulty finding workers with the specific skills and knowledge that they need. In the recovering economy, it is critical that employers have access to highly skilled workers to meet the challenges of today's labor market. Individuals with disabilities comprise a large group of potential employees who, with the necessary skills and credentials, could help fill this unmet need and participate fully in the economy and our society.

    1 The Employment Situation, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015.

    With nearly one in five people in the United States identified as having a disability, strategies designed to encourage the growth of the recovering economy will need to include initiatives to tap the skills and knowledge of this underutilized human resource. While recent data show that the labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities is beginning to increase, it is far below the rate for individuals without disabilities (31.1 percent for individuals with disabilities compared to 75.7 percent for the working-age people without disabilities).2

    2 nTIDE Jobs Report; Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire, 2015.

    One strategy for assisting individuals to acquire skills relevant in today's economy is to develop and use a career pathway. By preparing workers for high-demand occupations, career pathways offer a promising approach for improving the foundation skills of young adults and low-skilled adults, including individuals with disabilities, and the Nation's overall economic prosperity. A “career pathway,” as defined in section 3(7) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), is a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that is aligned with the skill needs of industries in the State or regional economy and that enables individuals to attain a recognized postsecondary credential that will help them enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster. This definition also is included in the Definitions section of this notice.

    One of the benefits of a career pathways approach is the integration of educational instruction, workforce development, and human and social services and supports that are linked to labor market trends and employer needs leading to stackable credentials.3 The career pathways approach has wide support among the Federal Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services (see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/ten-attachment.pdf). In addition to issuing joint guidance, these agencies developed technical assistance resources that promote the use of career pathways approaches. For example, under the “Designing Instruction for Career Pathways” initiative, the Department's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education made available resources to help expand the creation of career pathways systems in States and local areas. The Department of Labor (DOL) developed a comprehensive set of technical assistance tools, including the “Career Pathways Framework and Toolkit” and the “Competency Model Clearinghouse.” These materials can be found at DOL's Community of Practice Web site, at: learnwork.workforce3one.org.

    3 The U.S. Department of Labor defines a “stackable credential” as one that is “part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build up an individual's qualifications and help them to move along a career pathway or up a career ladder to different and potentially higher-paying jobs.” (U.S. Department of Labor Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) No. 15-10; http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10.pdf)

    The State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services program is the primary Federal vehicle in the workforce development system for assisting individuals with disabilities, particularly individuals with the most significant disabilities, to prepare for, obtain, retain, or advance in competitive integrated employment. As required partners in the one-stop service delivery system established under WIOA for accessing employment and training services, State VR agencies must coordinate and collaborate with other entities, including employers, educational and non-educational agencies working with youth, and other agencies and programs providing services to individuals with disabilities. However, to increase the employment of individuals with disabilities, State VR agencies need employment approaches that are effective in assisting individuals to attain knowledge and skills that can lead to employment in high-demand occupations.

    Through this proposed priority, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services seeks to support collaborations between State VR agencies, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, workforce centers and other training providers, human and social service agencies, employers, and other community stakeholders. These collaborations will demonstrate how career pathways can help individuals with disabilities served by State VR agencies to acquire the marketable skills and to attain recognized postsecondary credentials that lead to employment in high-demand occupations.

    References U.S. Census Bureau (2012). Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports. News Release. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015). The Employment Situation, Economic News Release (3/6/15). http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. U.S. Department of Labor Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) No. 15-10, Increasing Credential, Degree, and Certificate Attainment by Participants of the Public Workforce System. Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire. (2015). nTIDE Jobs Report: Rising Tide Continues to Raise Workers with Disabilities, Monthly Update. (3/6/2015). http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=767afbe8bd6db50de03889b40&id=eb4a1ab921&e=e235f2eadb. Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority designed to demonstrate promising practices in the use of career pathways (as defined in this notice) in order to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities (as defined in this notice). Specifically, the purpose of the proposed priority is to establish a model demonstration project designed to promote State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency partnerships in the development and use of career pathways to help individuals with disabilities eligible for VR services, including youth with disabilities (as defined in this notice), to acquire marketable skills and recognized postsecondary credentials (as defined in this notice).

    Eligible Applicants: Under this proposed priority, an applicant must be either a State VR agency or a consortium of State VR agencies.

    Project Requirements: Under this proposed priority, the model demonstration proposed by an applicant must, at a minimum—

    (a) Develop and implement a collaborative model project demonstrating promising practices and strategies in the use of career pathways to improve the skills of individuals with disabilities, including youth with disabilities, and help them attain credentials that lead to employment in high-demand occupations. The model must be implemented at multiple sites to ensure its replicability. The career pathways must lead to one or more occupational clusters (as defined in this notice);

    (b) Establish partnerships between the VR agencies, employers, agencies, and entities that are critical to the development of career pathways and the alignment of education, training, employment, and human and social services. At a minimum, the partnership should include representatives from the public educational agency or agencies responsible for providing transition services to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and representatives from two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, American Job Centers, workforce training providers (including apprenticeship providers), and employers who will work in collaboration to develop and provide postsecondary education and training for individuals with disabilities served under this project;

    (c) Include the following career pathway components:

    (1) Alignment of secondary and postsecondary education, training, employment, and human services with the skill needs of targeted industry sectors important to local, regional, or State economies;

    (2) Rigorous, sequential, connected, and efficient curricula that connect basic education and skills training courses and that integrate education with training;

    (3) Multiple entry and exit points for individuals with disabilities entering and exiting training;

    (4) Comprehensive support services that are designed to ensure the individual's success in completing education and training programs:

    (i) Financial supports, career counseling, child care, and transportation;

    (ii) Educational supports (e.g., tutors, on-campus supports such as writing labs, math labs, and disability services);

    (iii) Self-advocacy training (e.g., understanding how to request services and supports needed in the transition from secondary to post-secondary education and employment, and increasing knowledge of rights under disability laws); and

    (iv) Appropriate assistive technology services and devices;

    (5) Flexible design of education and training programs and services to meet the particular needs of individuals with disabilities, including flexible work schedules, alternative class times and locations, and the innovative use of technology;

    (6) Education and training programs that focus on the attainment of secondary education and recognized postsecondary credentials, sector-specific employment, educational advancement over time and employment within a sector, including curriculum and instructional strategies designed to develop the following knowledge and skills:

    (i) Career exploration and career readiness skills;

    (ii) Basic academic skills needed to demonstrate knowledge competencies in an occupation or occupational cluster, including remedial skills to address gaps in basic reading, writing, and math skills;

    (iii) Career and technical skills leading to employment in technical careers, including employment in the skilled trades; and

    (iv) Soft skills (e.g., understanding learning styles, identifying strengths and weaknesses);

    (d) Collaborate with other federally-funded career pathway initiatives conducting activities relevant to the work of its proposed project; and

    (e) Develop and conduct an evaluation of the project's performance in achieving project goals and objectives, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of the practices and strategies implemented by the project.

    Application Requirements: To be considered for funding under this proposed priority, an applicant must meet the proposed application requirements in this proposed priority. The proposed application requirements are:

    (a) A detailed review of the literature that supports the potential effectiveness of the proposed model, its components, and processes to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities;

    (b) A logic model that communicates how the demonstration project will achieve its outcomes and provides a framework for project evaluation. The logic model must depict, at a minimum, the goals, activities, outputs, and outcomes of the proposed model demonstration project;

    (c) A description of the applicant's plan for implementing the project, including a description of—

    (1) A cohesive, articulated model of partnership and coordination among the participating agencies and organizations;

    (2) The coordinated set of promising practices and strategies in the use and development of career pathways that are aligned with employment, training, and education programs and reflect the needs of employers and individuals with disabilities; and

    (3) How the proposed project will—

    (i) Identify local workforce needs, aligned with the skill needs of targeted industry sectors important to local, regional, or State economies;

    (ii) Involve employers in the project design and in partnering with project staff to develop integrated community settings for assessments, job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, and other paid and unpaid work experiences that are designed to lead to competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities, including youth with disabilities;

    (iii) Conduct outreach activities to identify individuals with disabilities for whom the career pathways approach would enable them to achieve competitive integrated employment in career clusters identified in their application; and

    (iv) Develop strategies for involving families that will increase the likelihood for successful educational and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

    (d) The methods and criteria that will be used to select the sites at which the project activities will be implemented;

    (e) Evidence (e.g., letter of support or draft agreement) that the State VR agency has specific agreements with its partners in the development and implementation of the project;

    (f) A plan for evaluating the project's performance, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of the practices and strategies implemented by the project, in achieving project goals and objectives. Specifically, the evaluation plan must include a description of:

    (1) Project goals, measurable objectives, and operational definitions;

    (2) the data to be collected;

    (3) how the data will be analyzed; and

    (4) the outcomes for individuals with disabilities served by the project compared with the outcomes of individuals with disabilities not receiving project services.

    (g) At a minimum, the data collected must include:

    (1) the relevant RSA-911 Case Service Report data for each project participant;

    (2) the number of participants who enter a career pathway;

    (3) the number of participants who complete training in a career pathway; and

    (4) the number of participants who attain a recognized postsecondary credential and the type of credentials attained.

    (h) A plan for systematic dissemination of project findings and knowledge gained that will assist State and local agencies in adapting or replicating the model career pathways developed and implemented by the project, which could include elements such as development of a Web site, community of practice, and participation in national and State conferences;

    (i) An assurance that the employment goal for all individuals served under this priority will be competitive integrated employment, including customized or supported employment; and

    (j) An assurance that the project will collaborate with other federally-funded career pathway initiatives conducting activities relevant to its work.

    Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).

    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).

    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    Proposed Definitions Background

    The following definitions are proposed to ensure that applicants have a clear understanding of how we are using these terms in the priority. These definitions are based on defined statutory terms in WIOA, the Rehabilitation Act and definitions that the Department uses or relies on in other contexts. Although we cannot make changes to the text of statutory definitions, we announce them along with our other proposed definitions below to provide notice of our intent to use them in the context of this program.

    Proposed Definitions

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following definitions for this program. We may apply one or more of these definitions in any year in which this program is in effect.

    Career Pathway means a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that—

    (a) Aligns with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the State or regional economy involved;

    (b) Prepares an individual to be successful in any of a full range of secondary or postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships registered under the Act of August 16, 1937 (commonly known as the “National Apprenticeship Act”; 50 Stat. 664, chapter 663; 29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.);

    (c) Includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual's education and career goals;

    (d) Includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster;

    (e) Organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable;

    (f) Enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and at least one recognized postsecondary credential; and

    (g) Helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster. Source: Section 3(7) of WIOA.

    Competitive integrated employment means work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis (including self-employment)—

    (a) For which an individual—

    (1) Is compensated at a rate that—

    (i)(A) Shall be not less than the higher of the rate specified in section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1)) or the rate specified in the applicable State or local minimum wage law; and

    (B) Is not less than the customary rate paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by other employees who are not individuals with disabilities, and who are similarly situated in similar occupations by the same employer and who have similar training, experience, and skills; or

    (ii) In the case of an individual who is self-employed, yields an income that is comparable to the income received by other individuals who are not individuals with disabilities, and who are self-employed in similar occupations or on similar tasks and who have similar training, experience, and skills; and

    (2) Is eligible for the level of benefits provided to other employees;

    (b) That is at a location where the employee interacts with other persons who are not individuals with disabilities (not including supervisory personnel or individuals who are providing services to such employee) to the same extent that individuals who are not individuals with disabilities and who are in comparable positions interact with other persons; and

    (c) That, as appropriate, presents opportunities for advancement that are similar to those for other employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who have similar positions. Source: Section 7(5) of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Individual with a disability means any individual who—

    (a) Has a physical or mental impairment which for such individual constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment; and

    (b) Can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from vocational rehabilitation services provided pursuant to Title I, III, or VI of the Rehabilitation Act. Source: Section 7(20) of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Occupational cluster means a group of occupations and broad industries based on common knowledge and skills, job requirements or worker characteristics. Source: Adopted from Career Pathways Toolkit, DOL.

    Recognized postsecondary credential means a credential consisting of an industry-recognized certificate or certification, a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship, a license recognized by the State involved or Federal Government, or an associate or baccalaureate degree. Source: Section 3(52) of WIOA.

    Youth with a disability means an individual with a disability who—

    (a) Is not younger than 14 years of age; and

    (b) Is not older than 24 years of age.

    Source: Section 7(42) of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Final Priority

    We will announce the final priority and definitions in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority and definitions after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:

    This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use one or more of this priority and these proposed definitions, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this regulatory action is “significant” and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a “significant regulatory action” as an action likely to result in a rule that may—

    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as an “economically significant” rule);

    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the Executive Order.

    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

    We have also reviewed this proposed regulatory action under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency—

    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify);

    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account—among other things and to the extent practicable—the costs of cumulative regulations;

    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);

    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and

    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or provide information that enables the public to make choices.

    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency “to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include “identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.”

    We are issuing this proposed priority and these proposed definitions only on a reasoned determination that their benefits would justify their costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that would maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.

    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions.

    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.

    The benefits of the Demonstration and Training program have been well established over the years through the successful completion of similar projects. For example, the projects first funded in FY 2007 to demonstrate collaborative practices that lead to postsecondary education and employment of youth with disabilities have served as a rich source of practices for the VR field. This proposed priority and these proposed definitions would promote projects that would serve as models in developing and implementing career pathways for individuals with disabilities that could be replicated by other State VR agencies so that such agencies could improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.

    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program.

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    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.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Sue Swenson, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11829 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 38 CFR Part 17 RIN 2900-AP09 Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans—Covered Birth Defects and Spina Bifida AGENCY:

    Department of Veterans Affairs.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its regulations concerning the provisions of health care to birth children of Vietnam veterans and veterans of covered service in Korea diagnosed with spina bifida, except for spina bifida occulta, and certain other birth defects. The proposed changes would more clearly define the types of health care VA provides, including day health care and health-related services, which VA would define as homemaker or home health aide services that provide assistance with Activities of Daily Living or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living that have therapeutic value. We would also make changes to the list of health care services that require preauthorization by VA.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by VA on or before July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments may be submitted through www.regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to the Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AP09—Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans—Covered Birth Defects and Spina Bifida.” Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1068, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment. (This is not a toll-free number.) In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket—Management System (FDMS) at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karyn Barrett, Director, Program Administration Directorate, Chief Business Office Purchased Care (10NB3), Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20420, (303) 331-7500. (This is not a toll-free number.)

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Chapter 18 of title 38, United States Code, provides for benefits for certain birth children of Vietnam veterans and veterans of covered service in Korea who have been diagnosed with spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta, and certain other birth defects. These benefits include: (1) Monthly monetary allowances for various disability levels; (2) health care; and (3) vocational training and rehabilitation. VA has published regulations at 38 CFR 17.900 through 17.905 concerning health care for children authorized by 38 U.S.C. 1803 as well as 1813. Section 1803(a) authorizes VA to provide a child of a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta, with health care. Section 1813(a) authorizes VA to provide a child of a woman Vietnam veteran who has been diagnosed with certain other birth defects needed health care for that child's covered birth defects or any disability that is associated with those birth defects. The definitions in section 1803(c) apply to both programs, with two narrow exceptions that are not relevant to this rulemaking.

    The term “health care” under 38 U.S.C. 1803(c)(1) is defined as home care, hospital care, nursing home care, outpatient care, preventive care, habilitative and rehabilitative care, case management, and respite care. In addition, health care includes the training of appropriate members of a child's family or household in the care of the child; the provision of pharmaceuticals; supplies (including continence-related supplies such as catheters, pads, and diapers); equipment (including durable medical equipment); devices; appliances; assistive technology; and direct transportation costs to and from approved health care providers (including any necessary costs for meals and lodging en route and accompaniment by an attendant or attendants). Certain of these benefits and services require preauthorization by VA under § 17.902.

    Health care that is not provided directly by VA must be provided by contract with an approved health care provider or by other arrangement with an approved health care provider. Under current § 17.900, “approved health care provider” means a health care provider currently approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Defense TRICARE Program, Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO), or currently approved for providing health care under a license or certificate issued by a governmental entity with jurisdiction. An entity or individual will be deemed to be an approved health care provider only when acting within the scope of the approval, license, or certificate. We do not propose any substantive changes to the definition of approved health care provider, but the definition is relevant here because we use the term in this rulemaking.

    VA has identified a need for certain types of care for these individuals and intends to clarify in regulation which services are authorized by 38 U.S.C. 1803 and 1813 and will be provided under this authority. We propose to amend our regulations to clarify what services constitute health care under § 17.900 and to revise the list of health care services that would require preauthorization by VA under § 17.902. These proposed changes are based on an advisory opinion from VA's Office of the General Counsel (OGC). VAOPGCADV 5-2013 (June 13, 2013). OGC issued this advisory opinion in response to a VA request for clarification as to whether VA is authorized by 38 U.S.C. 1803 to provide various types of health care services.

    One of those services is day health care. Day health care services are a non-institutional alternative to nursing home care, and we believe that VA may reimburse these services under its authority in 38 U.S.C. 1803 to provide outpatient care and respite care.

    Outpatient care is defined at 38 U.S.C. 1803(c)(6) to mean care and treatment of a disability, and preventive health services, furnished to an individual other than hospital care or nursing home care. The phrase “care and treatment” is also found in the definitions of hospital care, nursing home care, and preventive care at 38 U.S.C. 1803(c)(4) through (7). The inclusion of the phrase “care and treatment” in the definitions of the categories of authorized health care services indicates legislative intent that a therapeutic component must be part of the service provided. Accordingly, we would define day health care to also include a therapeutic component. So defined, we believe that day health care services constitute care and treatment furnished outside of hospital care or nursing home care, and, therefore, that VA may provide day health care services as part of outpatient care authorized by 38 U.S.C. 1803. We would also amend the definition of outpatient care to include day health care as an authorized health care service.

    We would define “day health care” to mean a therapeutic program prescribed by an approved health care provider that provides necessary medical services, rehabilitation, therapeutic activities, socialization, nutrition, and transportation services in a congregate setting. Day health care services contemplated under this proposal are equivalent to adult day health care provided to disabled veterans under 38 CFR 17.111(c)(1), except that such services would be provided to individuals who are not veterans. The essential features are the therapeutic focus of the day health care services and provision of these services in a congregate setting.

    Current § 17.900 defines outpatient care as care and treatment, including preventive health services, furnished to a child other than hospital care or nursing home care. We would amend this definition to include day health care to clarify that day health care is a component of outpatient care.

    Day health care services are also a component of respite care. Respite care is currently defined at § 17.900 as care furnished by an approved health care provider on an intermittent basis for a limited period to an individual who resides primarily in a private residence when such care will help the individual continue residing in such private residence. Respite care is a service that pays for a person to come to an individual beneficiary's home or for the beneficiary to go to a program, including a day health care program, so the family caregiver can have a period during which the caregiver is not responsible to provide care to the beneficiary. Respite care allows the family caregiver to run errands without worrying about leaving the beneficiary alone at home. Respite care can help reduce the stress a family caregiver may feel when managing a beneficiary's long-term care needs at home, and therefore can improve the quality of care and assistance provided to the beneficiary. VA currently provides day health care to eligible beneficiaries as an element of respite care, and we would amend the definition of respite care to clarify that it is an included service.

    Home care is defined at § 17.900 as medical care, habilitative and rehabilitative care, preventive health services, and health-related services furnished to a child in the child's home or other place of residence. The regulation also defines habilitative and rehabilitative care and preventive health care but does not define “health-related services.” We propose to define “health-related services” for purposes of §§ 17.900 through 17.905 as homemaker or home health aide services furnished in the individual's home or other place of residence to the extent that those services involve assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) that have therapeutic value. This is consistent with VA's interpretation of the term “health-related services” as it is used relative to care provided to veterans.

    We would define homemaker services to mean certain activities that help to maintain a safe, healthy environment for an individual in the home or other place of residence. Such services contribute to the prevention, delay, or reduction of risk of harm or hospital, nursing home, or other institutional care. Homemaker services would include assistance with personal care; home management; completion of simple household tasks; nutrition, including menu planning and meal preparation; consumer education; and hygiene education. Homemaker services may include assistance with IADLs, such as: Light housekeeping; laundering; meal preparation; necessary services to maintain a safe and sanitary environment in the areas of the home used by the individual; and services essential to the comfort and cleanliness of the individual and ensuring individual safety. We would require that homemaker services must be provided according to the individual's written plan of care and must be prescribed by an approved health care provider.

    Home health aide services would mean personal care and related support services to an individual in the home or other place of residence. Home health aide services may include assistance with ADLs such as: Bathing; toileting; eating; dressing; aid in ambulating or transfers; active and passive exercises; assistance with medical equipment; and routine health monitoring. We would also provide that home health aide services must be provided according to the individual's written plan of care and must be prescribed by an approved health care provider.

    Homemaker and home health aide services that are provided outside the beneficiary's residence, such as services related to grocery shopping, would not be covered, because the definition of home care is limited to those services provided in the child's home or other place of residence. Activities that have no therapeutic value or are not medical in nature also would not be covered. These activities include assisting an individual with personal correspondence or paying bills. For this reason, we define “health-related services” to include only those ADLs and IADLs with therapeutic value.

    As with all services under section 1803, however, only those health-related services that are medical in nature and provided by an approved health care provider are covered by VA. Health-related services generally are delivered by different types of providers including personal attendants, custodial care providers, or companion services providers, and there may be instances in which these service providers are not “approved health care providers” as that term is defined by statute and regulation. As discussed in further detail below, we propose to require preauthorization for homemaker services, which is a subset of health-related services, and would be a newly defined service provided under existing statutory authority. VA already has an established review and payment process in place for home health aide services. Preauthorization for certain health care services is covered in § 17.902 and is discussed below. We believe that these requirements appropriately balance the needs of the beneficiaries served through this program and the statutory and regulatory requirements that any services provided through the program must be medical in nature and provided by an approved health care provider.

    As noted above, home care is furnished to a child in the child's home or other place of residence. The term “other place of residence” is not further defined. In general, we believe this term applies to those instances in which the child may need a level of assistance that is not available in the home, but a higher level of care such as admission to a nursing home is not needed. We propose to define “other place of residence” to include assisted living facilities or residential group homes, both of which provide an intermediate level of assistance. We note that, while VA would provide home care services in an assisted living facility or residential group home, VA is not authorized to pay for a child to stay in either an assisted living facility or residential group home. The types of alternatives to home care that VA may provide under section 1803 are nursing home care, hospital care, and respite care.

    We would also add a definition of “long-term care” to clarify the types of long-term care VA is authorized to provide under these programs. The term “long-term care” is not currently defined, and VA is frequently asked what types of long-term care VA is authorized to provide. Generally, “long-term care” encompasses a variety of services that include medical and non-medical care to people who have a chronic illness or disability. However, VA is authorized to provide only those types of long-term care that constitute “health care” as defined in 38 U.S.C. 1803(c)(1)(A). The three categories of health care VA has determined would be considered long-term care are home care, nursing home care, and respite care. We propose to define the term “long-term care” consistent with that determination. We would also amend the definition of “health care” to include long-term care.

    In addition to the definitional clarifications proposed above, we propose to amend § 17.902, which sets forth the list of services and benefits for which preauthorization by VA is required. Preauthorization allows VA to ensure that health care services are provided by approved health care providers, prescribed and medically necessary, and provided at a reasonable cost. Requiring prior approval also limits the likelihood that beneficiaries will incur liability for non-reimbursable expenses. In selecting those services that require preauthorization, we focused on those services where there is likely to be a high cost and some question regarding whether a particular health care service meets the requirements of §§ 17.900 and 17.901.

    Preauthorization is currently required for all mental health services. We would amend § 17.902(a) to provide that preauthorization is required only for outpatient mental health services in excess of 23 visits in a calendar year. We believe this change would assist beneficiaries by providing them with greater flexibility in obtaining needed mental health services. The proposed change would also align the preauthorization requirements for these programs with CHAMPVA, which does not require preauthorization for inpatient mental health services and requires preauthorization for outpatient mental health services only after the 23rd visit in a calendar year. CHAMPVA likewise covers non-veteran beneficiaries, and following the CHAMPVA standard here would ensure consistency. In addition, this proposed change would decrease the administrative burden for beneficiaries and would ensure that there is no delay in initiating necessary outpatient mental health services.

    We also propose to add homemaker services to the list of services that require preauthorization. Both homemaker services and home health aide services are defined as health-related services. We would not require preauthorization for home health aide services, because VA has an existing payment schedule and an established review process for these services. However, we would require preauthorization for homemaker services, because VA's authority to provide homemaker services is limited by type and scope. VA believes that requiring preauthorization for homemaker services would mitigate the possibility of beneficiaries receiving certain homemaker services that would not be covered by VA because the service was provided outside the individual's home or other place of residence, or the service had no therapeutic value.

    As we noted above, day health care is an element of both outpatient care and respite care. VA already provides day health care to eligible beneficiaries as part of respite care, but it would now also be included as an element of outpatient care. Respite care, as a distinct class of services, does not require preauthorization. However, we would require preauthorization for day health care as part of outpatient care only to ensure that the day health care being claimed is a therapeutic program prescribed by an approved health care provider that provides necessary medical services, rehabilitation, therapeutic activities, socialization, and nutrition, and that the service is obtained at a reasonable cost. Preauthorization would still be required for dental services; substance abuse treatment; training; transplantation services; and travel (other than mileage at the General Services Administration rate for privately owned automobiles).

    Current § 17.902(a) states that authorization will only be given in spina bifida cases where there is a demonstrated medical need. “Medically necessary” is a more easily understood and more commonly used term than is “demonstrated medical need” and we propose to amend this paragraph to reflect the more commonly used term.

    Payment for health care services is addressed in § 17.903(a)(1). The current rule states that payment for health care services will be determined using the same payment methodologies as provided for under CHAMPVA regulations. VA recognizes that services covered by CHAMPVA change periodically, and there may be instances in which CHAMPVA does not have a payment methodology for all health care services available under §§ 17.900 through 17.905. For instance, homemaker services are excluded from CHAMPVA coverage at 38 CFR 17.272(a)(55) but may be covered as health-related services under § 17.900. To address this, we propose to amend this paragraph to state that payment for services or benefits covered by §§ 17.900 through 17.905 but not covered by CHAMPVA regulations will be determined using the same or similar payment methodologies applied by VA for the equivalent services or benefits provided to veterans. This may include negotiating a rate with the provider or using a national average or the Medicare rate.

    We would make a technical edit to the definition of “approved health care provider” found in § 17.900. The current definition of “approved health care provider” includes health care providers currently approved by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). In 2007, JCAHO changed its name to The Joint Commission and we would amend this definition to reflect that change.

    Finally, we address the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number referenced in §§ 17.902 through 17.904. OMB had approved information collection for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act under OMB control number 2900-0578 for provision of health care, preauthorization, payment, review, and appeals. In 2010, OMB determined that information collection for the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits program should be combined with a parallel information collection approved for CHAMPVA. This combined information collection was approved under OMB control number 2900-0219. We would make a technical edit to reflect the correct OMB control number.

    Effect of Rulemaking

    The Code of Federal Regulations, as proposed to be revised by this proposed rulemaking, would represent the exclusive legal authority on this subject. No contrary rules or procedures would be authorized. All VA guidance would be read to conform with this proposed rulemaking if possible or, if not possible, such guidance would be superseded by this rulemaking.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule includes provisions constituting a modification to a collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521) that requires approval by OMB. Accordingly, under 44 U.S.C. 3507(d), VA has submitted a copy of this rulemaking to OMB for review.

    OMB assigns control numbers to collections of information it approves. VA may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Proposed § 17.902 contains a collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. If OMB does not approve the modification as requested, VA will immediately remove the provisions containing a collection of information or take such other action as is directed by OMB.

    Comments on the modification to the collection[s] of information contained in this proposed rule should be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20503, with copies sent by mail or hand delivery to the Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; fax to (202) 273-9026; or through www.Regulations.gov. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AP09—Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans—Covered Birth Defects and Spina Bifida.”

    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the modification to the collection of information contained in this proposed rule between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment to OMB is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. This does not affect the deadline for the public to comment on the proposed rule.

    VA considers comments by the public on proposed collections of information in—

    • Evaluating whether the proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of VA, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    • Evaluating the accuracy of VA's estimate of the burden of the proposed collections of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    • Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Minimizing the burden of the collections 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.

    The modifications to the collection of information contained in 38 CFR 17.902 are described immediately following this paragraph, under their respective titles.

    Title: Health Care for Certain Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Korea Veterans—Covered Birth Defects and Spina Bifida.

    Summary of collection of information: Section 17.902(a) states that preauthorization from VA is required for certain services or benefits under §§ 17.900 through 17.905. VA is modifying the preauthorization requirement for mental health services to only require preauthorization for outpatient mental health services in excess of 23 visits in a calendar year. VA also adds day health care provided as outpatient care and homemaker services to the list of services or benefits that must receive preauthorization.

    Description of the need for information and proposed use of information: The information collected is needed to carry out the health care programs for certain children of Korea and/or Vietnam veterans authorized under 38 U.S.C. chapter 18, as amended by section 401, Public Law 106-419 and section 102, Public Law 108-183. VA's medical regulations 38 CFR part 17 (17.900 through 17.905) establish regulations regarding provisions of health care for certain children of Korea and Vietnam veterans and women Vietnam veterans' children born with spina bifida and certain other covered birth defects. These regulations specify this information to be included in requests for preauthorization and claims from approved health care providers and eligible Veterans.

    Description of likely respondents: Veterans and eligible family members seeking reimbursement for claims associated with spina bifida and certain other covered birth defects.

    Estimated number of respondents per year: 12.

    Estimated frequency of responses: 1 time per year.

    Estimated average burden per response: 10 minutes.

    Estimated total annual reporting and recordkeeping burden: 2 hours.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. This proposed rule would directly affect only individuals and would not directly affect small entities. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a “significant regulatory action,” requiring review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), unless OMB waives such review, as “any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive Order.”

    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy implications of this regulatory action have been examined, and it has been determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found as a supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web site at http://www.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for VA Regulations Published From FY 2004 to FYTD.

    Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for inflation) in any 1 year. This proposed rule would have no such effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    There are no Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for the programs affected by this document.

    Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jose D. Riojas, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this document on April 2, 2015, for publication.

    List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 17

    Administrative practice and procedure, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholism, Claims, Day care, Dental health, Drug abuse, Government contracts, Grant programs—health, Grant programs—veterans, Health care, Health facilities, Health professions, Health records, Homeless, Medical and dental schools, Medical devices, Medical research, Mental health programs, Nursing homes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Travel and transportation expenses, Veterans.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. William F. Russo, Acting Director, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, Department of Veterans Affairs proposes to amend 38 CFR part 17 as follows:

    PART 17—MEDICAL 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    38 U.S.C. 501, and as noted in specific sections.

    2. Amend § 17.900 by: a. In the definition of “Approved health care provider” removing “Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO)” from the first sentence and adding, in its place, “The Joint Commission”; b. Adding in alphabetical order a definition of “Day health care”; c. In the definition of “Health care” adding “long-term care,” to the first sentence immediately after “hospital care,”; d. Adding in alphabetical order definitions of “Health-related services”, “Home health aide services”,“Homemaker services”, “Long-term care”, and “Other place of residence”; e. In the definition of “Outpatient care” adding “day health care and” immediately after the word “including”; and f. Revising the definition of “Respite care”.

    The additions and revision read as follows:

    § 17.900 Definitions.

    Day health care means a therapeutic program prescribed by an approved health care provider that provides necessary medical services, rehabilitation, therapeutic activities, socialization, nutrition, and transportation services in a congregate setting. Day health care may be provided as a component of outpatient care or respite care.

    Health-related services means homemaker or home health aide services furnished in the individual's home or other place of residence to the extent that those services provide assistance with Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living that have therapeutic value.

    Home health aide services is a component of health-related services providing personal care and related support services to an individual in the home or other place of residence. Home health aide services may include assistance with Activities of Daily Living such as: Bathing; toileting; eating; dressing; aid in ambulating or transfers; active and passive exercises; assistance with medical equipment; and routine health monitoring. Home health aide services must be provided according to the individual's written plan of care and must be prescribed by an approved health care provider.

    Homemaker services is a component of health-related services encompassing certain activities that help to maintain a safe, healthy environment for an individual in the home or other place of residence. Such services contribute to the prevention, delay, or reduction of risk of harm or hospital, nursing home, or other institutional care. Homemaker services include assistance with personal care; home management; completion of simple household tasks; nutrition, including menu planning and meal preparation; consumer education; and hygiene education. Homemaker services may include assistance with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, such as: Light housekeeping; laundering; meal preparation; necessary services to maintain a safe and sanitary environment in the areas of the home used by the individual; and services essential to the comfort and cleanliness of the individual and ensuring individual safety. Homemaker services must be provided according to the individual's written plan of care and must be prescribed by an approved health care provider.

    Long-term care means home care, nursing home care, and respite care.

    Other place of residence includes an assisted living facility or residential group home.

    Respite care means care, including day health care, furnished by an approved health care provider on an intermittent basis for a limited period to an individual who resides primarily in a private residence when such care will help the individual continue residing in such private residence.

    3. Amend § 17.902 by: a. Revising the first three sentences of paragraph (a); and b. At the end of the section, removing “2900-0578” from the notice of the Office of Management and Budget control number and adding, in its place, “2900-0219”.

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 17.902 Preauthorization.

    (a) Preauthorization from VA is required for the following services or benefits under §§ 17.900 through 17.905: Rental or purchase of durable medical equipment with a total rental or purchase price in excess of $300, respectively, day health care provided as outpatient care; dental services; homemaker services; outpatient mental health services in excess of 23 visits in a calendar year; substance abuse treatment; training; transplantation services; and travel (other than mileage at the General Services Administration rate for privately owned automobiles). Authorization will only be given in spina bifida cases where it is demonstrated that the care is medically necessary. In cases of other covered birth defects, authorization will only be given where it is demonstrated that the care is medically necessary and related to the covered birth defects. * * *

    4. Amend § 17.903 by: a. In paragraph (a)(1), adding a second sentence; and b. At the end of the section, removing “2900-0578” from the notice of the Office of Management and Budget control number and adding, in its place, “2900-0219”.

    The addition reads as follows:

    § 17.903 Payment.

    (a)(1) * * * For those services or benefits covered by §§ 17.900 through 17.905 but not covered by CHAMPVA we will use payment methodologies the same or similar to those used for equivalent services or benefits provided to veterans.

    § 17.904 [Amended]
    5. Amending § 17.904 by, at the end of the section, removing “2900-0578” from the notice of the Office of Management and Budget control number and adding, in its place, “2900-0219”.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11718 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005; FRL-9927-73-Region 5] National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 is issuing a Notice of Intent to Delete the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site located in Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan 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 Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (MDEQ), have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005, by one of the following methods:

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

    • Email: Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, at [email protected] or Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, at [email protected].

    • Fax: Gladys Beard, NPL Deletion Process Manager, at (312) 697-2077.

    • Mail: Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6552, or Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SI-7J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 353-6196 or (800) 621-8431.

    • Hand delivery: Cheryl Allen, Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SI-7J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604. Such deliveries are only accepted during the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, excluding federal holidays.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1986-0005. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information may not be 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 at http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at:

    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, Phone: (312) 353-1063, Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, excluding federal holidays.

    • Harford Public Library, 15 Franklin Street, Hartford, MI 49057, Phone: (269) 621-3408, Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeffrey Gore, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6552, or [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the “Rules and Regulations” section of today's Federal Register, we are publishing a direct final Notice of Deletion of the Burrows Sanitation Superfund Site without prior Notice of Intent to Delete because we view this as a noncontroversial decision and anticipate no adverse comment. We have explained our reasons for this deletion in the preamble to the direct final Notice of Deletion, and those reasons are incorporated herein. If we receive no adverse comment(s) on this deletion action, we will not take further action on this Notice of Intent to Delete. If we receive adverse comment(s), we will withdraw the direct final Notice of Deletion, and it will not take effect. We will, as appropriate, address all public comments in a subsequent final Notice of Deletion based on this Notice of Intent to Delete. We will not institute a second comment period on this Notice of Intent to Delete. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time.

    For additional information, see the direct final Notice of Deletion which is located in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register.

    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, and Water supply.

    Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3CFR, 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 30, 2015. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, Region 5.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11800 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    80 94 Friday, May 15, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Forms: Applications, Periodic Reporting and Notices AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, this Notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on proposed information collections. This collection is a revision of currently approved burden for the applications, periodic reporting, and notices burden calculations for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The revision also modifies the net estimates for PRA burden associated with proposed rule “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Eligibility, Certification, and Employment and Training Provisions” published on May 4, 2011 at 76 FR 25413.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before July 14, 2015 to be assured consideration.

    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 will 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 used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate, automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Send comments to Sasha Gersten-Paal, Chief, Certification Policy Branch, Program Development Division, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 812, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Sasha Gersten-Paal at 703-305-2486. 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 during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302, Room 800.

    All comments will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval of the information collection. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information should be directed to Sasha Gersten-Paal at 703-305-2507.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Forms: Applications, Periodic Reporting and Notices.

    OMB Number: 0584-0064.

    Form Number: None.

    Expiration Date: April 30, 2016.

    Type of Request: Revision of an existing collection.

    Abstract: This notice revises the Applications, Periodic Reporting, and Notices burden for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Federal procedures for implementing the application and certification procedures in the Act are in Parts 271, 272, and 273 of the Title 7 of the Code of Federal Register. Part 271 contains general information and definitions, Part 272 contains requirements for participating State agencies, and Part 273 contains procedures for the certification of eligible households.

    After careful review and consideration of the burden inventory under OMB No. 0584-0064, FNS has determined the burden baseline does not accurately reflect the burden activities or hours required by the SNAP under this collection. We have corrected the burden inventory baseline to establish burden estimates under OMB No. 0584-0064 that more accurately reflect the information collection burdens of SNAP's existing application and recertification process. An overview is provided in this notice and additional details are available in the docket at [Placeholder].

    Section 3502.2 of the PRA defines burden as “time, effort, or financial resources expended by a person to generate, maintain, or provide information to or for a Federal agency.”

    In keeping with the PRA definition of burden, we created sub-activity categories that allowed for the inclusion of time and effort expended on behalf of households and State agencies and revised the time estimates. Note that no changes have been made to the existing reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The change in burden is due to formulating more accurate burden estimates associated with the existing requirements.

    The following tables compare the time estimates for activities contained in the currently approved information collection with the revised burden baseline activities.

    Time estimates established in the currently
  • approved OMB No. 0584-0064
  • State agency Information collection activities Time estimate
  • (minutes)
  • Activities and time estimates for revising
  • burden baseline for OMB No. 0584-0064
  • State agency Information collection activities Time estimate
  • (minutes)
  • Initial Application 19 Initial Application: 19 Interview 30 Verification 24 Recertification Application 19 Recertification Application: 15 Interview 20 Verification 10 Reports: Periodic Reports: Monthly Reports 11 Monthly Reports 7 Quarterly Reports 12 Quarterly Reports 8 Simplified Reports 11 Simplified Reports 11 Change Reports 11 Change Report 11 Notices: Notices: Notice of Eligibility or Denial 2 Notice of Eligibility or Denial 2 Notice of Missing or Incomplete Report 2 Notice of Missing or Incomplete Report 2 Notice of Missed Interview 1 Notice of Missed Interviews 1 Notice of Expiration 2 Notice of Expiration 2 Notice of Adverse Action 2 Notice of Adverse Action 2 Adequate Notice for Monthly Reports 2 Adequate Notice 2 Request for Contact 2 Request for Contact 2 Transition Notice 0 Transitional notice 0
    Time estimates established in the currently
  • approved OMB No. 0584-0064
  • Households Information collection activities Time estimate
  • (minutes)
  • Activities and time estimates for revising
  • burden baseline for OMB No. 0584-0064
  • Households Information collection activities Time estimate
  • (minutes)
  • Initial Application 19 Initial SNAP Application: 19 Interview 30 Travel time—In office interview 120 Verification 24 Recertification Application 19 SNAP Recertification Application: 15 Interview 20 Travel time—In office interview 120 Verification 10 Reports: Periodic Reports: Monthly Reports 7 Monthly Reports 7 Quarterly Reports 8 Quarterly Reports 8 Simplified Reports 8 Simplified or Periodic Reports 10 Change Report 5 Change Reports 10 Notices: Notices: Notice of Missed Interview 1 Notice of Missed Interviews 1 Notice of Adverse Action 1 Notice of Adverse Action 1 Adequate Notice 1 Adequate Notice 1 Request for Contact 2 Request for Contact 2

    Additionally, the burden estimates included in this collection account for the burden applicable to each SNAP applicant. The estimated number of applicants has increased from the prior estimate of approximately 11 million applicants to over 14.5 million applicants in Fiscal Year 2014.

    The net impact to the burden is summarized below.

    Summary of Estimated Burden

    Affected Public: State and local government agencies administering SNAP and Individuals/Households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 14,619,642.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 45.04.

    Estimated Total Number of Annual Responses: 658,539,827.

    Estimated Hours per Response: .1795.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 118,221,440.

    Current Burden Inventory: 24,897,947.

    Net Increase: 93,323,493.

    Dated: May 4, 2015. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11752 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Business-Cooperative Service Inviting Applications for Value-Added Producer Grants AGENCY:

    Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice, Correction.

    SUMMARY:

    The Rural Business-Cooperative Service published a Notice in the Federal Register on Friday, May 8, 2015 (80 FR 26528), inviting applications for the Value Added Producer Grant Program. The document contained an incorrect date for submitting paper applications, as well as an incorrect contact telephone number.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., MS 3253, Room 4008—South, Washington, DC 20250-3253, or call 202-690-1374.

    Correction

    In the Notice [FR Doc 2015-10040], published May 8, 2015 (80 FR 26528), column 2, under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT should read “Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., MS 3253, Room 4208—South, Washington, DC 20250-3253, or call 202-690-1374.”

    In the Notice, [FR Doc 2015-10040] published May 8, 2015 (80 FR 26530), column 3, under “4. Submission Dates and Times.” The first sentence under “Explanation of Deadlines” should read “Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight by July 7, 2015.”

    In the Notice, [FR Doc 2015-10040] published May 8, 2015 (80 FR 26534), column 1, under “G. Agency Contacts,” The fourth sentence should read “You may also contact National Office staff: Tracey Kennedy, VAPG Program Lead, [email protected], or Shantelle Gordon, [email protected], or call the main line at 202-690-1374.”

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Chad Parker, Acting Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11742 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Notice of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Community Development Initiative for Fiscal Year 2015 AGENCY:

    Rural Housing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Rural Housing Service (RHS), an agency within the USDA Rural Development mission area herein referred to as the Agency announces the acceptance of applications under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program. Applicants must provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the Federal grant. These grants will be made to qualified intermediary organizations that will provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development that will support the community.

    This Notice lists the information needed to submit an application for these funds. This Notice contains revised evaluation criteria that are streamlined, in order to enhance program efficiency and delivery.

    DATES:

    The deadline for receipt of an application is 4 p.m. local time, August 13, 2015. The application date and time are firm. The Agency will not consider any application received after the deadline. Applicants intending to mail applications must provide sufficient time to permit delivery on or before the closing deadline date and time. Acceptance by the United States Postal Service or private mailer does not constitute delivery. Facsimile (FAX) and postage due applications will not be accepted.

    ADDRESSES:

    Entities wishing to apply for assistance may download the application documents and requirements delineated in this Notice from the RCDI Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-community-development-initiative-grants.

    Application information for electronic submissions may be found at http://www.grants.gov.

    Applicants may also request paper application packages from the Rural Development office in their state. A list of Rural Development State offices can be found via http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The Rural Development office for the state in which the applicant is located. A list of Rural Development State Office contacts is provided at the following link: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The paperwork burden has been cleared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0575-0180.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Housing Service.

    Funding Opportunity Title: Rural Community Development Initiative.

    Announcement Type: Initial Announcement.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.446.

    Dates: The deadline for receipt of an application is 4 p.m. local time, August 13, 2015. The application date and time are firm. The Agency will not consider any application received after the deadline. Applicants intending to mail applications must provide sufficient time to permit delivery on or before the closing deadline date and time. Acceptance by the United States Postal Service or private mailer does not constitute delivery. Facsimile (FAX) and postage due applications will not be accepted.

    A. Program Description

    Congress first authorized the RCDI in 1999 (Pub. L. 106-78, which was amended most recently by The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Pub. L. 113-235)). The RCDI was authorized to develop the capacity and ability of qualified private, nonprofit community-based housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities, and federally recognized Native American Tribes to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development in rural areas. Strengthening the recipient's capacity in these areas will benefit the communities they serve. The RCDI structure requires the intermediary (grantee) to provide a program of financial and technical assistance to recipients. The recipients will, in turn, provide programs to their communities (beneficiaries).

    Of particular note this year, the Agency is encouraging applications for projects based in or servicing high poverty areas. This emphasis will support Rural Development's (RD) mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need them.

    B. Federal Award Information

    Congress, in The Continuing and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Pub.L. 113-235), appropriated $4,000,000 in FY 2015 for the RCDI program. The amount of funding received in the FY 2015 Appropriations Act can also be found at the following link: http://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-nosas#nosa.

    Qualified private, nonprofit and public (including tribal) intermediary organizations proposing to carry out financial and technical assistance programs will be eligible to receive the grant funding.

    The intermediary will be required to provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the RCDI grant.

    A grant will be the type of assistance instrument awarded to successful applications.

    The respective minimum and maximum grant amount per intermediary is $50,000 and $250,000.

    Grant funds must be utilized within 3 years from date of the award.

    A grantee that has an outstanding RCDI grant over 3 years old, as of the application due date in this Notice, is not eligible to apply for this round of funding.

    The intermediary must provide a program of financial and technical assistance to one or more of the following: A private, nonprofit community-based housing and development organization, a low-income rural community or a federally recognized tribe.

    C. Eligibility Information

    Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements by the application deadline. Applications which fail to meet any of these requirements by the application deadline will be deemed ineligible and will not be evaluated further, and will not receive a Federal award.

    1. Eligible Applicants

    (a) Qualified private, nonprofit, (including faith-based and community organizations and philanthropic foundations), in accordance with 7 CFR part 16, and public (including tribal) intermediary organizations are eligible applicants. Definitions that describe eligible organizations and other key terms are listed below.

    (b) The recipient must be a nonprofit community-based housing and development organization, low-income rural community, or federally recognized tribe based on the RCDI definitions of these groups.

    (c) Private nonprofit, faith or community-based organizations must provide a certificate of incorporation and good standing from the Secretary of the State of incorporation, or other similar and valid documentation of nonprofit status. For low-income rural community recipients, the Agency requires evidence that the entity is a public body and census data verifying that the median household income of the community where the office receiving the financial and technical assistance is located is at, or below, 80 percent of the State or national median household income, whichever is higher. For federally recognized tribes, the Agency needs the page listing their name from the current Federal Register list of tribal entities recognized and eligible for funding services (see the definition of federally recognized tribes in this Notice for details on this list).

    (d) Any corporation (1) that has been convicted of a felony criminal violation under any Federal law within the past 24 months or (2) that has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability; is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds appropriated by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, unless a Federal agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and has made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government.

    2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    There is a matching requirement of at least equal to the amount of the grant. If this matching funds requirement is not met, the application will be deemed ineligible. See section D, Application and Submission Information, for required pre-award and post award matching funds documentation submission.

    The intermediary must provide matching funds at least equal to the amount of the grant. Verification of matching funds must be submitted with the application. Matching funds must be committed for a period equal to the grant performance period. The intermediary will be required to provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the RCDI grant. In-kind contributions such as salaries, donated time and effort, real and nonexpendable personal property and goods and services cannot be used as matching funds.

    Matching funds are cash or confirmed funding commitments and must be at least equal to the grant amount and committed for a period of not less than the grant performance period. These funds can only be used for eligible RCDI activities. Matching funds must be used to support the overall purpose of the RCDI program.

    In-kind contributions such as salaries, donated time and effort, real and nonexpendable personal property and goods and services cannot be used as matching funds.

    Grant funds and matching funds must be used in equal proportions. This does not mean funds have to be used equally by line item.

    The request for advance or reimbursement and supporting documentation must show that RCDI fund usage does not exceed the cumulative amount of matching funds used.

    Grant funds will be disbursed pursuant to relevant provisions of 2 CFR parts 200 and 400. Verification of matching funds must be submitted with the application. See Section D, other program requirements, for matching funds documentation and pre-award requirements.

    The intermediary is responsible for demonstrating that matching funds are available, and committed for a period of not less than the grant performance period to the RCDI proposal. Matching funds may be provided by the intermediary or a third party. Other Federal funds may be used as matching funds if authorized by statute and the purpose of the funds is an eligible RCDI purpose.

    RCDI funds will be disbursed on an advance or reimbursement basis. Matching funds cannot be expended prior to execution of the RCDI Grant Agreement.

    3. Other Program Requirements

    (a) The recipient and beneficiary, but not the intermediary, must be located in an eligible rural area. The physical location of the recipient's office that will be receiving the financial and technical assistance must be in an eligible rural area. If the recipient is a low-income community, the median household income of the area where the office is located must be at or below 80 percent of the State or national median household income, whichever is higher. The applicable Rural Development State Office can assist in determining the eligibility of an area.

    A listing of Rural Development State Office contacts can be found at the following link: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf. A map showing eligible rural areas can be found at the following link: http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do?pageAction=RBSmenu&[email protected]

    (b) RCDI grantees that have an outstanding grant over 3 years old, as of the application due date in this Notice, will not be eligible to apply for this round of funding. Grant and matching funds must be utilized in a timely manner to ensure that the goals and objectives of the program are met.

    (c) Individuals cannot be recipients.

    (d) The intermediary must provide a program of financial and technical assistance to the recipient.

    (e) The intermediary organization must have been legally organized for a minimum of 3 years and have at least 3 years prior experience working with private nonprofit community-based housing and development organizations, low-income rural communities, or tribal organizations in the areas of housing, community facilities, or community and economic development.

    (f) Proposals must be structured to utilize the grant funds within 3 years from the date of the award.

    (g) Each applicant, whether singularly or jointly, may only submit one application for RCDI funds under this Notice. This restriction does not preclude the applicant from providing matching funds for other applications.

    (h) Recipients can benefit from more than one RCDI application; however, after grant selections are made, the recipient can only benefit from multiple RCDI grants if the type of financial and technical assistance the recipient will receive is not duplicative. The services described in multiple RCDI grant applications must have separate and identifiable accounts for compliance purposes.

    (i) The intermediary and the recipient cannot be the same entity. The recipient can be a related entity to the intermediary, if it meets the definition of a recipient, provided the relationship does not create a Conflict of Interest that cannot be resolved to Rural Development's satisfaction.

    (j) If the recipient is a low-income rural community, identify the unit of government to which the financial and technical assistance will be provided, e.g., town council or village board. The financial and technical assistance must be provided to the organized unit of government representing that community, not the community at large.

    4. Eligible Grant Purposes

    Fund uses must be consistent with the RCDI purpose. A nonexclusive list of eligible grant uses includes the following:

    (a) Provide technical assistance to develop recipients' capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development, e.g., the intermediary hires a staff person to provide technical assistance to the recipient or the recipient hires a staff person, under the supervision of the intermediary, to carry out the technical assistance provided by the intermediary.

    (b) Develop the capacity of recipients to conduct community development programs, e.g., homeownership education or training for business entrepreneurs.

    (c) Develop the capacity of recipients to conduct development initiatives, e.g., programs that support micro-enterprise and sustainable development.

    (d) Develop the capacity of recipients to increase their leveraging ability and access to alternative funding sources by providing training and staffing.

    (e) Develop the capacity of recipients to provide the technical assistance component for essential community facilities projects.

    (f) Assist recipients in completing pre-development requirements for housing, community facilities, or community and economic development projects by providing resources for professional services, e.g., architectural, engineering, or legal.

    (g) Improve recipient's organizational capacity by providing training and resource material on developing strategic plans, board operations, management, financial systems, and information technology.

    (h) Purchase of computers, software, and printers, limited to $10,000 per award, at the recipient level when directly related to the technical assistance program being undertaken by the intermediary.

    (i) Provide funds to recipients for training-related travel costs and training expenses related to RCDI.

    5. Ineligible Fund Uses

    The following is a list of ineligible grant uses:

    (a) Pass-through grants, and any funds provided to the recipient in a lump sum that are not reimbursements.

    (b) Funding a revolving loan fund (RLF).

    (c) Construction (in any form).

    (d) Salaries for positions involved in construction, renovations, rehabilitation, and any oversight of these types of activities.

    (e) Intermediary preparation of strategic plans for recipients.

    (f) Funding prostitution, gambling, or any illegal activities.

    (g) Grants to individuals.

    (h) Funding a grant where there may be a conflict of interest, or an appearance of a conflict of interest, involving any action by the Agency.

    (i) Paying obligations incurred before the beginning date without prior Agency approval or after the ending date of the grant agreement.

    (j) Purchasing real estate.

    (k) Improvement or renovation of the grantee's, or recipient's office space or for the repair or maintenance of privately owned vehicles.

    (l) Any purpose prohibited in 2 CFR part 200 or 400.

    (m) Using funds for recipient's general operating costs.

    (n) Using grant or matching funds for Individual Development Accounts.

    (o) Purchasing vehicles.

    6. Program Examples and Restrictions

    The following are examples of eligible and ineligible purposes under the RCDI program. (These examples are illustrative and are not meant to limit the activities proposed in the application. Activities that meet the objectives of the RCDI program and meet the criteria outlined in this Notice will be considered eligible.)

    (a) The intermediary must work directly with the recipient, not the ultimate beneficiaries. As an example:

    The intermediary provides training to the recipient on how to conduct homeownership education classes. The recipient then provides ongoing homeownership education to the residents of the community—the ultimate beneficiaries. This “train the trainer” concept fully meets the intent of this initiative. The intermediary is providing technical assistance that will build the recipient's capacity by enabling them to conduct homeownership education classes for the public.

    This is an eligible purpose. However, if the intermediary directly provided homeownership education classes to individuals in the recipient's service area, this would not be an eligible purpose because the recipient would be bypassed.

    (b) If the intermediary is working with a low-income community as the recipient, the intermediary must provide the technical assistance to the entity that represents the low-income community and is identified in the application. Examples of entities representing a low-income community are a village board or a town council.

    If the intermediary provides technical assistance to the Board of the low-income community on how to establish a cooperative, this would be an eligible purpose. However, if the intermediary works directly with individuals from the community to establish the cooperative, this is not an eligible purpose.

    The recipient's capacity is built by learning skills that will enable them to support sustainable economic development in their communities on an ongoing basis.

    (c) The intermediary may provide technical assistance to the recipient on how to create and operate a revolving loan fund. The intermediary may not monitor or operate the revolving loan fund. RCDI funds, including matching funds, cannot be used to fund revolving loan funds.

    (d) The intermediary may work with recipients in building their capacity to provide planning and leadership development training. The recipients of this training would be expected to assume leadership roles in the development and execution of regional strategic plans. The intermediary would work with multiple recipients in helping communities recognize their connections to the greater regional and national economies.

    (e) The intermediary could provide training and technical assistance to the recipients on developing emergency shelter and feeding, short-term housing, search and rescue, and environmental accident, prevention, and cleanup program plans. For longer term disaster and economic crisis responses, the intermediary could work with the recipients to develop job placement and training programs, and develop coordinated transit systems for displaced workers.

    D. Application and Submission Information 1. Address To Request Application Package

    Entities wishing to apply for assistance may download the application documents and requirements delineated in this Notice from the RCDI Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-community-development-initiative-grants.

    Application information for electronic submissions may be found at http://www.grants.gov.

    Applicants may also request paper application packages from the Rural Development office in their state. A list of Rural Development State office contacts can be found via http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf. You may also obtain a copy by calling 202-205-9685.

    2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    If the applicant is ineligible or the application is incomplete, the Agency will inform the applicant in writing of the decision, reasons therefore, and its appeal rights and no further evaluation of the application will occur.

    A complete application for RCDI funds must include the following:

    (a) A summary page, double-spaced between items, listing the following: (This information should not be presented in narrative form.)

    (1) Applicant's name,

    (2) Applicant's address,

    (3) Applicant's telephone number,

    (4) Name of applicant's contact person and telephone number,

    (5) Applicant's fax number,

    (6) County where applicant is located,

    (7) Congressional district number where applicant is located,

    (8) Amount of grant request, and

    (9) Number of recipients.

    (b) A detailed Table of Contents containing page numbers for each component of the application.

    (c) A project overview, no longer than five pages, including the following items, which will also be addressed separately and in detail under “Building Capacity and Expertise” of the “Evaluation Criteria.”

    (1) The type of technical assistance to be provided to the recipients and how it will be implemented.

    (2) How the capacity and ability of the recipients will be improved.

    (3) The overall goals to be accomplished.

    (4) The benchmarks to be used to measure the success of the program. Benchmarks should be specific and quantifiable.

    (d) Organizational documents, such as a certificate of incorporation and a current good standing certification from the Secretary of State where the applicant is incorporated and other similar and valid documentation of non-profit status, from the intermediary that confirms it has been legally organized for a minimum of 3 years as the applicant entity.

    (e) Verification of source and amount of matching funds, e.g., a copy of a bank statement if matching funds are in cash or a copy of the confirmed funding commitment from the funding source.

    The verification must show that matching funds are available for the duration of the grant performance period. The verification of matching funds must be submitted with the application or the application will be considered incomplete.

    The applicant will be contacted by the Agency prior to grant award to verify that the matching funds provided with the application continue to be available. The applicant will have 15 days from the date contacted to submit verification that matching funds continue to be available.

    If the applicant is unable to provide the verification within that timeframe, the application will be considered ineligible. The applicant must maintain bank statements on file or other documentation for a period of at least 3 years after grant closing except that the records shall be retained beyond the 3-year period if audit findings have not been resolved.

    (f) The following information for each recipient:

    (1) Recipient's entity name,

    (2) Complete address (mailing and physical location, if different),

    (3) County where located,

    (4) Number of Congressional district where recipient is located,

    (5) Contact person's name and telephone number, and

    (6) Form RD 400-4, “Assurance Agreement.” If the Form RD 400-4 is not submitted for a recipient, the recipient will be considered ineligible. No information pertaining to that recipient will be included in the income or population scoring criteria and the requested funding may be adjusted due to the deletion of the recipient.

    (g) Submit evidence that each recipient entity is eligible. Documentation must be submitted to verify recipient eligibility. Acceptable documentation varies depending on the type of recipient:

    (1) Nonprofits—provide a current valid letter confirming non-profit status from the Secretary of the State of incorporation or the IRS, a current good standing certification from the Secretary of the State of incorporation, or other valid documentation of nonprofit status of each recipient. A nonprofit recipient must provide evidence that it is a valid nonprofit when the intermediary applies for the RCDI grant. Organizations with pending requests for nonprofit designations are not eligible.

    (2) Low-income rural community—provide evidence the entity is a public body, and a copy of the 2010 census data to verify the population, and evidence that the median household income is at, or below, 80 percent of either the State or national median household income. We will only accept data and printouts from http://www.census.gov.

    (3) Federally recognized tribes—provide the page listing their name from the Federal Register list of tribal entities published most recently by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The 2014 list is available at 79 FR 4748-53 and http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc006989.

    (h) Each of the “Evaluation Criteria” must be addressed specifically and individually by category. Present these criteria in narrative form. Documentation must be limited to three pages per criterion. The “Population and Income” criteria for recipient locations can be provided in the form of a list; however, the source of the data must be included on the page(s).

    (i) A timeline identifying specific activities and proposed dates for completion.

    (j) A detailed project budget that includes the RCDI grant amount and matching funds. This should be a line-item budget, by category. Categories such as salaries, administrative, other, and indirect costs that pertain to the proposed project must be clearly defined. Supporting documentation listing the components of these categories must be included. The budget should be dated: year 1, year 2, year 3, as applicable.

    (k) The indirect cost category in the project budget should be used only when a grant applicant has a federally negotiated indirect cost rate. A copy of the current rate agreement must be provided with the application. Non-federal entities that have never received a negotiated indirect cost rate may use the de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC).

    (l) Form SF-424, “Application for Federal Assistance.” (Do not complete Form SF-424A, “Budget Information.” A separate line-item budget should be presented as described in No. 13 of this section.)

    (m) Form SF-424B, “Assurances—Non-Construction Programs.”

    (n) Form AD-1047, “Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters—Primary Covered Transactions.”

    (o) Form AD-1048, “Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion—Lower Tier Covered Transactions.”

    (p) Form AD-1049, “Certification Regarding Drug-Free Workplace Requirements.”

    (q) Certification of Non-Lobbying Activities.

    (r) Standard Form LLL, “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,” if applicable.

    (s) Form RD 400-4, “Assurance Agreement,” for the applicant.

    (t) Identify and report any association or relationship with Rural Development employees. (A statement acknowledging whether or not a relationship exists is required).

    (u) Form AD-3030, “Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants,” if you are a corporation. A corporation is any entity that has filed articles of incorporation in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the various territories of the United States including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Corporations include both for profit and non-profit entities.

    3. Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) and System for Awards Management (SAM)

    Grant applicants must obtain a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and register in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting a pre-application pursuant to 2 CFR 25.200(b). In addition, an entity applicant must maintain registration in SAM at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or plan under construction by the Agency. Similarly, all recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation in accordance to 2 CFR part 170. So long as an entity applicant does not have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b), the applicant must have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the reporting requirements should the applicant receive funding. See 2 CFR 170.200(b).

    An applicant, unless excepted under 2 CFR 25.110(b), (c), or (d), is required to:

    (a) Be registered in SAM before submitting its application;

    (b) Provide a valid DUNS number in its application; and

    (c) Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal awarding agency.

    The Federal awarding agency may not make a federal award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable DUNS and SAM requirements and, if an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the time the Federal awarding agency is ready to make a Federal award, the Federal awarding agency may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive a Federal award and use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another applicant.

    As required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), all grant applications must provide a DUNS number when applying for Federal grants, on or after October 1, 2003. Organizations can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free number at 1-866-705-5711 or via Internet at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform. Additional information concerning this requirement can be obtained on the Grants.gov Web site at http://www.grants.gov. Similarly, applicants may register for SAM at https://www.sam.gov or by calling 1-866-606-8220.

    The DUNS number should be identified in the “Organizational DUNS” field on Standard Form (SF) 424, “Application for Federal Assistance.” Since there are no specific fields for a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code and expiration date, they may be identified anywhere on the Form SF 424. If the applicant does not provide the CAGE code and expiration date and the DUNS number in the application, it will not be considered for funding. The required forms and certifications can be downloaded from the RCDI Web site at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-community-development-initiative-grants.

    4. Submission Dates and Times

    The deadline for receipt of an application is 4 p.m. local time, August 13, 2015. The application date and time are firm. The Agency will not consider any application received after the deadline. You may submit your application in paper form or electronically through Grants.gov. Applicants intending to mail applications must provide sufficient time to permit delivery on or before the closing deadline date and time. Acceptance by the United States Postal Service or private mailer does not constitute delivery. Facsimile (FAX) and postage due applications will not be accepted.

    To submit a paper application, the original application package must be submitted to the Rural Development State Office where the applicant's headquarters is located. A listing of Rural Development State Offices can be found via http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf.

    Applications will not be accepted via FAX or electronic mail.

    Applicants may file an electronic application at http://www.grants.gov. Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required passwords, credentialing, and software. Follow the instructions at Grants.gov for registering and submitting an electronic application. If a system problem or technical difficulty occurs with an electronic application, please use the customer support resources available at the Grants.gov Web site.

    Technical difficulties submitting an application through Grants.gov will not be a reason to extend the application deadline. If an application is unable to be submitted through Grants.gov, a paper application must be received in the appropriate Rural Development State Office by the deadline noted previously.

    First time Grants.gov users should carefully read and follow the registration steps listed on the Web site. These steps need to be initiated early in the application process to avoid delays in submitting your application online.

    In order to register with System for Award Management (SAM), your organization will need a DUNS number. Be sure to complete the Marketing Partner ID (MPID) and Electronic Business Primary Point of Contact fields during the SAM registration process.

    These are mandatory fields that are required when submitting grant applications through Grants.gov. Additional application instructions for submitting an electronic application can be found by selecting this funding opportunity on Grants.gov.

    5. Funding Restrictions

    Meeting expenses. In accordance with 31 U.S.C. 1345, “Expenses of Meetings,” appropriations may not be used for travel, transportation, and subsistence expenses for a meeting. RCDI grant funds cannot be used for these meeting-related expenses. Matching funds may, however, be used to pay for these expenses.

    RCDI funds may be used to pay for a speaker as part of a program, equipment to facilitate the program, and the actual room that will house the meeting.

    RCDI funds cannot be used for meetings; they can, however, be used for travel, transportation, or subsistence expenses for program-related training and technical assistance purposes. Any training not delineated in the application must be approved by the Agency to verify compliance with 31 U.S.C. 1345. Travel and per diem expenses (including meals and incidental expenses) will be allowed in accordance with 2 CFR parts 200 and 400.

    E. Application Review Information 1. Evaluation Criteria

    Applications will be evaluated using the following criteria and weights:

    (a) Building Capacity and Expertise—Maximum 40 Points

    The applicant must demonstrate how they will improve the recipients' capacity, through a program of financial and technical assistance, as it relates to the RCDI purposes.

    Capacity-building financial and technical assistance should provide new functions to the recipients or expand existing functions that will enable the recipients to undertake projects in the areas of housing, community facilities, or community and economic development that will benefit the community. Capacity-building financial and technical assistance may include, but is not limited to: Training to conduct community development programs, e.g., homeownership education, or the establishment of minority business entrepreneurs, cooperatives, or micro-enterprises; organizational development, e.g., assistance to develop or improve board operations, management, and financial systems; instruction on how to develop and implement a strategic plan; instruction on how to access alternative funding sources to increase leveraging opportunities; staffing, e.g., hiring a person at intermediary or recipient level to provide technical assistance to recipients.

    The program of financial and technical assistance that is to be provided, its delivery, and the measurability of the program's effectiveness will determine the merit of the application.

    All applications will be competitively ranked with the applications providing the most improvement in capacity development and measurable activities being ranked the highest.

    The narrative response must contain the following items. This list also contains the points for each item.

    (1) Describe the nature of financial and technical assistance to be provided to the recipients and the activities that will be conducted to deliver the technical assistance; (10 Points)

    (2) Explain how financial and technical assistance will develop or increase the recipient's capacity. Indicate whether a new function is being developed or if existing functions are being expanded or performed more effectively; (7 Points)

    (3) Identify which RCDI purpose areas will be addressed with this assistance: Housing, community facilities, or community and economic development; (3 Points)

    (4) Describe how the results of the technical assistance will be measured. What benchmarks will be used to measure effectiveness? Benchmarks should be specific and quantifiable; (5 Points)

    (5) Demonstrate that it has conducted programs of financial and technical assistance and achieved measurable results in the areas of housing, community facilities, or community and economic development in rural areas. (10 Points)

    (6) Provide the name, contact information, and the type and amount of the financial and technical assistance the applicant organization has provided to the following for the last 3 years: (5 Points)

    (i) Nonprofit organizations in rural areas.

    (ii) Low-income communities in rural areas (also include the type of entity, e.g., city government, town council, or village board).

    (iii) Federally recognized tribes or any other culturally diverse organizations.

    (b) Soundness of Approach—Maximum 15 Points

    The applicant can receive up to 15 points for soundness of approach. The overall proposal will be considered under this criterion. Applicants must list the page numbers in the application that address these factors.

    The maximum 15 points for this criterion will be based on the following:

    (1) The proposal fits the objectives for which applications were invited, is clearly stated, and the applicant has defined how this proposal will be implemented. (7 Points)

    (2) The ability to provide the proposed financial and technical assistance based on prior accomplishments. (6 Points)

    (3) Cost effectiveness will be evaluated based on the budget in the application. The proposed grant amount and matching funds should be utilized to maximize capacity building at the recipient level. (2 Points)

    (c) Population and Income—Maximum 15 Points

    Population is based on the average population from the 2010 census data for the communities in which the recipients are located. The physical address, not mailing address, for each recipient must be used for this criterion. Community is defined for scoring purposes as a city, town, village, county, parish, borough, or census-designated place where the recipient's office is physically located.

    The applicant must submit the census data from the following Web site in the form of a printout of the applicable “Fact Sheet” to verify the population figures used for each recipient. The data can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.census.gov; click on “American FactFinder,” fill in field and click “Go”; the name and population data for each recipient location must be listed in this section.

    The average population of the recipient locations will be used and will be scored as follows:

    Population Scoring
  • (points)
  • 10,000 or less 5 10,001 to 20,000 4 20,001 to 30,000 3 30,001 to 40,000 2 40,001 to 50,000 1

    The average of the median household income for the communities where the recipients are physically located will determine the points awarded. The physical address, not mailing address, for each recipient must be used for this criterion. Applicants may compare the average recipient median household income to the State median household income or the national median household income, whichever yields the most points. The national median household income to be used is $51,914.

    The applicant must submit the income data in the form of a printout of the applicable information from the following Web site to verify the income for each recipient.

    The data being used is from the 2010 census. The data can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.census.gov; click on “American FactFinder,” fill in field and click “Go”; the name and income data for each recipient location must be listed in this section. Points will be awarded as follows:

    Average recipient median income Scoring
  • (points)
  • Less than or equal to 70 percent of state or national median household income 10 Greater than 70, but less than or equal to 80 percent of state or national median household income 5 In excess of 80 percent of state or national median household Income 0
    (d) State Director's Points Based on Project Merit—Maximum 10 Points

    (1) This criterion will be addressed by the Agency, not the applicant.

    (2) Up to 10 points may be awarded by the Rural Development State Director to any application(s) that benefits their state regardless of whether the applicant is headquartered in their state. The total points awarded under this criterion, to all applications, will not exceed 10.

    (3) When an intermediary submits an application that will benefit a state that is not the same as the state in which the intermediary is headquartered, it is the intermediary's responsibility to notify the State Director of the state which is receiving the benefit of their application. In such cases, State Directors awarding points to applications benefiting their state must notify the reviewing state in writing.

    (4) Assignment of any points under this criterion requires a written justification and must be tied to and awarded based on how closely the application aligns with the Rural Development State Office's strategic goals.

    (e) Support of Agency's Strategic Goals—Maximum 20 Points

    This criterion will be addressed by the Agency, not the applicant. The Agency Administrator may award up to 20 points to any application to the extent that the application supports Strategic Goal One in the USDA Strategic Plan 2014-2018. This plan can be found at the following link: www.usda.gov/documents/usda-strategic-plan-fy-2014-2018.pdf.

    Points may be awarded to applications that meet at least one of the following six criteria below (note: the maximum points can be given to any one of the following six criteria):

    (1) The project is based in a census tract with poverty greater than or equal to 20%;

    (2) The project is based in a community (village, town, city, or Census Designated Place) that is 75% CF grant eligible (rural community having a population of 5,000 or less and median household income (MHI) of 60% or less of the state's non-metropolitan median household income (NMHI);

    (3) The project's service area includes at least one census tract with poverty greater than or equal to 20%;

    (4) The project's service area includes at least one community (village, town, city, or Census Designated Place) that is 75% CF grant eligible (rural community having a population of 5,000 or less and MHI of 60% or less of the state's NMHI);

    (5) The project serves a Strikeforce area (see link below).

    (6) The project serves a Promise Zone (see link below) and eligible applicant provides evidence of partnership with a Promise Zone Lead Applicant organization.

    For a listing of StrikeForce areas and designated Promise Zones, click on the following link: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=STRIKE_FORCE, then click the StrikeForce or Promise Zones button from the left menu. For a mapping tool identifying census tracts with poverty greater than or equal to 20 percent, click on the following link: http://rdgdwe.sc.egov.usda.gov/rdpoverty/index.html

    2. Review and Selection Process

    (a) Rating and ranking.

    Applications will be rated and ranked on a national basis by a review panel based on the “Evaluation Criteria” contained in this Notice.

    If there is a tied score after the applications have been rated and ranked, the tie will be resolved by reviewing the scores for “Building Capacity and Expertise” and the applicant with the highest score in that category will receive a higher ranking. If the scores for “Building Capacity and Expertise” are the same, the scores will be compared for the next criterion, in sequential order, until one highest score can be determined.

    (b) Initial screening.

    The Agency will screen each application to determine eligibility during the period immediately following the application deadline. Listed below are examples of reasons for rejection from previous funding rounds. The following reasons for rejection are not all inclusive; however, they represent the majority of the applications previously rejected.

    (1) Recipients were not located in eligible rural areas based on the definition in this Notice.

    (2) Applicants failed to provide evidence of recipient's status, i.e., documentation supporting nonprofit evidence of organization.

    (3) Applicants failed to provide evidence of committed matching funds or matching funds were not committed for a period at least equal to the grant performance period.

    (4) Application did not follow the RCDI structure with an intermediary and recipients.

    (5) Recipients were not identified in the application.

    (6) Intermediary did not provide evidence it had been incorporated for at least 3 years as the applicant entity.

    (7) Applicants failed to address the “Evaluation Criteria.”

    (8) The purpose of the proposal did not qualify as an eligible RCDI purpose.

    (9) Inappropriate use of funds (e.g., construction or renovations).

    (10) The applicant proposed providing financial and technical assistance directly to individuals.

    (11) The application package was not received by closing date and time.

    F. Federal Award Administration Information 1. Federal Award Notice

    Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the awarding official of the Agency shall make grants in ranked order to eligible applicants under the procedures set forth in this Notice.

    Successful applicants will receive a selection letter by mail containing instructions on requirements necessary to proceed with execution and performance of the award. This letter is not an authorization to begin performance. In addition, selected applicants will be requested to verify that components of the application have not changed at the time of selection and on the award obligation date, if requested by the Agency.

    The award is not approved until all information has been verified, and the awarding official of the Agency has signed Form RD 1940-1, “Request for Obligation of Funds” and the grant agreement.

    Unsuccessful applicants will receive notification including appeal rights by mail.

    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    Grantees will be required to do the following:

    (a) Execute a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant Agreement.

    (b) Execute Form RD 1940-1, “Request for Obligation of Funds.”

    (c) Use Form SF 270, “Request for Advance or Reimbursement,” to request reimbursements. Provide receipts for expenditures, timesheets and any other documentation to support the request for reimbursement.

    (d) Provide financial status and project performance reports on a quarterly basis starting with the first full quarter after the grant award.

    (e) Maintain a financial management system that is acceptable to the Agency.

    (f) Ensure that records are maintained to document all activities and expenditures utilizing RCDI grant funds and matching funds. Receipts for expenditures will be included in this documentation.

    (g) Provide annual audits or management reports on Form RD 442-2, “Statement of Budget, Income and Equity,” and Form RD 442-3, “Balance Sheet,” depending on the amount of Federal funds expended and the outstanding balance.

    (h) Collect and maintain data provided by recipients on race, sex, and national origin and ensure recipients collect and maintain the same data on beneficiaries. Race and ethnicity data will be collected in accordance with OMB Federal Register notice, “Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity,” (62 FR 58782), October 30, 1997. Sex data will be collected in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. These items should not be submitted with the application but should be available upon request by the Agency.

    (i) Provide a final project performance report.

    (j) Identify and report any association or relationship with Rural Development employees.

    (k) The intermediary and recipient must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Executive Order 12250, and 7 CFR part 1901, subpart E.

    (l) The grantee must comply with policies, guidance, and requirements as described in the following applicable Code of Federal Regulations, and any successor regulations:

    (i) 2 CFR parts 200 and 400 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements For Federal Awards).

    (ii) 2 CFR parts 417 and 180 (Government-wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement)

    (m) Form AD-3031, “Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants,” Must be signed by corporate applicants who receive an award under this Notice.

    3. Reporting

    After grant approval and through grant completion, you will be required to provide the following, as indicated in the Grant Agreement:

    (a) SF-425, “Federal Financial Report” and SF-PPR, “Performance Progress Report” will be required on a quarterly basis (due 30 working days after each calendar quarter). The Performance Progress Report shall include the elements described in the grant agreement.

    (b) Final financial and performance reports will be due 90 calendar days after the period of performance end date.

    (c) A summary at the end of the final report with elements as described in the grant agreement to assist in documenting the annual performance goals of the RCDI program for Congress.

    G. Federal Awarding Agency Contact

    Contact the Rural Development office in the State where the applicant's headquarters is located. A list of Rural Development State Offices can be found via http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RCDI_State_Contacts.pdf.

    H. Other Information

    Survey on Ensuring Equal Opportunity for Applicants, OMB No. 1894-0010 (applies only to nonprofit applicants only—submission is optional).

    No reimbursement will be made for any funds expended prior to execution of the RCDI Grant Agreement unless the intermediary is a non-profit or educational entity and has requested and received written Agency approval of the costs prior to the actual expenditure.

    This exception is applicable for up to 90 days prior to grant closing and only applies to grantees that have received written approval but have not executed the RCDI Grant Agreement.

    The Agency cannot retroactively approve reimbursement for expenditures prior to execution of the RCDI Grant Agreement.

    Program Definitions

    Agency—The Rural Housing Service (RHS) or its successor.

    Beneficiary—Entities or individuals that receive benefits from assistance provided by the recipient.

    Capacity—The ability of a recipient to implement housing, community facilities, or community and economic development projects.

    Conflict of interest—A situation in which a person or entity has competing personal, professional, or financial interests that make it difficult for the person or business to act impartially. Regarding use of both grant and matching funds, Federal procurement standards prohibit transactions that involve a real or apparent conflict of interest for owners, employees, officers, agents, or their immediate family members having a financial or other interest in the outcome of the project; or that restrict open and free competition for unrestrained trade. Specifically, project funds may not be used for services or goods going to, or coming from, a person or entity with a real or apparent conflict of interest, including, but not limited to, owner(s) and their immediate family members. An example of conflict of interest occurs when the grantee's employees, board of directors, or the immediate family of either, have the appearance of a professional or personal financial interest in the recipients receiving the benefits or services of the grant.

    Federally recognized tribes—Tribal entities recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, based on the most recent notice in the Federal Register published by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribally Designated Housing Entities are eligible RCDI recipients.

    Financial assistance—Funds, not to exceed $10,000 per award, used by the intermediary to purchase supplies and equipment to build the recipient's capacity.

    Funds—The RCDI grant and matching money.

    Intermediary—A qualified private, nonprofit (including faith-based and community organizations and philanthropic organizations), or public (including tribal) organization that provides financial and technical assistance to multiple recipients.

    Low-income rural community—An authority, district, economic development authority, regional council, or unit of government representing an incorporated city, town, village, county, township, parish, or borough whose income is at or below 80 percent of either the state or national Median Household Income as measured by the 2010 Census.

    Matching funds—Cash or confirmed funding commitments. Matching funds must be at least equal to the grant amount and committed for a period of not less than the grant performance period.

    Recipient—The entity that receives the financial and technical assistance from the Intermediary. The recipient must be a nonprofit community-based housing and development organization, a low-income rural community or a federally recognized Tribe.

    Rural and rural area—Any area other than (i) a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants; and (ii) the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to such city or town.

    Technical assistance—Skilled help in improving the recipient's abilities in the areas of housing, community facilities, or community and economic development.

    Non-Discrimination Policy

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

    To File a Program Complaint

    If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form.

    You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at [email protected].

    Persons With Disabilities

    Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and you wish to file either an EEO or program complaint please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish).

    Persons with disabilities who wish to file a program complaint, please see information above on how to contact us by mail directly or by email.

    If you require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) please contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Appeal Process

    All adverse determinations regarding applicant eligibility and the awarding of points as part of the selection process are appealable pursuant to 7 CFR part 11. Instructions on the appeal process will be provided at the time an applicant is notified of the adverse decision.

    In the event the applicant is awarded a grant that is less than the amount requested, the applicant will be required to modify its application to conform to the reduced amount before execution of the grant agreement. The Agency reserves the right to reduce or withdraw the award if acceptable modifications are not submitted by the awardee within 15 working days from the date the request for modification is made. Any modifications must be within the scope of the original application.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Tony Hernandez, Administrator, Rural Housing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11741 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XV-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Discuss Potential Project Topics AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Michigan Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Monday, July 20, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. EST for the purpose of discussing civil rights topics in the state and begin consideration of future projects. The Committee met on May 11 to begin the discussion on civil rights issues in Michigan and will continue the discussion during this meeting, including review of concept papers developed by Committee members.

    Members of the public can listen to the discussion. This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 888-455-2263, conference ID: 2627011. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement at the end of the meeting. The conference call operator will ask callers to identify themselves, the organization they are affiliated with (if any), and an email address prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are also entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by August 20, 2015. Written comments may be mailed to the Regional Programs Unit, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 55 W. Monroe St., Suite 410, Chicago, IL 60615. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (312) 353-8324, or emailed to Administrative Assistant, Carolyn Allen at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (312) 353-8311.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing prior to and after the meeting at http://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=255 and clicking on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above email or street address.

    Agenda
    Welcome and Introductions Donna Budnick, Chair Discussion of civil rights issues in Michigan Michigan Advisory Committee Members Future plans and actions Adjournment DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Monday, July 20, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. EST.

    Public Call Information:

    Dial: 888-455-2263 Conference ID: 2627011 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Mussatt at [email protected] or 312-353-8311.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11794 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-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 [4/24/2015 through 5/11/2015] Firm name Firm address Date accepted for investigation Product(s) Goodness Greeness, Inc 5959 South Lowe Avenue, Chicago, IL 60621 5/6/2015 “The firm orders, procures, transports, inspects, packages, sells and delivers
  • organic fruit, vegetables and herbs such as Navel Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons,
  • Cabbage, Gold Potatoes, Yams, Russet Potatoes, Peppers, Celery and Rainbow Carrots.”
  • Effort Foundry, Inc 6980 Chrisphalt Drive, Bath, PA 18014 5/5/2015 The firm manufactures iron, seals castings and bearing housings.

    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: May 11, 2015. Michael S. DeVillo, Eligibility Examiner.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11738 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-WH-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [Order No. 1983] Approval of Subzone Status; Spectro Coating Corporation d/b/a Claremont Flock, LLC, Leominster, Massachusetts

    Pursuant to its authority under the Foreign-Trade Zones Act of June 18, 1934, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), the Foreign-Trade Zones Board (the Board) adopts the following Order:

    Whereas, the Foreign-Trade Zones Act provides for “. . .the establishment. . . of foreign-trade zones in ports of entry of the United States, to expedite and encourage foreign commerce, and for other purposes,” and authorizes the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to grant to qualified corporations the privilege of establishing foreign-trade zones in or adjacent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports of entry;

    Whereas, the Board's regulations (15 CFR part 400) provide for the establishment of subzones for specific uses;

    Whereas, the Massachusetts Port Authority, grantee of Foreign-Trade Zone 27, has made application to the Board for the establishment of a subzone at the facility of Spectro Coating Corporation d/b/a Claremont Flock, LLC, located in Leominster, Massachusetts (FTZ Docket B-6-2015, docketed 02-03-2015);

    Whereas, notice inviting public comment has been given in the Federal Register (80 FR 7413, 02-10-2015) and the application has been processed pursuant to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations; and,

    Whereas, the Board adopts the findings and recommendations of the examiner's memorandum, and finds that the requirements of the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations are satisfied;

    Now, therefore, the Board hereby approves subzone status at the facility of Spectro Coating Corporation d/b/a Claremont Flock, LLC, located in Leominster, Massachusetts (Subzone 27N), as described in the application and Federal Register notice, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.13.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 8th day of May 2015. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance, Alternate Chairman, Foreign-Trade Zones Board.

    Attest:__________

    Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11855 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-03-2015] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 84—Houston, Texas; Authorization of Production Activity MHI Compressor International Corporation (Gas Compressors, Compressor Sets, Electrical Generators and Generating Sets), Pearland, Texas

    On January 12, 2015, MHI Compressor International Corporation submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facility within FTZ 84—Site 37, in Pearland, Texas.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (80 FR 4868, January 29, 2015). The FTZ Board has determined that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification is authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11843 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [Order No. 1982] Reorganization and Expansion of Foreign-Trade Zone 49 Under Alternative Site Framework, Newark/Elizabeth, New Jersey Pursuant to its authority under the Foreign-Trade Zones Act of June 18, 1934, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), the Foreign-Trade Zones Board (the Board) adopts the following Order:

    Whereas, the Board adopted the alternative site framework (ASF) (15 CFR 400.2(c)) as an option for the establishment or reorganization of zones;

    Whereas, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, grantee of Foreign-Trade Zone 49, submitted an application to the Board (FTZ Docket B-56-2014, docketed 08-11-2014; amended 01-21-2015) for authority to reorganize and expand FTZ 49 under the ASF with a service area that includes the County of Hudson in its entirety, as well as those parts of the Counties of Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris and Somerset, New Jersey, which lie within the Port Authority's jurisdiction known as the Port District, within and adjacent to the Newark/Elizabeth Customs and Border Protection port of entry. FTZ 49's existing Sites 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 13 would be categorized as magnet sites, and Sites 5, 14 and 15 would be categorized as usage-driven sites;

    Whereas, notice inviting public comment was given in the Federal Register (79 FR 48726, August 18, 2014) and the application has been processed pursuant to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations; and

    Whereas, the Board adopts the findings and recommendation of the examiner's report, and finds that the requirements of the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations are satisfied;

    Now, therefore, the Board hereby orders:

    The amended application to reorganize and expand FTZ 49 under the ASF is approved, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.13, to the Board's standard 2,000-acre activation limit for the zone, to an ASF sunset provision for magnet sites that would terminate authority for Sites 2, 3, 4, 6 and 13 if not activated within five years from the month of approval, and to an ASF sunset provision for usage-driven sites that would terminate authority for Sites 5, 14 and 15 if no foreign-status merchandise is admitted for a bona fide customs purpose within three years from the month of approval.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 8 day of May 2015. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance, Alternate Chairman, Foreign-Trade Zones Board.

    ATTEST:__________

    Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11856 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Public Meetings AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of public scoping meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold five scoping hearings in June 2015 related to blueline tilefish management. The Council is considering developing a fishery management plan (FMP) for blueline tilefish and/or other deepwater species, or adding blueline tilefish to the existing golden tilefish FMP. There will also be a separate written comment period for Amendment scoping, which will be described in an upcoming Federal Register announcement as a “Notice of Intent (NOI)” to potentially develop an EIS that accompanies the Amendment. That NOI will also contain information regarding these scoping hearings, but to provide the public with sufficient advance notice of the hearings, this notice is being published now since the NOI will likely publish shortly before these hearings.

    DATES:

    The meetings will be held over several weeks between June 1, 2015 and June 18, 2015 as described in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below.

    ADDRESSES:

    See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for locations.

    Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State St., Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674-2331.

    Comments: Comments will be taken at all scoping hearings. A separate Federal Register announcement will be published soon that provides additional information on how to make written comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; telephone: (302) 526-5255. The Council's Web site, www.mafmc.org (see “Upcoming Events”) also has details on the meeting locations and background materials. A scoping informational document and presentation recording will be posted to http://www.mafmc.org/actions/blueline-tilefish no later than May 26, 2015.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    There will be five scoping meetings with the following dates/times/locations:

    1. Monday, June 1, 2015, 6 p.m., Hyatt Place Long Island/East End, 451 E. Main St., Riverhead, NY 11901; telephone: (631) 208-0002.

    2. Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 6 p.m., Congress Hall Hotel, 251 Beach Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204; telephone: (888) 944-1816.

    3. Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 6 p.m., Dare County Administration Building, Commissioners Meeting Room, 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo, NC 27954; telephone: (252) 475-5700.

    4. Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 6 p.m., Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 3001 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451; telephone: (757) 213-3000.

    5. Thursday, June 18, 2015, 5 p.m., Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Eunice Q. Sorin Visitor & Conference Center, 12320 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City, MD 21842; telephone: (410) 213-0552.

    The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) manages blueline tilefish south of Virginia, but there is currently (as of May 11, 2015) no management of blueline tilefish in Federal waters north of North Carolina. Virginia and Maryland have instituted regulations for state waters, but catches in any Federal waters north of North Carolina may be landed from Delaware north without restriction. Blueline tilefish are susceptible to overfishing due to their biology (relatively long-lived, sedentary, slow growing, and late maturing) so the Council is considering developing management measures. These potential measures could be considered via an amendment to the Council's golden tilefish FMP, or a new FMP for blueline tilefish and/or other deep-water fish such as sand tilefish, snowy grouper, and black-bellied rosefish. Management measures could include a definition of the management unit, as well as acceptable biological catches, annual catch limits, trip limits, essential fish habitat, etc.

    For waters north of North Carolina, in response to recent catch increases the Council has already requested that NMFS take emergency action to implement a 300 pound (whole weight) commercial trip limit and a seven fish per-person recreational possession limit. This request was the result of a February 25, 2015 Council Meeting, the details of which may be found at: http://www.mafmc.org/briefing/2015/february-2014-blueline-tilefish-webinar-meeting. These emergency measures are intended to prevent depletion of blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic on an interim basis (for a maximum of 360 days) while the Council develops long-term management measures through the normal rulemaking process. NMFS has not decided whether and/or how to respond to the Council's request.

    Through the SAFMC's Amendment 32 (http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2014/am32/), NMFS implemented a 112 pound (whole weight) commercial trip limit and a one fish per boat per trip recreational trip limit (with a limited season) for the South Atlantic management unit that extends to waters off the North Carolina/Virginia border. The SAFMC has also requested that the Amendment 32 limits be extended north for all Federal waters off the U.S. East Coast via an emergency rule. The outcome of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's and SAFMC's emergency requests was not known at the time this notice was submitted. However, because any emergency rule can only be in effect for a maximum of 360 days, the Council is moving ahead with scoping for an amendment to develop long-term management and conservation measures for blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic through the normal rule-making process.

    This is the first and best opportunity for members of the public to raise concerns related to the scope of issues that will be considered in the Amendment. The Council needs your input both to identify management issues and develop effective alternatives. Your comments early in the amendment development process will help us address issues of public concern in a thorough and appropriate manner. Comment topics could include the scope of issues in the amendment, concerns and potential alternatives related to blueline tilefish management, and the appropriate level of environmental analysis. Comments can be made during the scoping hearings as detailed above or in writing once the official NOI publishes. After scoping, the Council plans to develop a range of management alternatives to be considered and prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and/or other appropriate environmental analyses. These analyses will consider the impacts of the management alternatives being considered. Following a review of any comments on the draft analyses, the Council will then choose preferred management measures for submission with a Final EIS or Environmental Assessment to the Secretary of Commerce for publishing of a proposed and then final rule, both of which have additional comment periods.

    Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, (302) 526-5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11759 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD895 FY 15 Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of funding availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The principal objective of the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program is to implement projects that use a proactive approach to improve or restore coastal habitat to: (1) Strengthen the resilience of our marine or coastal ecosystems to decrease the vulnerability of communities to extreme weather; and (2) support sustainable fisheries and contribute to the recovery of protected resources. See the full Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO), located on Grants.gov as described in the ADDRESSES section, for a complete description of program goals and how applications will be evaluated. Note that this funding opportunity is one of two competitions being administered by NOAA to build coastal resilience. The companion competition, the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program, is being administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service to support implementation of actions that directly build resilience of U.S. coastal communities using regional approaches. The Regional Coastal Resilience Grants FFO is expected to be posted in May 2015, and may be found on www.Grants.gov.

    DATES:

    Applications must be postmarked, provided to a delivery service, or received by www.Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 2, 2015. Use of a delivery service must be documented with a receipt. No facsimile or electronic mail applications will be accepted. In addition, applicants are advised that they must provide approval from the State Governor as evidenced by a letter or other form of documented correspondence for the proposed project by July 31, 2015. Before awards are made, NOAA will verify that correspondence from the State Governor has been received. See also Section III.C of the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants FFO.

    ADDRESSES:

    Complete application packages, including required Federal forms and instructions, can be found on www.Grants.gov by searching for Funding Opportunity Number NOAA-NMFS-HCPO-2015-2004410. If a prospective applicant is having difficulty downloading the application forms from www.Grants.gov, contact www.Grants.gov Customer Support at 1-800-518-4726 or [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information, contact Melanie Gange at (301) 427-8664, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Statutory Authority: Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 16 U.S.C. 661, as amended by the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970; Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, 16 U.S.C. 1891a; and Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1535.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA): 11.463.

    Program Description

    As noted above, the principal objective of the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program is to implement projects that use a proactive approach to improve or restore coastal habitat to: (1) Strengthen the resilience of our marine and coastal ecosystems to decrease the vulnerability of communities to extreme weather; and (2) support sustainable fisheries and contribute to the recovery of protected resources. Applications should demonstrate how the proposed project will enhance the resiliency of marine and coastal ecosystems to the impacts of extreme weather and changing environmental conditions thereby increasing community resilience and providing habitat to threatened and endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act (hereafter, Listed Species), fish stocks managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (hereafter, Managed Species), or other marine and coastal species with a nexus to NMFS management (such as through the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Coral Reef Conservation Act, or NMFS Species of Concern). Successful applications will (1) identify an issue limiting the resiliency of marine or coastal ecosystems to extreme weather events or changing environmental conditions at the proposed project site; (2) identify the proposed project's outcome goal(s) and describe in detail the actions and on-the-ground restoration to be undertaken to enhance resiliency and reduce risk and; (3) describe the measurable impact on the ecosystem, target species, and surrounding coastal communities to benefit from the proposed habitat restoration project. Applications selected for funding through this solicitation will primarily be funded through cooperative agreements.

    Section IV.B. of the FFO describes the suggested information to include in the application narrative. Supplemental Guidance regarding application writing, a checklist to submit a complete application, and FAQs about this solicitation and the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program being administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service can be found at www.restoration.noaa.gov/partnerresources and www.habitat.noaa.gov/funding/coastalresiliency.html, respectively. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NOAA Restoration Center staff before submitting an application to discuss their NOAA Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency project ideas with respect to technical merit and NOAA's objectives. NOAA will make every effort to respond to prospective applicants on a first come, first served basis. These discussions will not include review of draft proposals or site visits during the application period.

    This funding opportunity is one of two FFOs being administered by NOAA to build coastal resilience. The companion competition, Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program, is being administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service to undertake activities that build resilience of coastal regions, communities, and economic sectors to the negative impacts from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. The Regional Coastal Resilience Grants FFO is expected to be posted in May of 2015 and may be found on www.grants.gov.

    Funding Availability

    Total anticipated funding for all awards is up to $4 million, subject to the availability of appropriations. NOAA anticipates typical awards will range from $500,000 to $1 million. NOAA will not accept applications requesting less than $200,000 or more than $2 million in Federal funds from NOAA under this solicitation and the exact amount of funds that may be awarded will be determined in pre-award negotiations between the applicant and NOAA. Any funds provided to successful applicants will be at the discretion of the NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation and the NOAA Grants Management Division (GMD). In no event will NOAA or the Department of Commerce be responsible for application preparation costs if programs fail to receive funding or are cancelled because of other agency priorities. Publication of this notice does not oblige NOAA to award any specific project or to obligate any available funds and there is no guarantee that sufficient funds will be available to make awards for all top-ranked applications. The number of awards to be made as a result of this solicitation will depend on the number of eligible applications received, the amount of funds requested for coastal ecosystem resiliency projects, and the merit and ranking of the applications.

    Eligibility

    Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education, non-profits, commercial (for profit) organizations, U.S. territories, and state, local and Native American tribal governments. Applications from individuals, Federal agencies, or employees of federal agencies will not be considered. Individuals and Federal agencies are strongly encouraged to work with states, non-governmental organizations, municipal and county governments, and others that are eligible to apply. In addition, NOAA will only award funds to projects that receive and demonstrate approval of the State's Governor to implement the proposed project as evidenced by a letter or other form of documented correspondence by July 31, 2015. Funds awarded under this program must be matched with non-federal funds (cash or in-kind services) at a 2:1 ratio of Federal-to-non-federal contributions. Applications selected for funding will be bound by the percentage of cost sharing reflected in the award document signed by the NOAA Grants Officer.

    Evaluation and Selection Procedures

    The general evaluation criteria and selection factors that apply to full applications to this funding opportunity are summarized below. Further information about the evaluation criteria and selection factors can be found in the full FFO announcement in www.Grants.gov (Funding Opportunity Number NOAA-NMFS-HCPO-2015-2004410).

    Evaluation Criteria

    Reviewers will assign scores to applications ranging from 0 to 100 points based on the following five standard NOAA evaluation criteria and respective weights specified below. Applications that best address these criteria will be most competitive.

    1. Importance and Applicability (35 points): This criterion ascertains whether there is intrinsic value in the proposed work and/or relevance to NOAA, federal, regional, state or local activities.

    2. Technical/Scientific Merit (25 points): This criterion assesses whether the project activity or approach is technically sound, if the methods are appropriate, and whether there are clear goals and objectives.

    3. Overall Qualifications of Applicant (10 points): This criterion ascertains whether the applicant possesses the necessary education, experience, training, facilities, and administrative resources to support the proposed award.

    4. Project Costs (20 points): This criterion evaluates the budget to determine if it is realistic and commensurate with the project's needs and time-frame.

    5. Outreach and Education (10 points): NOAA assesses whether the award can deliver a focused and effective education and outreach strategy regarding NOAA's mission to protect the Nation's natural resources.

    Review and Selection Process

    Applications will undergo an initial administrative review to determine if they are eligible and complete, per Section III of the full FFO posted at www.Grants.gov. Eligible applications will undergo a technical review, ranking, and selection process by three or more merit reviewers to determine how well they meet the program priorities and evaluation criteria of this solicitation and the mission and goals of NOAA. After the technical review, a panel may meet to make final recommendations to the Selecting Official (SO) regarding which applications best meet the program objectives and priorities (see Sections I.A. and I.B. of the full FFO). The SO anticipates recommending applications for funding in rank order unless an application is justified to be selected out of rank order based upon one or more of the following selection factors: (1) Availability of funding; (2) Balance/distribution of funds: (a) By geographic area, (b) by type of institutions, (c) by type of partners, (d) by research areas; or (e) by project types; (3) Whether the project duplicates other projects funded or considered for funding by NOAA or other federal agencies; (4) Program priorities and policy factors set out in section I.A. and I.B. of the FFO; (5) An applicant's prior award performance; (6) Partnerships and/or participation of targeted groups; and (7) Adequacy of information necessary for NOAA staff to make a NEPA determination and draft necessary documentation before recommendations for funding are made to the NOAA GMD. Hence, awards may not necessarily be made to the highest-scored applications. In addition, as noted above, applicants must provide NOAA with documentation of approval from the State Governor for the proposed project by July 31, 2015 in order to receive an award. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified that their application was not among those recommended for funding. Unsuccessful applications submitted in hard copy will be kept on file in accordance with NOAA records requirements and then destroyed.

    Intergovernmental Review

    Applications submitted under the FFO are subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Programs.” Any applicant submitting an application for funding is required to complete item 16 on Form SF-424 regarding clearance by the State Single Point of Contact (SPOC). To find out about and comply with a State's process under Executive Order 12372, the names, addresses and phone numbers of participating SPOC's are listed on the Office of Management and Budget's home page at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc.

    Limitation of Liability

    In no event will NOAA or the Department of Commerce be responsible for proposal preparation costs if these programs fail to receive funding or are cancelled because of other agency priorities. Publication of this announcement does not oblige NOAA to award any specific project or to obligate any available funds.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    NOAA must analyze the potential environmental impacts, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), for applicant projects or proposals which are seeking NOAA federal funding opportunities. Consequently, as part of an applicant's package, and under their description of their program activities, applicants are required to provide detailed information on the activities to be conducted, locations, sites, species and habitat to be affected, possible construction activities, and any environmental concerns that may exist. Applicants may also be requested to assist NOAA in drafting of an environmental assessment, or in identifying and implementing feasible measures to reduce or avoid any identified adverse environmental impacts of their proposal. The failure to do so shall be grounds for not selecting an application. Further details regarding NOAA's compliance with NEPA can be found in the full Federal Funding Opportunity.

    The Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements

    The Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register notice of December 30, 2014 (79 FR 78390) are applicable to this solicitation.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This document contains collection-of-information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The use of Standard Forms 424, 424A, 424B, and SF-LLL and CD-346 has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the respective control numbers 0348-0043, 0348-0044, 0348-0040, 0348-0046, and 0605-0001. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Executive Order 12866

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

    Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    It has been determined that this notice does not contain policies with implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 13132.

    Administrative Procedure Act/Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Prior notices and an opportunity for public comment are not required by the Administrative Procedure Act or any other law for rules concerning public property, loans, grants, benefits, and contracts (5 U.S.C. 553(a)(2)). Because notice and opportunity for comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical requirements for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis has not been prepared.

    Frederick C. Sutter, Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11769 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD870 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Shallow Geohazard Survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS received an application from Hilcorp Alaska, LLC. (Hilcorp) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Hilcorp to take, by Level B harassment only, 6 species of marine mammals during the specified activity.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments on the application should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is [email protected] NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size.

    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    A copy of the application, which contains several attachments, including Hilcorp's marine mammal mitigation and monitoring plan (4MP), used in this document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].

    Summary of Request

    On December 1, 2014, NMFS received an application from Hilcorp for the taking of marine mammals incidental to shallow geohazard surveys in the Beaufort Sea. After receiving NMFS comments, Hilcorp submitted a revised IHA application on January 5, 2015. In addition, Hilcorp submitted a 4MP on January 21, 2015. NMFS determined that the application was adequate and complete on February 9, 2015.

    The proposed activity would occur between July 1 and September 30, 2015. The actual survey is expected to be complete in 45 days, including weather and equipment downtime. Underwater noises generated from the sonar used for the survey are likely to result Level B harassment of individuals of 6 species of marine mammals.

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    Hilcorp plans to conduct a shallow geohazard survey and Strudel Scour survey with a transition zone component on state lands, and in federal and state waters of Foggy Island Bay in the Beaufort Sea during the open water season of 2015. The scope of this request is limited to the activities that will be conducted during the 2015 open water evaluation of the proposed Liberty field development.

    Dates and Duration

    Hilcorp seeks incidental harassment authorization for the period July 1 to September 30, 2015. The survey is expected to take approximately 45 days to complete, including weather and equipment downtime. About 25% of downtime is included in this total, so the actual number of days that equipment are expected to be operating is estimated at 34, based on a continuous 24-hr. operation.

    Specified Geographic Region

    The project area of the proposed Liberty shallow geohazard survey lies within Foggy Island Bay as shown in Figure 1 of Hilcorp's IHA application. The project area is 2.5 mi2 in water depths ranging from 3 to 20 ft.

    Detailed Description of Activities (1) Survey Designs

    The proposed sonar survey vessel (M/V Sidewinder or equivalent) is about 40 × 14 feet in size. The sub-bottom profilers and magnetometer will be deployed from the vessel. The echosounder and side scan sonar will be hull-mounted. No equipment will be placed on the sea floor as part of survey activities. Because of the extremely shallow project area, additional small vessel(s) may be utilized to safely extend vessel operations for data collection.

    The total planned survey lines are approximately 300 miles, not including turns and cross-lines. Data will be acquired along the subsea pipeline corridor area using the single-beam or multibeam echosounder, side scan sonar, sub-bottom profilers, and the magnetometer. Because of the shallow nature of the project area and small size of the vessel, systems will be towed in optimal groupings that best facilitate safe operations and data quality. As necessary, a small vessel may be used to extend data collection into shallow waters. Planned survey lines will be designed to acquire 150% side scan sonar data coverage or as mandated, with line spacing dependent upon water depth. A 300 m corridor around the centerline of the proposed pipeline area will be covered.

    (2) Acoustic Sources Multibeam Echo Sounder and Side Scan Sonar

    A single-beam or multibeam echosounder and side scan sonar will be used to obtain high accuracy information regarding bathymetry of the seafloor. For accurate object detection, a side scan sonar survey is required to complement a multibeam echosounder survey.

    The proposed multibeam echosounder operates at an rms source level of a maximum of 220 dB re 1 μPa @1 m. The multibeam echosounder emits high frequency (240 kHz) energy in a fan-shaped pattern of equidistant or equiangular beam spacing (Table 1). The beam width of the emitted sound energy in the along-track direction is 1.5 degrees, while the across track beam width is 1.8 degrees. The maximum ping rate of the multibeam echosounder is 40 Hz.

    The proposed single-beam echosounder operates at an rms source level of approximately 220 dB re 1 μPa @1 m (Table 1). The transducer selected uses a frequency of 210 kHz and has a ping rate of up to 20 Hz. The transducer's beam width is approximately 3 degrees.

    The proposed side scan sonar system will operate at about 400 kHz and 900 kHz. The rms source level is 215 dB re 1μPa @1 m. The sound energy is emitted in a narrow fan-shaped pattern, with a horizontal beam width of 0.45 degrees for 400 kHz and 0.25 degrees at 900 kHz, with a vertical beam width of 50 degrees (Table 1). The maximum ping rate is 75 Hz.

    Sub-Bottom Profiler

    The proposed high-resolution sub-bottom profiler operates at an rms source level of 210db re 1 μPa @1 m. The proposed system emits energy in the frequency bands of 2 to 24 kHz. The beam width is 15 to 24 degrees (Table 1). Typical pulse rate is between 3 and 10 Hz.

    The proposed low-resolution sub-bottom profiler operates at an rms source level of 212db re 1 μPa @1 m. This secondary sub-bottom profiler will be utilized as necessary to increase sub-bottom profile penetration. The proposed system emits energy in the frequency bands of 1 to 4 kHz.

    Table 1—Source Characteristics of the Proposed Geophysical Survey Equipment To Be Used During the Liberty Geohazard Survey Equipment Sample equipment model type Operating frequency Along track beam width Across track beam width Source level (dB re 1 μPa @1 m, rms) Multibeam echosounder Reson 7101 SV 240 kHz 1.5° 1.8° 220 Single-beam echosounder Odom 210 kHz 220 Side scan sonar Edgetech 4125 400 kHz/900 kHz 0.5° 50° 215 High resolution (CHIRP) sub-bottom profiler Edgetech 3200 2 to 24 kHz 15° to 24° 15° to 24° 210 Low resolution sub-bottom profiler Applied Acoustics AA251 1 to 4 kHz n/a n/a 212 Alternative multibeam echosounder Norbit IWBMS 400 kHz 1.9° 0.9° 218 Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    The Beaufort Sea supports a diverse assemblage of marine mammals. Table 2 lists the 12 marine mammal species under NMFS jurisdiction with confirmed or possible occurrence in the proposed project area.

    EN15MY15.002

    The highlighted (grayed out) species in Table 2 are so rarely sighted in the proposed project area that take is unlikely. Minke whales are relatively common in the Bering and southern Chukchi Seas and have recently also been sighted in the northeastern Chukchi Sea (Aerts et al., 2013; Clarke et al., 2013). Minke whales are rare in the Beaufort Sea. They have not been reported in the Beaufort Sea during the Bowhead Whale Aerial Survey Project/Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (BWASP/ASAMM) surveys (Clarke et al., 2011, 2012; 2013; Monnet and Treacy, 2005), and there was only one observation in 2007 during vessel-based surveys in the region (Funk et al., 2010). Humpback whales have not generally been found in the Arctic Ocean. However, subsistence hunters have spotted humpback whales in low numbers around Barrow, and there have been several confirmed sightings of humpback whales in the northeastern Chukchi Sea in recent years (Aerts et al., 2013; Clarke et al., 2013). The first confirmed sighting of a humpback whale in the Beaufort Sea was recorded in August 2007 (Hashagen et al., 2009), when a cow and calf were observed 54 mi east of Point Barrow. No additional sightings have been documented in the Beaufort Sea. Narwhal are common in the waters of northern Canada, west Greenland, and in the European Arctic, but rarely occur in the Beaufort Sea (COSEWIC, 2004). Only a handful of sightings have occurred in Alaskan waters (Allen and Angliss, 2013). These three species are not considered further in this proposed IHA notice. Both the walrus and the polar bear could occur in the U.S. Beaufort Sea; however, these species are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and are not considered further in this Notice of Proposed IHA.

    The Beaufort Sea is a main corridor of the bowhead whale migration route. The main migration periods occur in spring from April to June and in fall from late August/early September through October to early November. During the fall migration, several locations in the U.S. Beaufort Sea serve as feeding grounds for bowhead whales. Small numbers of bowhead whales that remain in the U.S. Arctic Ocean during summer also feed in these areas. The U.S. Beaufort Sea is not a main feeding or calving area for any other cetacean species. Ringed seals breed and pup in the Beaufort Sea; however, this does not occur during the summer or early fall. Further information on the biology and local distribution of these species can be found in Hilcorp's application (see ADDRESSES) and the NMFS Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports, which are available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/.

    Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with the specified activity (e.g., sonar sources and vessel movement) have been observed to or are thought to impact marine mammals. This section may include a discussion of known effects that do not rise to the level of an MMPA take (for example, with acoustics, we may include a discussion of studies that showed animals not reacting at all to sound or exhibiting barely measurable avoidance). The discussion may also include reactions that we consider to rise to the level of a take and those that we do not consider to rise to the level of a take. This section is intended as a background of potential effects and does not consider either the specific manner in which this activity will be carried out or the mitigation that will be implemented or how either of those will shape the anticipated impacts from this specific activity. The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis” section will include the analysis of how this specific activity will impact marine mammals and will consider the content of this section, the “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section, the “Proposed Mitigation” section, and the “Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat” section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks.

    Background on Sound

    Sound is a physical phenomenon consisting of minute vibrations that travel through a medium, such as air or water, and is generally characterized by several variables. Frequency describes the sound's pitch and is measured in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz), while sound level describes the sound's intensity and is measured in decibels (dB). Sound level increases or decreases exponentially with each dB of change. The logarithmic nature of the scale means that each 10-dB increase is a 10-fold increase in acoustic power (and a 20-dB increase is then a 100-fold increase in power). A 10-fold increase in acoustic power does not mean that the sound is perceived as being 10 times louder, however. Sound levels are compared to a reference sound pressure (micro-Pascal) to identify the medium. For air and water, these reference pressures are “re: 20 µPa” and “re: 1 µPa,” respectively. Root mean square (RMS) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. RMS is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick, 1975). RMS accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels. This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part, because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units rather than by peak pressures.

    Acoustic Impacts

    When considering the influence of various kinds of sound on the marine environment, it is necessary to understand that different kinds of marine life are sensitive to different frequencies of sound. Based on available behavioral data, audiograms have been derived using auditory evoked potentials, anatomical modeling, and other data, Southall et al. (2007) designate “functional hearing groups” for marine mammals and estimate the lower and upper frequencies of functional hearing of the groups. The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below (though animals are less sensitive to sounds at the outer edge of their functional range and most sensitive to sounds of frequencies within a smaller range somewhere in the middle of their functional hearing range):

    • Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 30 kHz;

    • Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and bottlenose whales): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz;

    • High frequency cetaceans (eight species of true porpoises, six species of river dolphins, Kogia, the franciscana, and four species of cephalorhynchids): Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz;

    • Phocid pinnipeds in water: Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 75 Hz and 100 kHz; and

    • Otariid pinnipeds in water: Functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 100 Hz and 40 kHz.

    As mentioned previously in this document, six marine mammal species (three cetaceans and three phocid pinnipeds) may occur in the proposed shallow hazard survey area. Of the three cetacean species likely to occur in the proposed project area and for which take is requested, two are classified as low-frequency cetaceans (i.e., bowhead and gray whales), the beluga whale is classified as mid-frequency cetacean (Southall et al., 2007). A species functional hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on marine mammals.

    Although the analysis of impacts of underwater sound on marine mammals described below heavily based on studies from seismic airgun noises, Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey does not plan to use airguns. Therefore, the potential impacts to marine mammals are expected to be much lower. The reason that the analysis includes airgun impact research is because there are few studies on impacts of marine mammals from marine surveys conducted by sonar equipment.

    1. Tolerance

    Numerous studies have shown that underwater sounds from industry activities are often readily detectable by marine mammals in the water at distances of many kilometers. Numerous studies have also shown that marine mammals at distances more than a few kilometers away often show no apparent response to industry activities of various types (Miller et al., 2005; Bain and Williams, 2006). This is often true even in cases when the sounds must be readily audible to the animals based on measured received levels and the hearing sensitivity of that mammal group. Although various baleen whales, toothed whales, and (less frequently) pinnipeds have been shown to react behaviorally to underwater sound such as airgun pulses or vessels under some conditions, at other times mammals of all three types have shown no overt reactions (e.g., Malme et al., 1986; Richardson et al., 1995). Weir (2008) observed marine mammal responses to seismic pulses from a 24 airgun array firing a total volume of either 5,085 in3 or 3,147 in3 in Angolan waters between August 2004 and May 2005. Weir recorded a total of 207 sightings of humpback whales (n = 66), sperm whales (n = 124), and Atlantic spotted dolphins (n = 17) and reported that there were no significant differences in encounter rates (sightings/hr) for humpback and sperm whales according to the airgun array's operational status (i.e., active versus silent). However, the current geohazard survey will not use airguns. In general, pinnipeds and small odontocetes seem to be more tolerant of exposure to some types of underwater sound than are baleen whales. Richardson et al. (1995) found that vessel noise does not seem to strongly affect pinnipeds that are already in the water. Richardson et al. (1995) went on to explain that seals on haul-outs sometimes respond strongly to the presence of vessels and at other times appear to show considerable tolerance of vessels.

    2. Masking

    Masking is the obscuring of sounds of interest by other sounds, often at similar frequencies. Marine mammals use acoustic signals for a variety of purposes, which differ among species, but include communication between individuals, navigation, foraging, reproduction, avoiding predators, and learning about their environment (Erbe and Farmer, 2000). Masking, or auditory interference, generally occurs when sounds in the environment are louder than, and of a similar frequency as, auditory signals an animal is trying to receive. Masking is a phenomenon that affects animals that are trying to receive acoustic information about their environment, including sounds from other members of their species, predators, prey, and sounds that allow them to orient in their environment. Masking these acoustic signals can disturb the behavior of individual animals, groups of animals, or entire populations.

    Masking occurs when anthropogenic sounds and signals (that the animal utilizes) overlap at both spectral and temporal scales. For the sonar sound generated from the proposed shallow geohazard survey, sound will consist of broadband (2-24 kHz) pulses with extremely short durations (less than one second). There is little concern regarding masking near the sound source due to the brief duration of these pulses and relatively longer silence between the pulses. However, at long distances (over tens of kilometers away), due to multipath propagation and reverberation, the durations of airgun pulses can be “stretched” to seconds with long decays (Madsen et al., 2006), although the intensity of the sound is greatly reduced.

    3. Behavioral Disturbance

    Marine mammals may behaviorally react when exposed to anthropogenic sound. These behavioral reactions are often shown 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 sound sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haulouts or rookeries).

    The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification have the potential to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Examples of 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 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, current activity, reproductive state) and is also difficult to predict (Gordon et al., 2004; Southall et al., 2007; Ellison et al., 2011).

    Mysticetes: Baleen whales generally tend to avoid operating airguns, but avoidance radii are quite variable. Whales are often reported to show no overt reactions to pulses from large arrays of airguns at distances beyond a few kilometers, even though the airgun pulses remain well above ambient noise levels out to much greater distances (Miller et al., 2005). However, baleen whales exposed to strong noise pulses often react by deviating from their normal migration route (Richardson et al., 1999). Migrating gray and bowhead whales were observed avoiding the sound source by displacing their migration route to varying degrees but within the natural boundaries of the migration corridors (Schick and Urban, 2000; Richardson et al., 1999). Baleen whale responses to pulsed sound however may depend on the type of activity in which the whales are engaged. Some evidence suggests that feeding bowhead whales may be more tolerant of underwater sound than migrating bowheads (Miller et al., 2005; Lyons et al., 2009; Christie et al., 2010).

    Results of studies of gray, bowhead, and humpback whales have determined that received levels of pulses in the 160-170 dB re 1 µPa rms range seem to cause obvious avoidance behavior in a substantial fraction of the animals exposed. In many areas, seismic pulses from large arrays of airguns diminish to those levels at distances ranging from 2.8-9 mi (4.5-14.5 km) from the source. Baleen whales within those distances may show avoidance or other strong disturbance reactions to the airgun array. Subtle behavioral changes sometimes become evident at somewhat lower received levels, and recent studies have shown that some species of baleen whales, notably bowhead and humpback whales, at times show strong avoidance at received levels lower than 160-170 dB re 1 μPa rms. Bowhead whales migrating west across the Alaskan Beaufort Sea in autumn, in particular, are unusually responsive, with avoidance occurring out to distances of 12.4-18.6 mi (20-30 km) from a medium-sized airgun source (Miller et al., 1999; Richardson et al., 1999). However, more recent research on bowhead whales (Miller et al., 2005) corroborates earlier evidence that, during the summer feeding season, bowheads are not as sensitive to seismic sources. In summer, bowheads typically begin to show avoidance reactions at a received level of about 160-170 dB re 1 µPa rms (Richardson et al., 1986; Ljungblad et al., 1988; Miller et al., 2005).

    Malme et al. (1986) studied the responses of feeding eastern gray whales to pulses from a single 100 in3 airgun off St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea. They estimated, based on small sample sizes, that 50% of feeding gray whales ceased feeding at an average received pressure level of 173 dB re 1 µPa on an (approximate) rms basis, and that 10% of feeding whales interrupted feeding at received levels of 163 dB. Those findings were generally consistent with the results of experiments conducted on larger numbers of gray whales that were migrating along the California coast and on observations of the distribution of feeding Western Pacific gray whales off Sakhalin Island, Russia, during a seismic survey (Yazvenko et al., 2007).

    Data on short-term reactions (or lack of reactions) of cetaceans to impulsive noises do not necessarily provide information about long-term effects. While it is not certain whether impulsive noises affect reproductive rate or distribution and habitat use in subsequent days or years, certain species have continued to use areas ensonified by airguns and have continued to increase in number despite successive years of anthropogenic activity in the area. Gray whales continued to migrate annually along the west coast of North America despite intermittent seismic exploration and much ship traffic in that area for decades (Appendix A in Malme et al., 1984). Bowhead whales continued to travel to the eastern Beaufort Sea each summer despite seismic exploration in their summer and autumn range for many years (Richardson et al., 1987). Populations of both gray whales and bowhead whales grew substantially during this time. In any event, the proposed survey will occur in summer (July through late August) when most bowhead whales are commonly feeding in the Mackenzie River Delta, Canada.

    Odontocetes: Few systematic data are available describing reactions of toothed whales to noise pulses. However, systematic work on sperm whales is underway, and there is an increasing amount of information about responses of various odontocetes to seismic surveys based on monitoring studies (e.g., Stone, 2003). Miller et al. (2009) conducted at-sea experiments where reactions of sperm whales were monitored through the use of controlled sound exposure experiments from large airgun arrays consisting of 20-guns and 31-guns. Of 8 sperm whales observed, none changed their behavior when exposed to either a ramp-up at 4-8 mi (7-13 km) or full array exposures at 0.6-8 mi (1-13 km).

    Seismic operators and marine mammal observers sometimes see dolphins and other small toothed whales near operating airgun arrays, but, in general, there seems to be a tendency for most delphinids to show some limited avoidance of seismic vessels operating large airgun systems. However, some dolphins seem to be attracted to the seismic vessel and floats, and some ride the bow wave of the seismic vessel even when large arrays of airguns are firing. Nonetheless, there have been indications that small toothed whales sometimes move away or maintain a somewhat greater distance from the vessel when a large array of airguns is operating than when it is silent (e.g., 1998; Stone, 2003). The beluga may be a species that (at least in certain geographic areas) shows long-distance avoidance of seismic vessels. Aerial surveys during seismic operations in the southeastern Beaufort Sea recorded much lower sighting rates of beluga whales within 10-20 km (6.2-12.4 mi) of an active seismic vessel. These results were consistent with the low number of beluga sightings reported by observers aboard the seismic vessel, suggesting that some belugas might have been avoiding the seismic operations at distances of 10-20 km (6.2-12.4 mi) (Miller et al., 2005).

    Captive bottlenose dolphins and (of more relevance in this project) beluga whales exhibit changes in behavior when exposed to strong pulsed sounds similar in duration to those typically used in seismic surveys (Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). However, the animals tolerated high received levels of sound (pk-pk level >200 dB re 1 μPa) before exhibiting aversive behaviors.

    Observers stationed on seismic vessels operating off the United Kingdom from 1997-2000 have provided data on the occurrence and behavior of various toothed whales exposed to seismic pulses (Stone, 2003; Gordon et al., 2004). Killer whales were found to be significantly farther from large airgun arrays during periods of shooting compared with periods of no shooting. The displacement of the median distance from the array was approximately 0.5 km (0.3 mi) or more. Killer whales also appear to be more tolerant of seismic shooting in deeper water.

    Reactions of toothed whales to large arrays of airguns are variable and, at least for delphinids, seem to be confined to a smaller radius than has been observed for mysticetes. However, based on the limited existing evidence, belugas should not be grouped with delphinids in the “less responsive” category.

    Pinnipeds: Pinnipeds are not likely to show a strong avoidance reaction to the airgun sources proposed for use. Visual monitoring from seismic vessels has shown only slight (if any) avoidance of airguns by pinnipeds and only slight (if any) changes in behavior. Monitoring work in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea during 1996-2001 provided considerable information regarding the behavior of Arctic ice seals exposed to seismic pulses (Harris et al., 2001; Moulton and Lawson, 2002). These seismic projects usually involved arrays of 6 to 16 airguns with total volumes of 560 to 1,500 in3. The combined results suggest that some seals avoid the immediate area around seismic vessels. In most survey years, ringed seal sightings tended to be farther away from the seismic vessel when the airguns were operating than when they were not (Moulton and Lawson, 2002). However, these avoidance movements were relatively small, on the order of 100 m (328 ft) to a few hundreds of meters, and many seals remained within 100-200 m (328-656 ft) of the trackline as the operating airgun array passed by. Seal sighting rates at the water surface were lower during airgun array operations than during no-airgun periods in each survey year except 1997. Similarly, seals are often very tolerant of pulsed sounds from seal-scaring devices (Richardson et al., 1995). However, initial telemetry work suggests that avoidance and other behavioral reactions by two other species of seals to small airgun sources may at times be stronger than evident to date from visual studies of pinniped reactions to airguns (Thompson et al., 1998). Even if reactions of the species occurring in the present study area are as strong as those evident in the telemetry study, reactions are expected to be confined to relatively small distances and durations, with no long-term effects on pinniped individuals or populations.

    4. Threshold Shift (Noise-Induced Loss of Hearing)

    When animals exhibit reduced hearing sensitivity (i.e., sounds must be louder for an animal to detect them) following exposure to an intense sound or sound for long duration, it is referred to as a noise-induced threshold shift (TS). An animal can experience temporary threshold shift (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS). TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (i.e., there is complete recovery), can occur in specific frequency ranges (i.e., an animal might only have a temporary loss of hearing sensitivity between the frequencies of 1 and 10 kHz), and can be of varying amounts (for example, an animal's hearing sensitivity might be reduced initially by only 6 dB or reduced by 30 dB). PTS is permanent, but some recovery is possible. PTS can also occur in a specific frequency range and amount as mentioned above for TTS.

    The following physiological mechanisms are thought to play a role in inducing auditory TS: Effects to sensory hair cells in the inner ear that reduce their sensitivity, modification of the chemical environment within the sensory cells, residual muscular activity in the middle ear, displacement of certain inner ear membranes, increased blood flow, and post-stimulatory reduction in both efferent and sensory neural output (Southall et al., 2007). The amplitude, duration, frequency, temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound exposure all can affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range in which it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure increase, so, generally, does the amount of TS, along with the recovery time. For intermittent sounds, less TS could occur than compared to a continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery could occur between intermittent exposures depending on the duty cycle between sounds) (Ward, 1997). For example, one short but loud (higher SPL) sound exposure may induce the same impairment as one longer but softer sound, which in turn may cause more impairment than a series of several intermittent softer sounds with the same total energy (Ward, 1997). Additionally, though TTS is temporary, prolonged exposure to sounds strong enough to elicit TTS, or shorter-term exposure to sound levels well above the TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial mammals.

    PTS is considered auditory injury (Southall et al., 2007). Irreparable damage to the inner or outer cochlear hair cells may cause PTS; however, other mechanisms are also involved, such as exceeding the elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and inner ears and resultant changes in the chemical composition of the inner ear fluids (Southall et al., 2007).

    Although the published body of scientific literature contains numerous theoretical studies and discussion papers on hearing impairments that can occur with exposure to a loud sound, only a few studies provide empirical information on the levels at which noise-induced loss in hearing sensitivity occurs in nonhuman animals. For marine mammals, published data are limited to the captive bottlenose dolphin, beluga, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise (Finneran et al., 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010; Lucke et al., 2009; Mooney et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011a, 2011b; Kastelein et al., 2012a; Schlundt et al., 2006; Nachtigall et al., 2003, 2004). For pinnipeds in water, data are limited to measurements of TTS in harbor seals, an elephant seal, and California sea lions (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012b).

    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious (similar to those discussed in auditory masking, below). For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. Also, depending on the degree and frequency range, the effects of PTS on an animal could range in severity, although it is considered generally more serious because it is a permanent condition. Of note, reduced hearing sensitivity as a simple function of aging has been observed in marine mammals, as well as humans and other taxa (Southall et al., 2007), so we can infer that strategies exist for coping with this condition to some degree, though likely not without cost.

    5. Non-Auditory Physical Effects

    Non-auditory physical effects might occur in marine mammals exposed to strong underwater sound. Possible types of non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in mammals close to a strong sound source include stress, neurological effects, bubble formation, and other types of organ or tissue damage. Some marine mammal species (i.e., beaked whales) may be especially susceptible to injury and/or stranding when exposed to strong pulsed sounds.

    Classic stress responses begin when an animal's central nervous system perceives a potential threat to its homeostasis. That perception triggers stress responses regardless of whether a stimulus actually threatens the animal; the mere perception of a threat is sufficient to trigger a stress response (Moberg, 2000; Sapolsky et al., 2005; Seyle, 1950). Once an animal's central nervous system perceives a threat, it mounts a biological response or defense that consists of a combination of the four general biological defense responses: behavioral responses; autonomic nervous system responses; neuroendocrine responses; or immune responses.

    In the case of many stressors, an animal's first and most economical (in terms of biotic costs) response is behavioral avoidance of the potential stressor or avoidance of continued exposure to a stressor. An animal's second line of defense to stressors involves the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system and the classical “fight or flight” response, which includes the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal system, the exocrine glands, and the adrenal medulla to produce changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal activity that humans commonly associate with “stress.” These responses have a relatively short duration and may or may not have significant long-term effects on an animal's welfare.

    An animal's third line of defense to stressors involves its neuroendocrine or sympathetic nervous systems; the system that has received the most study has been the hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal system (also known as the HPA axis in mammals or the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis in fish and some reptiles). Unlike stress responses associated with the autonomic nervous system, virtually all neuroendocrine functions that are affected by stress—including immune competence, reproduction, metabolism, and behavior—are regulated by pituitary hormones. Stress-induced changes in the secretion of pituitary hormones have been implicated in failed reproduction (Moberg, 1987), altered metabolism (Elasser et al., 2000), reduced immune competence (Blecha, 2000), and behavioral disturbance. Increases in the circulation of glucocorticosteroids (cortisol, corticosterone, and aldosterone in marine mammals; see Romano et al., 2004) have been equated with stress for many years.

    The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does not normally place an animal at risk) and distress is the biotic cost of the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen stores that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. In such circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose a risk to the animal's welfare. However, when an animal does not have sufficient energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress response, energy resources must be diverted from other biotic functions, which impair those functions that experience the diversion. For example, when mounting a stress response diverts energy away from growth in young animals, those animals may experience stunted growth. When mounting a stress response diverts energy from a fetus, an animal's reproductive success and fitness will suffer. In these cases, the animals will have entered a pre-pathological or pathological state which is called “distress” (sensu Seyle, 1950) or “allostatic loading” (sensu McEwen and Wingfield, 2003). This pathological state will last until the animal replenishes its biotic reserves sufficient to restore normal function. Note that these examples involved a long-term (days or weeks) stress response exposure to stimuli.

    Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal behavior, and the costs of stress responses have also been documented fairly well through controlled experiment; because this physiology exists in every vertebrate that has been studied, it is not surprising that stress responses and their costs have been documented in both laboratory and free-living animals (for examples see, Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005; Reneerkens et al., 2002; Thompson and Hamer, 2000). Although no information has been collected on the physiological responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic sound exposure, studies of other marine animals and terrestrial animals would lead us to expect some marine mammals to experience physiological stress responses and, perhaps, physiological responses that would be classified as “distress” upon exposure to anthropogenic sounds.

    For example, Jansen (1998) reported on the relationship between acoustic exposures and physiological responses that are indicative of stress responses in humans (e.g., elevated respiration and increased heart rates). Jones (1998) reported on reductions in human performance when faced with acute, repetitive exposures to acoustic disturbance. Trimper et al. (1998) reported on the physiological stress responses of osprey to low-level aircraft noise while Krausman et al. (2004) reported on the auditory and physiology stress responses of endangered Sonoran pronghorn to military overflights. Smith et al. (2004a, 2004b) identified noise-induced physiological transient stress responses in hearing-specialist fish (i.e., goldfish) that accompanied short- and long-term hearing losses. Welch and Welch (1970) reported physiological and behavioral stress responses that accompanied damage to the inner ears of fish and several mammals.

    Hearing is one of the primary senses marine mammals use to gather information about their environment and communicate with conspecifics. Although empirical information on the relationship between sensory impairment (TTS, PTS, and acoustic masking) on marine mammals remains limited, we assume that reducing a marine mammal's ability to gather information about its environment and communicate with other members of its species would induce stress, based on data that terrestrial animals exhibit those responses under similar conditions (NRC, 2003) and because marine mammals use hearing as their primary sensory mechanism. Therefore, we assume that acoustic exposures sufficient to trigger onset PTS or TTS would be accompanied by physiological stress responses. More importantly, marine mammals might experience stress responses at received levels lower than those necessary to trigger onset TTS. Based on empirical studies of the time required to recover from stress responses (Moberg, 2000), NMFS also assumes that stress responses could persist beyond the time interval required for animals to recover from TTS and might result in pathological and pre-pathological states that would be as significant as behavioral responses to TTS.

    Resonance effects (Gentry, 2002) and direct noise-induced bubble formations (Crum et al., 2005) are implausible in the case of exposure to an impulsive broadband source like an airgun array. If seismic surveys disrupt diving patterns of deep-diving species, this might result in bubble formation and a form of the bends, as speculated to occur in beaked whales exposed to sonar. However, there is no specific evidence of this upon exposure to low-intensity civilian sonar pulses. Additionally, no beaked whale species occur in the proposed project area.

    In general, very little is known about the potential for strong, anthropogenic underwater sounds to cause non-auditory physical effects in marine mammals. Such effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short distances and to activities that extend over a prolonged period. The available data do not allow identification of a specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that might be affected in those ways. There is no definitive evidence that any of these effects occur even for marine mammals in close proximity to large arrays of airguns, which are not proposed for use during this program. In addition, marine mammals that show behavioral avoidance of industry activities, including bowheads, belugas, and some pinnipeds, are especially unlikely to incur non-auditory impairment or other physical effects.

    6. Stranding and Mortality

    Marine mammals close to underwater detonations of high explosive can be killed or severely injured, and the auditory organs are especially susceptible to injury (Ketten et al., 1993; Ketten, 1995). Airgun pulses are less energetic and their peak amplitudes have slower rise times. To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death, or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to airgun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays. Additionally, Hilcorp's project will use low-intensity sonar equipment in shallow water. NMFS does not expect any marine mammals will incur injury or mortality in the shallow waters off Beaufort Sea or strand as a result of the proposed geohazard survey.

    Vessel Impacts

    Vessel activity and noise associated with vessel activity will temporarily increase in the action area during Hilcorp's shallow geohazard survey as a result of the operation of 1-2 vessels. To minimize the effects of vessels and noise associated with vessel activity, Hilcorp will alter speed if a marine mammal gets too close to a vessel. In addition, source vessels will be operating at slow speed (4-5 knots) when conducting surveys. Marine mammal monitoring observers will alert vessel captains as animals are detected to ensure safe and effective measures are applied to avoid coming into direct contact with marine mammals. Therefore, NMFS neither anticipates nor authorizes takes of marine mammals from ship strikes.

    McCauley et al. (1996) reported several cases of humpback whales responding to vessels in Hervey Bay, Australia. Results indicated clear avoidance at received levels between 118 to 124 dB in three cases for which response and received levels were observed/measured.

    Palka and Hammond (2001) analyzed line transect census data in which the orientation and distance off transect line were reported for large numbers of minke whales. The authors developed a method to account for effects of animal movement in response to sighting platforms. Minor changes in locomotion speed, direction, and/or diving profile were reported at ranges from 1,847 to 2,352 ft (563 to 717 m) at received levels of 110 to 120 dB.

    Odontocetes, such as beluga whales, killer whales, and harbor porpoises, often show tolerance to vessel activity; however, they may react at long distances if they are confined by ice, shallow water, or were previously harassed by vessels (Richardson et al., 1995). Beluga whale response to vessel noise varies greatly from tolerance to extreme sensitivity depending on the activity of the whale and previous experience with vessels (Richardson et al., 1995). Reactions to vessels depends on whale activities and experience, habitat, boat type, and boat behavior (Richardson et al., 1995) and may include behavioral responses, such as altered headings or avoidance (Blane and Jaakson, 1994; Erbe and Farmer, 2000); fast swimming; changes in vocalizations (Lesage et al., 1999; Scheifele et al., 2005); and changes in dive, surfacing, and respiration patterns.

    There are few data published on pinniped responses to vessel activity, and most of the information is anecdotal (Richardson et al., 1995). Generally, sea lions in water show tolerance to close and frequently approaching vessels and sometimes show interest in fishing vessels. They are less tolerant when hauled out on land; however, they rarely react unless the vessel approaches within 100-200 m (Richardson et al., 1995).

    The addition of the vessels and noise due to vessel operations associated with the shallow geohazard survey is not expected to have effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

    Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat and other marine species are associated with elevated sound levels produced by airguns and other active acoustic sources. However, other potential impacts to the surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible. This section describes the potential impacts to marine mammal habitat from the specified activity. Because the marine mammals in the area feed on fish and/or invertebrates there is also information on the species typically preyed upon by the marine mammals in the area.

    With regard to fish as a prey source for odontocetes and seals, fish are known to hear and react to sounds and to use sound to communicate (Tavolga et al., 1981) and possibly avoid predators (Wilson and Dill, 2002). Experiments have shown that fish can sense both the strength and direction of sound (Hawkins, 1981). Primary factors determining whether a fish can sense a sound signal, and potentially react to it, are the frequency of the signal and the strength of the signal in relation to the natural background noise level.

    Fishes produce sounds that are associated with behaviors that include territoriality, mate search, courtship, and aggression. It has also been speculated that sound production may provide the means for long distance communication and communication under poor underwater visibility conditions (Zelick et al., 1999), although the fact that fish communicate at low-frequency sound levels where the masking effects of ambient noise are naturally highest suggests that very long distance communication would rarely be possible. Fishes have evolved a diversity of sound generating organs and acoustic signals of various temporal and spectral contents. Fish sounds vary in structure, depending on the mechanism used to produce them (Hawkins, 1993). Generally, fish sounds are predominantly composed of low frequencies (less than 3 kHz).

    Since objects in the water scatter sound, fish are able to detect these objects through monitoring the ambient noise. Therefore, fish are probably able to detect prey, predators, conspecifics, and physical features by listening to environmental sounds (Hawkins, 1981). There are two sensory systems that enable fish to monitor the vibration-based information of their surroundings. The two sensory systems, the inner ear and the lateral line, constitute the acoustico-lateralis system.

    Although the hearing sensitivities of very few fish species have been studied to date, it is becoming obvious that the intra- and inter-specific variability is considerable (Coombs, 1981). Nedwell et al. (2004) compiled and published available fish audiogram information. A noninvasive electrophysiological recording method known as auditory brainstem response is now commonly used in the production of fish audiograms (Yan, 2004). Generally, most fish have their best hearing in the low-frequency range (i.e., less than 1 kHz). Even though some fish are able to detect sounds in the ultrasonic frequency range, the thresholds at these higher frequencies tend to be considerably higher than those at the lower end of the auditory frequency range.

    Literature relating to the impacts of sound on marine fish species can be divided into the following categories: (1) Pathological effects; (2) physiological effects; and (3) behavioral effects. Pathological effects include lethal and sub-lethal physical damage to fish; physiological effects include primary and secondary stress responses; and behavioral effects include changes in exhibited behaviors of fish. Behavioral changes might be a direct reaction to a detected sound or a result of the anthropogenic sound masking natural sounds that the fish normally detect and to which they respond. The three types of effects are often interrelated in complex ways. For example, some physiological and behavioral effects could potentially lead to the ultimate pathological effect of mortality. Hastings and Popper (2005) reviewed what is known about the effects of sound on fishes and identified studies needed to address areas of uncertainty relative to measurement of sound and the responses of fishes. Popper et al. (2003/2004) also published a paper that reviews the effects of anthropogenic sound on the behavior and physiology of fishes.

    Potential effects of exposure to sound on marine fish include TTS, physical damage to the ear region, physiological stress responses, and behavioral responses such as startle response, alarm response, avoidance, and perhaps lack of response due to masking of acoustic cues. Most of these effects appear to be either temporary or intermittent and therefore probably do not significantly impact the fish at a population level. The studies that resulted in physical damage to the fish ears used noise exposure levels and durations that were far more extreme than would be encountered under conditions similar to those expected during Hilcorp's proposed survey.

    The level of sound at which a fish will react or alter its behavior is usually well above the detection level. Fish have been found to react to sounds when the sound level increased to about 20 dB above the detection level of 120 dB (Ona, 1988); however, the response threshold can depend on the time of year and the fish's physiological condition (Engas et al., 1993). In general, fish react more strongly to pulses of sound rather than a continuous signal (Blaxter et al., 1981), such as the type of sound that will be produced by the drillship, and a quicker alarm response is elicited when the sound signal intensity rises rapidly compared to sound rising more slowly to the same level.

    Investigations of fish behavior in relation to vessel noise (Olsen et al., 1983; Ona, 1988; Ona and Godo, 1990) have shown that fish react when the sound from the engines and propeller exceeds a certain level. Avoidance reactions have been observed in fish such as cod and herring when vessels approached close enough that received sound levels are 110 dB to 130 dB (Nakken, 1992; Olsen, 1979; Ona and Godo, 1990; Ona and Toresen, 1988). However, other researchers have found that fish such as polar cod, herring, and capeline are often attracted to vessels (apparently by the noise) and swim toward the vessel (Rostad et al., 2006). Typical sound source levels of vessel noise in the audible range for fish are 150 dB to 170 dB (Richardson et al., 1995a). In calm weather, ambient noise levels in audible parts of the spectrum lie between 60 dB to 100 dB.

    Short, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes in fish behavior. Chapman and Hawkins (1969) tested the reactions of whiting (hake) in the field to an airgun. When the airgun was fired, the fish dove from 82 to 180 ft (25 to 55 m) depth and formed a compact layer. The whiting dove when received sound levels were higher than 178 dB re 1 µPa (Pearson et al., 1992).

    Pearson et al. (1992) conducted a controlled experiment to determine effects of strong noise pulses on several species of rockfish off the California coast. They used an airgun with a source level of 223 dB re 1 µPa. They noted:

    • Startle responses at received levels of 200-205 dB re 1 µPa and above for two sensitive species, but not for two other species exposed to levels up to 207 dB;

    • Alarm responses at 177-180 dB for the two sensitive species, and at 186 to 199 dB for other species;

    • An overall threshold for the above behavioral response at about 180 dB;

    • An extrapolated threshold of about 161 dB for subtle changes in the behavior of rockfish; and

    • A return to pre-exposure behaviors within the 20-60 minute exposure period.

    In summary, fish often react to sounds, especially strong and/or intermittent sounds of low frequency. Sound pulses at received levels of 160 dB re 1 µPa may cause subtle changes in behavior. Pulses at levels of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior (Chapman and Hawkins, 1969; Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). It also appears that fish often habituate to repeated strong sounds rather rapidly, on time scales of minutes to an hour. However, the habituation does not endure, and resumption of the strong sound source may again elicit disturbance responses from the same fish.

    Some of the fish species found in the Arctic are prey sources for odontocetes and pinnipeds. A reaction by fish to sounds produced by Hilcorp's proposed survey would only be relevant to marine mammals if it caused concentrations of fish to vacate the area. Pressure changes of sufficient magnitude to cause that type of reaction would probably occur only very close to the sound source, if any would occur at all. Impacts on fish behavior are predicted to be inconsequential. Thus, feeding odontocetes and pinnipeds would not be adversely affected by this minimal loss or scattering, if any, of reduced prey abundance.

    Some mysticetes, including bowhead whales, feed on concentrations of zooplankton. Some feeding bowhead whales may occur in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea in July and August, but feeding bowheads are more likely to occur in the area after the cessation of survey operations. Reactions of zooplankton to sound are, for the most part, not known. Their ability to move significant distances is limited or nil, depending on the type of zooplankton. Behavior of zooplankters is not expected to be affected by the survey. These animals have exoskeletons and no air bladders. Many crustaceans can make sounds, and some crustacea and other invertebrates have some type of sound receptor. A reaction by zooplankton to sounds produced by the seismic survey would only be relevant to whales if it caused concentrations of zooplankton to scatter. Pressure changes of sufficient magnitude to cause that type of reaction would probably occur only very close to the sound source, if any would occur at all. Impacts on zooplankton behavior are predicted to be inconsequential. Thus, feeding mysticetes would not be adversely affected by this minimal loss or scattering, if any, of reduced zooplankton abundance.

    Based on the preceding discussion, the proposed activity is not expected to have any habitat-related effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

    Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization (ITA) under sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA, NMFS must, where applicable, set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant). This section summarizes the contents of Hilcorp's Marine Mammal Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (4MP). Later in this document in the “Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization” section, NMFS lays out the proposed conditions for review, as they would appear in the final IHA (if issued).

    Hilcorp submitted a 4MP as part of its application (see ADDRESSES). Hilcorp's planned shallow geohazard survey incorporates both design features and operational procedures for minimizing potential impacts on marine mammals and on subsistence hunts. The 4MP is a combination of active monitoring in the area of operations and the implementation of mitigation measures designed to minimize project impacts to marine resources. Monitoring will provide information on marine mammals potentially affected by exploration activities, in addition to facilitating real time mitigation to prevent injury of marine mammals by industrial sounds or activities.

    Vessel Related Mitigation Measures

    The general mitigation measures apply to all vessels that are part of the Foggy Island Bay sonar survey. The source vessel will operate under an additional set of specific mitigation measures during operations.

    • To minimize collision risk with marine mammals, vessels shall not be operated at speeds that would make collisions likely. When weather conditions require, such as when visibility drops, vessels shall adjust speed accordingly to avoid the likelihood of marine mammal collisions.

    • Vessel operators shall check the waters immediately adjacent to a vessel to ensure that no marine mammals will be injured when the vessel's propellers (or screws) are engaged.

    • Vessel operators shall avoid concentrations or groups of whales and vessels shall not be operated in a way that separates members of a group. In proximity of feeding whales or aggregations, vessel speed shall be less than 10 knots.

    • When within 900 ft. (300 m) of whales vessel operators shall take every effort and precaution to avoid harassment of these animals by:

    ○ Reducing speed and steering around (groups of) whales if circumstances allow, but never cutting off a whale's travel path;

    ○ Avoiding multiple changes in direction and speed.

    • In general, the survey design will start in shallow water and work deeper to mitigate the potential “herding” effect.

    Establishing Exclusion and Disturbance Zones

    Under current NMFS guidelines, the “exclusion zone” for marine mammal exposure to impulse sources is customarily defined as the area within which received sound levels are ≥180 dB (rms) re 1 μPa for cetaceans and ≥190 dB (rms) re 1 μPa for pinnipeds. These safety criteria are based on an assumption that SPL received at levels lower than these will not injure these animals or impair their hearing abilities, but at higher levels might have some such effects. Disturbance or behavioral effects to marine mammals from underwater sound may occur after exposure to sound at distances greater than the exclusion zones (Richardson et al. 1995). Currently, NMFS uses 160 dB (rms) re 1 μPa as the threshold for Level B behavioral harassment from impulse noise.

    The sounds generated by the multibeam echosounder and sidescan sonar are outside the hearing range of marine mammals. Sounds generated by the sub-bottom profiler are within the hearing range of all marine mammal species occurring in the area. The distance to 160 dB re 1 µPa (rms) zone of influence (ZOI) is estimated at 30 m (Warner & McCrodan 2011). However, Hilcorp will establish a ZOI of 50 m around all sonar sources for more protective measures. The exclusion zones of all sonar equipment are less than 30 m from the sources.

    Mitigation Measures for Sonar Equipment (1) Ramp Up Procedure

    A ramp up of the sub-bottom profiler provides a gradual increase in sound levels, and involves a step-wise increase in the number and incremental levels of the sub-bottom profiler firing until the maximum level is achieved. The purpose of a ramp up (or “soft start”) is to “warn” cetaceans and pinnipeds in the vicinity of the survey and to provide time for them to leave the area and thus reducing startling responses from marine mammals.

    (2) Shutdown Measures

    Although there is no exclusion zone expected from the sonar source operated by Hilcorp during its proposed shallow geohazard survey, Hilcorp proposes to implement shutdown measures when a marine mammals is sighted within the 50 m ZOI during the operation of the sub-bottom profiler.

    After showdown for more than 10 minutes, ramp-up shall not start until after the marine mammal is visually seen left the ZOI; or 15 minutes have passed after the last detection of the marine mammal with shorter dive durations (pinnipeds and small odontocetes); or 30 minutes have passed after the last detection of the marine mammal with longer diver durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including beluga whales).

    (3) Poor Visibility Conditions

    If during foggy conditions, heavy snow or rain, or darkness, the full 160 dB ZOI is not visible, sonar equipment cannot commence a ramp-up procedure from a full shut-down. If the sub-bottom profiler has been operational before nightfall or before the onset of poor visibility conditions, it can remain operational throughout the night or poor visibility conditions.

    Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated Hilcorp'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 measures are 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 sub-bottom profiler, 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 sub-bottom profiler 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 sub-bottom profiler or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time.

    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation.

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammals species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. Proposed measures to ensure availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses are discussed later in this document (see “Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses” section).

    Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Hilcorp submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan as part of the IHA application. The plan may be modified or supplemented based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period or from the peer review panel (see the “Monitoring Plan Peer Review” section later in this document).

    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals:

    1. An increase in our understanding of the likely occurrence of marine mammal species in the vicinity of the action, i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and/or density of species.

    2. An increase in our understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the likely exposure of marine mammal species to any of the potential stressor(s) associated with the action (e.g. sound or visual stimuli), through better understanding of one or more of the following: the action itself and its environment (e.g. sound source characterization, propagation, and ambient noise levels); the affected species (e.g. life history or dive pattern); the likely co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action (in whole or part) associated with specific adverse effects; and/or the likely biological or behavioral context of exposure to the stressor for the marine mammal (e.g. age class of exposed animals or known pupping, calving or feeding areas).

    3. An increase in our understanding of how individual marine mammals respond (behaviorally or physiologically) to the specific stressors associated with the action (in specific contexts, where possible, e.g., at what distance or received level).

    4. An increase in our understanding of how anticipated individual responses, to individual stressors or anticipated combinations of stressors, may impact either: the long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or the population, species, or stock (e.g. through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival).

    5. An increase in our understanding of how the activity affects marine mammal habitat, such as through effects on prey sources or acoustic habitat (e.g., through characterization of longer-term contributions of multiple sound sources to rising ambient noise levels and assessment of the potential chronic effects on marine mammals).

    6. An increase in understanding of the impacts of the activity on marine mammals in combination with the impacts of other anthropogenic activities or natural factors occurring in the region.

    7. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of mitigation and monitoring measures.

    8. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals (through improved technology or methodology), both specifically within the safety zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general, to better achieve the above goals.

    Proposed Monitoring Measures

    Monitoring will provide information on the numbers of marine mammals potentially affected by the exploration operations and facilitate real-time mitigation to prevent injury of marine mammals by industrial sounds or activities. These goals will be accomplished in the Beaufort Sea during 2015 by conducting vessel-based monitoring and passive acoustic monitoring to document marine mammal presence and distribution in the vicinity of the survey area.

    Visual monitoring by Protected Species Observers (PSOs) during shallow geohazard survey operations, and periods when these surveys are not occurring, will provide information on the numbers of marine mammals potentially affected by these activities and facilitate real-time mitigation to prevent impacts to marine mammals by industrial sounds or operations. Vessel-based PSOs onboard the survey vessels will record the numbers and species of marine mammals observed in the area and any observable reaction of marine mammals to the survey activities in the Beaufort Sea.

    (1) Vessel-Based Monitoring (A) Protected Species Observers (PSOs)

    Vessel-based monitoring for marine mammals will be done by trained PSOs throughout the period of survey activities. The observers will monitor the occurrence of marine mammals near the survey vessel during all daylight periods during operation, and during most daylight periods when operations are not occurring. PSO duties will include watching for and identifying marine mammals; recording their numbers, distances, and reactions to the survey operations; and documenting “take by harassment.”

    Two PSOs will be present on the main sonar vessel. The smaller skiff may only accommodate one at a time. Of these two PSOs, one will be on watch at all times, except during darkness.

    PSO teams will consist of Inupiat observers and experienced field biologists. Each vessel will have an experienced field crew leader to supervise the PSO team.

    Visual monitoring by the PSOs will be required to meet the following criteria:

    • 100% monitoring coverage during all periods of survey operations in daylight;

    • Maximum of 4 consecutive hours on watch per PSO; and

    • Maximum of 12 hours of watch time per day per PSO.

    (B) PSO Qualifications and Training

    Lead PSOs will be individuals with experience as observers during recent seismic, site clearance and shallow hazards, and other monitoring projects in Alaska or other offshore areas in recent years. New or inexperienced PSOs will be paired with an experienced PSO or experienced field biologist so that the quality of marine mammal observations and data recording is kept consistent.

    Resumes for candidate PSOs will be provided to NMFS for review and acceptance of their qualifications. Inupiat observers will be experienced in the region and familiar with the marine mammals of the area. All observers will complete a training course designed to familiarize individuals with monitoring and data collection procedures.

    (C) Marine Mammal Observer Protocol

    The PSOs will watch for marine mammals during all periods of source operations and for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the planned start of sonar operations after an extended shutdown. Marine mammal monitoring shall continue throughout sonar operations and last for 30 minutes after the finish of sonar operations during daylight hours. Hilcorp vessel crew and operations personnel will also watch for marine mammals, as practical, to assist and alert the PSOs for the sub-bottom profiler to be shut down if marine mammals are observed in or about to enter the 50-m ZOI.

    PSOs will also perform vessel-based marine mammal monitoring during vessel transit when the shallow geohazard survey is not being conducted. Marine mammal sighting data collected during the non-survey period will be compared with those during the survey to analyze the effects of the activities.

    The PSOs will watch for marine mammals from the best available vantage point on the vessels. The PSOs will scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7 x 50 and 16-40 x 80) and with the naked eye. GPS unit and laptop computer(s) will also be available for PSOs onboard survey vessels.

    The observers will give particular attention to the areas within the marine mammal exclusion zones around the source vessels.

    When a marine mammal is seen approaching or within the 50-m ZOI, the survey crew will be notified immediately so that mitigation measures called for in the applicable authorization(s) can be implemented.

    Information to be recorded by PSOs will include:

    • Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), physical description of features that were observed or determined not to be present in the case of unknown or unidentified animals;

    • Behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting;

    • Heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from observer;

    • Apparent reaction to activities (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc.), closest point of approach, and behavioral pace;

    • Time, location, speed, and activity of the vessel, sea state, ice cover, visibility, and sun glare; and

    • Positions of other vessel(s) (if present) in the vicinity of the observer location.

    The vessel's position, speed, water depth, sea state, ice cover, visibility, and sun glare will also be recorded at the start and end of each observation watch, every 30 minutes during a watch, and whenever there is a change in any of those variables.

    (2) Acoustic Monitoring

    Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) will be conducted to document ambient noise conditions, to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of marine mammals based on acoustic detections of their vocalizations, and to characterize the long-range propagation of sounds produced during the geohazard survey. The goal of the program is to address knowledge gaps about ambient sound levels and the distributions and migration paths of several marine mammal species including bowhead whales, beluga whales, and seals.

    The acoustic data will be collected with Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorder (AMAR) systems deployed on the seabed for an extended period. Two AMARs with different sampling rates will be deployed on the seabed for 3 months. An AMAR with a sampling rate of 64 kHz (24 bits) will be deployed at 500 m from the offshore end of the survey line and will record continuously. A high-frequency AMAR with a sampling rate of 380 kHz (16 bits) will be deployed at 5,000 m from the offshore end of the survey line. This high-frequency AMAR will be operated at 380 kHz (16 bits) for 2 minutes each hour and the rest of the time at 64 kHz (24 bits). The AMARs will be calibrated using pistonphone calibrators immediately before and after each deployment. These calibrations are accurate to less than 0.5 dB absolute.

    Monitoring Plan Peer Review

    The MMPA requires that monitoring plans be independently peer reviewed “where the proposed activity may affect the availability of a species or stock for taking for subsistence uses” (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)(ii)(III)). Regarding this requirement, NMFS' implementing regulations state, “Upon receipt of a complete monitoring plan, and at its discretion, [NMFS] will either submit the plan to members of a peer review panel for review or within 60 days of receipt of the proposed monitoring plan, schedule a workshop to review the plan” (50 CFR 216.108(d)).

    NMFS has established an independent peer review panel to review Hilcorp's 4MP for the proposed shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea. The panel has met in early March 2015, and provided comments and recommendations to NMFS in April 2015. The full panel report can be viewed on the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

    NMFS provided the panel with Hilcorp's IHA application and monitoring plan and asked the panel to answer the following questions:

    1. Will the applicant's stated objectives effectively further the understanding of the impacts of their activities on marine mammals and otherwise accomplish the goals stated above? If not, how should the objectives be modified to better accomplish the goals above?

    2. Can the applicant achieve the stated objectives based on the methods described in the plan?

    3. Are there technical modifications to the proposed monitoring techniques and methodologies proposed by the applicant that should be considered to better accomplish their stated objectives?

    4. Are there techniques not proposed by the applicant (i.e., additional monitoring techniques or methodologies) that should be considered for inclusion in the applicant's monitoring program to better accomplish their stated objectives?

    5. What is the best way for an applicant to present their data and results (formatting, metrics, graphics, etc.) in the required reports that are to be submitted to NMFS (i.e., 90-day report and comprehensive report)?

    The peer-review panel report contains recommendations that the panel members felt were applicable to the Hilcorp' monitoring plans. The panel believes that the objectives for both vessel-based and passive acoustic monitoring are appropriate, and agrees that the objective of real-time mitigation of potential disturbance of marine mammals would be met through visual monitoring. Nevertheless, the panel is concerned that there may also be behavioral effects resulting from the use of single and multi-beam echosounders and side-scan sonar that may warrant real-time mitigation to avoid disturbance, and provide a series of recommendations to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures.

    Specific recommendations provided by the peer review panel to enhance marine mammal monitoring and reporting measures are:

    (1) Deploying an additional observer on the source vessel such that at least two observers are on watch during all daylight hours;

    (2) Monitoring for marine mammals also be conducted during non-survey activities to assist in the collection of baseline information from which to analyze the effects of the activities;

    (3) Deploying a third autonomous multichannel acoustic recorder (AMAR) and arrange the AMARs in a triangular array, as depicted in Figure 1 of the panel report, with the 500 m AMAR be a high-frequency AMAR, for marine mammal monitoring;

    (4) Using AMAR to collect data on cumulative sound exposure level over 24 hours (cSEL24), in particular during the use of the two sub-bottom profilers;

    (5) Ground-truthing data collected by AMARs in consultation with biologists experienced in Arctic species vocalizations and to include error rates for automatic detection to ensure the accurate classification of vocalizations by species;

    (6) Collaborating with other entities collecting data on marine mammal vocalizations in the Beaufort Sea to improve auto-detection and manual capabilities for identifying species in which acoustic data are limited or lacking (e.g., spotted seals); and

    (7) Including information from high frequency acoustic recordings in reports to provide a better understanding of source levels and other acoustic characteristics of the active acoustics survey equipment, such as spectral content, and received levels in root-mean-squared (RMS) dB, sound exposure level (SEL), dB peak to peak and 1/3 octave bands.

    In addition, although not requested by NMFS under the MMPA, the panel also provided several mitigation measures. These recommendations are:

    (1) Hilcorp limit operations at night or during periods of low visibility so that marine mammals do not enter the safety zone undetected;

    (2) Hilcorp specify that the delay for ramp-up and after a shut-down should be 15 minutes for species with short dive durations (small odontocetes and pinnipeds) and 30 minutes for species with longer diver durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including beluga whales);

    (3) Additional sound source information from the various active acoustic equipment proposed for the survey be obtained by maneuvering the source vessels over the high frequency AMARs; and

    (4) Hilcorp conduct the survey starting closest to shore and proceeding offshore to avoid any potential “herding” effect of marine mammals into shallow waters, as was implicated in a mass stranding of melon headed whales off Madagascar during a multi-beam echosounder survey (Southall et al. 2013).

    NMFS discussed these recommendations with Hilcorp to improve its monitoring and reporting measures, and to some extent, as well as mitigation measures. As a result, Hilcorp agrees to implement the following recommendations:

    (1) Hilcorp will perform vessel-based marine mammal monitoring by protected species observers (PSOs) during vessel transit when the shallow geohazard survey is not being conducted. Marine mammal sighting data collected during the non-survey period will be compared with those during the survey to analyze the effects of the activities.

    (2) Hilcorp and its contractor JASCO will deploy a high-frequency AMAR at the 5000 m site for detecting beluga clicks. The high-frequency AMAR would be operated at 380 kHz (16 bits) for about 2 minutes each hour and the rest of the time at 64 kHz (24 bits) for the 3 months deployment. The reason for deploying the high-frequency AMAR at 5000 m location, which NMFS concurs, is that there is a higher likelihood of detecting marine mammal acoustics in the deeper water farther from the island.

    (3) Hilcorp will work with JASCO to use AMAR to collect data on cumulative sound exposure level over 24 hours (cSEL24), in particular during the use of the two sub-bottom profilers.

    (4) Hilcorp will work with JASCO to ground-truth data collected by AMARs in consultation with biologists experienced in Arctic species vocalizations and to include error rates for automatic detection to ensure the accurate classification of vocalizations by species.

    (5) Hilcorp is open to sharing data and work with its contractor JASCO to collaborate with other researchers. In addition, Hilcorp and JASCO will make the passive acoustic recording data, including data on marine mammal vocalizations, publically available for researchers. These data sharing/collaboration efforts will enable scientists to purse a variety of studies concerning the acoustic environment, marine mammal bioacoustics, and potential activity effects on marine mammals in the survey area.

    (6) Hilcorp will including information from high frequency acoustic recordings in reports to provide a better understanding of source levels and other acoustic characteristics of the active acoustics survey equipment, such as spectral content, and received levels in root-mean-squared (RMS) dB, sound exposure level (SEL), dB peak to peak and 1/3 octave bands.

    Furthermore, Hilcorp agrees to implement the following mitigation recommendation and provided additional information in regard to the peer-review panel report:

    (1) Hilcorp will specify that the delay for ramp-up and after a shut-down should be 15 minutes for species with short dive durations (small odontocetes and pinnipeds) and 30 minutes for species with longer diver durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including beluga whales).

    (2) Regarding sound source information from the various active acoustic equipment proposed for Hilcorp's shallow geohazard survey, acoustic characteristics of these equipment or its equivalents were previously measured by JASCO. The measurement results in the following reports that are posted on NMFS Web site:

    • Statoil 2011 Shallow Hazards Survey 90-day Report (Chapter 3) (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/statoil_90day_report2011.pdf).

    • Shell 2013 Shallow Hazards Survey 90-day Report (Chapter 2) (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/oilgas/2013_shell_monitoringreport.pdf).

    (3) Regarding the panel's recommendation on Hilcorp's survey transect design, Hilcorp states that it can start in shallow water and work deeper to mitigate the potential “herding” effect. Hilcorp's plan is to divide the corridor into multiple sub-sections based on depth and work each section independently. This method is necessary for side scan sonar operations as each subsection will have a different range setting and line spacing that is related to depth.

    All these aforementioned recommendations from the peer-review panel are included in the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures for Hilcorp's 2015 open-water shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea.

    However, Hilcorp will not able to increase the number of vessel-based PSOs onboard the survey vessel. The number of PSOs onboard the vessel is limited by the available berth space. The survey vessels used for the proposed shallow geohazard survey can only accommodate maximum of 2 PSOs. Nevertheless, NMFS considers that due to the exceptionally small ensonified zones (no exclusion zone, with the radius of ZOI at 30 m from the source), one PSO on watch onboard the survey vessel is adequate.

    In regard to an additional AMAR to be deployed in the vicinity of the survey area, NMFS worked with Hilcorp and determined that deployment of three AMARs would be cost prohibitive to Hilcorp, given the small project budget of the shallow geohazard survey. In addition, due to the short duration and minimal impact of the proposed shallow geohazard survey, the currently passive acoustic monitoring, improved with a high-frequency AMAR, is adequate to provide needed information to assess potential environmental effects from the proposed project.

    Finally, NMFS does not agree with one of the panel's recommendations that Hilcorp limit operations at night or during periods of low visibility so that marine mammals do not enter the safety zone undetected. As mentioned previously, there is not no safety zone (exclusion zone) because of the low intensity high-frequency sonar equipment being employed in the proposed shallow geohazard survey. In addition, limiting survey at night or during periods of low visibility would increase the survey duration, thus extend the noise output from survey vessels in the area. NMFS believes that as long as the 50-m ZOI is cleared of marine mammals before the ramp-up of sonar equipment during daylight hours with good visibility, shallow hazard survey can be carried out with minimum adverse effects to marine mammals.

    Reporting Measures (1) Technical Report

    The results of Hilcorp's 2015 vessel-based monitoring, including estimates of “take” by harassment, will be presented in a “90-day” draft Technical Report, to be submitted to NMFS within 90 days after the end of the shallow geohazard survey, and then in a final Technical Report, which will address any comments NMFS had on the draft. The Technical Report will include:

    (a) Summaries of monitoring effort (e.g., total hours, total distances, and marine mammal distribution through the study period, accounting for sea state and other factors affecting visibility and detectability of marine mammals);

    (b) Analyses of the effects of various factors influencing detectability of marine mammals (e.g., sea state, number of observers, and fog/glare);

    (c) Species composition, occurrence, and distribution of marine mammal sightings, including date, water depth, numbers, age/size/gender categories (if determinable), group sizes, and ice cover;

    (d) Data analysis separated into periods when a sonar source is operating and when it is not, to better assess impacts to marine mammals—the final and comprehensive report to NMFS should summarize and plot:

    • Data for periods when a sonar source is active and when it is not; and

    • The respective predicted received sound conditions over fairly large areas (tens of km) around operations;

    (e) Sighting rates of marine mammals during periods with and without sonar activities (and other variables that could affect detectability), such as:

    • Initial sighting distances versus sonar activity state;

    • Closest point of approach versus sonar activity state;

    • Observed behaviors and types of movements versus sonar activity state;

    • Numbers of sightings/individuals seen versus sonar activity state;

    • Distribution around the survey vessel versus sonar activity state; and

    • Estimates of take by harassment;

    (f) Results from all hypothesis tests, including estimates of the associated statistical power, when practicable;

    (g) Estimates of uncertainty in all take estimates, with uncertainty expressed by the presentation of confidence limits, a minimum-maximum, posterior probability distribution, or another applicable method, with the exact approach to be selected based on the sampling method and data available; and

    (h) A clear comparison of authorized takes and the level of actual estimated takes.

    In addition, the technical report will include analysis on acoustic monitoring such as:

    (a) Cumulative sound exposure level over 24 hours (cSEL24), in particular during the use of the two sub-bottom profilers;

    (b) Ground-truth of data collected by AMARs in consultation with biologists experienced in Arctic species vocalizations with error rates for automatic detection to ensure the accurate classification of vocalizations by species; and

    (c) Information of source levels and other acoustic characteristics of the active acoustics survey equipment, such as spectral content, and received levels in root-mean-squared (RMS) dB, sound exposure level (SEL), dB peak to peak and 1/3 octave bands.

    Finally, Hilcorp will share data and work with its contractor JASCO to collaborate with other researchers. The passive acoustic recording data, including data on marine mammal vocalizations, will be made publically available for researchers. These data sharing/collaboration efforts will enable scientists to purse a variety of studies concerning the acoustic environment, marine mammal bioacoustics, and potential activity effects on marine mammals in the survey area.

    (5) Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA, such as a serious injury, or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), Hilcorp would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report would include the following information:

    • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    • Name and type of vessel involved;

    • Vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;

    • Description of the incident;

    • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Water depth;

    • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Fate of the animal(s); and

    • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with Hilcorp to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Hilcorp would not be able to resume its activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    In the event that Hilcorp discovers a dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the 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), Hilcorp would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with Hilcorp to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that Hilcorp discovers a dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Hilcorp would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators, within 24 hours of the discovery. Hilcorp would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Hilcorp can continue its operations under such a case.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Only take by Level B behavioral harassment is anticipated as a result of the proposed shallow geohazard survey. Noise propagation from subbottom profilers is expected to harass, through behavioral disturbance, affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    The full suite of potential impacts to marine mammals from various industrial activities was described in detail in the “Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals” section found earlier in this document. The potential effects of sound from the proposed shallow geohazard survey without any mitigation might include one or more of the following: Tolerance; masking of natural sounds; behavioral disturbance; non-auditory physical effects; and, at least in theory, temporary or permanent hearing impairment (Richardson et al., 1995a). As discussed in the following sections in this document, NMFS estimates that Hilcorp's activities will most likely result in behavioral disturbance, including avoidance of the ensonified area or changes in speed, direction, and/or diving profile of one or more marine mammals. For reasons discussed previously in this document, hearing impairment (TTS and PTS) is highly unlikely to occur based on the fact that most of the equipment to be used during Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey does not have source levels high enough to elicit even mild TTS and/or the fact that certain species are expected to avoid the ensonified areas close to the operations. Additionally, non-auditory physiological effects are anticipated to be minor, if any would occur at all.

    For impulsive sounds, such as the signals produced by the subbottom profiler sources during the shallow geohazard survey, NMFS uses a received level of 160-dB (rms) to indicate the onset of Level B harassment. Hilcorp provided calculations of the 160-dB isopleth produced by the subbottom profiler and then used that isopleth to estimate takes by harassment. Hilcorp provides a full description of the methodology used to estimate takes by harassment in its IHA application (see ADDRESSES), which is also provided in the following sections.

    Hilcorp has requested authorization to take bowhead, gray, humpback, minke, killer, and beluga whales, harbor porpoise, and ringed, spotted, bearded, and ribbon seals incidental to shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea. However, as stated previously in this document, humpback, minke, and killer whales, harbor porpoise, and ribbon seal are considered extralimital in the proposed shallow geohazard survey area. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing to authorize take of these species.

    Basis for Estimating “Take by Harassment”

    “Take by Harassment” is described in this section and was calculated in Hilcorp's application by multiplying the expected densities of marine mammals that may occur near the shallow geohazard survey areas where received noise levels are higher than 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) created by the subbottom profiler during the survey.

    Marine Mammal Density Estimates

    Whale species are migratory and therefore show a seasonal distribution, with different densities for the summer period (covering July and August) and the fall period (covering September and October). Seal species in the Beaufort Sea do not show a distinct seasonal distribution during the open water period between July and October. Data acquisition of the proposed sonar survey will only take place in summer (before start of Nuiqsut whaling), therefore only estimates of marine mammal densities for the summer are included in the take calculation. Whale and seal densities in the Beaufort Sea will further depend on the presence of sea ice. However, if ice cover within or close to the sonar survey area is more than approximately 10%, sonar survey activities may not start or be halted for safety reasons. Densities related to ice conditions are therefore not included in the take estimates.

    Spatial differentiation is another important factor for marine mammal densities, both in latitudinal and longitudinal gradient. Taking into account the shallow water operations of the proposed sonar survey area and the associated area of influence, data from the nearshore zone of the Beaufort Sea is used for the calculation of densities, if available.

    Density estimates are based on best available data. Because available data did not always cover the area of interest, estimates are subject to large temporal and spatial variation. Though correction factors for perception and availability bias have been calculated for certain coastal areas they were not always known for this study area. There is some uncertainty in the 2014 raw data and assumptions were used in the estimated number of exposures. To provide allowance for these uncertainties, maximum density estimates have been provided in addition to average density estimates.

    A summary of marine mammal density in the proposed Hilcorp survey area is provided in Table 3.

    Table 3—Estimated Summer Densities of Whales and Sighting Rates of Seals (Average and Maximum) for the Proposed North Prudhoe Bay Survey. Densities Are Provided in Number of Individuals per km 2   (IND/km 2), Sighting Rates in Number of Individuals per Hour (INDV/hr.). Species Average Maximum Summer Densities (INDV/km2) Bowhead whale 0.0088 0.0200 Beluga 0.0008 0.0078 Summer Sighting Rates (INDV/hr.) Ringed seal 0.122 0.397 Bearded seal 0.033 0.107 Spotted seal 0.039 0.126 Level B Harassment Zone Distance

    As discussed earlier in this document, the operating frequencies of the multibeam, single-beam, and sidescan sonar equipment in Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey are above the hearing range of all marine mammals and therefore are not expected to have take of marine mammals. Estimated distance to sound pressure levels of 160 dB re 1 μPa, generated by the proposed sub-bottom equipment is 30 m from the source. However, as stated in this document earlier, Hilcorp proposes to implement a 50 m shutdown zone for the Level B behavioral harassment. Therefore, the calculation of marine mammal take is based on the number of animals exposed within the 50 m radius.

    Potential Number of “Takes by Harassment”

    This section provides estimates of the number of individuals potentially exposed to pulsed sound levels ≥160 dB re 1 μPa rms by shallow geohazard survey using a subbottom profiler. The estimates are based on a consideration of the number of marine mammals that might be affected by operations in the Beaufort Sea during 2015 and the anticipated area exposed to those sound levels.

    The potential number of bowhead whales and belugas that might be exposed to the 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) sound pressure level was calculated by multiplying:

    • The expected bowhead and beluga density as provided in Table 3;

    • The total 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) ensonified area in a single hour by the vessel travelling at 3 knots; and

    • The estimated number of hours that the source vessels are operating.

    The calculated area (0.0079 km2) expected to be ensonified is determined based on the maximum distance to the 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) sound pressure level for the Sub-bottom profiler, which is 0.05 km.

    The estimated number of 24-hr days of sonar operations was determined by assuming a 25% downtime during the planned 45-day time span of the sonar survey period. Downtime is related to weather, equipment maintenance, mitigation implementation, and other circumstances. The total number of full 24-hr days that data acquisition is expected to occur is ~34 days or 816 hours.

    The total 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) ensonified area in a single hour by the vessel is calculated as 0.556 km2/hr.

    The average and maximum number of bowhead whales potentially exposed to sonar sound levels of 160 dB re 1μPa (rms) or more is estimated at 4 and 9 respectively. The limited number of exposures is due to the low estimated density of bowheads in Foggy Island Bay during July and August, the short duration of the survey, and the small acoustic footprint. For the requested authorization, the maximum number was increased by three to account for unexpected bowhead occurrences.

    The average and maximum number of potential beluga exposures to 160 dB is <1. Belugas are known to show aggregate behavior and can occur in large numbers in nearshore zones, as evidenced by the sighting from Endicott in August 2013. Although beluga whales are not expected to frequent the vicinity of the Liberty Unit shallow geohazard survey area, their occurrence is still a possibility. To account for the potential average take of 1 beluga whale per day during the 45-day survey period, NMFS proposes a take authorization of 45 beluga whales for Hilcorp's shallow geohazard survey. Chance encounters with small numbers of other whale species are possible, but exposures to 160 dB or more are very unlikely for these species.

    Although gray whale density is not known, this species has been occasionally sited in the Arctic, and Hilcorp is requesting takes of 3 individuals of gray whales by Level B behavioral harassment (Table 4).

    The estimated number of seals that might be exposed to pulsed sounds of 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) is calculated by multiplying:

    • The expected species specific sighting rate as provided in Table 3; and

    • The total number of hours that each source vessel will be operating during the data acquisition period.

    The estimated number of hours that the sonar equipment will operate was determined by assuming a 25% downtime during a 45-day survey period, which is a total of 816 hours (34 days of 24 hour operations).

    These estimated exposures do not take into account the mitigation measures that will be implemented, such as marine mammal observers watching for animals, shutdowns or power downs of the equipment when marine mammals are seen within defined ranges. These measures will further reduce the number of exposures and expected short-term reactions, and minimize any effects on hearing sensitivity.

    A summary of the request takes and percent take among the population is provided in Table 4.

    Table 4—The Total Number of Potential Exposures of Marine Mammals to Sound Levels ≥160 dB re 1 μPa rms During the Hilcorp's Proposed Shallow Geohazard Survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, 2015. Estimates Are Also Shown as a Percent of Each Population Species Abundance Number
  • potential
  • exposure
  • % Estimated population
    Beluga whale (Beaufort Sea stock) 39,258 45 0.11 Bowhead whale 19,534 12 0.06 Gray whale 19,126 3 0.02 Bearded seal 155,000 100 0.06 Ringed seal 300,000 350 0.17 Spotted seal 141,479 120 0.08
    Analysis and Preliminary Determinations Negligible Impact

    Negligible impact is “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival” (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through behavioral harassment, NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.

    No injuries or mortalities are anticipated to occur as a result of Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey, and none are proposed to be authorized. Additionally, animals in the area are not expected to incur hearing impairment (i.e., TTS or PTS) or non-auditory physiological effects. The takes that are anticipated and authorized are expected to be limited to short-term Level B behavioral harassment. While the sonar sources are expected to be operated for approximately 45 days, the project timeframe will occur when cetacean species are typically not found in the project area or are found only in low numbers. While pinnipeds are likely to be found in the proposed project area more frequently, their distribution is dispersed enough that they likely will not be in the Level B harassment zone continuously. As mentioned previously in this document, pinnipeds appear to be more tolerant of anthropogenic sound than mysticetes.

    Most of the marine mammals encountered will likely show overt disturbance (avoidance) only if they receive sonar sounds with levels ≥ 160 dB re 1 μPa. However, the estimated 160 dB zone is only 30 m from the source, which means that the animals have to be very close to the source vessel to be exposure to noise levels that could cause Level B harassment. In addition, Hilcorp will implement shutdown measures if a marine mammal is sighted within or is moving towards the 160 dB isopleths.

    Taking into account the mitigation measures that are planned, effects on marine mammals are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a limited area around Hilcorp's proposed open-water activities and short-term changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of “Level B harassment.” Mitigation measures, such as controlled vessel speed, dedicated marine mammal observers, non-pursuit, ramp up procedures, and shut downs or power downs when marine mammals are seen within or approaching the ZOI, will further reduce short-term reactions. In all cases, the effects are expected to be short-term, with no lasting biological consequence.

    Of the six marine mammal species likely to occur in the proposed marine survey area, bowhead whale and ringed seal are listed as endangered and threatened under the ESA, respectively. These species are also designated as “depleted” under the MMPA. Despite these designations, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock of bowheads has been increasing at a rate of 3.4 percent annually for nearly a decade (Allen and Angliss 2010). Additionally, during the 2001 census, 121 calves were counted, which was the highest yet recorded. The calf count provides corroborating evidence for a healthy and increasing population (Allen and Angliss 2010). There is no critical habitat designated in the U.S. Arctic for the bowhead whales. The Arctic stock of ringed seals have been listed by NMFS as threatened under the ESA. None of the other species that may occur in the project area are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA.

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see the “Anticipated Effects on Habitat” section). Although some disturbance of food sources of marine mammals is possible, any impacts are anticipated to be minor enough as to not affect rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals in the area. The marine survey activities would occur in a localized area, and given the vast area of the Arctic Ocean where feeding by marine mammals occurs, any missed feeding opportunities in the direct project area could be offset by feeding opportunities in other available feeding areas.

    In addition, no important feeding or reproductive areas are known in the vicinity of Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey. No critical habitat of ESA-listed marine mammal species occurs in the Beaufort Sea.

    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 Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    The requested takes proposed to be authorized represent less than 0.2% of all populations or stocks potentially impacted (see Table 4 in this document). These take estimates represent the percentage of each species or stock that could be taken by Level B behavioral harassment if each animal is taken only once. The numbers of marine mammals estimated to be taken are small proportions of the total populations of the affected species or stocks. In addition, the mitigation and monitoring measures (described previously in this document) proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued) are expected to reduce even further any potential disturbance to marine mammals.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks.

    Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses Relevant Subsistence Uses

    Marine mammals are legally hunted in Alaskan waters by coastal Alaska Natives and represent between 60% and 80% of their total subsistence harvest. The species regularly harvested by subsistence hunters in and around the Beaufort Sea are bowhead and beluga whales, and ringed, spotted, and bearded seals. The importance of each of the subsistence species varies among the communities and is mainly based on availability and season.

    The communities closest to the project area are, from west to east, the villages of Barrow, Nuiqsut and Kaktovik. Barrow is located >200 mi west from the Hilcorp's proposed survey area. It is the largest community on the Alaska's Beaufort Sea coast. Important marine subsistence resources for Barrow include bowhead and beluga whales, and ice seals. Nuiqsut is located near the mouth of the Colville River, about 55 mi southwest of the proposed project area. Most important marine subsistence resource for Nuiqsut is the bowhead whale, and to a lesser extent belugas and seals. Nuiqsut hunters use Cross Island, (~20 mi northwest of the project area) as a base to hunt for bowhead whales during the fall migration and have historically hunted bowhead whales as far east as Flaxman Island. Kaktovik is located on Barter Island, about 120 mi east of the project area. Major marine subsistence resources include bowhead and beluga whales, and seals.

    (1) Bowhead Whale

    The bowhead whale is a critical subsistence and cultural resource for the North Slope communities of Barrow, Nuiqsut, and Kaktovik. The level of allowable harvest is determined under a quota system in compliance with the International Whaling Commission (IWC 1980; Gambell 1982). The quota is based on the nutritional and cultural needs of Alaskan Natives as well as on estimates of the size and growth of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort seas stock of bowhead whales (Donovan 1982; Braund 1992). The AEWC allots the number of bowhead whales that each community is permitted to harvest. Contemporary whaling in Kaktovik dates from 1964 and in Nuiqsut from 1973 (EDAW/AECOM 2007; Galginaitis and Koski 2002). The number of boats used or owned in 2011 by the subsistence whaling crew of the villages of Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, and Barrow was 8, 12, and 40, respectively. These numbers presumably change from year to year.

    Bowhead harvesting in Barrow occurs both during the spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) when the whales migrate relatively close to shore (ADNR 2009). During spring bowheads migrate through open ice leads close to shore. The hunt takes place from the ice using umiaks (bearded seal skin boats). During the fall, whaling is shore-based and boats may travel up to 30 mi a day (EDAW/AECOM 2007). In Barrow, most whales were historically taken during spring whaling. More recently, however, the efficiency of the spring harvest appeared to be lower than the autumn harvest due to ice and weather conditions as well as struck whales escaping under the ice (Suydam et al. 2010). In the past few years the bowhead fall hunt has become increasingly important.

    Nuiqsut and Kaktovik hunters harvest bowhead whales only during the fall. The bowhead spring migration in the Beaufort Sea occurs too far from shore for hunting because ice leads do not open up nearshore (ADNR 2009). In Nuiqsut, whaling takes place from early September through mid-to-late September as the whales migrate west (EDAW/AECOM 2007). Three to five whaling crews base themselves at Cross Island, a barrier island approximately 20 mi northwest of the Liberty Unit shallow geohazard survey area. Nuiqsut whalers harvest an average of 2 bowheads each year. Whaling from Kaktovik also occurs in the fall, primarily from late August through late September or early October (EDAW/AECOM 2007). Kaktovik whalers hunt from the Okpilak and Hulahula rivers east to Tapkaurak Point (ADNR 2009). Whaling activities are staged from the community rather than remote camps; most whaling takes place within 12 mi of the community (ADNR 2009). Kaktovik whalers harvest an average of 2-3 bowhead whales each year.

    (2) Beluga

    The harvest of belugas is managed cooperatively through an agreement between NMFS and the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee (ABWC). From 2005-2009, between 5 and 48 belugas were harvested annually from the Beaufort Sea stock (Allen and Angliss 2014); with a mean annual take of 25.8 animals. Both Nuiqsut and Kaktovik harvest few belugas, mostly opportunistically during the fall bowhead hunt.

    (3) Seals

    Seals represent an important subsistence resource for the North Slope communities. Harvest of bearded seals usually takes place during the spring and summer open water season from Barrow (EDAW/AECOM 2007) with only a few animals taken by hunters from Kaktovik or Nuiqsut. Seals are also taken during the ice-covered season, with peak hunting occurring in February (ADNR 2009). In 2003, Barrow-based hunters harvested 776 bearded seals, 413 ringed seals and 12 spotted seals (ADNR 2009). Nuiqsut hunters harvest seals in an area from Cape Halkett to Foggy Island Bay. For the period 2000-2001, Nuiqsut hunters harvested one bearded seal and 25 ringed seals (ADNR 2009). Kaktovik hunters also hunt seals year-round. In 2002-2003, hunters harvested 8 bearded seals and 17 ringed seals.

    Potential Impacts to Subsistence Uses

    NMFS has defined “unmitigable adverse impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as: “an impact resulting from the specified activity: (1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by: (i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas; (ii) Directly displacing subsistence users; or (iii) Placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and (2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met.

    The proposed shallow geohazard survey will take place between July 1 and September 30, 2015, with data acquisition occurring in July and August. The project area is located >200 mi east from Barrow, approximately 55 mi northeast from Nuiqsut (20 mi southeast of Cross Island), and 120 mi west from Kaktovik. Potential impact on the subsistence hunt from the planned activities is expected mainly from sounds generated by sonar equipment. Due to the timing of the project and the distance from the surrounding communities, there will be no effects on spring harvesting and little or no effects on the occasional summer harvest of beluga and subsistence seal hunts (ringed and spotted seals are primarily harvested in winter while bearded seals are hunted during July-September in the Beaufort Sea). The community of Nuiqsut may begin fall whaling activities in late August to early September from Cross Island (northwest of the survey area).

    Plan of Cooperation or Measures To Minimize Impacts to Subsistence Hunts (1) Plan of Cooperation

    Regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(12) require IHA applicants for activities that take place in Arctic waters to provide a Plan of Cooperation (POC) or information that identifies what measures have been taken and/or will be taken to minimize adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence purposes.

    Hilcorp has prepared a draft POC and is currently establishing a dialogue to coordinate activities with the villages. A POC will include the aforementioned mitigation measures and includes plans for and results of meetings with Alaska Native communities.

    Liberty Unit was transferred to Hilcorp ownership along with the Northstar, Milne Point and Endicott facilities. Previously, BP Exploration, Alaska (BPXA) coordinated with communities and stakeholders regarding the Liberty Unit work during the 2014 season:

    • December 13-14, 2012: Meeting with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) and Whaling Captains' Associations during the AEWC Quarterly meeting in Anchorage.

    • February 7-8, 2013: CAA discussions with AEWC and Whaling Captains' Associations during the AEWC Annual Convention in Barrow.

    Hilcorp plans to continue attending the above meetings and has engaged stakeholders and Native community members throughout 2014. A list of meetings follows:

    • Informal engagement with AEWC—July 2014

    • Meeting with Native Village of Barrow leadership—August 2014

    • Meeting with North Slope Borough (NSB) Wildlife Management Dept.—August 2014

    • Meeting with NSB Assembly—August 2014

    • Meeting with NSB Planning Commission—October 2014

    • Presentation and discussion with AEWC—October 2014

    • Meeting with NSB Jacob Adams and NSB Counsel—October 2014

    • Cultural awareness/subsistence presentation and Q&A with Uum's Consulting—October 2014

    Additional pre-season meetings maybe planned if needed to address additional requests for coordination. Any subsistence discussions will be documented and forwarded to the NMFS as part of the POC.

    (2) Stakeholder Engagement

    Hilcorp has begun discussions with the AEWC to develop a Conflict Avoidance Agreement (CAA) intended to minimize potential interference with bowhead subsistence hunting. Hilcorp will attend and participate in the CAA meetings scheduled in 2015. The CAA, when executed, will describe measures to minimize any adverse effects on the availability of bowhead whales for subsistence uses.

    The North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management (NSB-DWM) was consulted, and the project was also presented to the NSB Planning Commission in January 2015. Hilcorp will hold meetings with key stakeholders in the community of Nuiqsut, Barrow, and Kaktovik to present the proposed project, address questions and concerns, and provide them with contact information of project management to which they can direct concerns during the survey.

    The following are measures that Hilcorp will take to reduce impacts to the subsistence community:

    • Hilcorp will comply with the CAA terms to address plans to meet with the affected community to resolve conflicts and notify the communities of any changes in the operation.

    • Inupiat Marine Mammal Observers on board the vessels are tasked with looking out for whales and other marine mammals in the vicinity of the vessel to assist the vessel captain in avoiding harm to whales and other marine mammals.

    • Vessels will be operated in a manner to avoid areas where species that are sensitive to noise or movement are concentrated at times when such species are concentrated.

    • Communications and conflict resolution are detailed in the CAA. Hilcorp is planning to participate in the Communications Center that is operated annually during the bowhead subsistence hunt.

    • Communications with the villages of Barrow, Kaktovik, and Nuiqsut—discuss community questions or concerns including all subsistence hunting activities.

    (3) Future Plan of Cooperation Consultations

    Hilcorp plans to engage with the relevant subsistence communities regarding its future Beaufort Sea activities. With regard to the 2015 Liberty Unit shallow geohazard survey project, Hilcorp will present the data on marine mammal sightings and the results of the marine mammal monitoring and mitigation as part of our 90-day report to the regulatory authorities.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determination

    NMFS considers that these mitigation measures including measures to reduce overall impacts to marine mammals in the vicinity of the proposed shallow geohazard survey area and measures to mitigate any potential adverse effects on subsistence use of marine mammals are adequate to ensure subsistence use of marine mammals in the vicinity of Hilcorp's proposed survey in the Beaufort Sea.

    Based on the description of the specified activity, the measures described to minimize adverse effects on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence purposes, and the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that there will not be an unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses from Hilcorp's proposed activities.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    There are two marine mammal species listed as endangered under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the proposed project area: The bowhead whale and ringed seal. NMFS' Permits and Conservation Division has initiated consultation with NMFS' Endangered Species Division under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA to Hilcorp under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on the issuance of an IHA.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA), pursuant to NEPA, to determine whether the issuance of an IHA to Hilcorp for its 2015 shallow geohazard activities may have a significant impact on the human environment. NMFS has released a draft of the EA for public comment along with this proposed IHA.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to Hilcorp for conducting shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea during the 2015 Arctic open-water season, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is provided next.

    This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    (1) This Authorization is valid from July 1, 2015, through September 30, 2015.

    (2) This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with Hilcorp's 2015 Beaufort Sea shallow geohazard survey. The specific area where Hilcorp's shallow geohazard survey will be conducted lies within Foggy Island Bay in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, as shown in Figure 1 of Hilcorp's IHA application.

    (3)(a) The incidental taking of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the following species: Bowhead whale; gray whale; beluga whale; ringed seal; bearded seal; and spotted seal, as shown in Table 4.

    (3)(b) The authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the following acoustic sources and from the following activities:

    (i) Sonar sources used for shallow geohazard survey; and

    (ii) Vessel activities related to the shallow geohazard survey.

    (3)(c) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported within 24 hours of the taking to the Alaska Regional Administrator (907-586-7221) or his designee in Anchorage (907-271-3023), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at (301) 427-8401, or her designee (301-427-8418).

    (4) The holder of this Authorization must notify the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, at least 48 hours prior to the start of shallow geohazard survey (unless constrained by the date of issuance of this Authorization in which case notification shall be made as soon as possible).

    (5) Prohibitions

    (a) The taking, by incidental harassment only, is limited to the species listed under condition 3(a) above and by the numbers listed in Table 4. The taking by injury or death of these species or the taking by harassment, injury or death of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this Authorization.

    (b) The taking of any marine mammal is prohibited whenever the required source vessel protected species observers (PSOs), required by condition 7(a)(i), are not onboard in conformance with condition 7(a)(i) of this Authorization.

    (6) Mitigation

    (a) Establishing Zone of Influence (ZOI)

    (i) Establish and monitor with trained PSOs a ZOI zone surrounding the sub-bottom profiler on the source vessel where the received level would be 160 dB (rms) re 1 µPa for all marine mammals.

    (ii) The sizes of the ZOI is 50 m radius from the source vessel.

    (b) Vessel Movement Mitigation:

    (i) Avoid concentrations or groups of whales by all vessels under the direction of Hilcorp.

    (ii) If any vessel approaches within 1.6 km (1 mi) of observed bowhead whales, except when providing emergency assistance to whalers or in other emergency situations, the vessel operator will take reasonable precautions to avoid potential interaction with the bowhead whales by taking one or more of the following actions, as appropriate:

    (A) Reducing vessel speed to less than 5 knots within 300 yards (900 feet or 274 m) of the whale(s);

    (B) Steering around the whale(s) if possible;

    (C) Operating the vessel(s) in such a way as to avoid separating members of a group of whales from other members of the group;

    (D) Operating the vessel(s) to avoid causing a whale to make multiple changes in direction; and

    (E) Checking the waters immediately adjacent to the vessel(s) to ensure that no whales will be injured when the propellers are engaged.

    (iii) When weather conditions require, such as when visibility drops, adjust vessel speed accordingly, but not to exceed 5 knots, to avoid the likelihood of injury to whales.

    (iv) In general, the survey design will start in shallow water and work deeper to mitigate the potential “herding” effect.

    (c) Mitigation Measures for Sonar Sources

    (i) Ramp-up:

    (A) A ramp up, following a cold start, can be applied if the ZOI has been free of marine mammals for a consecutive 30-minute period. The entire ZOI must have been visible during these 30 minutes. If the entire ZOI is not visible, then ramp up from a cold start cannot begin.

    (B) If a marine mammal(s) is sighted within the ZOI during the 30-minute watch prior to ramp up, ramp up will be delayed until the marine mammal(s) is sighted outside of the ZOI or the animal(s) is not sighted for at least 15 minutes for pinnipeds, or 30 minutes for cetaceans.

    (C) If, for any reason, the sub-bottom profiler has been discontinued for a period of 10 minutes or more, ramp-up procedures shall be implemented. If the PSO watch has been suspended during that time, a 30-minute clearance of the ZOI is required prior to commencing ramp-up. Discontinuation of sonar activity for less than 10 minutes does not require a ramp-up.

    (D) The survey operator and PSOs shall maintain records of the times when ramp-ups start and when the sub-bottom profiler reaches full power.

    (ii) Power-down/Shutdown:

    (A) The sub-bottom profiler shall be immediately powered down whenever a marine mammal is sighted approaching close to or within the sub-bottom profiler at full power, but is outside the ZOI of the sub-bottom profiler at reduced power.

    (B) If a marine mammal is already within or is about to enter the ZOI when first detected, the sub-bottom profiler shall be shutdown immediately.

    (C) After showdown for more than 10 minutes, ramp-up shall not start until after the marine mammal is visually seen left the ZOI; or 15 minutes have passed after the last detection of the marine mammal with shorter dive durations (pinnipeds and small odontocetes); or 30 minutes have passed after the last detection of the marine mammal with longer diver durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including beluga whales).

    (iii) Poor Visibility Conditions:

    (A) If during foggy conditions, heavy snow or rain, or darkness, the full 160 dB ZOI is not visible, the sub-bottom profiler cannot commence a ramp-up procedure from a full shut-down.

    (B) If the sub-bottom profiler has been operational before nightfall or before the onset of poor visibility conditions, they can remain operational throughout the night or poor visibility conditions.

    (iv) Firing Sub-bottom Profiler During Turns and Transits

    (A) Throughout the shallow geohazard survey, during turning movements and short transits, Hilcorp will employ the use of the lowest setting for the sub-bottom profiler to deter marine mammals from being within the immediate area of the survey. The sub-bottom profiler would be operated at approximately one shot per minute and would not be operated for longer than three hours in duration.

    (d) Mitigation Measures for Subsistence Activities:

    (i) For the purposes of reducing or eliminating conflicts between subsistence whaling activities and Hilcorp's survey program, the holder of this Authorization will participate with other operators in the Communication and Call Centers (Com-Center) Program. Com-Centers will be operated to facilitate communication of information between Hilcorp and subsistence whalers. The Com-Centers will be operated 24 hours/day during the 2015 fall subsistence bowhead whale hunt.

    (ii) All vessels shall report to the appropriate Com-Center at least once every six hours, commencing each day with a call at approximately 06:00 hours.

    (iii) The appropriate Com-Center shall be notified if there is any significant change in plans. The appropriate Com-Center also shall be called regarding any unsafe or unanticipated ice conditions.

    (iv) Upon notification by a Com-Center operator of an at-sea emergency, the holder of this Authorization shall provide such assistance as necessary to prevent the loss of life, if conditions allow the holder of this Authorization to safely do so.

    (v) Hilcorp shall monitor the positions of all of its vessels and exercise due care in avoiding any areas where subsistence activity is active.

    (vi) Routing barge and transit vessels:

    (A) Vessels transiting in the Beaufort Sea east of Bullen Point to the Canadian border shall remain at least 5 miles offshore during transit along the coast, provided ice and sea conditions allow.

    (B) From August 31 to October 31, vessels in the Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea shall remain at least 20 miles offshore of the coast of Alaska from Icy Cape in the Chukchi Sea to Pitt Point on the east side of Smith Bay in the Beaufort Sea, unless ice conditions or an emergency that threatens the safety of the vessel or crew prevents compliance with this requirement. This condition shall not apply to vessels actively engaged in transit to or from a coastal community to conduct crew changes or logistical support operations.

    (C) Vessels shall be operated at speeds necessary to ensure no physical contact with whales occurs, and to make any other potential conflicts with bowheads or whalers unlikely. Vessel speeds shall be less than 10 knots in the proximity of feeding whales or whale aggregations.

    (D) If any vessel inadvertently approaches within 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) of observed bowhead whales, except when providing emergency assistance to whalers or in other emergency situations, the vessel operator will take reasonable precautions to avoid potential interaction with the bowhead whales by taking one or more of the following actions, as appropriate:

    • Reducing vessel speed to less than 5 knots within 900 feet of the whale(s);

    • Steering around the whale(s) if possible;

    • Operating the vessel(s) in such a way as to avoid separating members of a group of whales from other members of the group;

    • Operating the vessel(s) to avoid causing a whale to make multiple changes in direction; and

    • Checking the waters immediately adjacent to the vessel(s) to ensure that no whales will be injured when the propellers are engaged.

    (vii) Hilcorp shall complete operations in time to allow such vessels to complete transit through the Bering Strait to a point south of 59 degrees North latitude no later than November 15, 2015. Any vessel that encounters weather or ice that will prevent compliance with this date shall coordinate its transit through the Bering Strait to a point south of 59 degrees North latitude with the appropriate Com-Centers. Hilcorp vessels shall, weather and ice permitting, transit east of St. Lawrence Island and no closer than 10 miles from the shore of St. Lawrence Island.

    (7) Monitoring

    (a) Vessel-based Visual Monitoring:

    (i) Vessel-based visual monitoring for marine mammals shall be conducted by NMFS-approved PSOs throughout the period of survey activities.

    (ii) PSOs shall be stationed aboard the survey vessels through the duration of the surveys.

    (iii) A sufficient number of PSOs shall be onboard the survey vessel to meet the following criteria:

    (A) 100% monitoring coverage during all periods of survey operations in daylight;

    (B) Maximum of 4 consecutive hours on watch per PSO; and

    (C) Maximum of 12 hours of watch time per day per PSO.

    (iv) The vessel-based marine mammal monitoring shall provide the basis for real-time mitigation measures as described in (6)(c) above.

    (v) Results of the vessel-based marine mammal monitoring shall be used to calculate the estimation of the number of “takes” from the marine surveys and equipment recovery and maintenance program.

    (b) Protected Species Observers and Training

    (i) PSO teams shall consist of Inupiat observers and NMFS-approved field biologists.

    (ii) Experienced field crew leaders shall supervise the PSO teams in the field. New PSOs shall be paired with experienced observers to avoid situations where lack of experience impairs the quality of observations.

    (iii) Crew leaders and most other biologists serving as observers in 2015 shall be individuals with experience as observers during recent seismic or shallow hazards monitoring projects in Alaska, the Canadian Beaufort, or other offshore areas in recent years.

    (iv) Resumes for PSO candidates shall be provided to NMFS for review and acceptance of their qualifications. Inupiat observers shall be experienced in the region and familiar with the marine mammals of the area.

    (v) All observers shall complete a training course designed to familiarize individuals with monitoring and data collection procedures. The training course shall be completed before the anticipated start of the 2015 open-water season. The training session(s) shall be conducted by qualified marine mammalogists with extensive crew-leader experience during previous vessel-based monitoring programs.

    (vi) Crew members should not be used as primary PSOs because they have other duties and generally do not have the same level of expertise, experience, or training as PSOs, but they could be stationed on the fantail of the vessel to observe the near field, especially the area around the survey vessels, and implement a power-down or shutdown if a marine mammal enters the safety zone (or exclusion zone).

    (vii) If crew members are to be used as PSOs, they shall go through some basic training consistent with the functions they will be asked to perform. The best approach would be for crew members and PSOs to go through the same training together.

    (viii) PSOs shall be trained using visual aids (e.g., videos, photos), to help them identify the species that they are likely to encounter in the conditions under which the animals will likely be seen.

    (ix) Hilcorp shall train its PSOs to follow a scanning schedule that consistently distributes scanning effort according to the purpose and need for observations. All PSOs should follow the same schedule to ensure consistency in their scanning efforts.

    (x) PSOs shall be trained in documenting the behaviors of marine mammals. PSOs should record the primary behavioral state (i.e., traveling, socializing, feeding, resting, approaching or moving away from vessels) and relative location of the observed marine mammals.

    (c) Marine Mammal Observation Protocol

    (i) PSOs shall watch for marine mammals from the best available vantage point on the survey vessels, typically the bridge.

    (ii) Observations by the PSOs on marine mammal presence and activity shall begin a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the estimated time that the sub-bottom profiler is to be turned on and/or ramped-up. Monitoring shall continue during the survey operations and last until 30 minutes after the sonar equipment stop firing.

    (iii) For comparison purposes, PSOs shall also document marine mammal occurrence, density, and behavior during at least some periods when the sonar equipment used for survey is off.

    (iv) PSOs will scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7 × 50 and 16-40 × 80) and with the naked eye. GPS unit and laptop computer(s) will also be available for PSOs onboard survey vessels.

    (v) Personnel on the bridge shall assist the marine mammal observer(s) in watching for marine mammals.

    (vi) PSOs aboard the marine survey vessel shall give particular attention to the areas within the marine mammal ZOI around the source vessel, as noted in (6)(a)(i) and (ii). They shall avoid the tendency to spend too much time evaluating animal behavior or entering data on forms, both of which detract from their primary purpose of monitoring the exclusion zone.

    (vii) Monitoring shall consist of recording of the following information:

    (A) The species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), the general behavioral activity, heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from survey vessel, sighting cue, behavioral pace, and apparent reaction of all marine mammals seen near the survey vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc);

    (B) The time, location, heading, speed, and activity of the vessel (sub-bottom profiler firing or not), along with sea state, visibility, cloud cover and sun glare at (I) any time a marine mammal is sighted (including pinnipeds hauled out on barrier islands), (II) at the start and end of each watch, and (III) during a watch (whenever there is a change in one or more variable);

    (C) The identification of all vessels that are visible within 5 km of the survey vessel whenever a marine mammal is sighted and the time observed;

    (D) Any identifiable marine mammal behavioral response (sighting data should be collected in a manner that will not detract from the PSO's ability to detect marine mammals);

    (E) Any adjustments made to operating procedures; and

    (F) Visibility during observation periods so that total estimates of take can be corrected accordingly.

    (vii) Distances to nearby marine mammals will be estimated with binoculars containing a reticle to measure the vertical angle of the line of sight to the animal relative to the horizon. Observers may use a laser rangefinder to test and improve their abilities for visually estimating distances to objects in the water.

    (viii) PSOs shall understand the importance of classifying marine mammals as “unknown” or “unidentified” if they cannot identify the animals to species with confidence. In those cases, they shall note any information that might aid in the identification of the marine mammal sighted. For example, for an unidentified mysticete whale, the observers should record whether the animal had a dorsal fin.

    (ix) Additional details about unidentified marine mammal sightings, such as “blow only,” mysticete with (or without) a dorsal fin, “seal splash,” etc., shall be recorded.

    (x) When a marine mammal is seen approaching or within the exclusion zone applicable to that species, the marine survey crew shall be notified immediately so that mitigation measures described in (6) can be promptly implemented.

    (d) Field Data-Recording and Verification

    (i) PSOs aboard the vessels shall maintain a digital log of shallow geohazard survey, noting the date and time of all changes in survey activity (ramp-up, power-down, shutdowns, etc.) and any corresponding changes in monitoring radii in a software spreadsheet.

    (ii) PSOs shall utilize a standardized format to record all marine mammal observations and mitigation actions (sub-bottom profiler power-downs, shut-downs, and ramp-ups).

    (iii) Information collected during marine mammal observations shall include the following:

    (A) Vessel speed, position, and activity (B) Date, time, and location of each marine mammal sighting (C) Number of marine mammals observed, and group size, sex, and age categories (D) Observer's name and contact information (E) Weather, visibility, and ice conditions at the time of observation (F) Estimated distance of marine mammals at closest approach (G) Activity at the time of observation, including possible attractants present (H) Animal behavior (I) Description of the encounter (J) Duration of encounter (K) Mitigation action taken

    (iv) Data shall be recorded directly into handheld computers or as a back-up, transferred from hard-copy data sheets into an electronic database.

    (v) A system for quality control and verification of data shall be facilitated by the pre-season training, supervision by the lead PSOs, and in-season data checks, and shall be built into the software.

    (vi) Computerized data validity checks shall also be conducted, and the data shall be managed in such a way that it is easily summarized during and after the field program and transferred into statistical, graphical, or other programs for further processing.

    (e) Passive Acoustic Monitoring

    (i) Hilcorp shall conduct passive acoustic monitoring using fixed hydrophone(s) to

    (A) Document ambient noise conditions;

    (B) Examine the spatial and temporal distribution of marine mammals based on acoustic detections of their vocalizations; and

    (C) Characterize the long-range propagation of sounds produced during the geohazard survey; and

    (ii) Bottom-Mounted Acoustic Sensors:

    (A) Recorders shall be capable of recording marine mammal sounds and making both ambient and anthropogenic noise measurements.

    (B) Two recorders be deployed near the Liberty prospect and be aligned with the geohazard survey line, at distances of 500 m (AMAR with sampling rate of 64 kHz) and 5000 m (AMAR with sampling rate of 380 kHz) from the offshore end of the survey line.

    (C) Recorders shall be located inside of the barrier islands.

    (8) Data Analysis and Presentation in Reports

    (a) Estimation of potential takes or exposures shall be improved for times with low visibility (such as during fog or darkness) through interpolation or possibly using a probability approach. Those data could be used to interpolate possible takes during periods of restricted visibility.

    (b) Hilcorp shall provide the information collected, plus a number of summary analyses and graphics to help NMFS assess the potential impacts of Hilcorp's survey. Specific summaries/analyses/graphics would include:

    (i) A table or other summary of survey activities (i.e., did the survey proceed as planned);

    (ii) A table of sightings by time, location, species, and distance from the survey vessel;

    (iii) A geographic depiction of sightings for each species by area and month;

    (iv) A table and/or graphic summarizing behaviors observed by species;

    (v) A table and/or graphic summarizing observed responses to the survey by species;

    (vi) A table of mitigation measures (e.g., power-downs, shutdowns) taken by date, location, and species;

    (vii) A graphic of sightings by distance for each species and location;

    (viii) A table or graphic illustrating sightings during the survey versus sightings when the sub-bottom profiler was silent; and

    (ix) A summary of times when the survey was interrupted because of interactions with marine mammals.

    (c) Hilcorp shall collaborate with other industrial operators in the area to integrate and synthesize monitoring results as much as possible (such as submitting “sightings” from their monitoring projects to an online data archive, such as OBIS-SEAMAP) and archive and make the complete databases available upon request.

    (9) Reporting

    (a) Technical report: A draft technical report will be submitted to the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, within 90 days after the end of HIlcorp's 2015 open-water shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea. The report will describe in detail:

    (i) Summaries of monitoring effort (e.g., total hours, total distances, and marine mammal distribution through the study period, accounting for sea state and other factors affecting visibility and detectability of marine mammals);

    (ii) Summaries that represent an initial level of interpretation of the efficacy, measurements, and observations, rather than raw data, fully processed analyses, or a summary of operations and important observations;

    (iii) Summaries of all mitigation measures (e.g., operational shutdowns if they occur) and an assessment of the efficacy of the monitoring methods;

    (iv) Analyses of the effects of various factors influencing detectability of marine mammals (e.g., sea state, number of observers, and fog/glare);

    (v) Species composition, occurrence, and distribution of marine mammal sightings, including date, water depth, numbers, age/size/gender categories (if determinable), group sizes, and ice cover;

    (vi) Data analysis separated into periods when the sub-bottom profiler is operating and when it is not, to better assess impacts to marine mammals;

    (vii) Sighting rates of marine mammals during periods with and without the sub-bottom profiler (and other variables that could affect detectability), such as:

    (A) Initial sighting distances versus survey activity state;

    (B) Closest point of approach versus survey activity state;

    (C) Observed behaviors and types of movements versus survey activity state;

    (D) Numbers of sightings/individuals seen versus survey activity state;

    (E) Distribution around the survey vessel versus survey activity state; and

    (F) Estimates of take by harassment;

    (viii) A clear comparison of authorized takes and the level of actual estimated takes;

    (ix) Cumulative sound exposure level over 24 hours (cSEL24), in particular during the use of the two sub-bottom profilers;

    (x) Ground-truth of data collected by AMARs in consultation with biologists experienced in Arctic species vocalizations with error rates for automatic detection to ensure the accurate classification of vocalizations by species; and

    (xi) Information of source levels and other acoustic characteristics of the active acoustics survey equipment, such as spectral content, and received levels in root-mean-squared (RMS) dB, sound exposure level (SEL), dB peak to peak and 1/3 octave bands.

    (b) The draft technical report shall be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS. The draft report will be considered the final report for this activity under this Authorization if NMFS has not provided comments and recommendations within 90 days of receipt of the draft report.

    (c) Hilcorp will share data and work with its contractor JASCO to collaborate with other researchers. The passive acoustic recording data, including data on marine mammal vocalizations, will be made publically available for researchers.

    (10)(a) In the unanticipated event that survey operations clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this Authorization, such as an injury or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), Hilcorp shall immediately cease survey 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 the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators ([email protected] and [email protected]). The report must include the following information:

    (i) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    (ii) The name and type of vessel involved;

    (iii) The vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;

    (iv) Description of the incident;

    (v) Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (vi) Water depth;

    (vii) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    (viii) Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (ix) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    (x) The fate of the animal(s); and

    (xi) Photographs or video footage of the animal (if equipment is available).

    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with Hilcorp to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Hilcorp may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (b) In the event that Hilcorp discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), Hilcorp 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 the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline (1-877-925-7773) and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators ([email protected] and [email protected]). The report must include the same information identified in Condition 10(a) above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with Hilcorp to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (c) In the event that Hilcorp discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in Condition 3 of this Authorization (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Hilcorp 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 the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline (1-877-925-7773) and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinators ([email protected] and [email protected]), within 24 hours of the discovery. Hilcorp shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Hilcorp can continue its operations under such a case.

    (11) Activities related to the monitoring described in this Authorization do not require a separate scientific research permit issued under section 104 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    (12) The Plan of Cooperation outlining the steps that will be taken to cooperate and communicate with the native communities to ensure the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses, must be implemented.

    (13) This Authorization may be modified, suspended, or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein or if the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals, or if there is an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for subsistence uses.

    (14) A copy of this Authorization and the Incidental Take Statement must be in the possession of each survey vessel operator taking marine mammals under the authority of this Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    (15) Hilcorp is required to comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Incidental Take Statement corresponding to NMFS' Biological Opinion.

    Request for Public Comments

    NMFS requests comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of the Notice of Proposed IHA for Hilcorp's proposed shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on Hilcorp's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11701 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XU02 Endangered and Threatened Species; Draft Recovery Plan for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the availability of the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) Draft Recovery Plan for public review. NMFS is soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the draft Plan, and will consider all substantive comments received during the review period before submitting the Plan for final approval.

    DATES:

    Comments on the draft Plan must be received by close of business on July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0053 by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0053,

    2. Click the “Comment Now!” icon and complete the required fields,

    3. Enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Jon Kurland, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office, Protected Resources Division, P.O. Box 21668, 709 W. 9th St., Rm. 420, Juneau, Alaska 99802-1668.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are 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 or protected information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mandy Migura (907-271-1332), email [email protected] or Therese Conant (301-427-8456), email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Recovery plans describe actions beneficial to the conservation and recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Section 4(f)(1) of the ESA requires that recovery plans incorporate: (1) Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific management actions necessary to achieve the Plan's goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions. The ESA requires the development of recovery plans for each listed species unless such a plan would not promote its recovery.

    NMFS began conducting comprehensive and systematic aerial surveys of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population in 1993. These surveys documented a decline in abundance from 653 whales in 1994 to 347 whales in 1998, a decline of nearly 50 percent. This rapid decline was associated with a substantial, unregulated subsistence hunt. Subsequent cooperative efforts between NMFS and Alaska Native subsistence users dramatically reduced subsistence hunts beginning in 1999. If subsistence harvest was the only factor limiting population growth, this reduction in hunting should have allowed the Cook Inlet beluga whale population to begin recovering at a rate of 2 to 6 percent per year; however, survey data indicated that the population was not recovering upon removal of hunting pressure. This lack of population growth led NMFS to reevaluate the status of Cook Inlet beluga whales. In October 2008, NMFS listed the Cook Inlet beluga whale distinct population segment (DPS) as endangered under the ESA (73 FR 62919, October 22, 2008). The most recent (2014) abundance survey indicates a population of 340 Cook Inlet beluga whales that has declined 0.4 percent per year over the past ten years.

    The Cook Inlet belugas are the most reproductively and demographically isolated of all the Alaskan belugas, and are unique in Alaska because their habitat, a semi-enclosed tidal estuary in southcentral Alaska, is in close proximity to most of Alaska's human population. The distribution of Cook Inlet belugas has changed significantly since the 1970s; in recent years the summer range has contracted to the upper reaches of Cook Inlet near Anchorage. This range contraction was coincident with the decline in population size.

    Ten potential threat types are identified and assessed in this draft recovery plan, based on current knowledge of threat factors. Assessments were made based on the information and data gaps presented in the plan's background section. Climate change, while considered a potential threat to Cook Inlet beluga recovery, is not addressed as a separate threat, but rather is discussed with respect to how it may affect each of the listed threats. The ten identified threats were ranked in order of their relative concern (high, medium, low) to the Cook Inlet beluga population.

    Due to an incomplete understanding of the threats facing Cook Inlet beluga whales, NMFS is unable to identify with certainty the actions that will most immediately encourage recovery. Until we know which threats are limiting recovery, the strategy of this recovery plan is to focus on threats identified as medium or high concern. This should focus efforts and resources on actions that are more likely to benefit Cook Inlet beluga whale recovery.

    Under section 4(f)(1) of the ESA, recovery plans must contain objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species be delisted. This recovery plan contains both demographic and threats-based criteria for down- and delisting. The threat-based recovery criteria are designed to evaluate the five ESA section 4(a)(1) factors described in the ESA listing determination of the Cook Inlet belugas. The draft recovery plan proposes that Cook Inlet beluga whales may be reclassified from endangered to threatened (i.e., downlisted) when all of the following have been met: (1) The abundance estimate for the Cook Inlet beluga whale DPS is greater than or equal to 520 individuals and there is 95 percent or greater probability that the 25-year population abundance trend (representative of one full generation) is positive; and (2) the 15 downlisting threats-based criteria are satisfied. The draft recovery plan proposes that the population will be considered for delisting when all of the following are met: (1) The abundance estimate for the Cook Inlet beluga whale DPS is greater than or equal to 780 individuals and there is 95 percent or greater probability that the 25-year population abundance trend (representative of one full generation) is positive; and (2) the 15 downlisting and 6 delisting threats-based criteria are satisfied.

    When determining recovery actions, we aimed to improve understanding of whether a particular threat is limiting recovery and to eliminate or mitigate that threat, or to improve our understanding of, and ability to manage, that threat. The actions in this recovery plan include research, management, monitoring, and outreach efforts, since a comprehensive approach to Cook Inlet beluga whale recovery is likely to have greater success than focusing on any one type of action. There are also actions targeted at incorporating new information and conducting regular reassessments, making this recovery plan an adaptive management plan.

    The total time and cost to recovery are very difficult to predict with the current information, and the total cost to recovery will be largely dependent upon the number of recovery actions requiring implementation. Since that cannot be determined prior to implementation of portions of this plan, the total cost presented assumes implementation of all recovery actions. As recovery progresses and we better understand the relationship between discrete threats and population dynamics, it may become apparent that there are some threats that need not be addressed to achieve recovery. However, we expect that recovery may take at least two generations (50 years).

    If every identified recovery action is implemented, and if recovery implementation lasts for 50 years (two generations), then the estimated cost of implementing this entire recovery program would be approximately $78.3 million. Any projections of total costs over the full recovery period are likely to be imprecise, and the cost estimates do not imply that funding will necessarily be available for all Cook Inlet beluga whale recovery tasks.

    NMFS requests and will consider all substantive comments and information presented during the public comment period as we finalize this Plan. NMFS concludes that the Draft Recovery Plan meets the requirements of the ESA.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11700 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Availability of Seats for National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for applications.

    SUMMARY:

    ONMS is seeking applications for vacant seats for 7 of its 13 national marine sanctuary advisory councils and for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council (advisory councils). Vacant seats, including positions (i.e., primary member and alternate), for each of the advisory councils are listed in this notice under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; views regarding the protection and management of marine or Great Lake resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members or alternates should expect to serve two- or three year terms, pursuant to the charter of the specific national marine sanctuary advisory council or the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council.

    DATES:

    Applications are due by June 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Application kits are specific to each advisory council. As such, application kits must be obtained from and returned to the council-specific addresses noted below.

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Michael Murray, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, University of California Santa Barbara, Ocean Science Education Building 514, MC 6155, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-6155; (805) 893-6418; email [email protected]; or download application from http://channelislands.noaa.gov/sac/council_news.html.

    • Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Shelley DuPuy, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, 4700 Avenue U, Bldg. 216, Galveston, TX 77551; (409) 621-5151 extension 106; email [email protected]; or download application from http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/advisorycouncil/councilnews.html.

    • Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Becky Shortland, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, GA 31411; (912) 598-2381; email [email protected]; or download application from http://graysreef.noaa.gov/management/sac/council_news.html.

    • Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Inouye Regional Center, ATTN: NOS/ONMS/Shannon Lyday, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; (808) 725-5905; email [email protected]; or download application from http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/council/council_app_accepting.html.

    • Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Katherine Van Dam, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606; (757) 591-7350; email [email protected]; or download application from http://monitor.noaa.gov.

    • National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council: Joseph Paulin, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center, P.O. Box 4318 Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799; (684) 633-6500; email [email protected]; or download application from http://americansamoa.noaa.gov.

    • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Elizabeth Stokes, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 175 Edward Foster Road, Scituate MA 02066; (781) 545-8026 extension 201; email [email protected]; or download application from http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/sac/sachome.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information on a particular national marine sanctuary advisory council, please contact the individual identified in the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    ONMS serves as the trustee for 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters from the Hawaiian Islands to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. National marine sanctuaries protect our Nation's most vital coastal and marine natural and cultural resources, and through active research, management, and public engagement, sustains healthy environments that are the foundation for thriving communities and stable economies. One of the many ways ONMS ensures public participation in the designation and management of national marine sanctuaries is through the formation of advisory councils. National marine sanctuary advisory councils are community-based advisory groups established to provide advice and recommendations to the superintendents of the national marine sanctuaries on issues including management, science, service, and stewardship; and to serve as liaisons between their constituents in the community and the sanctuary. Additional information on ONMS and its advisory councils can be found at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov. Information related to the purpose, policies and operational requirements for advisory councils can be found in the charter for a particular advisory council (http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/council_charters.html) and the National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Implementation Handbook (http://www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/acref.html).

    The following is a list of the vacant seats, including positions (i.e., primary member or alternate), for each of the advisory councils currently seeking applications for members and alternates:

    Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Non-consumptive Recreation (primary); and Non-consumptive Recreation (alternate).

    Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Recreational Fishing (primary).

    Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Conservation (primary); University Education (primary); Sport Diving (primary); and Citizen-at-Large (primary).

    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Commercial Shipping (primary); Commercial Shipping (alternate); Hawaii County (alternate); Lanai Island (alternate); Citizen-at-Large (alternate); Education (alternate); Tourism (alternate); and Whale Watching (alternate).

    Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Commercial and Recreational Fishing (primary).

    National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council: Business and Industry (primary); and Community-at-Large: Tutuila—West Side (primary).

    Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: At-Large (primary); Business Industry (primary); Diving (primary); Diving (alternate); Education (2 primary seats); Fixed Gear Commercial Fishing (primary); Fixed Gear Commercial Fishing (alternate); Mobile Gear Commercial Fishing (alternate); Recreational Fishing (alternate); Research (2 alternate seats); and Whale Watch (primary).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. Sections 1431, et seq.

    (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: April 13, 2015. Daniel J. Basta, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11630 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Habitat Committee to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This meeting will be held on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn, 300 Woodbury Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801; telephone: (603) 431-8000; fax: (603) 501-3733.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Habitat Committee will consider data and analyses related to current habitat management alternatives for Georges Bank as part of Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2. These will include analyses related to a new alternative identified during the April Council meeting. The Committee may choose to revise its preferred alternative recommendation for Georges Bank to the full Council. (The Council plans to take final action on Georges Bank habitat management alternatives during its June 16-18, 2015 meeting.)

    The Committee may also discuss other matters related to the amendment, in particular the spawning management alternatives. (The spawning alternatives are also planned for final Council action in June.) They will discuss other business as necessary.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before these groups for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11758 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD939 Marine Mammals; File No. 19526 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; receipt of application.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that Adam White, BBC Natural History Unit, The Limes, Lea, Malmesbury Wiltshire, SN16 9PG United Kingdom, has applied in due form for a permit to conduct commercial or educational photography on four species of cetaceans and five species of pinnipeds.

    DATES:

    Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before June 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    These documents are available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713-0376, or by email to [email protected] Please include File No. 19526 in the subject line of the email comment.

    Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Carrie Hubard or Jennifer Skidmore, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The subject permit is requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216).

    The applicant proposes to film a variety of marine mammals along the California coast from Point Año Nuevo south to the Channel Islands. A maximum of 1000 long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis), 1000 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), 1000 Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus), 50 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), 50 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), and 1000 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) would be approached for filming. In addition, up to 200 Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) would be filmed while hauled out on land. Fifty Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and 50 Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) may be incidentally harassed and filmed during operations. Cetaceans would be filmed from boats and pole cameras. Pinnipeds would be filmed from boats, pole cameras, underwater divers, and while hauled out on land. Hydrophones would be used to record sounds. Footage would be used for a Big Blue Live television series examining marine issues and conservation successes along the coast of California. Filming would occur July through September 2015. The permit would be valid until September 30, 2015.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), an initial determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of the application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11753 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration First Responder Network Authority; First Responder Network Authority Board Meetings AGENCY:

    First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will convene an open public meeting on June 3, 2015, preceded by open public meetings of the Board Committees on June 2, 2015.

    DATES:

    On June 2, 2015 between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, there will be sequential open public meetings of FirstNet's four Board Committees: (1) Governance and Personnel; (2) Technology; (3) Outreach; and (4) Finance. The full FirstNet Board will hold an open public meeting on June 3, 2015 between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings on June 2 and June 3, 2015 will be held at the Omni San Diego Hotel, 675 L Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Uzoma Onyeije, Secretary, FirstNet, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M/S 243, Reston, VA 20192; telephone: (703) 648-4165; email: [email protected]. Please direct media inquiries to Ryan Oremland at (703) 648-4114.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This notice informs the public that the Board of FirstNet will convene an open public meeting on June 3, 2015, preceded by open public meetings of the Board Committees on June 2, 2015.

    Background: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act), Public Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012), established FirstNet as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that is headed by a Board. The Act directs FirstNet to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The FirstNet Board is responsible for making strategic decisions regarding FirstNet's operations. The FirstNet Board held its first public meeting on September 25, 2012.

    Matters to be Considered: FirstNet will post detailed agendas of each meeting on its Web site, http://www.firstnet.gov, prior to the meetings. The agenda topics are subject to change. Please note that the subjects that will be discussed by the Committees and the Board may involve commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential, personnel matters, or other legal matters affecting FirstNet. As such, the Committee Chairs and Board Chair may call for a vote to close the meetings only for the time necessary to preserve the confidentiality of such information, pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 1424(e)(2).

    Times and Dates of Meetings: On June 2, 2015, between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, there will be sequential open public meetings of FirstNet's four committees. The open public meeting of the full FirstNet Board will be held on June 3, 2015, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

    Place: The meetings on June 2 and June 3, 2015 will be held at the Omni San Diego Hotel, 675 L Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

    Other Information: These meetings are open to the public and press on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. In order to get an accurate headcount, all expected attendees are asked to provide notice of intent to attend by sending an email to [email protected]. If the number of RSVPs indicates that expected attendance has reached capacity, FirstNet will respond to all subsequent notices indicating that capacity has been reached and that in-person viewing may no longer be available but that the meeting may still be viewed by webcast as detailed below. For access to the meetings, valid government issued photo identification may be requested for security reasons.

    The meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other ancillary aids, are asked to notify Uzoma Onyeije, Secretary, FirstNet, at (703) 648-4165 or [email protected], at least five (5) business days before the applicable meeting(s).

    The meetings will also be webcast. Please refer to FirstNet's Web site at www.firstnet.gov for webcast instructions and other information. The meetings will also be available to interested parties by phone. To be connected to the meetings in listen-only mode by telephone, please dial (888) 997-9859 and passcode 3572169. If you have technical questions regarding the webcast, please contact Margaret Baldwin at (703) 648-4161 or by email at [email protected].

    Records: FirstNet maintains records of all Board proceedings. Minutes of the Board Meeting and the Committee meetings will be available at www.firstnet.gov.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Eli Veenendaal, Attorney Advisor, First Responder Network Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11778 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-TL-P
    COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List Proposed Addition and Deletions AGENCY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

    ACTION:

    Proposed addition to and deletions from the Procurement List.

    SUMMARY:

    The Committee is proposing to add a service to the Procurement List that will be provided by nonprofit agency employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities, and deletes products previously furnished by such agencies.

    Comments Must Be Received on or Before: 6/15/2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, Virginia 22202-4149.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT COMMENTS CONTACT:

    Barry S. Lineback, Telephone: (703) 603-7740, Fax: (703) 603-0655, or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This notice is published pursuant to 41 U.S.C. 8503(a)(2) and 41 CFR 51-2.3. Its purpose is to provide interested persons an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed actions.

    Addition

    If the Committee approves the proposed addition, the entities of the Federal Government identified in this notice will be required to procure the service listed below from the nonprofit agency employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

    The following service is proposed for addition to the Procurement List for production by the nonprofit agency listed:

    Service Service Type: Third Party Logistics Service Service Is Mandatory For: U.S. Department of State P.O. Box 9115, Rosslyn Station, Arlington, VA Mandatory Source of Supply: Human Technologies Corporation, Utica, NY Contracting Activity: Department of State, Office of Acquisition Management—MA, Arlington, VA Deletions

    The following products are proposed for deletion from the Procurement List:

    Products Product Name/NSN(s): Cushion, Chair, 7210-00-205-3544, 7210-00-205-3545 Mandatory Source of Supply: UNKNOWN Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Product Name/NSN(s): Cushion Seat, Vehicular, 2540-00-904-5680 Mandatory Source of Supply: The Douglas Center, Skokie, IL Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, OH Product Name/NSN(s): Stay Put Elastics Asst/MR 3202, Fashion Bobby Pin/MR 3216 Mandatory Source of Supply: Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment, Inc., Binghamton, NY Contracting Activity: Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, VA Product Name/NSN(s): Duster, Lambswool/MR 992 Mandatory Source of Supply: Industries of the Blind, Inc., Greensboro, NC Contracting Activity: Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, VA Barry S. Lineback, Director, Business Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11755 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353-01-P
    COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Information Collection To Be Submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval Under the Paperwork Reduction Act; Initial Certification AGENCY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (Committee) will submit the collection of information listed below to OMB for approval under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act. This notice solicits comments on this collection of information.

    DATES:

    Submit your written comments on the information collection on or before July 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Mail your comments on the requirement to Lou Bartalot, Director Compliance, Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, VA 22202-4149; fax (703) 603-0655; or email [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request a copy of the applicable forms or explanatory material, contact Edward Yang at the address in the above paragraph or through the above email address.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR part 1320, which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), require that interested members of the public and affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on information collection and recordkeeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). The Committee plans to submit a request to OMB to approve a revised collection of information concerning annual certification of nonprofit agencies serving people who are blind or who have other significant disabilities to participate in the AbilityOne Program. The Committee is requesting a 3-year term of approval for this information collection activity.

    Federal agencies may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for the current collections of information are 3037-0001 and 3037-0002. The OMB control number for the revised collection of information is 3037-0013.

    The JWOD Act of 1971 (41 U.S.C. 8501-8506) is the authorizing legislation for the AbilityOne Program. The AbilityOne Program creates jobs and training opportunities for people who are blind or who have other severe disabilities. Its primary means of doing so is by requiring Government agencies to purchase selected products and services from nonprofit agencies employing such individuals. The AbilityOne Program is administered by the Committee. Two national, independent organizations, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and SourceAmerica, help State and private nonprofit agencies participate in the AbilityOne Program.

    The implementing regulations for the JWOD Act, which are located at 41 CFR Chapter 51, provide the requirements, procedures, and standards for the AbilityOne Program. Section 51-4.3 of the regulations sets forth the standards that a nonprofit agency must meet to maintain qualification for participation in the AbilityOne Program. Under this section of the regulations, a nonprofit agency that wants to continue to participate in the AbilityOne Program must submit a completed copy of the appropriate Annual Certification form (Committee Form 403 or 404). This documentation helps the Committee determine whether the applicant nonprofit agency is meeting the requirements of the AbilityOne Program.

    This information collection request seeks approval for the Committee to continue to collect the information required under 41 CFR 51-4.3 of the regulations, but in a revised and expanded format, so that the Committee can continue to verify the appropriateness of nonprofit agencies that would like to participate in the AbilityOne Program. The previous separate forms have been combined into one form. The items being certified have been revised to match the regulatory requirements of section 51-4.3 and to collect other pertinent information on the qualifications of nonprofit agencies. New questions concerning nonprofit agency hours, wages, people performing direct labor, subcontracting and veterans have been added. In addition, the language at the bottom of the certification section has been revised.

    Title: Annual Representations and Certifications For AbilityOne Qualified Nonprofit Agency.

    OMB Control Number: 3037-0013.

    Form Number: Reps and Certs.

    Description of Respondents: Nonprofit agencies serving people who are blind or significantly disabled that participate in the AbilityOne Program.

    Annual Number of Respondents: About 570 nonprofit agencies serving people who are blind or significantly disabled will annually participate in the AbilityOne Program.

    Total Annual Burden Hours: Burden is estimated to average 8 hours per respondent. Total annual burden is 4,560 hours. Note: this burden estimate is only for the reporting of information; a separate burden estimate exists for the recordkeeping requirement.

    We invite comments concerning this renewal on: (1) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of our agency's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents.

    Barry S. Lineback, Director, Business Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11754 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353-01-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0092, Customer Clearing Documentation and Timing of Acceptance for Clearing AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “Commission”) 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 and to allow 60 days for public comment. The Commission adopted final rules, which prohibit swap dealers (“SDs”) and major swap participants (“MSPs”) from interfering or attempting to influence the decisions of affiliated future commission merchants (“FCMs”) with regard to the provision of clearing services and activities and prohibit FCMs from permitting them to do so. The Commission also adopted rules to prohibit SDs and MSPs from adopting any process or taking any action that results in any unreasonable restraint on trade or imposes any material anticompetitive burden on trading or clearing, unless necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of the Commodity Exchange Act. The Commission adopted further rules requiring that derivatives clearing organization (“DCO”) rules provide for the non-discriminatory clearing of swaps executed bilaterally or through an unaffiliated designated contract market or swap execution facility. This notice solicits comments on the obligation to maintain records related to clearing documentation between the customer and the customer's clearing member.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by OMB Control No. 3038-0092, 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:

    Christopher Hower, Special Counsel, Division of Clearing and Risk, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581; (202) 418-6703; email: [email protected].

    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 before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, the CFTC is publishing notice of the proposed collection of information listed below.

    Title: Customer Clearing Documentation and Timing of Acceptance for Clearing (OMB Control No. 3038-0092). This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: Section 4d(c) of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA” or “Act”), as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, directs the Commission to require futures commission merchants to implement conflict of interest procedures that address such issues the Commission determines to be appropriate. Similarly, section 4s(j)(5), as added by the Dodd-Frank Act, requires swap dealers and major swap participants to implement conflict of interest procedures that address such issues the Commission determines to be appropriate. Section 4s(j)(5) also requires swap dealers and major swap participants to ensure that any persons providing clearing activities or making determinations as to accepting clearing customers are separated by appropriate informational partitions from persons whose involvement in pricing, trading, or clearing activities might bias their judgment or contravene the core principle of open access. Section 4s(j)(6) of the CEA prohibits a swap dealer and major swap participant from adopting any process or taking any action that results in any unreasonable restraint on trade or imposes any material anticompetitive burden on trading or clearing, unless necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of the Act. Section 2(h)(1)(B)(ii) of the CEA requires that derivatives clearing organization rules provide for the non-discriminatory clearing of swaps executed bilaterally or through an unaffiliated designated contract market or swap execution facility.

    Pursuant to these provisions, the Commission adopted § 1.71(d)(1) relating to FCMs and § 23.605(d)(1) relating to swap dealers and major swap participants. These regulations prohibit swap dealers and major swap participants from interfering or attempting to influence the decisions of affiliated FCMs with regard to the provision of clearing services and activities and would prohibit FCMs from permitting them to do so. The Commission also adopted § 23.607 to prohibits a swap dealer and major swap participant from adopting any process or taking any action that results in any unreasonable restraint on trade or imposes any material anticompetitive burden on trading or clearing, unless necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of the Act. The Commission adopted § 39.12(b)(2) to require that derivatives clearing organization rules provide for the non-discriminatory clearing of swaps executed bilaterally or through an unaffiliated designated contract market or swap execution facility.

    As discussed further below, the additional information collection burden arising from the regulations primarily is restricted to the costs associated with the affected registrants' obligation to maintain records related to clearing documentation between the customer and the customer's clearing member.

    The information collection obligations imposed by the regulations are necessary to implement certain provisions of the CEA, including ensuring that registrants exercise effective risk management and for the efficient operation of trading venues among SDs, MSPs, FCMs, and DCOs.

    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 § 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 average between 16 hours for FCMs and SDs and MSPs, and 40 hours for DCOs per response. This estimate includes the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose, or provide information to or for a federal agency. The total annual cost burden per respondent is estimated to be $736 for FCMs, SDs, and MSPs and $1,840 for DCOs. The Commission based its calculation on an hourly wage rate of $46 for a financial manager to maintain the data.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: Swap dealers, Major Swap Participants, Futures Commission Merchants, and Derivatives Clearing Organizations.

    Estimated number of respondents: 239 Swap Dealers, Major Swap Participants and Futures Commission Merchants, and 14 Derivatives Clearing Organizations.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 3,824 for FCMs, SDs, and MSPs, and 560 hours for DCOs.

    Frequency of collection: As needed.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11726 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Transmittal No. 15-22] 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification AGENCY:

    Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing the unclassified text of a section 36(b)(1) arms sales notification. This is published to fulfill the requirements of section 155 of Public Law 104-164 dated July 21, 1996.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

    The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 15-22 with attached transmittal, and policy justification.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN15MY15.000 Transmittal No. 15-22 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

    (i) Prospective Purchaser: Australia

    (ii) Total Estimated Value:

    Major Defense Equipment * $0.00 billion Sustainment $1.50 billion Total $1.50 billion

    (iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: follow-on sustainment support and services for twenty four (24) AF/A-18Fs Super Hornet and twelve (12) AEA-18G Growler aircraft. The sustainment efforts will include software and hardware updates, Engineering Change Proposals, System Configuration upgrades, system integration and testing, engine component improvement, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

    (iv) Military Department: Navy (GQF)

    (v) Prior Related Cases, if any:

    FMS case SAF-$2.2B-02May07 FMS case GQY-$358M-6May11 FMS case LEN-$992M-13Sep12 FMS case SCI-$1.3B-04Jul13

    (vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense Services Proposed to be Sold: None

    (viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 28 April 2015

    * as defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act.

    POLICY JUSTIFICATION Australia—F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft Sustainment

    The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of follow-on sustainment support and services for twenty four (24) AF/A-18Fs Super Hornet and twelve (12) AEA-18G Growler aircraft. The sustainment efforts will include software and hardware updates, Engineering Change Proposals, System Configuration upgrades, system integration and testing, engine component improvement, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $1.5 billion.

    This sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major contributor to political stability, security, and economic development in Southeast Asia and around the world. Australia is an important ally and partner that contributes significantly to coalition, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations around the world. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and facilitates burden sharing with a key ally.

    The proposed sale of follow-on sustainment support and services will enable the Royal Australian Air Force to ensure the reliability and performance of its F/A-18 fleet. The follow-on support will allow Australia to maintain aircraft availability/operational rates, and enhance interoperability with the U.S. and other nations.

    The proposed sale of this additional support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The principal contractor will be The Boeing Company in St. Louis, Missouri. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this proposed sale may require continued assignment of U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Australia.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11723 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Transmittal No. 15-15] 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification AGENCY:

    Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing the unclassified text of a section 36(b)(1) arms sales notification. This is published to fulfill the requirements of section 155 of Public Law 104-164 dated July 21, 1996.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

    The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 15-15 with attached transmittal, policy justification, and Sensitivity of Technology.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN15MY15.001 Transmittal No. 15-15 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

    (i) Prospective Purchaser: India

    (ii) Total Estimated Value:

    Major Defense Equipment * $ 8.0 million Other $88.0 million TOTAL $96.0 million

    (iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: follow on support for five years for their fleet of C-130J Super Hercules that includes 8 spare AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 6 spare AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers, up to 9,000 flare cartridges, spare and repair parts, configuration updates, support and test equipment, publications and technical data, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support

    (iv) Military Department: Air Force (QAE)

    (v) Prior Related Cases, if any: FMS Case SAA -$963M -21Feb08

    (vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense Services Proposed to be Sold: See Attached Annex

    (viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 24 Apr 15

    * As defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act.

    POLICY JUSTIFICATION India—Follow-on Support of C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft

    The Government of India has requested a possible sale for follow on support for five years for their fleet of C-130J Super Hercules that includes 8 spare AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 6 spare AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers, up to 9,000 flare cartridges, spare and repair parts, configuration updates, support and test equipment, publications and technical data, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $96.0 million.

    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship and to improve the capabilities of a major South Asian partner which has been, and continues to be, an important force for economic progress and stability in South Asia.

    India needs this support for its Super Hercules aircraft to ensure its aircraft operate effectively to serve its transport, local and international humanitarian assistance, and regional disaster relief needs. This proposed sale of additional equipment and support will enable the Indian Air Force to sustain a higher mission-ready status for its C-130J fleet.

    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The principal contractor will be the Lockheed-Martin Company in Marietta, Georgia. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor personnel to India.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    Transmittal No. 15-15 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act Annex Item No. vii

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology:

    1. The AN/ALR-56M is a computer controlled radar warning receiver (RWR). It monitors the environment in an effort to detect radar signals. Upon detection and identification of a valid radar signal, emitter identification is conveyed to the AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser system. The ALR-56M has thirteen line replaceable units (LRUs): four I/J band DF receivers, an Analysis Processor, a Superhet Controller, a Superhet Receiver, a C/D band Receiver/Power supply, four I/J band antennas, and one C/D band antenna. Hardware and software are classified up to Confidential. Technical data and documentation are classified up to Secret.

    2. The AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) is an integrated, threat-adaptive, software-programmable dispensing system capable of dispending chaff, flares, and active radio frequency expendables. The system is internally mounted and may be operated as a stand-alone system or may be integrated with other on-board electronic warfare and avionics systems. The AN/ALE-47 uses data received over the aircraft interfaces to assess the threat situation and to determine a response. Hardware and software are Unclassified. Technical data and documentation are classified up to Secret.

    3. If a technologically advanced adversary were to obtain knowledge of the specific hardware and software elements, the information could be used to develop countermeasures which might reduce weapon system effectiveness or be used in the development of a system with similar or advanced capabilities.

    4. A determination has been made that the recipient country can provide the same degree of protection for the sensitive technology being released as the U.S. Government. The sale is necessary in furtherance of the U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives outline in the Policy Justification.

    5. All defense articles and services listed in this transmittal have been authorized for release and export to the Government of India.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11714 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Transmittal Nos. 15-19] 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification AGENCY:

    Department of Defense, Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing the unclassified text of a section 36(b)(1) arms sales notification. This is published to fulfill the requirements of section 155 of Public Law 104-164 dated July 21, 1996.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

    The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 15-19 with attached transmittal and policy justification.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN15MY15.003 Transmittal No. 15-19 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

    (i) Prospective Purchaser: Government of Iraq

    (ii) Total Estimated Value:

    Major Defense Equipment * $ 70 million Other $325 million TOTAL $395 million

    (iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: 5,000 81mm High Explosive Mortar Ammunition, 684,000 M203 40mm High Explosive Ammunition, 532,000 MK19 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose Ammunition, and 40,000 155mm High Explosives. Also includes small arms ammunition, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.

    (iv) Military Department: Army (UHA)

    (v) Prior Related Cases, if any:

    FMS case UGB-$17M-28Jan14 FMS case UEL-$70M-18Jun12

    (vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense Services Proposed to be Sold: None

    (viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 05 May 2015

    * As defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act.

    POLICY JUSTIFICATION Iraq—Ammunition

    The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of 5,000 81mm High Explosive Mortar Ammunition, 684,000 M203 40mm High Explosive Ammunition, 532,000 MK19 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose Ammunition, and 40,000 155mm High Explosives. Also includes small arms ammunition, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $395 million.

    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner. This proposed sale directly supports the Government of Iraq and serves the interests of the people of Iraq and the United States.

    This proposed sale of additional ammunition is critical in providing continued combat power capability as Iraq continues its fight against an organized insurgency of extremists in Iraq. Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing this additional ammunition into its armed forces.

    The proposed sale of this additional ammunition will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The principal contractors will be American Ordinance in Middletown, Iowa and AMTEC in Janesville, Wisconsin. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this sale will not require U.S. Government representatives or contractors to travel to Iraq.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11719 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID: DoD-2015-OS-0048] Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Defense Security Service (DSS), DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Defense Security Service (DSS) announces a proposed public information collection and seeks public comment on the provisions thereof. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

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

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

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

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information. Any associated form(s) for this collection may be located within this same electronic docket and downloaded for review/testing. Follow the instructions at http://www.regulations.gov for submitting comments. Please submit comments on any given form identified by docket number, form number, and title.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on this proposed information collection or to obtain a copy of the proposal and associated collection instruments, please write to the Defense Security Service, ATTN: Mr. Robert C. Morton, OCIO, Russell-Knox Building, 27130 Telegraph Road, Quantico, VA 22134-2253, or call Defense Security Service, (571) 305-6442.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title; Associated Form; and OMB Number: “Department of Defense Security Agreement,” “Appendage to Department of Defense Security Agreement,” “Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interests;” DD Forms, 441, 441-1 and SF 328; OMB No. 0704-0194.

    Needs and Uses: Executive Order (EO) 12829 as amended, “National Industrial Security Program (NISP),” stipulates that the Secretary of Defense shall serve as the Executive Agent for inspecting and monitoring the contractors, licensees, and grantees who require or will require access, to or who store or will store classified information; and for determining the eligibility for access to classified information of contractors, licensees, and grantees and their respective employees. The specific requirements necessary to protect classified information released to private industry are set forth in Department of Defense (DoD) 5220.22M, “National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM),” dated February 28, 2006 as amended by Conforming Change 1, dated March 28, 2013. These forms are mandated in the Industrial Security Regulation DoD 5220.22-R dated December 1985 as amended, DoD 5220.22—NISP Volume 3, dated April 17, 2014 and The Federal Acquisition Regulation. Respondents must execute DD Form 441, “Department of Defense Security Agreement,” which is the initial agreement between the contractor and the government regarding security requirements necessary to protect classified information associated with the contract. This legally binding document details the responsibility of both parties and obligates the contractor to fulfill the requirements outlined in DoD 5220.22M. The DD Form 441-1, “Appendage to Department of Defense Security Agreement,” is used to extend the agreement to branch offices of the contractor. The SF Form 328, “Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interests,” must be submitted to provide certification regarding elements of Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence (FOCI) as stipulated in paragraph 2-302 of the NISPOM.

    DSS proposes to make changes to the DD Form 441 and SF 328. The requirement for execution of the corporate “Certificate” section and the use of a corporate seal is being deleted. Currently the government does not require all corporations to execute the corporate Certificate portion of the Forms. Only those corporations who are in possession of a seal were being required to execute the Certificate. Corporations that do not have a seal and other types of businesses structures such as limited liability companies, partnership and sole proprietors are only required to have the signing of the agreement witnessed. DSS proposes that a witness is sufficient for all companies whether or not they are a corporation.

    Affected Public: Business, other profit, and non-profit organizations under DoD Security Cognizance.

    DD 441 Total Annual Burden Hours: 698.13.

    DD Form 441 Number of Respondents: 2,992.

    Total DD Form 441 Responses: 2,992.

    Average Burden Hours per Respondent: 14 minutes.

    Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    DD Form 441-1 Total Annual Burden Hours: 171.5.

    Total DD Form 441-1 Respondents: 1,029.

    Total DD Form 441-1 Responses: 1,029.

    Average Burden Hours per Respondent: 10 minutes.

    Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    SF 328 Total Annual Burden Hours: 3,301.67.

    Total SF 328 Respondents: 2,830.

    Total SF 328 Responses: 2,830.

    Averge Burden Hours per Respondent: 1 hour 10 minutes or 70 MINUTES.

    Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Combined Total Number of Respondents: 6,851.

    Combined Total Number of Responses: 6,851.

    Combined Total Burden Hours: 4,171.3.

    Combined Total Burden Hours per Respondent: 1.5 or 94 minutes.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    The execution of the DD Form 441, 441-1 and SF 328 is a factor in making a determination as to whether a contractor company is eligible to have a facility security clearance. It is also a legal basis for imposing NISP security requirements on eligible contractors. These requirements are necessary in order to preserve and maintain the security of the United States through establishing standards to prevent the improper disclosure of classified information.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11671 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Transmittal No. 15-26] 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification AGENCY:

    Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing the unclassified text of a section 36(b)(1) arms sales notification. This is published to fulfill the requirements of section 155 of Public Law 104-164 dated July 21, 1996.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

    The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 15-26 with attached transmittal, and policy justification.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. EN15MY15.004 Transmittal No. 15-26 Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended

    (i) Prospective Purchaser: Australia

    (ii) Total Estimated Value:

    Major Defense Equipment * $ 0 million Sustainment $275 million Total $275 million

    (iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: follow-on sustainment support and services in support of three (3) Hobart Class Destroyers. The sustainment efforts will include AEGIS computer software and hardware updates, system integration and testing, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

    (iv) Military Department: Navy (GSU)

    (v) Prior Related Cases, if any: FMS case LCQ-$1.2B-17Nov05

    (vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

    (vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense Services Proposed to be Sold: None

    (viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 28 April 2015

    * as defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act.

    POLICY JUSTIFICATION Australia—Hobart Class Destroyer Sustainment

    The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of follow-on sustainment support and services in support of three (3) Hobart Class Destroyers. The sustainment efforts will include AEGIS computer software and hardware updates, system integration and testing, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, aircrew trainer devices upgrades, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $275 million.

    This sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major contributor to political stability, security, and economic development in Southeast Asia. Australia is an important ally and partner that contributes significantly to coalition, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations around the world. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and facilitates burden sharing with a key ally.

    The proposed sale will improve Australia's capability in current and future coalition efforts. Australia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this additional support into its armed forces.

    The proposed sale of this additional support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Washington, District of Columbia. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this proposed sale will require the temporary assignment of approximately five U.S. Government or contractor representatives for a period of three years to Australia on an intermittent basis for the life of the case.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11725 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2015-ICCD-0064] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program: Forms AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 14, 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-0064 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 2E103, 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: Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program: Forms.

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0128.

    Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households, Private Sector.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 167.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 24.

    Abstract: The Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) forms are required for lenders to make application to the HEAL insurance program, to report accurately and timely on loan actions, including transfer of loans to a secondary agent, and to establish the repayment status of borrowers who qualify for deferment of payments using form 508. The reports assist in the diligent administration of the HEAL program, protecting the financial interest of the federal government.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11691 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah AGENCY:

    Department of Energy (DOE).

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Paducah. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Thursday, June 18, 2015, 6:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Barkley Centre, 111 Memorial Drive, Paducah, Kentucky 42001.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Woodard, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Department of Energy Paducah Site Office, 1017 Majestic Drive, Suite 200, Lexington, Kentucky 40513, (270) 441-6820.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    • Call to Order, Introductions, Review of Agenda • Administrative Issues • Public Comments (15 minutes) • Adjourn Breaks Taken As Appropriate

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Paducah, 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 Jennifer Woodard as soon as possible in advance of the meeting at the telephone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Jennifer Woodard at the telephone number listed above. Requests must be received as soon as possible prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments. The EM SSAB, Paducah, will hear public comments pertaining to its scope (clean-up standards and environmental restoration; waste management and disposition; stabilization and disposition of non-stockpile nuclear materials; excess facilities; future land use and long-term stewardship; risk assessment and management; and clean-up science and technology activities). Comments outside of the scope may be submitted via written statement as directed above. This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting date due to programmatic issues that had to be resolved prior to the meeting date.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Jennifer Woodard at the address and phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://www.pgdpcab.energy.gov/2015Meetings.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on May 7, 2015. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11788 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL15-64-000] New York Public Service Commission, New York Power Authority, New York State Energy Research, and Development Authority v. New York Independent System Operator, Inc.; Notice of Complaint

    Take notice that on May 8, 2015, pursuant to sections 206 and 306 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824(e) and 825(e) and Rule 206 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.206, the New York Public Service Commission, the New York Power Authority, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Complainants), filed a formal complaint against the New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (Respondent), alleging that the Respondent's buyer-side market power mitigation measures contained in section 23.4 of Attachment H of the Respondent's Market Administration and Control Area Services Tariff are unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory and preferential.

    The Complainants certify that a copy of the complaint has been served on the Respondent.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. The Respondent's answer and all interventions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. The Respondent's answer, motions to intervene, and protests must be served on the Complainants.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 28, 2015.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11776 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2067-060] Tri-Dam Project; Notice of Application and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Protests

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection:

    a. Application Type: Shoreline Management Plan (SMP).

    b. Project No: 2067-060.

    c. Date Filed: April 30, 2015.

    d. Applicant: Tri-Dam Project.

    e. Name of Project: Tulloch Project.

    f. Location: The project is located on the main stem of the Stanislaus River in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, California.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791(a)-825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Susan Larson, Tri-Dam Project, P.O. Box 1158, Pinecrest, CA 95364-0158, (209) 785-3838.

    i. FERC Contact: Any questions on this notice should be addressed to Shana High at (202) 502-8674, or by email: [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments and/or motions: June 11, 2015.

    All documents may be filed electronically via the Internet. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected] or toll free at 1-866-208-3676, or for TTY, (202) 502-8659. Although the Commission strongly encourages electronic filing, documents may also be paper-filed. To paper-file, mail an original and four copies to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. Please include the project number (P-2067-060) on any comments, motions, or recommendations filed.

    The Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure require all intervenors filing documents with the Commission to serve a copy of that document on each person whose name appears on the official service list for the project. Further, if an intervenor files comments or documents with the Commission relating to the merits of an issue that may affect the responsibilities of a particular resource agency, they must also serve a copy of the document on that resource agency.

    k. Description of Proposal: Tri-Dam filed its proposed SMP pursuant to article 411 of its license. The proposed SMP provides an inventory of sensitive environmental resources within the project boundary (natural and cultural), maps of sensitive zones that should be afforded extra protection, strategies to protect these areas from inappropriate encroachment, and provisions for informing private shoreline landowners about the importance of protecting the zones identified as having sensitive environmental resources.

    Private property owners hold fee title to real property which is adjacent to, abuts, and lies underneath portions of Tulloch Reservoir. Tri-Dam's proposed SMP affects only lands owned or controlled by the licensee. Property rights on privately-owned land are not being altered by this proceeding.

    l. Locations of the Application: A copy of the application is available for inspection and reproduction at the Commission's Public Reference Room, located at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426, or by calling (202) 502-8371. This filing may also be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field (P-2067) to access the document. You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, call 1-866-208-3676 or email [email protected], for TTY, call (202) 502-8659. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item (h) above. Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant.

    m. Individuals desiring to be included on the Commission's mailing list should so indicate by writing to the Secretary of the Commission.

    n. Comments, Protests, or Motions to Intervene: Anyone may submit comments, a protest, or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210, .211, .214, respectively. In determining the appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene in accordance with the Commission's Rules may become a party to the proceeding. Any comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified comment date for the particular application.

    o. Filing and Service of Documents: Any filing must (1) bear in all capital letters the title “COMMENTS”, “PROTEST”, or “MOTION TO INTERVENE” as applicable; (2) set forth in the heading the name of the applicant and the project number of the application to which the filing responds; (3) furnish the name, address, and telephone number of the person commenting, protesting or intervening; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, motions to intervene, or protests must set forth their evidentiary basis. Any filing made by an intervenor must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed in the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 385.2010.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11772 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC15-136-000.

    Applicants: BTMU Capital Leasing & Finance, Inc.

    Description: Application of BTMU Capital Leasing & Finance, Inc. for authorization under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act and Request For expedited Action.

    Filed Date: 5/11/15.

    Accession Number: 20150511-5054.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 6/1/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-2074-004; ER10-2097-006.

    Applicants: Kansas City Power & Light Company, KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change in Status of Kansas City Power & Light Company, et al.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5207.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER10-2488-010.

    Applicants: Oasis Power Partners, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change of Status of Oasis Power Partners, LLC.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5240.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER11-47-005; ER12-1540-003; ER12-1541-003; ER12-1542-003; ER12-1544-003; ER10-2981-005; ER14-2475-002; ER14-2476-002; ER14-2477-002; ER11-46-008; ER14-594-005; ER10-2975-008; ER11-41-005; ER12-2343-003; ER13-1896-008.

    Applicants: Appalachian Power Company, Indiana Michigan Power Company, Kentucky Power Company, Kingsport Power Company, Wheeling Power Company, AEP Texas Central Company, AEP Texas North Company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Southwestern Electric Power Company, Ohio Power Company, AEP Energy Partners, Inc., CSW Energy Services, Inc., AEP Retail Energy Partners LLC, AEP Energy, Inc., AEP Generation Resources Inc.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change in Status of the AEP MBR Companies.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5246.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER12-2310-004.

    Applicants: Zephyr Wind, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing per 35: Compliance to 3 to be effective 5/9/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/11/15.

    Accession Number: 20150511-5002.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 6/1/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1691-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Progress, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Amendment to RS 200 FRPPA NCEMPA to be effective 12/10/2014.

    Filed Date: 5/11/15.

    Accession Number: 20150511-5050.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 6/1/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric securities filings:

    Docket Numbers: ES15-30-000.

    Applicants: The United Illuminating Company.

    Description: Application requesting authorization to issue short-term debt securities in an amount not to exceed $400 million of The United Illuminating Company.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5243.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    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 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: May 11, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11766 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 13570-002] Warmsprings Irrigation District; Notice of Effectiveness of Withdrawal of License Application

    On April 15, 2013, the Warmsprings Irrigation District (District) filed a license application for an original major project—existing dam for the proposed Warm Springs Dam Hydroelectric Project No. 13570-002. On April 14, 2015, the District filed a letter informing the Commission that it was withdrawing its license application for the project due to unforeseen costs to connect to the grid.

    No motion in opposition to the notice of withdrawal has been filed, and the Commission has taken no action to disallow the withdrawal. Pursuant to Rule 216(b) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure, the withdrawal of the application became effective April 29, 2015 and this proceeding is hereby terminated.1

    1 18 CFR 385.216(b) (2014).

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11773 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. PR15-26-000] Enterprise Texas Pipeline LLC; Notice of Staff Protest To Petition for Rate Approval

    1. Commission staff hereby protests pursuant to the section 284.123(g)(4)(i) of the Commission's regulations,1 the Petition for Rate Approval pursuant to section 284.123(b)(2) filed by Enterprise Texas Pipeline LLC (Enterprise) on March 13, 2015, in the above referenced docket. Pursuant to the Stipulation and Agreement approved by the Commission in Docket Nos. PR10-14-000 and PR10-14-001,2 Enterprise filed a new petition for rate approval pursuant to 18 CFR 284.123(b)(2) proposing a new rate applicable to its Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA) section 311 service. Enterprise elected to use the Commission's new optional notice procedures set forth in section 284.123(g). Enterprise proposes to increase its firm and interruptible transportation services for Rate Zone 1—Legacy Assets and Rate Zone 2—Sherman Extension. Enterprise also proposes to revise its Statement of Operating Conditions (SOC) applicable to its transportation services performed pursuant to NGPA section 311, which it states is updated solely to reflect the new proposed rates. Enterprise states it has not proposed any changes to the operating terms and conditions of its SOC.

    1 18 CFR 284.123(g)(4)(i) (2014).

    2Enterprise Texas Pipeline LLC, Delegated Letter Order, December 16, 2010.

    2. Commission staff notes that Enterprise has not adequately supported its filing and shown that the proposed rates are fair and equitable. For instance, Enterprise has not provided sufficient support for the discount adjustment used in calculating the billing determinants. In addition, Enterprise has not provided adequate explanation and support for its proposed cost of service, rate base, cost of capital, and cost allocation, among other issues.

    3. Commission staff's specific concerns include, in particular, Enterprise's development of its discount adjustment in designing rates. For example, in Zone 2 the proposed rates are significantly higher than the rates Enterprise proposed in its prior rate case, Docket No. PR10-14-000, even though the cost of service for Zone 2 is 20 percent lower and the throughput is 55 percent higher using the same rate design methodology and imputed billing determinants from its prior case. Similarly, using the same methodology to design rates for Zone 1, Enterprise proposes a rate of $0.7636 per Dth, yet the unit cost prior to any discount adjustment is $0.2006 per Dth.

    4. Commission staff has concerns that Enterprise has not classified any costs as variable costs when calculating its rates. Enterprise calculated straight-fixed variable rates for Zone 2 but did not classify any costs as variable cost rates. However, since Enterprise included $91.6 million in Account No. 368, Compressor Station Equipment, it follows that there should be variable costs associated with operating and maintaining compressors. Moreover, Account No. 855, Other Fuel and Power for Compressor Stations, typically contains only variable costs. Similarly, for Zone 1, Enterprise did not classify any costs as variable costs, even though Enterprise booked over $509 million to Compressor Station Equipment.

    5. Commission staff has concerns regarding the allocation of Administrative and General (A&G) Expenses between Enterprise's two delivery zones. Exhibit H-1 shows that Enterprise allocated only 7.5 percent of A&G Expenses to Zone 2 which seems low considering that over 15 percent of Operating and Maintenance (O&M) Expenses, 15 percent of gross plant and over 14 percent of revenues were derived from Zone 2.

    6. Enterprise proposes to include both gathering and storage plant in rate base. This is inconsistent with prior cases, where Enterprise has sometimes included gathering in rate base (see Docket No. PR07-12-000) and also excluded it from rate base (see Docket No. PR10-14-000). Enterprise has provided little to support its proposed treatment of gathering plant. In addition, Commission staff notes that Enterprise has market-based rate authority to provide storage services. Enterprise has not provided sufficient support to include storage plant in rate base for the first time. Further, Enterprise has not included any storage related O&M expenses to operate the plant.

    7. Finally, Enterprise has requested a weighted average cost of capital of 10.41 percent without adequate support for either the proposed capital structure or the individual capital cost components.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11736 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. NJ15-14-000] Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on April 30, 2015, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC submitted its tariff filing per 35.28(e): Oncor TFO Tariff Rate Changes to be effective March 20, 2015.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. On or before the comment date, it is not necessary to serve motions to intervene or protests on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 21, 2015.

    Dated: May 1, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11747 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. AC15-117-000] Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C., Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on April 24, 2015, Entergy Services, Inc. on behalf of its current and prospective public utility affiliates Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. (EGSL), Entergy Louisiana, LLC, (ELL) and Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC (ELP), (collectively, applicants) submitted a request proposing that ELP be allowed to account for the intercompany receivable created on its books following the Business Combination in Account 190, Accumulated Deferred Income Taxes, in a manner consistent with the instructions to FERC's Uniform System of Accounts and guidance provided by the Chief Accountant.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 or 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. On or before the comment date, it is not necessary to serve motions to intervene or protests on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: June 1, 2015.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11774 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2629-000] Village of Morrisville, Vermont; Notice of Authorization for Continued Project Operation

    On April 25, 2013 the Village of Morrisville (Vermont), licensee for the Morrisville Hydroelectric Project, filed an Application for a New License pursuant to the Federal Power Act (FPA) and the Commission's regulations thereunder. The Morrisville Hydroelectric Project is located on Green River, Elmore Pond Brook, and Lamoille River in Lamoille County, Vermont.

    The license for Project No. 2629 was issued for a period ending April 30, 2015. Section 15(a)(1) of the FPA, 16 U.S.C. 808(a)(1), requires the Commission, at the expiration of a license term, to issue from year-to-year an annual license to the then licensee under the terms and conditions of the prior license until a new license is issued, or the project is otherwise disposed of as provided in section 15 or any other applicable section of the FPA. If the project's prior license waived the applicability of section 15 of the FPA, then, based on section 9(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 558(c), and as set forth at 18 CFR 16.21(a), if the licensee of such project has filed an application for a subsequent license, the licensee may continue to operate the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the license after the minor or minor part license expires, until the Commission acts on its application. If the licensee of such a project has not filed an application for a subsequent license, then it may be required, pursuant to 18 CFR 16.21(b), to continue project operations until the Commission issues someone else a license for the project or otherwise orders disposition of the project.

    If the project is subject to section 15 of the FPA, notice is hereby given that an annual license for Project No. 2629 is issued to the licensee for a period effective May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016 or until the issuance of a new license for the project or other disposition under the FPA, whichever comes first. If issuance of a new license (or other disposition) does not take place on or before April 30, 2016, notice is hereby given that, pursuant to 18 CFR 16.18(c), an annual license under section 15(a)(1) of the FPA is renewed automatically without further order or notice by the Commission, unless the Commission orders otherwise. If the project is not subject to section 15 of the FPA, notice is hereby given that the licensee, the Village of Morrisville (Vermont), is authorized to continue operation of the Morrisville Hydroelectric Project, until such time as the Commission acts on its application for a subsequent license.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11692 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-2290-004.

    Applicants: Avista Corporation.

    Description: Notice of Non-Material Change of Status of Avista Corporation.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5039.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-885-000.

    Applicants: Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation.

    Description: eTariff filing per 35.19a(b): 2015-5-8_NSP-AIM-Refund Report to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5132.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-964-002.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Tariff Amendment per 35.17(b): City Utilities of Springfield Formula Rate Amended Filing to be effective 4/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20150507-5202.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1684-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Generator Interconnection Agreement to be effective 5/8/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20150507-5192.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1685-000.

    Applicants: Town Square Energy East, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): Amendment to Notice of Succession to be effective 4/2/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5000.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1686-000.

    Applicants: Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative Inc.

    Description: Notice of Cancellation of Transmission and Interconnection Agreement of Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative, Inc.

    Filed Date: 5/7/15.

    Accession Number: 20150507-5254.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/28/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1687-000.

    Applicants: Blue Cube Operations LLC.

    Description: Initial rate filing per 35.12 Blue Cube Operations LLC Baseline Tariff Filing to be effective 5/9/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5090.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1688-000.

    Applicants: Alabama Power Company.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): GCL Lincoln Power SGIA Filing to be effective 4/24/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5103.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1689-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., Dairyland Power Cooperative.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): 2015-05-08_DPC Incentive Rate Filing to be effective 7/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5114.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1690-000.

    Applicants: Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.

    Description: § 205(d) rate filing per 35.13(a)(2)(iii): WPSC's Updated FERC Form 1 References in its Formula Rates to be effective 7/7/2015.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5156.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/29/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following qualifying facility filings:

    Docket Numbers: QF15-381-000.

    Applicants: KTZ Hydro LLC.

    Description: Refund Report of KTZ Hydro LLC.

    Filed Date: 5/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20150508-5043.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 5/8/15.

    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: May 8, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11734 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP15-296-000] Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Request Under Blanket Authorization

    Take notice that on April 29, 2015, Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, LLC (Tallgrass), 4200 West 115th Street, Suite 350, Leawood, Kansas 66211-2609 filed a prior notice request pursuant to sections 157.205, 157.208 and 157.213 of the Commission's regulations under the Natural Gas Act for authorization to convert the HS-18 observation well in its Huntsman Storage Facility, located in Cheyenne County, Nebraska to an injection and withdrawal well and to construct and operate certain appurtenant pipeline measurement facilities necessary to connect the converted well to the storage facility, all as more fully set forth in the application which is on file with the Commission and open to public inspection. The project will have no impact on the certificated parameters of the Huntsman Storage Facility.

    The filing may also be viewed on the Web at http://www.ferc.gov using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC at [email protected] or call toll-free, (866) 208-3676 or TTY, (202) 502-8659.

    Any questions regarding this Application should be directed to David Haag, Vice President of Regulatory, Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission, LLC, 370 Van Gordon Street, Lakewood, Colorado 80228-1519, by phone at (303) 763-3258.

    Any person may, within 60 days after the issuance of the instant notice by the Commission, file pursuant to Rule 214 of the Commission's Procedural Rules (18 CFR 385.214) a motion to intervene or notice of intervention. Any person filing to intervene or the Commission's staff may, pursuant to section 157.205 of the Commission's Regulations under the NGA (18 CFR 157.205) file a protest to the request. If no protest is filed within the time allowed therefore, the proposed activity shall be deemed to be authorized effective the day after the time allowed for protest. If a protest is filed and not withdrawn within 30 days after the time allowed for filing a protest, the instant request shall be treated as an application for authorization pursuant to section 7 of the NGA.

    Pursuant to section 157.9 of the Commission's rules, 18 CFR 157.9, within 90 days of this Notice the Commission staff will either: Complete its environmental assessment (EA) and place it into the Commission's public record (eLibrary) for this proceeding; or issue a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review. If a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review is issued, it will indicate, among other milestones, the anticipated date for the Commission staff's issuance of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) or EA for this proposal. The filing of the EA in the Commission's public record for this proceeding or the issuance of a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review will serve to notify federal and state agencies of the timing for the completion of all necessary reviews, and the subsequent need to complete all federal authorizations within 90 days of the date of issuance of the Commission staff's FEIS or EA.

    Persons who wish to comment only on the environmental review of this project should submit an original and two copies of their comments to the Secretary of the Commission. Environmental commenter's will be placed on the Commission's environmental mailing list, will receive copies of the environmental documents, and will be notified of meetings associated with he Commission's environmental review process. Environmental commenter's will not be required to serve copies of filed documents on all other parties. However, the non-party commentary, will not receive copies of all documents filed by other parties or issued by the Commission (except for the mailing of environmental documents issued by the Commission) and will not have the right to seek court review of the Commission's final order.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests, and interventions via the internet in lieu of paper. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the “e-Filing” link. Persons unable to file electronically should submit original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11775 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER15-1687-000] Blue Cube Operations LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding, of Blue Cube Operations LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate schedule, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability is May 28, 2015.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding(s) are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected] or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11735 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER15-1665-000] Greenleaf Power Management LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of Greenleaf Power Management LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is June 1, 2015.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected] or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11770 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket Nos. ID-4482-003; ID-6697-002; ID-7646-000; ID-7647-000] Huskilson, Christopher G.; Aftanas, Stephen D.; Balfour, Scott C.; Bennett, Robert R.; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on May 8, 2015, Christopher G. Huskilson, Stephen D. Aftanas, Scott C. Balfour, and Robert R. Bennett submitted for filing, an application for authority to hold interlocking positions, pursuant to section 305(b) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 825d(b), Part 45.8 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR part 45.8.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. On or before the comment date, it is not necessary to serve motions to intervene or protests on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 29, 2015.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11771 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14215-002] Spartanburg Water System; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On April 3, 2015, Spartanburg Water System filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the Fingerville Project to be located at the existing Fingerville Dam, on the North Pacolet River, near the town of Fingerville, Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The proposed project would consist of: (1) An existing 11.3-foot-high, 171-foot-long wooden dam, owned by Spartanburg; (2) a reservoir with a surface area of 11.69 acres; (3) a 130-foot-long headrace channel; (4) a powerhouse containing one generating unit with a total capacity of 150.0 kilowatts (kW); (4) a tailrace; and (5) a 450-foot-long, 12 kilo-volt (KV) transmission line. The project would have an estimated average annual generation of 770.0 megawatt-hours (MWh).

    Applicant Contact: Ms. Sue Schneider, Spartanburg Water System, 200 Commerce Street, P.O. Box 251, Spartanburg, SC 29304, (864) 580-5642.

    FERC Contact: Michael Spencer; phone: (202) 502-6093.

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14215-002.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14215) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11693 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14676-000] Mid-Atlantic Hydro, LLC; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On April 21, 2015, Mid-Atlantic Hydro, LLC, filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the Milford Hydroelectric Project (Milford Project) to be located on Republic River, near Junction City, Geary County, Kansas. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The proposed project would consist of the following: (1) A 30-foot-long, 50-foot-wide, 30-foot-high bifurcation structure connecting to the end of an existing 615.5-foot-long, 21-foot-wide concrete horseshoe-shaped conduit serving as the outlet for the Milford Dam Reservoir; (2) a 7-foot-diameter penstock extending from the bifurcation to the powerhouse; (3) a 50-foot-long, 50-foot-wide, 30-foot-high concrete powerhouse located downstream of the existing Milford Dam and adjacent to the south abutment, containing two 1.5 megawatts Francis turbine generating units; (4) a 75-foot-long, 50-foot-wide concrete tailrace directing flows from the powerhouse back to the existing stilling basin; (5) a 4,440-foot-long, 12.7-kilovolt transmission line delivering the project power to a distribution line belonging to the local electric cooperative; (6) a 40-foot-long, 40-foot-wide switchyard containing a three-phase step-up transformer, protective equipment, and metering; (7) appurtenant facilities. The estimated annual generation of the Milford Project would be 15,000 megawatt-hours annually.

    Applicant Contact: Mr. Juan Kimble, President, Mid-Atlantic Hydro, LLC, 5425 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 600, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; phone: (301) 718-4496.

    FERC Contact: Sergiu Serban; phone: (202) 502-6211; email [email protected]

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14676-000.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14676) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: May 8, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11694 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707; FRL—9927-78-OAR] Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to submit an information collection request (ICR), “Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs” (EPA ICR No.1613.05, OMB Control No. 2060-0252) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Before doing so, EPA is soliciting public comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below. This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through November 30, 2015. An Agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707, online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dave Sosnowski, Transportation and Climate Division, State Measures and Transportation Planning Center, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2000 Traverwood, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105; telephone number:734-214-4823; fax number: 734-214-4052; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Pursuant to section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, EPA is soliciting comments and information to enable it to: (i) 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; (ii) 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; (iii) enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (iv) 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. EPA will consider the comments received and amend the ICR as appropriate. The final ICR package will then be submitted to OMB for review and approval. At that time, EPA will issue another Federal Register notice to announce the submission of the ICR to OMB and the opportunity to submit additional comments to OMB.

    Abstract: Clean Air Act section 182 and EPA's regulations (40 CFR part 51, subpart S) establish the requirements for state and local I/M programs that are included in state implementation plans (SIPs). To provide general oversight and support to these programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires that state agencies with basic and enhanced I/M programs collect two varieties of reports for submission to EPA:

    • An annual report providing general program operating data and summary statistics, addressing the program's current design and coverage, a summary of testing data, enforcement program efforts, quality assurance and quality control efforts, and other miscellaneous information allowing for an assessment of the program's relative effectiveness; and

    • A biennial report on any changes to the program over the two-year period and the impact of such changes, including any weaknesses discovered and corrections made or planned.

    General program effectiveness is determined by the degree to which a program misses, meets, or exceeds the emission reductions committed to in the state's approved SIP, which, in turn, must meet or exceed the minimum emission reductions expected from the relevant performance standard, as promulgated under EPA's revisions to 40 CFR, part 51, subpart S, in response to requirements established in section 182 of the Clean Air Act. This information is used by EPA to determine a program's progress toward meeting requirements under 40 CFR, part 51, subpart S, and to provide background information in support of program evaluations. Additional information regarding the current renewal of this ICR as well as previous renewals can be found in Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: state I/M program managers.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: mandatory (40 CFR 51.366).

    Estimated number of respondents: 28 state air quality agencies (total).

    Frequency of response: annual and biennial.

    Total estimated burden: 2,408 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b)

    Total estimated cost: $147,462 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in Estimates: There is no change in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB.

    Dated: May 6, 2015. Karl Simon, Director, Transportation and Climate Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11802 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [ER-FRL-9020-9] Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability

    Responsible Agency: Office of Federal Activities, General Information (202) 564-7146 or http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/.

    Weekly receipt of Environmental Impact Statements Filed 05/04/2015 through 05/08/2015 Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9. Notice

    Section 309(a) of the Clean Air Act requires that EPA make public its comments on EISs issued by other Federal agencies. EPA's comment letters on EISs are available at: https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search.

    EIS No. 20150126, Final, NRC, OH, Generic-License Renewal of Nuclear Plants Regarding Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Review Period Ends: 06/15/2015, Contact: Elaine Keegan 301-415-8517. EIS No. 20150127, Draft, FHWA, LA, US 61 to I-10, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Reserve to I-10 Connector, Comment Period Ends: 07/01/2015, Contact: Carl M. Highsmith 225-757-7615. EIS No. 20150128, Draft, USFWS, CO, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Comment Period Ends: 06/29/2015, Contact: Bernardo Garza (303) 236-4377. EIS No. 20150129, Draft, BIA, NV, Aiya Solar Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/29/2015, Contact: Chip Lewis 602-379-6782. EIS No. 20150130, Final, BR, WA, Cle Elum Pool Raise Project—A Component of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, Review Period Ends: 06/15/2015, Contact: Candace McKinley 509-575-5848 ext. 232. Amended Notices EIS No. 20150123, Draft, NPS, ID, City of Rocks National Reserve Draft General Management Plan, Comment Period Ends: 07/07/2015, Contact: Wallace Keck 208-824-5911. Revision to FR Notice Published 05/08/2015; Correction to Comment Period to End 07/07/2015. EIS No. 20150088, Draft, USMC, 00, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CJMT) Joint Military Training, Comment Period Ends: 08/03/2015, Contact: Lori Robertson 808-472-1409. Revision to FR Notice Published 04/03/2015; Extending Comment Period from 06/02/2015 to 08/03/2015. Dated: May 13, 2015. Dawn Roberts, Management Analyst, NEPA Compliance Division, Office of Federal Activities.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11948 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF THE UNITED STATES [Public Notice 2015-0013] Application for Final Commitment for a Long-Term Loan or Financial Guarantee in Excess of $100 Million: AP088970XX AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This Notice is to inform the public, in accordance with Section 3(c)(10) of the Charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (“Ex-Im Bank”), that Ex-Im Bank has received an application for final commitment for a long-term loan or financial guarantee in excess of $100 million (as calculated in accordance with Section 3(c)(10) of the Charter). Comments received within the comment period specified below will be presented to the Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors prior to final action on this Transaction. Comments received will be made available to the public.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before June 9, 2015 to be assured of consideration before final consideration of the transaction by the Board of Directors of Ex-Im Bank.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov at WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV. To submit a comment, enter EIB-2015-0013 under the heading “Enter Keyword or ID” and select Search. Follow the instructions provided at the Submit a Comment screen. Please include your name, company name (if any) and EIB-2015-0013 on any attached document.

    Reference: AP088970XX.

    Purpose and Use

    Brief description of the purpose of the transaction:

    To support the export of U.S.-manufactured goods and services to be used in Pemex oil and gas projects.

    Brief non-proprietary description of the anticipated use of the items being exported:

    To be used for Pemex's on- and off-shore oil and gas exploration and production areas.

    To the extent that Ex-Im Bank is reasonably aware, the item(s) being exported are not expected to produce exports or provide services in competition with the exportation of goods or provision of services by a United States industry.

    Parties

    Principal Supplier: Diamond Offshore Services Co.

    Obligor: Petroleos Mexicanos.

    Guarantor(s): Pemex Exploracion y Produccion; Pemex Refinacion; Pemex Gas y Petroquimica Basica.

    Description of Items Being Exported

    Drilling rigs, platform rentals, compressors, oil field services and related equipment.

    Information on Decision: Information on the final decision for this transaction will be available in the “Summary Minutes of Meetings of Board of Directors” on http://exim.gov/newsandevents/boardmeetings/board/.

    Confidential Information: Please note that this notice does not include confidential or proprietary business information; information which, if disclosed, would violate the Trade Secrets Act; or information which would jeopardize jobs in the United States by supplying information that competitors could use to compete with companies in the United States.

    Lloyd Ellis, Program Specialist, Office of the General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11790 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF THE UNITED STATES [Public Notice 2015-0012] Application for Final Commitment for a Long-Term Loan or Financial Guarantee in Excess of $100 Million: AP088969XX AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This Notice is to inform the public, in accordance with Section 3(c)(10) of the Charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (“Ex-Im Bank”), that Ex-Im Bank has received an application for final commitment for a long-term loan or financial guarantee in excess of $100 million (as calculated in accordance with Section 3(c)(10) of the Charter). Comments received within the comment period specified below will be presented to the Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors prior to final action on this Transaction. Comments received will be made available to the public.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before June 9, 2015 to be assured of consideration before final consideration of the transaction by the Board of Directors of Ex-Im Bank.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov at WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV. To submit a comment, enter EIB-2015-0012 under the heading “Enter Keyword or ID” and select Search. Follow the instructions provided at the Submit a Comment screen. Please include your name, company name (if any) and EIB-2015-0012 on any attached document.

    Reference: AP088969XX.

    Purpose and Use

    Brief description of the purpose of the transaction:

    To support the export of U.S. small business manufactured goods and services to be used in Pemex oil and gas projects.

    Brief non-proprietary description of the anticipated use of the items being exported:

    To be used for Pemex's on- and off-shore oil and gas exploration and production areas.

    To the extent that Ex-Im Bank is reasonably aware, the item(s) being exported are not expected to produce exports or provide services in competition with the exportation of goods or provision of services by a United States industry.

    Parties

    Principal Supplier: Northpoint Drilling Systems.

    Obligor: Petroleos Mexicanos.

    Guarantor(s): Pemex Exploracion y Produccion; Pemex Refinacion; Pemex Gas y Petroquimica Basica.

    Description of Items Being Exported

    Drilling rigs, platform rentals, compressors, oil field services and related equipment.

    Information on Decision: Information on the final decision for this transaction will be available in the “Summary Minutes of Meetings of Board of Directors” on http://exim.gov/newsandevents/boardmeetings/board/.

    Confidential Information: Please note that this notice does not include confidential or proprietary business information; information which, if disclosed, would violate the Trade Secrets Act; or information which would jeopardize jobs in the United States by supplying information that competitors could use to compete with companies in the United States.

    Lloyd Ellis, Program Specialist, Office of the General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11789 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [DA 15-535, DA 15-324, DA 14-1806] Consumer Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commission announces renewal of charter, appointment of members and designation of chairperson of its Consumer Advisory Committee (Committee). The Commission further announces the Committee's next meeting date, time, and agenda. The mission of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Commission regarding consumer issues within the jurisdiction of the Commission and to facilitate the participation of consumers (including underserved populations, such as Native Americans, persons living in rural areas, older persons, people with disabilities, and persons for whom English is not their primary language) in proceedings before the Commission.

    DATES:

    The meeting of the Committee will take place on Friday June 12, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Commission's Headquarters Building, Commission Meeting Room TW-C305.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Scott Marshall, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, (202) 418-2809 (voice or Relay), or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's documents [DA 15-535] dated and released May 5, 2015, [DA 15-324] dated and released March 17, 2015 and [DA-14-1806] dated and released December 10, 2014.

    By Public Notice [DA 14-1806] dated and released December 10, 2014, the Commission announced the renewal of the Committee for an eighth two year term, and solicited applications for membership thereon. This renewal was necessary and in the public interest. Numerous applications were received through January 20, 2015, at which time the period for receipt of applications closed.

    On March 12, 2015, the Commission released a Report and Order on Remand, Declaratory Ruling, and Order in the Matter of Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet (NG Docket No. 1428), adopted on February 26, 2015. The Commission's Open Internet Order directed the CAC to “formulate and submit to the Commission a proposed [Open Internet enhanced transparency rule] disclosure format, based on input from a broad range of stakeholders, within six months of the time that its new membership is reconstituted, but, in any event, no later than October 31, 2015.” This disclosure format must be accessible to persons with disabilities. The Commission stated its expectation that the CAC “will consider whether to propose the same or different formats for fixed and mobile broadband providers.” Additionally, the Commission expects the CAC to consider “whether and how a standard format for mobile broadband providers will allow providers to continue to differentiate their services competitively, as well as how mobile broadband providers can effectively disclose commercial terms to consumers regarding myriad plans in a manner that is not administratively burdensome.” This recommendation may serve as a potential safe harbor for broadband providers seeking to meet the Commission's Open Internet transparency requirements.

    To assist the Committee in responding to this charge and in furtherance of the Committee's other responsibilities, the Commission, by public Notice [DA 15-324], dated and released March 17, 2015 announced a second solicitation of applications for membership on the Committee. Several additional applications were received through April 1, 2015, at which time the period for receipt of second round applications closed.

    The Committee will operate in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2 (1988). Each meeting of the Committee will be open to the public. A notice of each meeting will be published in the Federal Register at least fifteen (15) days in advance of the meeting. Records will be maintained of each meeting and made available for public inspection.

    During the Committee's eighth term, it is anticipated that the Committee will meet in Washington, DC for a minimum of two (2) one-day plenary meetings per year. In addition, as needed, working groups or subcommittees will be established to facilitate the Committee's work between meetings of the full Committee. Meetings will be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities.

    Members must be willing to commit to a two (2) year term of service, and should be willing and able to attend a minimum of two (2) one-day plenary committee meetings per year in Washington, DC Committee members are also expected to participate in deliberations of at least one (1) working group or subcommittee.

    Appointment of Members and Chairperson

    By Public Notice [DA 15-535] dated and released May 5, 2015, the Commission announced the appointment of thirty-seven (37 members of the Committee. Of these, twenty-one (21) represent general consumer organizations/academia, two (2) represent disability organizations, eight (8) represent industry, four (4) represent regulators, one (1) represents seniors, and one (1) represents unions. The Committee's membership is designed to be representative of the Commission's many constituencies, and the diversity of the selected members will provide a balanced point of view as required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act. In addition, Chairman Wheeler reappoints Debra R. Berlyn representing the National Consumers League as Chairperson of the Committee. All appointments and reappointments are effective immediately and shall terminate October 21, 2016, or when the Committee is terminated, whichever is earlier.

    The Committee's roster by organization name and primary representative is as follows:

    (1) AARP—Christopher Baker (2) American Consumer Institute—Stephen Pociask (3) American Foundation for the Blind—Paul W. Schroeder (4) American Indian Policy Institute, Arizona State University—Dr. Traci Morris (5) Americans for Tax Reform—Katie McAuliffe (6)Appalachian Regional Commission—Mark Defalco (7) Benton Foundation—Amina Fazlullah (8) California Western School of Law, New Media Rights—Art Neill (9) Call For Action—Shirley Rooker (10) Center for Democracy and Technology—Chris Calabrese (11) Center for Media Justice/MAGNET—Hannah Sassaman (12) CenturyLink—Melissa Newman (13) Common Cause—Todd O'Boyle (14) Communication Workers of America—Debbie Goldman (15) Consumer Action—Ken McEldowney (16) Consumer Electronics Association—Julie Kearney (17) Consumer Federation of America—Irene E. Leech (18) Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network—Claude Stout (19) Digital Policy Institute—Barry D. Umansky (20) Free Press—Lauren Wilson (21) Google, Inc.—Eve Anderson (22) International Center for Law and Economics—Geoffrey A. Manne (23) Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable—Joslyn Day (24) National Association of Broadcasters—Ann West Bobeck (25) National Association of Counties—Yejin Jang (26) National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates—Kenneth Mallory (27) National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Administrators—Mitsuko R. Herrera (28) National Cable and Telecommunications Association—Stephanie Podey (29) National Consumer Law Center—Olivia Wein (30) National Consumers League—Debra R. Berlyn (Chairperson) (31) National Hispanic Media Coalition—Michael Scurato (32) New America Foundation, Open Technology Institute—Laura Moy (33) Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, Washington College of Law, American University—Victoria F. Phillips (34) T-Mobile—Luisa L. Lancetti (35) TRAIL—Christina Gagnier (36) Verizon Communications, Inc.—Ann Berkowitz (37) Wireless Internet Service Provider Association—Alex Phillips Meeting Date, Time & Agenda

    The first meeting of the Committee under its renewed charter will take place on June 12, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Commission's headquarters building, Commission Meeting Room TW-C305, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

    At its June 12, 2015 meeting, the Committee will consider administrative and procedural matters relating to its functions and will also discuss development of a proposed Open Internet enhanced transparency rule disclosure format, as directed in the Commission's Open Internet Order referenced above.

    The Committee may receive briefings from commission staff and/or outside speakers on issues of interest to the Committee. A limited amount of time will be available on the agenda for comments from the public. If time permits, the public may ask questions of presenters via the email address [email protected] or via Twitter using the hashtag #fcclive. In addition, the public may also follow the meeting on Twitter @fcc or via the Commission's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcc. Alternatively, members of the public may send written comments to: Scott Marshall, Designated Federal Officer of the Committee at the address provided above.

    The meeting is open to the public and the site is fully accessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Sign language interpreters, open captioning, assistive listening devices, and Braille copies of the agenda and committee roster will be provided on site. Meetings of the Committee are also broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC Live Web page at www.fcc.gov/live/.

    Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. The request should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed and contact information. Please provide as much advance notice as possible; last minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to fill. To request an accommodation, send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    Federal Communications Commission. Kris Anne Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11859 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than June 11, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Colette A. Fried, Assistant Vice President) 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-1414:

    1. First Illinois Corporation and HPB Holdings, Inc., both in Decatur, Illinois; to become bank holding companies upon the conversion of Hickory Point Bank and Trust, FSB, Decatur, Illinois, from a federal savings bank to a commercial bank.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, May 12, 2015.

    Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11757 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION [File No. 141-0235] ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment AGENCY:

    Federal Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed consent agreement.

    SUMMARY:

    The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before June 5, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/zftrwautomativeconsent online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “ZF Friedrichshafen AG's and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0235” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/zftrwautomativeconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “ZF Friedrichshafen AG's and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0235” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephen Antonio, Bureau of Competition, (202-326-2536), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing consent orders to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for May 5, 2015), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm.

    You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before June 5, 2015. Write “ZF Friedrichshafen AG's and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0235” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

    Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

    If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).1 Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

    1 In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

    Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/zftrwautomativeconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

    If you file your comment on paper, write “ZF Friedrichshafen AG's and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0235” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

    Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before June 5, 2015. For information on the Commission's privacy policy, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.htm.

    Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order To Aid Public Comment Introduction

    The Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) has accepted from ZF Friedrichshafen AG (“ZF”) and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (“TRW”), subject to final approval, an Agreement Containing Consent Order (“Consent Agreement”) designed to remedy the anticompetitive effects resulting from ZF's proposed acquisition of TRW.

    Pursuant to an Agreement and Plan of Merger dated September 15, 2014, the parties agreed that ZF would acquire TRW for $105.60 per share in an all-cash deal valued at approximately $12.4 billion (“the Acquisition”). The proposed Acquisition would result in a duopoly in the heavy vehicle tie rod market. The Commission's Complaint alleges that the proposed Acquisition, if consummated, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 18, and Section 5 of the FTC Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45, by substantially lessening competition in the market for heavy vehicle tie rods in North America.

    Under the terms of the proposed Decision and Order (“Order”) contained in the Consent Agreement, the parties are required to divest TRW's Linkage and Suspension Business in a manner, and to an acquirer, that meets Commission approval. The divestiture package includes five manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe, along with related assets including intellectual property. The acquirer also has the option to enter into transitional services and supply agreements. The Consent Agreement provides an acquirer with everything needed to compete effectively in the North American heavy vehicle tie rod market. The parties must complete the divestiture within six months of executing the Consent Agreement.

    The Consent Agreement has been placed on the public record for 30 days to solicit comments from interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After 30 days, the Commission will again review the Consent Agreement and the comments received, and decide whether it should withdraw from the Consent Agreement, modify it, or make it final.

    The Parties

    Headquartered in Friedrichshafen, Germany, ZF is a privately held global automotive and industrial products manufacturer. ZF makes light and heavy vehicle components for the powertrain, chassis, and driveline. ZF designs, manufacturers, and sells heavy vehicle tie rods, amongst several other products, in its chassis division.

    Headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, TRW sells chassis systems, electronic systems, passive occupant safety systems, and other automotive components. Like ZF, TRW designs, manufactures, and sells heavy vehicle tie rods.

    The Relevant Product and Market Structure

    The relevant line of commerce in which to analyze the effects of the Acquisition is heavy vehicle tie rods. A heavy vehicle is generally defined as one that weighs six tons or more, and a tie rod is a rigid connecter that links a vehicle's individual wheels with the steering control mechanism. Customers and other market participants did not identify any substitutes for heavy vehicle tie rods.

    North America is the relevant geographic market in which to analyze the effects of the Acquisition on the heavy vehicle tie rod market. The size and weight of heavy vehicle tie rods generally make it uneconomical to ship them long distances. Customers interviewed primarily consider manufacturers in North America, and have found more distant firms uncompetitive for reasons including: (1) Price; (2) logistics; and (3) quality. Therefore, North America is the relevant geographic market.

    The market for heavy vehicle tie rods in North America is highly concentrated. It is served primarily by ZF, TRW, and USK Internacional S.A. DE C.V. (“Urresko”). These three firms have a share of nearly 99% of the market based on unit sales. The merger would reduce the number of competitors from three to two, and increase the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index from 4,218 to 5,046, an increase of 828.

    Entry

    Entry into the North American heavy vehicle tie rod market is not likely to deter or counteract any anticompetitive effects of the proposed Acquisition. Entry is unlikely in light of the relatively small market size, strong position of incumbents, high capital costs, switching costs, and knowledge barriers that exist. The parties did not identify any likely entrants, and those firms best situated for entry—manufacturers of related heavy vehicle components—expressed no interest in entering the North American heavy vehicle tie rod market.

    Effects of the Acquisition

    The proposed Acquisition would increase the likelihood of coordinated interaction among the remaining competitors in the North American heavy vehicle tie rod market. The combined company would have only one remaining significant competitor in North America, Urresko. Reducing the number of competitors from three to two would eliminate much uncertainty and make it easier for the remaining firms to reach agreement on terms of coordination, whether the coordination focuses on customer allocation, price, or some other aspect of competition.

    Additionally, the proposed Acquisition would eliminate direct competition between ZF and TRW, resulting in the increased probability that customers would pay higher prices for heavy vehicle tie rods. In the past, customers have been able to use competition between ZF and TRW to obtain better prices by obtaining competing bids. Customers have also switched between ZF and TRW. That competition would be lost absent the merger.

    The Consent Agreement

    The Consent Agreement eliminates the competitive concerns raised by ZF's proposed acquisition of TRW by requiring the parties to divest TRW's North American and European Linkage and Suspension Business (“the L&S Business”). The proposed divestiture includes everything needed for an acquirer to compete effectively in the North American market for heavy vehicle tie rods, and also includes additional products that ensure the business will be viable. Given the robust nature of the divested business, the Commission is confident that a post-order divestiture is sufficient to protect its interest in restoring competition.

    Pursuant to the Order, the parties are required, no later than six months from execution of the Consent Agreement, to divest the L&S Business to a Commission-approved acquirer. That business consists of both heavy and light vehicle components, and includes—in addition to tie rods—control arms, ball joints, stabilizer links, conventional steering linkages, drag links, V-links, radius rods, and I-shafts. The divestiture buyer will receive all rights and assets relating to the L&S Business, including five TRW manufacturing facilities, Portland (U.S.), Tillsonburg-Plant 2 (Canada), St. Catharines (Canada), Dacice (Czech Republic), and Krefeld-Gellep (Germany), as well as leased space previously occupied by L&S research and development at TRW's Dusseldorf Tech Center. The divested assets also include intellectual property rights as well as all books, records, and confidential business information related to the L&S Business.

    To ensure that the divestiture is successful, the Order requires the parties to provide transition services such as logistical and administrative support at the option of the acquirer. Moreover, the acquirer will have the option to enter into a transition supply agreement with the parties for key manufacturing inputs necessary to perform existing customer contracts. The Consent Agreement also includes other standard terms designed to ensure the viability of the divestiture, including requirements that the parties assist the acquirer in hiring the existing work force of the business, and refrain from soliciting those employees for up to two years.

    Given the robustness of the divested business and the protections contained in the Order, the Commission is confident that a post-order divestiture will be sufficient to preserve competition. The L&S Business has been run largely as a standalone business within TRW, and potential buyers have confirmed that the divested assets include everything necessary to compete effectively as a viable business. Similarly, potential customers have confirmed that an acquirer of the L&S Business would be a workable option as a supplier.

    To ensure compliance with the Order, the Commission will appoint an Interim Monitor to oversee ZF's and TRW's performance of their obligations pursuant to the Consent Agreement, and to keep the Commission informed about the status of the divestiture. The Order also allows the Commission to appoint a Divestiture Trustee to accomplish the divestiture if the parties fail to divest within the required timeframe. Lastly, the Consent Agreement contains standard reporting requirements and terminates in ten years.

    The Commission has also issued an Order to Hold Separate and Maintain Assets to protect the assets until they are divested. During the hold separate period, the parties must fund the business' operations, including capital projects, according to existing plans. To ensure compliance with the Hold Separate Order, a Commission-approved Hold Separate Monitor will oversee the L&S Business during the interim period.

    Opportunity for Public Comment

    The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the Consent Agreement to aid the Commission in determining whether it should make the Consent Agreement final. This analysis is not an official interpretation of the proposed Consent Agreement and does not modify its terms in any way.

    By direction of the Commission, Commissioner Wright dissenting.

    Donald S. Clark, Secretary.
    Statement of the Federal Trade Commission In the Matter of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.

    The Commission has issued a proposed complaint and consent order to address narrow competitive concerns associated with ZF Friedrichshafen AG's proposed $12.4 billion acquisition of TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.1 Specifically, we have reason to believe that this proposed acquisition is likely to substantially reduce competition in the manufacture and sale of heavy vehicle tie rods in North America. The proposed remedy, which involves a divestiture of TRW's linkage and suspension business in North America and Europe, addresses our competitive concerns and will bolster the viability of the divested business in the hands of a buyer, without eliminating efficiencies that otherwise might arise from the combination of the two companies.

    1 This statement reflects the views of Chairwoman Ramirez and Commissioners Brill, Ohlhausen, and McSweeny.

    ZF and TRW are global automotive parts manufacturers. Both companies manufacture and sell a wide variety of components for discrete systems within a motor vehicle such as the chassis, powertrain, and suspension systems. They each have production facilities located throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

    The proposed transaction will create the second-largest global auto parts supplier. Our competitive concerns arise from a limited aspect of the proposed combination, namely, its likely effect in the market for the manufacture and sale of heavy vehicle tie rods for customers in North America. Tie rods are part of a motor vehicle's steering and linkage system; they are rigid connectors that link the wheels to the vehicle's steering control mechanism. To perform their intended function within the linkage systems of vehicles weighing six tons or more, these tie rods have to be large (approximately three to six feet long) and heavy (weighing approximately 50 pounds). This means that tie rods designed for light vehicles are not practical substitutes since they would be too small and light and therefore not as strong structurally. At the same time, tie rods designed for much heavier, industrial vehicles (like mining vehicles weighing hundreds of tons) would not be substitutes either.

    Because of their weight, it is not economical to ship heavy vehicle tie rods over long distances. For this reason, North American customers primarily consider manufacturers with production facilities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico and generally do not regard suppliers outside of North America as viable options for reasons of price, logistics, and quality. As a result, ZF and TRW, together with a Mexican firm, USK Internacional, S.A. de C.V. (“Urresko”), account for virtually all (99%) of the sales of heavy vehicle tie rods in North America. We estimate the market shares of ZF, TRW, and Urresko to be 23%, 18%, and 58%, respectively. Fringe competitors hold the remaining 1% market share.

    The parties' proposed combination will therefore reduce the number of significant competitors in the relevant market from three to two and substantially increase concentration in an already highly concentrated market.2 Based on this increase in concentration and current market conditions, we believe the transaction is likely to produce substantial anticompetitive effects in the relevant market, in particular, by increasing the potential for coordination. Furthermore, there is unlikely to be any entry that would alleviate our competitive concerns. The small market size, the strong position of the incumbents, switching costs, and capital and knowledge barriers, among other factors, would more than likely deter North American manufacturers of related automotive parts—the most logical candidates for entry—from expanding their product offerings to include heavy vehicle tie rods. Consequently, we have reason to believe that the proposed combination would substantially lessen competition in the relevant market and harm customers and consumers, thereby violating Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

    2 The proposed transaction would increase the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (“HHI”) in the relevant market from 4,218 to 5,046. The threshold at which a market is considered “highly concentrated” under the Merger Guidelines is 2,500. See U.S. Dep't of Justice & Fed. Trade Comm'n, Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 5.3 (2010).

    In light of the foregoing, we respectfully disagree with Commissioner Wright's assertions that we lack a “credible basis” on which to conclude that the merger may enhance the risk of coordination and that our action is otherwise inconsistent with the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines.3 Under the 2010 Guidelines, substantial increases in concentration caused by a merger rightly continue to play an important role in our merger analysis.4 They do so for the simple reason that highly concentrated markets are more conducive to anticompetitive outcomes than less concentrated markets.5 Accordingly, the lens we apply to the evidence in a merger that reduces the number of firms in a market to three or two is, and should be, different than the lens we apply to a merger that reduces the number of firms to seven or six. Where, as here, a proposed merger significantly increases concentration in an already highly concentrated market, a presumption of competitive harm is justified under both the Guidelines and well-established case law.6

    3 Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright at 3-4.

    4See Carl Shapiro, The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines: From Hedgehog to Fox in Forty Years, 77 Antitrust L.J. 701 (2010) (“Thus, like the fox, the 2010 Guidelines embrace multiple methods. But this certainly does not mean they reject the use of market concentration to predict competitive effects, as can be seen in Sections 2.1.3 and 5.”). As Commissioner Wright acknowledges, “The predictive power of market share and market concentration data is informed by economic theory and available empirical evidence.” Wright Dissent at 7.

    5See, e.g., Steven C. Salop, The Evolution and Vitality of Merger Presumptions: A Decision-Theoretic Approach 11 (Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works, Working Paper No. 1304, 2014), available at http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/1304 (“[V]arious theories of oligopoly conduct—both static and dynamic models of firm interaction—are consistent with the view that competition with fewer significant firms on average is associated with higher prices. . . . Accordingly, a horizontal merger reducing the number of rivals from four to three, or three to two, would be more likely to raise competitive concerns than one reducing the number from ten to nine, ceteris paribus.”); Steffen Huck, et al., Two Are Few and Four Are Many: Number Effects from Experimental Oligopolies, 53 J. Econ. Behavior & Org. 435, 443 (2004) (testing the frequency of collusive outcomes in Cournot oligopolies and finding “clear evidence that there is a qualitative difference between two and four or more firms”); Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets, 99 J. Pol. Econ. 977, 1006 (1991) (finding, in a study of tire prices, that “[m]arkets with three or more dealers have lower prices than monopolists or duopolists,” and noting that, “while prices level off between three and five dealers, they are higher than unconcentrated market prices”).

    6See Merger Guidelines § 2.1.3 (“Mergers that cause a significant increase in concentration and result in highly concentrated markets are presumed to be likely to enhance market power, but this presumption can be rebutted by persuasive evidence showing that the merger is unlikely to enhance market power.”); Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., N.V. v. FTC, 534 F.3d 410, 423 (5th Cir. 2008) (“Typically, the Government establishes a prima facie case by showing that the transaction in question will significantly increase market concentration, thereby creating a presumption that the transaction is likely to substantially lessen competition.”); FTC v. H.J. Heinz Co., 246 F.3d 708, 716 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (merger to duopoly creates a rebuttable presumption of anticompetitive harm through direct or tacit coordination).

    Despite Commissioner Wright's insistence to the contrary, our inquiry extended beyond consideration of market concentration and application of the Guidelines presumption of competitive harm. We also examined the transaction's likely anticompetitive effects, and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support the issuance of our complaint and proposed consent order.7 As noted above, we are particularly concerned that the transaction is likely to enhance the potential for coordination.8 As set forth in the Guidelines, the Commission is likely to challenge a merger under a coordinated effects theory if: “(1) The merger would significantly increase concentration and lead to a moderately or highly concentrated market; (2) that market shows signs of vulnerability to coordinated conduct [ ]; and (3) the [Commission has] a credible basis on which to conclude that the merger may enhance that vulnerability.” 9 We have reason to believe that all three factors are satisfied here.10

    7 The investigation in this matter did not proceed to a full phase because the parties proposed a remedy soon after second requests had been issued. Consequently, the quantum of evidence is not the same as if the agency had completed a full-phase investigation. But that does not mean, as Commissioner Wright suggests, that we are lowering our reason-to-believe standard when a remedy is proposed during the course of an investigation. Wright Dissent at 9. We believe our complaint is well supported and meets the same reason-to-believe standard we always apply. We simply do not think it would have been appropriate to subject the parties to the added expense and delay of a full-phase investigation. It would not have been a good use of Commission resources either.

    8 Although coordinated effects is the primary basis upon which we found reason to believe that the proposed transaction violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act, we also found evidence of unilateral effects, namely, that in the past, customers have solicited competing bids from ZF and TRW to obtain better prices, and have switched between ZF and TRW as their preferred supplier.

    9 Merger Guidelines § 7.1.

    10 15 U.S.C. 45(b) (2013).

    First, as noted above, the proposed transaction results in a highly concentrated relevant market.11 Second, the market is susceptible to coordinated conduct, as evidenced by several recent cases of collusion in the auto parts industry.12 Third, by reducing the number of significant competitors to only two, the merger would decrease the impediments to reaching common terms of coordination and make it easier to monitor compliance with, and retaliate against potential deviation from, a coordinated scheme. Specifically, as remaining duopolists with nearly equal shares (41% and 58%, respectively), the combined firm and Urresko would have greater incentives to take advantage of a market with relatively few customers that purchase homogeneous products through individual purchase orders rather than long-term supply contracts. They would also find it easier to divide customers and monitor their allocations.

    11See Shapiro, supra note 4, at 708 (“In particular, as the revised Guidelines explain, the Agencies place considerable weight on HHI measures in cases involving coordinated effects.”).

    12 Among the Antitrust Division's recent prosecutions of companies and individuals in the automotive parts industry for price-fixing and bid-rigging is an indictment involving TRW in an alleged conspiracy for seat belts, air bags, and steering wheels. See Plea Agmt., United States v. TRW Deutschland Holding GMBH, Crim. No. 12-20491 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 25, 2012), available at http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f287600/287657.pdf. See generally Merger Guidelines § 7.2 (“Previous collusion or attempted collusion in another product market may also be given substantial weight if the salient characteristics of that other market at the time of the collusion are closely comparable to those in the relevant market.”).

    Our concern that the merger may enhance the relevant market's vulnerability to coordination is backed by the well-accepted view that markets with only two or three firms are more conducive to anticompetitive outcomes than markets with four or more firms.13 The proposed merger would eliminate a third competitor and create greater symmetry between the two remaining firms.

    13See Salop; Huck et al.; Bresnahan & Reiss, supra note 5.

    Additionally, there is no evidence that fringe competitors, which have higher prices, or new entrants, which are unlikely to materialize, could disrupt any coordination between the combined firm and Urresko. For these reasons, we have ample basis to conclude that the merger may enhance the vulnerability to coordinated effects that already exists in the relevant market.14

    14See Merger Guidelines § 7.1 (recognizing that “the risk that a merger will induce adverse coordinated effects may not be susceptible to quantification or detailed proof”). The Guidelines contemplate that the third factor can be satisfied in several ways; as Commissioner Wright himself notes, an acquisition of a maverick firm is but “one illustrative example of the type of evidence that would satisfy this third condition.” Wright Dissent at 3.

    As we noted above, the parties have chosen to address our limited competitive concerns in the heavy vehicle tie rods market through a proposal to divest TRW's linkage and suspension business in North America and Europe. This allows the parties to address our competition concerns, as well as those of the European Commission. The EC has already accepted the proposed settlement and ordered the divestiture of the European assets.15 Furthermore, there is no evidence that the divestiture of TRW's linkage and suspension business would eliminate any efficiencies that otherwise might result from the parties' proposed combination.

    15See Press Release, European Commission, Mergers: Commission Clears Acquisition of Automotive Components Manufacturer TRW by Rival ZF, Subject to Conditions (Mar. 12, 2015), available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4600_en.htm.

    In sum, because we have reason to believe that customers and consumers are likely to suffer a substantial loss of competition as a result of the proposed transaction, and there are no demonstrated countervailing efficiencies, we believe the public interest is best served by accepting the proposed consent order to remedy our competitive concerns.

    Separate Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen ZF Friedrichshafen AG/TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.

    I voted in favor of issuing for public comment the proposed consent agreement in this matter. As discussed below, there is sufficient evidence to provide me with a reason to believe that, absent a remedy, the transaction is likely to violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. I also find that the proposed consent, which is intended to remedy any such violation, is in the public interest.

    Based on the evidence presented to me—including the evidence discussed in the Analysis to Aid Public Comment and the majority statement in this matter—I am satisfied that the “reason to believe” prong that the Commission must assess in issuing a complaint, including in the consent context, is met here. It is important to note that the Commission makes the reason to believe determination before a full evidentiary and legal record is developed during a trial on the merits, which suggests that the standard must necessarily be lower than what the Commission or a court should apply for finding ultimate liability. Individual Commissioners, of course, have different views on how much evidence is necessary to satisfy the reason to believe standard. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a consensus view on what the standard requires. I respect Commissioner Wright's view that the standard was not met for him in this case. For the reasons identified in the majority statement in this matter, I determined that there is a credible basis on which to conclude that this merger may enhance the vulnerability to coordinated effects that already exists in the relevant market at issue.1

    1See 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 7.1.

    I further view this consent to be in the public interest. In my time as a Commissioner, I have advocated for transparency, predictability, and fairness across a variety of settings.2 Those three critical goals apply equally to the merger context. A practical problem in our merger review process arises, however, where investigations are cut short by the merging parties, which, for business, strategic, or other reasons, offer staff and then ultimately the Commission a proposed remedy in lieu of responding to a Second Request or other compulsory process. In such cases, the available evidence may be sufficient to provide reason to believe the proposed transaction would violate Section 7, but a full investigation might (or might not) reveal additional evidence sufficient to counterbalance the available evidence and support closing the investigation altogether. In that situation, the goals of predictability and fairness counsel against forcing merging parties (and Commission staff) to incur the significant costs associated with a full-phase investigation. Merging parties also expend non-trivial amounts of time and money in developing and then proposing remedies to FTC staff; those good-faith efforts—particularly ones that involve coordination of remedies across antitrust jurisdictions—should not be discounted. The public interest analysis thus should take into account the need for predictability and fairness for merging parties in these circumstances.

    2 Those settings have included the use of disgorgement in competition cases, the proper scope of our standalone Section 5 authority, the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust, and the treatment of U.S. businesses by foreign antitrust jurisdictions. See, e.g., Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, In re Cardinal Health, Inc., FTC File No. 101-0006 (Apr. 17, 2015), available at https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2015/04/dissenting-statement-commissioner-maureen-k-ohlhausen-cardinal-health-inc (dissenting from consent involving disgorgement of profits for alleged Section 2 violation); Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Section 5 of the FTC Act: Principles of Navigation, 2 J. Antitrust Enforcement 1 (2014), available at http://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2013/10/section-5-ftc-act-principles-navigation-0 (advocating for additional guidance on the FTC's use of its standalone Section 5 authority); Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, In re Motorola Mobility LLC & Google, Inc., FTC File No. 121-0120 (Jan. 3, 2013), available at https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2013/01/statement-commissioner-maureen-ohlhausen-0 (dissenting from consent involving standalone Section 5 claim against holder of standard-essential patents); Testimony of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, “The Foreign Investment Climate in China: U.S. Administration Perspectives on the Foreign Investment Climate in China,” before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (Jan. 28, 2015), available at https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2015/01/testimony-commissioner-maureen-k-ohlhausen-hearing-foreign-investment (discussing importance of foreign antitrust jurisdictions pursuing the goals of predictability, transparency, and fairness).

    Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright In the Matter of ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.

    The Commission has voted to issue a Complaint and Decision & Order against ZF Friedrichshafen AG (“ZF”) to remedy the allegedly anticompetitive effects of ZF's proposed acquisition of TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (“TRW”). I respectfully dissent because the evidence is insufficient to provide reason to believe ZF's acquisition will substantially lessen competition for heavy vehicle tie rods sold in North America. In particular, I believe the Commission has not met its burden to show that the acquisition will result in an increased likelihood of harm from coordinated effects or from unilateral effects. As a consequence, the Commission should close the investigation and allow the parties to complete the proposed transaction without imposing a remedy.

    I write separately today to explain my vote and to discuss the quality and quantity of evidence necessary to support a coordinated and unilateral effects challenge under the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines (“Merger Guidelines”).

    The Complaint alleges the proposed transaction increases the likelihood of coordinated effects and unilateral effects in the market for heavy vehicle tie rods sold in North America.1 After the proposed transaction, ZF and TRW would have a combined 41% share. The remaining competitor, Urresko, has a 58% share. Fringe suppliers have a 1% share.

    1 Compl. ¶ 12, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, FTC File No. 141-0235 (May 5, 2015).

    I. Coordinated Effects Are Unlikely in the Relevant Market

    The Complaint implicates an important question with regard to coordinated effects: What evidence is necessary to establish reason to believe a proposed transaction may substantially lessen competition by “enabling or encouraging post-merger coordinated interaction among firms in the relevant market that harms customers.” 2

    2 U.S. Dep't of Justice & Fed. Trade Comm'n, Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 7 (2010) [hereinafter Merger Guidelines].

    The Merger Guidelines offer three conditions that, if satisfied, suggest the agency is likely to challenge a merger upon the basis that it will result in an increased likelihood of competitive harm from coordination. The Merger Guidelines specify that the agencies are likely to challenge a merger if: (1) “the merger would significantly increase concentration and lead to a moderately or highly concentrated market;” 3 (2) the “market shows signs of vulnerability to coordinated conduct;” 4 and (3) “the Agencies have a credible basis on which to conclude that the merger may enhance that vulnerability.” 5

    3Id. § 7.1.

    4Id.

    5Id.

    The second and third conditions are at issue here and worthy of further discussion.

    The record evidence is mixed with respect to the second condition, whether the market shows signs of vulnerability to coordinated conduct. Evidence that the market is generally conducive to coordinated interaction includes the fact that heavy vehicle tie rods are fairly homogeneous goods and are purchased using relatively short-term contracts.

    Also potentially germane to assessing the vulnerability of the relevant market to coordinated conduct are previous episodes of coordination by the same players in different markets. In 2012, a German subsidiary of TRW Automotive, TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, pled guilty to a conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts, airbags, and steering wheels sold to two German automobile customers for vehicles manufactured or sold in the United States.6 While this prior episode does not involve the same relevant product or geographic markets as the current matter, it might suggest some vulnerability to coordination.7

    6 Plea Agreement ¶ 4(e)-(f), United States v. TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, No. 2:12-cr-20491-GCS-PJK (E.D. Mich. Sept. 25, 2012).

    7 The Merger Guidelines state that “The Agencies presume that market conditions are conducive to coordinated interaction if firms representing a substantial share in the relevant market appear to have previously engaged in express collusion affecting the relevant market,” but that prior “express collusion in another geographic market will have the same weight if the salient characteristics of that other market at the time of the collusion are comparable to those in the relevant market,” and that prior collusion “in another product market may also be given substantial weight if the salient characteristics of that other market at the time of the collusion are closely comparable to those in the relevant market.” Merger Guidelines, supra note 2, § 7.2. Thus, I am comfortable with concluding the prior TRW Deutschland price-fixing case is material to our investigation, and that this evidence increases the likelihood of coordination, all things equal. However, without a more detailed assessment of any logical connection between the markets where collusion actually took place and the relevant market here, I am hesitant to give this factor alone substantial weight given observable differences between the markets. For instance, in the markets at issue in that case, the bidding process appeared to be more formal with longer commitments. See Information ¶ 8, United States v. TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, No. 2:12-cr-20491-GCS-PJK (E.D. Mich. July 30, 2012).

    There are other considerations, however, that indicate the market for heavy vehicle tie rods is not particularly vulnerable to coordination. First, while the product might be fairly homogeneous, there are significant switching costs including the time and cost involved with validation testing of the new supplier's tie rods. All else equal, significant switching costs make markets less vulnerable to coordination because they diminish firms' ability to punish effectively deviations from the coordinated price. Second, cost and demand fluctuations appear to be relatively frequent and large, which increase the information costs needed to detect accurately deviations.8 Third, Urresko is a relatively recent entrant and has become the largest supplier in the market. These types of disruptive market events are generally not conducive to successful coordinated interactions. Finally, there are a number of large buyers, which can result in dramatic market share swings if a supplier loses the majority of a buyer's business. While the record evidence with respect to vulnerability of the relevant market is certainly mixed at best, it would not be unreasonable to find the second prong in the Merger Guidelines satisfied.

    8 For instance, the primary input to produce heavy vehicle tie rods is steel. Looking at the producer price index for steel mill products, the average annual price change over the past ten years is 1.6% with a standard deviation of 6.6%. Some of the specific yearly changes are substantial, e.g., −8.6%, 7.5%, 9.1%, 12.8%. Producer Price Index—Metals and Metal Products, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/regions/mid-atlantic/data/ProducerPriceIndexMetals_US_Table.htm (last visited May 8, 2015).

    Ultimately, however, I do not have reason to believe the proposed transaction is likely to result in coordinated effects because the record evidence does not satisfy the third condition—that is, there is no “credible basis on which to conclude that the merger may enhance” any pre-merger vulnerability to coordination.

    The Merger Guidelines provide the acquisition of a maverick firm as one illustrative example of the type of evidence that would satisfy this third condition. There is no evidence that either ZF or TRW is a maverick firm as contemplated by the Merger Guidelines.

    The sole evidence offered in favor of the proposition that the proposed transaction will enhance the market's vulnerability to coordination is that the merger will reduce the number of firms in the relevant market from three to two. I do not agree that a reduction of firms from three to two, without more, is enough to provide “a credible basis to conclude that the merger may enhance that vulnerability.” The observation that a market with N firms will, after the merger, have N-1 firms, is simply insufficient without more to establish the required credible basis under the Merger Guidelines. This is true even when a merger reduces the number of firms from three to two. The Commission offers no explanation as to why the Merger Guidelines would go through the trouble of requiring a credible basis to believe a merger will change the market's competitive dynamics that enhances the market's vulnerability to coordinated conduct, in addition to an increase in market concentration, in order to substantiate a coordinated effects merger challenge if the latter were considered sufficient to satisfy both elements.9

    9 The Commission cites Carl Shapiro to support the proposition that market concentration is relevant to coordinated effects analysis. See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission 2 n.4, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, FTC File No. 141-0235 (May 8, 2015) (quoting Carl Shapiro, The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines: From Hedgehog to Fox in Forty Years, 77 Antitrust L.J. 701, 708 (2010) (“In particular, as the revised Guidelines explain, the Agencies place considerable weight on HHI measures in cases involving coordinated effects.”)). I agree. The 2010 Merger Guidelines establish market concentration as one of three conditions that must be satisfied to find coordinated effects. What Shapiro does not state, and the proposition the Commission does not otherwise substantiate, is that evidence of changes in market concentration is sufficient to satisfy the third condition along with the first.

    As I have stated previously, “there is no basis in modern economics to conclude with any modicum of reliability that increased concentration—without more—will increase post-merger incentives to coordinate. Thus, the Merger Guidelines require the federal antitrust agencies to develop additional evidence that supports the theory of coordination and, in particular, an inference that the merger increases incentives to coordinate.” 10 Janusz Ordover, in a leading treatment of the economics of coordinated effects, similarly explains that “It is now well understood that it is not sufficient when gauging the likelihood of coordinated effects from a merger to simply observe that because the merger reduces the number of firms, it automatically lessens the coordination problem facing the firms and enhances their incentives to engage in tacit collusion; far from it.” 11 The required additional evidence needed to satisfy the third condition is absent in this case.

    10 Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright 3, Fidelity National Financial, Inc., FTC File No. 131-0159 (Dec. 23, 2013).

    11 Janusz A. Ordover, Coordinated Effects, in 2 Issues in Competition Law and Policy 1359, 1367 (ABA Section of Antitrust Law 2008) (“It is quite clear . . . that a reduction in the number of firms and concomitant increases in concentration do not necessarily make collusion inevitable or even more likely, stable, or complete.”).

    II. Unilateral Effects Are Unlikely in the Relevant Market

    The sole evidence offered in favor of the Commission's allegation that the merger will render unilateral price effects likely is that some customers have used the competition between ZF and TRW to obtain better pricing and some customers have switched between the two suppliers.12 While this is certainly material to our inquiry, this is a thin reed, without more, upon which to base a unilateral price effects case. There is no information on price effects. Moreover, there is no substantial evidence on the record with respect to the role the market leader, Urresko, plays in disciplining prices. The fact that Urresko is a recent entrant and has become the market leader in a relatively short period of time also renders dubious the proposition that barriers to entry in the relevant market are adequate to sustain a post-merger price increase. Additionally, even with sufficient barriers, Urresko's rapid growth undermines significantly any unilateral effects argument and suggests a post-merger price increase from a merged ZF-TRW would be fragile and potentially unsuccessful. The Merger Guidelines contemplate the possibility of intense competition in markets with small numbers of firms, observing that “Even a highly concentrated market can be very competitive if market shares fluctuate substantially over short periods of time in response to changes in competitive offerings.” 13

    12See Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment 2, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, FTC File No. 141-0235 (May 5, 2015).

    13 Merger Guidelines § 5.3, supra note 2.

    Moreover, unilateral effects in a homogeneous goods market principally involve reductions in output.14 In order to be profitable, the reduction in output must not be met by a sufficient supply response by rivals. Thus, absent meaningful capacity constraints, unilateral effects are less likely in homogeneous goods markets. I have seen no evidence that Urresko is capacity constrained.

    14See id. § 6.3.

    III. Conclusion

    The Commission insists that a different “lens” should be used to evaluate evidence in markets where the number of firms is reduced by merger to three or two.15 The Commission cites in support of its structural theory and presumption three academic articles written by economists.16 Only two offer economic evidence and the proffered substantiation fails to support the claim. The first is an important early entrant into the static entry literature examining the relationship between market size and the number of entrants in a market, focusing upon isolated rural markets.17 It strains credulity to argue that Bresnahan and Reiss's important analysis of the impact of entry in markets involving doctors, dentists, druggists, plumbers, and tire dealers in local and isolated areas, where they find the competitive benefits of a second competitor are especially important, apply with generality sufficient to support a widely applicable presumption of harm based upon the number of firms. Indeed, the authors warn against precisely this interpretation of their work.18

    15See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 9, at 2.

    16Id. at 2 n.5.

    17 Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets, 99 J. Pol. Econ. 977 (1991). While Bresnahan and Reiss is an important early contribution to the static entry literature, it cannot possibly bear the burden the Commission wishes to place upon it. Abstracting from the complexities of market definition was necessary for the researchers to isolate entry decisions. This is possible when studying the effects of entry by a second dentist in a town with a population of less than 1,000, but not in most real-world antitrust applications. The authors of the study make this point themselves, noting that “whether this pattern appears in other industries remains an open question.” Id. at 1007.

    18 In earlier research using similar empirical techniques and data—namely, small rural markets—Bresnahan and Reiss plainly reject the notion that the findings should inform views of market structure and competition generally: “We do not believe that these markets `stand in' for highly concentrated industries in the sectors of the economy where competition is national or global.” Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Do Entry Conditions Vary Across Markets, 3 Brookings Papers Econ. Activity 833, 868 (1987).

    The second is a laboratory experiment and does not involve the behavior of actual firms and certainly cannot provide sufficient economic evidence to support a presumption that four-to-three and three-to-two mergers in real-world markets will result in anticompetitive coordination.19 Once again, the authors warn against such an interpretation.20

    19 Steffen Huck et al., Two Are Few and Four Are Many: Number Effects from Experimental Oligopolies, 53 J. Econ. Behavior & Org. 435 (2004).

    20Id. at 436 (“The number of firms is not the only factor affecting competition in experimental markets. This implies that there exists no unique number of firms that determines a definite borderline between non-cooperative and collusive markets irrespective of all institutional and structural details of the experimental markets.”).

    Finally, the Commission cites a draft article, authored by Steve Salop, in support of its view that economic evidence supports a presumption that four-to-three and three-to-two mergers are competitively suspect.21 The article does not purport to study or provide new economic evidence on the relationship between market structure and competition. Thus, it cannot support the Commission's proposition.22 In sum, there is simply no empirical economic evidence sufficient to warrant a presumption that anticompetitive coordination is likely to result from four-to-three or three-to-two mergers.

    21 Steven C. Salop, The Evolution and Vitality of Merger Presumptions: A Decision-Theoretic Approach (Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works, Working Paper No. 1304, 2014), available at http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/1304/.

    22 Nevertheless, to the extent Salop argues in favor of legal presumptions in merger analysis, he clarifies that they “obviously should be based on valid economic analysis, that is, proper economic presumptions,” which should be updated “based on new or additional economic factors besides market shares and concentration.” Id. at 37, 48. I agree. Additionally, Salop explains that “[c]ontemporary economic learning suggests that concentration be considered when undertaking competitive effects analysis—in conjunction with other factors suggested by the competitive effects theory—but not treated as the sole determinant of post-merger pricing.” Id. at 13-14. Notably, Salop does not endorse a distinction between four-to-three mergers or three-to-two mergers and mergers in less concentrated markets that justifies a presumption that the former are anticompetitive; rather, he merely observes that empirical evidence and economic theory do not warrant “ignoring market shares and concentration in merger analysis.” Id. at 12 (emphasis in original).

    It is important to note that the Commission and I have no disagreement over the proposition that the number of competitors within a market is a relevant fact to assess the likely competitive effects of a transaction. The relevant question is not whether the number of firms matters but how much it matters—and in particular, whether a movement to three or two firms warrants a generally applicable presumption that a transaction is more likely than not to harm competition. I do not believe it does. The Commission disagrees.

    The Merger Guidelines make clear that the purpose of market concentration and market shares associated thresholds “is not to provide a rigid screen to separate competitive benign mergers from anticompetitive ones, although high levels of concentration do raise concerns.”  23 Rather concentration is but one aspect of the inquiry aimed at better understanding post-merger incentives to compete. The predictive power of market share and market concentration data is informed by economic theory and available empirical evidence. There is no empirical evidence sufficient to establish a generally applicable presumption that mergers that reduce the number of firms to three or two are likely to harm competition.24 Further, the Commission's reliance upon such shorthand structural presumptions untethered from empirical evidence subsidize a shift away from the more rigorous and reliable economic tools embraced by the Merger Guidelines in favor of convenient but obsolete and less reliable economic analysis.

    23 Merger Guidelines, supra note 2, § 5.3.

    24See Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright 3-5, Holcim Ltd., FTC File No. 141-0129 (May 8, 2015).

    This is not to say that evidence of changes in market structure cannot ever warrant such a presumption. It does when the evidence warrants as much. The Commission has in certain contexts found reason to believe competition would be substantially lessened based simply upon a reduction of firms in the relevant market. See Actavis plc-Forest Laboratories  25 and also Akorn-Hi-Tech Pharmacal, 26 which both involve generic pharmaceutical markets. The Commission was able to draw conclusions about the relationship between price and the number of firms in generic pharmaceutical markets because substantial research has been done to establish that such a relationship exists.27 Indeed, the cases in the pharmaceutical industry are the exceptions that prove the rule that the Commission needs to do more than count the number of firms in a market to have reason to believe a substantial lessening of competition is likely. No such research has been done in this market. Accordingly, unlike in generic pharmaceutical markets, we have no evidence to conclude that a simple reduction in the number of firms in this market is likely to lead to higher prices and lower output. Simply assuming such a relationship exists in this market without any evidence to suggest that it does harkens back to the bad old days of the first half of the 20th century, when the structure-conduct-performance paradigm was in vogue.

    25 Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Orders to Aid Public Comment 2, Actavis plc, FTC File No. 141-0098 (June 30, 2014) (“In generic pharmaceutical product markets, price generally decreases as the number of generic competitors increases. Accordingly, the reduction in the number of suppliers within each relevant market would likely have a direct and substantial anticompetitive effect on pricing.”).

    26 Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Orders to Aid Public Comment 3, Akorn Enterprises, Inc., FTC File No. 131-0221 (Apr. 14, 2014) (“In generic pharmaceuticals markets, price is heavily influenced by the number of participants with sufficient supply.”).

    27See David Reiffen & Michael R. Ward, Generic Drug Industry Dynamics, 87 Rev. Econ. & Stat. 37 (2005). As an aside, given that we are now ten years removed from the publication of this important study and over twenty years removed from the sample period, it might be worth revisiting this question with fresher data if the Commission intends to continue relying upon inferences of competitive harm from market structure in the generic pharmaceutical market.

    To summarize, there are three-to-two mergers that give rise to unilateral effects, and three-to-two mergers that give rise to coordinated effects. It is our burden to show that this three-to-two merger is likely anticompetitive. The Commission must find sufficient evidence to support an inference of likely economic harm to consumers. The heavy degree of reliance upon a structural presumption in this case is not sufficient to do so.

    Finally, the Commission and Commissioner Ohlhausen each claim that the quantity, and presumably the quality, of the evidence is not the same for investigations truncated by remedy proposals compared to cases where a full phase investigation is completed or compared to a completed trial, respectively.28 While this observation is an accurate description of the pragmatic reality of conducting law enforcement investigations, I do not agree with the implication that the quantum and quality of evidence needed to satisfy the “reason to believe” standard should turn on whether and when a remedy proposal is offered during an investigation. The idea is that we should “take into account the need for predictability and fairness for merging parties in these circumstances” 29 and considerations whether it is “appropriate to subject the parties to the added expense and delay of a full phase investigation.” 30 I fully support the agency identifying opportunities to lower the administrative costs of antitrust investigations and believe there to be ample opportunity to do so. But attempts to operate a more efficient law enforcement system must satisfy the constraint, required by law, that there is reason to believe a transaction violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act. That standard sets a relatively low bar for the minimum level of evidence required to substantiate a merger challenge. I reject the view that it should be a standard that should be relaxed because the merging parties offer a remedy.31 The Commission is primarily a law enforcement agency, albeit one that largely conducts it business by entering into consents with merging parties. Making the consent process more efficient and predictable is a laudable goal; but we must not allow pursuit of a more efficient consent process to distort our evaluation of the substantive merits. To do so, as in my view we have here, risks in the long run reducing the institutional capital of the agency in magnitudes far greater than any potential cost savings from truncating an investigation.

    28See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 9, at 3 n.7; see also Separate Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen 1, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, FTC File No. 141-0235 (May 8, 2015).

    29 Separate Statement of Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, supra note 28, at 2.

    30 Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 9, at 3 n.7.

    31 That said, as I stated in Holcim Ltd., I am not suggesting the “reason to believe” standard “requires access to every piece of relevant information and a full and complete economic analysis of a proposed transaction, regardless of whether the parties wish to propose divestitures before complying with a Second Request.” See Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright, supra note 24, at 11.

    For these reasons, I cannot join my colleagues in supporting the consent order because I do not have reason to believe the transaction violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act nor that a consent ordering divestiture is in the public interest.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11721 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6750-01-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION [File No. 141 0129 ] Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge S.A.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Orders To Aid Public Comment AGENCY:

    Federal Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed consent agreement.

    SUMMARY:

    The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent orders—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before June 4, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/holcimlafargeconsent online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0129” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/holcimlafargeconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0129” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    James Southworth, Bureau of Competition, (202-326-2822), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing consent orders to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for May 4, 2015), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm.

    You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before June 4, 2015. Write “Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0129” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

    Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

    If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).1 Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

    1 In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

    Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/holcimlafargeconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

    If you file your comment on paper, write “Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA—Consent Agreement; File No. 141-0129” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

    Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before June 4, 2015. For information on the Commission's privacy policy, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.htm.

    Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Orders To Aid Public Comment

    The Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an Agreement Containing Consent Orders (“Consent Agreement”) designed to remedy the anticompetitive effects resulting from the proposed acquisition of Lafarge S.A (“Lafarge”) by Holcim Ltd. (“Holcim”). Under the terms of the proposed Consent Agreement, Lafarge is required to divest to Continental Cement Company (“Continental”) its Davenport cement plant and quarry located in Buffalo, Iowa along with cement terminals and associated distribution assets in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Memphis, Tennessee; and Convent and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Consent Agreement also requires Holcim to divest its Skyway slag cement plant located in Chicago, Illinois to Eagle Materials Inc. (“Eagle”), its slag cement plant located in Camden, New Jersey and its terminal near Boston, Massachusetts to Essroc Cement Corporation (“Essroc”), and its cement terminals in Grandville and Elmira, Michigan and Rock Island, Illinois to Buzzi Unicem USA (“Buzzi”). Finally, the Consent Agreement requires Holcim to divest to a buyer or buyers approved by the Commission (1) Holcim's Trident, Montana cement plant and two related terminals in Alberta, Canada, and (2) Holcim's Mississauga cement plant located in Ontario, Canada and related cement terminals in Duluth, Minnesota; Detroit and Dundee, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York.

    The Consent Agreement has been placed on the public record for 30 days to solicit comments from interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After 30 days, the Commission will again review the Consent Agreement and the comments received, and decide whether it should withdraw from the Consent Agreement, modify it, or make final the Decision and Order (“Order”).

    The Transaction

    Pursuant to a Combination Agreement dated July 7, 2014, Holcim proposes to acquire 100 percent of the existing shares of Lafarge in a transaction valued at $24.95 billion at that time. The Commission's Complaint alleges that the proposed acquisition, if consummated, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 18, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45, by substantially lessening competition in certain regional markets in the United States for the manufacture and sale of portland cement and slag cement. The proposed Consent Agreement will remedy the alleged violations by preserving the competition that would otherwise be eliminated by the proposed acquisition.

    The Parties

    Holcim is a Swiss-based, vertically integrated global building materials company. The company's products include cement, clinker, concrete, lime, and aggregates. In the United States, Holcim currently operates nine portland cement and three slag grinding plants, as well as a large network of distribution assets.

    Lafarge is a vertically-integrated global building materials company incorporated in France and headquartered in Paris. Lafarge primarily produces and sells cement, aggregates, and ready-mix concrete. In the United States, Lafarge currently operates six portland cement and three slag cement grinding plants as well as numerous distribution terminals.

    The Relevant Products and Structure of the Markets

    In the United States, both parties manufacture and sell portland cement. Portland cement is an essential ingredient in making concrete, a cheap and versatile building material. Because portland cement has no close substitute and the cost of cement usually represents a relatively small percentage of a project's overall construction costs, few customers are likely to switch to other products in response to a small but significant increase in the price of portland cement.

    Both parties also manufacture and sell ground, granulated blast furnace slag (“slag cement”), a specialty cement product with unique characteristics that can serve as a partial substitute for portland cement. Customers add slag cement to portland cement to enhance the physical properties of a concrete mixture. It is appropriate to treat slag cement as a separate relevant product because an insufficient number of purchasers would switch to other products in response to a small but significant increase in the price of slag cement to render such a price increase unprofitable.

    The primary purchasers of portland and slag cement are ready-mix concrete firms and producers of concrete products. These customers usually pick up portland and slag cement from a cement company's plant or terminal in trucks. Because portland and slag cement are heavy and relatively cheap commodities, transportation costs limit the distance customers can economically travel to pick up the products. The precise scope of the area that can be served by a particular plant or terminal depends on a number of factors, including the density of the specific region and local transportation costs.

    Due to transportation costs, cement markets are local or regional in nature. The relevant geographic markets in which to analyze the effects of the proposed acquisition on portland cement competition are (1) the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area; (2) the Duluth, Minnesota area; (3) western Wisconsin; (4) eastern Iowa; (5) the Memphis, Tennessee area; (6) the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area; (7) the New Orleans, Louisiana area; (8) the Detroit, Michigan area; (9) northern Michigan; (10) the Grand Rapids, Michigan area; (11) western Montana; and (12) the Boston, Massachusetts/Providence, Rhode Island area. The proper geographic markets in which to analyze the effects of the proposed transaction on slag cement are (1) the Mid-Atlantic region and (2) the western Great Lakes region.

    The relevant markets for portland cement and slag cement are already highly concentrated. For each of the relevant markets, the parties are either the only suppliers in the market, two of only three suppliers, or two of only four suppliers.

    Entry

    Entry into the relevant portland cement and slag cement markets would not be timely, likely, or sufficient in magnitude, character, and scope to deter or counteract the anticompetitive effects of the proposed transaction. The cost to construct a new portland cement plant of sufficient size to be competitive would likely cost over $300 million and take more than five years to permit, design, and construct while the expansion of an existing facility would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take four or more years to complete. Building competitive cement distribution terminals is also difficult and time consuming. It can take more than two years to obtain the necessary permits and complete construction of a competitive terminal in the relevant markets. New entrants into slag cement markets face the additional hurdle of having to obtain a cost-effective source for the raw material. There are few domestic sources for granulated blast furnace slag because there are a limited number of active blast furnaces in the United States. Given the difficulties of entry, it is unlikely that any new entry could be accomplished in a timely manner in the relevant markets to defeat a likely price increase caused by the proposed acquisition.

    Effects of the Acquisition

    Unless remedied, the proposed merger would likely result in competitive harm in each of the relevant portland and slag cement markets. The merger would eliminate substantial head-to-head competition between the parties in each of these markets and significantly increase market concentration. For many customers in these markets, the merger would combine the two closest competitors for their business, leaving the merged entity with the power to increase prices to these customers unilaterally. Further, because the merger would reduce the number of significant competitors to, at most, two or three in the relevant markets, it would enhance the likelihood of collusion or coordinated action between the remaining competitors by reducing impediments to reaching common terms of coordination and making it easier to monitor and retaliate against potential deviation from a coordinated scheme.

    The Consent Agreement

    The proposed Consent Agreement eliminates the competitive concerns raised by Holcim's proposed acquisition of Lafarge by requiring the parties to divest assets in each relevant market. Lafarge is required to divest a cement plant in Buffalo, Iowa and a network of distribution terminals along the Mississippi River in Louisiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to Continental. Continental, in turn, will sell its cement terminal located in Bettendorf, Iowa to Lafarge in order to eliminate the competitive overlap that would otherwise be created by its acquisition of Lafarge's Davenport cement plant. Because Lafarge will be able to supply the Bettendorf terminal at a comparable or lower cost than Continental, the transactions contemplated in the Consent Agreement will maintain the competitive status quo in the eastern Iowa market. Holcim is required to divest distribution terminals in Illinois and Michigan to Buzzi. Holcim is further required to divest a terminal in Massachusetts and a slag plant in New Jersey to Essroc and a slag plant in Illinois to Eagle. Each of the identified buyers possesses the experience and capability to become significant competitors in the relevant markets. The parties must accomplish the divestitures to these buyers within ten days after the proposed acquisition is accomplished.

    The Commission's goal in evaluating possible purchasers of divested assets is to maintain the competitive environment that existed prior to the proposed acquisition. If the Commission determines that any of the identified buyers is not an acceptable acquirer, the proposed Order requires the parties to divest the assets to a Commission-approved acquirer within 90 days of the Commission notifying the parties that the proposed acquirer is not acceptable. If the Commission determines that the manner in which any divestiture was accomplished is not acceptable, the Commission may direct the parties, or appoint a divestiture trustee, to effect such modifications as may be necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Order.

    Finally, the proposed Consent Agreement requires Holcim to divest to a buyer or buyers approved by the Commission (1) a cement plant in Trident, Montana and two distribution terminals in Alberta, Canada (the “Trident Assets”), and (2) a cement plant in Mississauga, Ontario and cement terminals in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and New York (the “Great Lakes Assets”). The divestiture of the Trident plant would eliminate the proposed merger's potential anticompetitive impact on purchasers of portland cement located in western Montana. The two Alberta terminals distribute cement produced at the Trident plant and are included in the Consent Agreement in order to preserve the viability and marketability of the Trident Assets. Holcim's Mississauga plant supplies portland cement into the United States both directly and via terminals located in Duluth; Detroit; Dundee, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York. The divestiture of the Great Lakes Assets would remedy the proposed merger's anticompetitive effects in the Duluth and Detroit areas. The Cleveland and Buffalo terminals are included in the Consent Agreement in order to preserve the viability and marketability of the Great Lakes Assets. The Trident Assets and Great Lakes Assets are also part of a larger group of Holcim assets located in Canada that the Respondents have agreed to divest in order to resolve competitive concerns raised by the Canadian Competition Bureau (“CCB”). Commission staff worked cooperatively with staff from the CCB to ensure that our respective proposed remedies would be consistent and effective.

    The proposed Order provides that Holcim must find a buyer (or buyers) for the Trident Assets and the Great Lakes Assets, at no minimum price, that is acceptable to the Commission, no later than 120 days from the date on which the parties consummate the proposed acquisition. The Consent Agreement also contains an Order to Hold Separate and Maintain Assets, which will serve to ensure that these assets are held separate and operated independently from the merged company and protect the viability, marketability, and competitiveness of the divestiture asset packages until the assets are divested to a buyer or buyers approved by the Commission.

    To ensure compliance with the proposed Order, the Commission has agreed to appoint an Interim Monitor to ensure that Holcim and Lafarge comply with all of their obligations pursuant to the Consent Agreement and to keep the Commission informed about the status of the transfer of the rights and assets to appropriate purchasers.

    The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the Consent Agreement, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the proposed Decision and Order or to modify its terms in any way.

    By direction of the Commission, Commissioner Wright dissenting.

    Donald S. Clark, Secretary.
    Statement of the Federal Trade Commission in the Matter of Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge S.A.

    The Federal Trade Commission has voted to accept a settlement to resolve the likely anticompetitive effects of Holcim Ltd.'s (“Holcim”) proposed $25 billion acquisition of Lafarge S.A. (“Lafarge”). We have reason to believe that, absent a remedy, the proposed acquisition is likely to substantially reduce competition in the manufacture and sale of portland cement and slag cement. As we explain below, we believe the proposed remedy, tailored to counteract the likely anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition without eliminating any efficiencies that might arise from the combination of the two companies, is in the public interest.1

    1 Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioner Brill, Commissioner Ohlhausen, and Commissioner McSweeny join in this statement.

    Holcim is a Switzerland-based, vertically integrated global building materials company, with products that include cement, clinker, concrete, lime, and aggregates. Lafarge is a France-based, vertically integrated global building materials company that primarily produces and sells cement, aggregates, and ready-mix concrete.

    The merged company will be the world's largest cement manufacturer, with combined 2014 revenues of approximately $35 billion and operations in more than 90 countries. Our competitive concerns pertain to specific geographic markets in the United States where Holcim and Lafarge each make significant cement sales. The proposed merger would likely harm competition for the distribution and sale of portland cement, an essential ingredient in making concrete, in 12 local or regional markets. It would also threaten to lessen competition for the distribution and sale of slag cement, a specialty cement product used in certain applications, in two other regional markets.

    The merger would create a merger to monopoly in some of the challenged relevant markets, while in others at most three competitors would remain post-merger. Absent a remedy, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (“HHI”) in each of these markets would exceed 3,400, making every market highly concentrated according to the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines.2 The increase in HHI in each market would exceed 900, well above the 200-point change necessary to trigger the Guidelines' presumption that the merger is “likely to enhance market power.” 3 There is no evidence rebutting this presumption. If anything, the evidence suggests that the estimates of market concentration understate our concerns.

    2See 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 5.3. The threshold at which a market is considered “highly concentrated” under the Guidelines is 2,500.

    3Id.

    In each of the relevant markets at issue, there is evidence that unilateral anticompetitive effects are likely. Substantial evidence demonstrates that, for many customers in the relevant areas, the merging firms are their preferred suppliers and that customers have benefitted from substantial head-to-head competition between the parties in negotiating prices for portland and slag cement. Customers in every single one of the affected markets expressed concern that their inability to play the merging parties off each other would diminish their ability to obtain better prices or other favorable terms. As the Guidelines note, a combination of two competing sellers “can significantly enhance the ability and incentive of the merged entity to obtain a result more favorable to it, and less favorable to the buyer, than the merging firms would have offered separately absent the merger.” 4 In addition, the evidence demonstrates that not all of the remaining suppliers in the relevant markets provide customers with practical alternatives to the merging parties for a variety of reasons, including capacity constraints, lack of distribution assets to supply new customers, and downstream vertical integration.5

    4Id . § 6.2.

    5 For instance, ready-mix concrete producers are often unwilling to purchase cement from their rivals.

    The evidence also suggests that the proposed acquisition would increase the ability and incentives of the combined firm and other market participants to engage in coordinated behavior that would result in harm to consumers. The relevant markets have characteristics that make them susceptible to coordination. They are highly concentrated; the products are homogeneous; overall market elasticity is low; customer switching costs are low; and sales are relatively small, frequent, and usually not made pursuant to long-term contracts. There is also a high degree of transparency in these markets. Competitors are aware of each other's production capacities, costs, sales volumes, prices, and customers. Our concern about the potential for coordinated effects in these markets is heightened by evidence that cement suppliers, including the same global firms that compete in these markets, have expressly colluded in other geographic markets with similar characteristics.6 By reducing the number of significant competitors to only two or three, the proposed merger would make it easier for the remaining firms to coordinate, monitor compliance with, and retaliate against potential deviation from, a coordinated scheme. We therefore have reason to believe that the merger may enhance the vulnerability to coordinated effects that already exists in the relevant markets.7

    6See, e.g., Press Release, European Commission, The Court of Justice Upholds in Substance the Judgment Delivered by the Court of First Instance in 2000 Concerning the Cement Cartel, Jan. 7, 2004, available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_CJE-04-2_en.htm (announcing fines of EUR 100 million on cement suppliers for collusion); Press Release, German Federal Cartel Office, Highest fine in Bundeskartellamt History is Final, April 10, 2013, available at http://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Meldung/EN/Pressemitteilungen/2013/10_04_2013_BGH-Zement.html (announcing fines of EUR 380 million on Lafarge, Holcim, and others for collusion); Philip Blenkinsop, Belgian Competition Regulator Fines Cement Groups, Aug. 31, 2013, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/31/belgium-cement-idUSL6N0GW05U20130831 (reporting EUR 14.7 million in fines levied by the Belgian Competition Council on Holcim and others for collusion); Press Release, Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, UOKiK Breaks Cement Cartel, Dec. 12, 2013, available at https://uokik.gov.pl/news.php?news_id=10754&news_page=1 (announcing decision of Poland's Court of Competition and Consumer Protection to impose fines of PLN 339 million (~$93 million) on cement suppliers for collusion involving Lafarge and others); see generally Merger Guidelines § 7.2.

    7See Merger Guidelines § 7.1.

    In his dissent, Commissioner Wright takes issue with our decision to seek a remedy in six markets, going to great lengths to argue that we are improperly relying solely on the increase in market concentration to justify our action, that we are creating new presumptions of harm, that we lack a “credible basis” on which to conclude that the merger may enhance the vulnerability of the relevant markets to coordination, and that our action is otherwise inconsistent with the Guidelines. We respectfully disagree with Commissioner Wright's various characterizations of the Commission's statement in this matter. The Guidelines make clear that a substantial increase in concentration caused by a merger continues to be a significant factor in merger analysis because highly concentrated markets with only two or three large firms are more likely to lead to anticompetitive outcomes.8 Economic theory and empirical research bear this out.9 As a result, we view the evidence in a merger that reduces the number of firms in a relevant market to two or three differently from a merger that only reduces the number of firms to six or seven. Where, as here, a proposed merger significantly increases concentration in an already highly concentrated market, a presumption of competitive harm is justified under both the Guidelines and well-established case law.10

    8Id. § 2.1.3 (“Mergers that cause a significant increase in concentration and result in highly concentrated markets are presumed to be likely to enhance market power, but this presumption can be rebutted by persuasive evidence showing that the merger is unlikely to enhance market power.”). See also Carl Shapiro, The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines: From Hedgehog to Fox in Forty Years, 77 Antitrust L.J. 701, 708 (2010) (explaining that the Guidelines' flexible approach “certainly does not mean that they reject the use of market concentration to predict competitive effects, as can be seen in Sections 2.1.3 and 5,” that the Guidelines “recognize that levels and changes in market concentration are more probative in some cases than others,” and that “the Agencies place considerable weight on HHI measures in cases involving coordinated effects”) (emphasis in original).

    9See, e.g., Steven C. Salop, The Evolution and Vitality of Merger Presumptions: A Decision-Theoretic Approach 11 (Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works, Working Paper No. 1304, 2014), available at http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/1304 (“[V]arious theories of oligopoly conduct—both static and dynamic models of firm interaction—are consistent with the view that competition with fewer significant firms on average is associated with higher prices. . . . Accordingly, a horizontal merger reducing the number of rivals from four to three, or three to two, would be more likely to raise competitive concerns than one reducing the number from ten to nine, ceteris paribus.”); Steffen Huck, et al., Two Are Few and Four Are Many: Number Effects from Experimental Oligopolies, 53 J. Econ. Behavior & Org. 435, 443 (2004) (testing the frequency of collusive outcomes in Cournot oligopolies and finding “clear evidence that there is a qualitative difference between two and four or more firms”); Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets, 99 J. Pol. Econ. 977, 1006 (1991) (finding, in a study of tire prices, that “[m]arkets with three or more dealers have lower prices than monopolists or duopolists,” and noting that, “while prices level off between three and five dealers, they are higher than unconcentrated market prices”).

    10See Merger Guidelines § 2.1.3; Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. v. FTC, 534 F.3d 410, 423 (5th Cir. 2008) (“Typically, the Government establishes a prima facie case by showing that the transaction in question will significantly increase market concentration, thereby creating a presumption that the transaction is likely to substantially lessen competition.”); FTC v. H.J. Heinz Co., 246 F.3d 708, 716 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (merger to duopoly creates a rebuttable presumption of anticompetitive harm through direct or tacit coordination).

    Moreover, despite Commissioner Wright's assertion to the contrary, our investigation went beyond consideration of market concentration and application of the Guidelines presumption of competitive harm and, as noted above, produced additional evidence supporting our belief that the effect of the proposed acquisition would be to substantially lessen competition and harm cement customers in the relevant markets. On coordinated effects, we found numerous characteristics of the market making it vulnerable to collusion. It is particularly troubling that existing cement suppliers have expressly colluded in other geographic markets with similar characteristics. We also examined whether other market factors, such as the possibility of entry or expansion, might alleviate our competitive concerns. The evidence demonstrates the presence of high barriers to entry for both portland cement and slag cement, including significant capital costs and regulatory requirements. Entry sufficient to deter or counteract the likely harm from the proposed transaction would thus be neither timely nor likely.

    In the face of our competitive concerns, based on what we had learned about the nature and conditions of the relevant markets, the parties proposed divestitures to remedy our concerns in each of those markets. The parties did not comply with our Second Requests. While continued investigation may have produced more evidentiary support for our complaint, including those markets for which Commissioner Wright dissents, we do not think such a course would have been justified. We have ample evidence to support our allegations of anticompetitive harm and had no reason to burden the parties with the expense and delay of further inquiry for the sole purpose of obtaining additional, cumulative evidence. Nor would further inquiry have been a good use of Commission resources.

    Merger analysis is necessarily predictive. The evidence in this case provides us with sufficient reason to believe that the proposed acquisition is likely to substantially reduce competition, and there is no evidence of countervailing efficiencies that weigh against the remedy. We believe that the public interest is best served by remedying the competitive concerns as set forth in our proposed consent order.

    Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright, Dissenting in Part and Concurring in Part In the Matter of Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge S.A.

    The Commission has voted to issue a Complaint and a Decision & Order against Holcim Ltd. (“Holcim”) and Lafarge S.A. (“Lafarge”) to remedy the allegedly anticompetitive effects of the proposed merger of the two companies. I dissent in part from and concur in part with the Commission's decision because the evidence is insufficient to provide a reason to believe the proposed transaction is likely to substantially lessen competition, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, in several of the portland cement markets identified in the Complaint.1

    1 As I explain below, I concur with the Commission as to the Twin Cities, Duluth, western Wisconsin, New Orleans, western Montana, Boston/Providence, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the western Great Lakes region; I dissent with the Commission as to eastern Iowa, Memphis, Baton Rouge, Detroit, northern Michigan, and Grand Rapids.

    The Commission articulates coordinated effects and unilateral effects theories of harm arising from the proposed transaction in all of the fourteen relevant geographic markets defined in the Complaint (the “Relevant Markets”).2 Additionally, and untethered to these two theories of harm articulated in the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines (“Merger Guidelines”), the Commission asserts that mergers, such as the proposed transaction, that reduce the number of competitors to three or fewer are likely to harm competition. The Commission's structural presumption is economically unfounded and inappropriate in the vast majority of Relevant Markets. Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence to support a coordinated effects theory in any Relevant Market and insufficient evidence to support a unilateral effects theory in several of the Relevant Markets.

    2See Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Orders to Aid Public Comment 3, Holcim Ltd., FTC File No. 141-0129 (May 4, 2015) (“For many customers in these markets, the merger would . . . leav[e] the merged entity with the power to increase prices . . . unilaterally. Further, . . . it would enhance the likelihood of collusion or coordinated action between the remaining competitors.”).

    In those markets in which I conclude the record evidence supports neither a coordinated nor a unilateral effects theory, the Commission relies upon little more than the change in market structure to support each of its allegations. Without particularized evidence substantiating a unilateral effects or coordinated effects theory of harm arising from the proposed transaction, a structural theory alone cannot provide a sufficient basis to establish reason to believe a transaction violates the Clayton Act. It follows, in my view, that the Commission should refrain from imposing a remedy in the markets for which the evidence is insufficient to support either a coordinated effects theory or a unilateral effects theory.

    I. The Commission's Structural Theory and Presumption Are Unsupported by Economic Evidence

    The Commission argues mergers that reduce the number of competitors in a relevant market to three or two are unique in the sense that they warrant a presumption of competitive harm and illegality,3 but it cannot defend its structural presumption upon the basis of economic evidence or accumulated empirical knowledge.

    3Id. at 3.

    The Commission cites in support of its structural theory and presumption three academic articles written by economists.4 Only two offer economic evidence, and the proffered substantiation fails to support the claim. The first is an important early entrant into the static entry literature examining the relationship between market size and the number of entrants in a market, focusing upon isolated rural markets.5 It strains credulity to argue that Bresnahan and Reiss's important analysis of the impact of entry in markets involving doctors, dentists, druggists, plumbers, and tire dealers in local and isolated areas, where they find the competitive benefits of a second competitor are especially important, apply with generality sufficient to support a widely applicable presumption of harm based upon the number of firms. Indeed, the authors warn against precisely this interpretation of their work.6

    4Id. at 3 n.9.

    5 Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets, 99 J. Pol. Econ. 977 (1991). While Bresnahan and Reiss is an important early contribution to the static entry literature, it cannot possibly bear the burden the Commission wishes to place upon it. Abstracting from the complexities of market definition was necessary for the researchers to isolate entry decisions. This is possible when studying the effects of entry by a second dentist in a town with a population of less than 1,000, but not in most real-world antitrust applications. The authors of the study make this point themselves, noting that “whether this pattern appears in other industries remains an open question.” Id. at 1007.

    6 In earlier research using similar empirical techniques and data—namely, small rural markets—Bresnahan and Reiss plainly reject the notion that the findings should inform views of market structure and competition generally: “We do not believe that these markets `stand in' for highly concentrated industries in the sectors of the economy where competition is national or global.” Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, Do Entry Conditions Vary Across Markets, 3 Brookings Papers Econ. Activity 833, 868 (1987).

    The second article is a laboratory experiment and does not involve the behavior of actual firms and certainly cannot provide sufficient economic evidence to support a presumption that four-to-three and three-to-two mergers in real-world markets will result in anticompetitive coordination.7 Once again, the authors warn against such an interpretation.8

    7 Steffen Huck et al., Two Are Few and Four Are Many: Number Effects from Experimental Oligopolies, 53 J. Econ. Behavior & Org. 435 (2004).

    8Id. at 436 (“The number of firms is not the only factor affecting competition in experimental markets. This implies that there exists no unique number of firms that determines a definite borderline between non-cooperative and collusive markets irrespective of all institutional and structural details of the experimental markets.”).

    Finally, the Commission cites a draft article, authored by Steve Salop, in support of its view that economic evidence supports a presumption that four-to-three and three-to-two mergers are competitively suspect.9 The article does not purport to study or provide new economic evidence on the relationship between market structure and competition. Thus, it cannot support the Commission's proposition.10

    9 Steven C. Salop, The Evolution and Vitality of Merger Presumptions: A Decision-Theoretic Approach (Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works, Working Paper No. 1304, 2014), available at http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/1304/.

    10 Nevertheless, to the extent Salop argues in favor of legal presumptions in merger analysis, he clarifies that they “obviously should be based on valid economic analysis, that is, proper economic presumptions,” which should be updated “based on new or additional economic factors besides market shares and concentration.” Id. at 37, 48. I agree. Additionally, Salop explains that “[c]ontemporary economic learning suggests that concentration be considered when undertaking competitive effects analysis—in conjunction with other factors suggested by the competitive effects theory—but not treated as the sole determinant of post-merger pricing.” Id. at 13-14. Notably, Salop does not endorse a distinction between four-to-three mergers or three-to-two mergers and mergers in less concentrated markets that justifies a presumption that the former are anticompetitive; rather, he merely observes that empirical evidence and economic theory do not warrant “ignoring market shares and concentration in merger analysis.” Id. at 12 (emphasis in original).

    There is simply no empirical economic evidence sufficient to warrant a presumption that anticompetitive coordination is likely to result from four-to-three or three-to-two mergers. Indeed, such a presumption would be inconsistent with modern economic theory and the analysis endorsed by the Merger Guidelines, which deemphasize inferences of competitive harm arising from market structure in favor of greater reliance upon particularized evidence of changes in post-merger incentives to compete.11

    11See Carl Shapiro, The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines: From Hedgehog to Fox in Forty Years, 77 Antitrust L.J. 701, 707-08 (2010) (acknowledging the role of market concentration in the analysis endorsed in the Merger Guidelines and observing that they place less weight upon market concentration and market shares, instead emphasizing the importance of direct evidence of changes in post-merger incentives to compete and competitive effects). To the extent the Commission relies upon Shapiro's caveat that “changes in market concentration are more probative in some cases than others,” Statement of the Federal Trade Commission 3 n.8, Holcim Ltd., FTC File No. 141-0129 (May 8, 2015), they fail to explain why, nor have I been provided any evidence attempting to establish that, markets for portland or slag concrete fit within the subset of cases for which it has been established that there is a reliable a relationship between market structure and competition. I do not quarrel with the notion that such markets exist. We identify them over time using economic analysis, empirical evidence, and accumulated learning. For example, substantial research has identified empirical regularities in the relationship between structure and price in generic pharmaceutical markets. See David Reiffen & Michael R. Ward, Generic Drug Industry Dynamics, 87 Rev. Econ. & Stat. 37 (2005).

    To the contrary, this approach is inconsistent with Agency practice and the letter and spirit of the more economically sophisticated approach adopted in the Merger Guidelines. 12 Section 2.1.3 of the Merger Guidelines does, as the Commission observes, state that “mergers that cause a significant increase in concentration and result in highly concentrated markets are presumed to be likely to enhance market power.” 13 The Merger Guidelines insure against reverting to naked structural analysis by making clear that the role of market shares and market concentration is “not an end in itself,” but rather “one useful indicator of likely anticompetitive effects,” and that market concentration is not to be used to “provide a rigid screen to separate competitively benign mergers from anticompetitive ones,” but rather to provide one way to distinguish competitively benign mergers from those that warrant closer scrutiny. 14 To the extent these passages evince an ambiguity in the Merger Guidelines with respect to the minimum evidentiary burden that must be satisfied to support a merger challenge, the Commission should embrace the interpretation more consistent with a modern economic approach rather than with the obsolete and discredited structural analysis of a prior era.

    12 Comments of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law on the Horizontal Merger Guidelines Revision Project (June 4, 2010), available at https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_comments/horizontal-merger-guidelines-review-project-proposed-new-horizontal-merger-guidelines-548050-00026/548050-00026.pdf (urging the agencies to “remove the presumption of illegality keyed to the level and increase in the HHI” because “[t]he presumption does not reflect how the Agencies conduct investigations [and] is not theoretically warranted”).

    13 U.S. Dep't of Justice & Fed. Trade Comm'n, Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 7.1 (2010) [hereinafter Merger Guidelines].

    14Id. §§ 4, 5.3.

    Rather than relying upon economic evidence to defend the Commission's structural presumption, the Commission highlights case law supporting a presumption of illegality for mergers to duopoly or that substantially increase concentration.15 As a preliminary matter, case law that endorses a wholly structural approach to merger analysis—an approach clearly rejected by the Merger Guidelines—does not constitute relevant economic evidence. Judicial opinions adopting this approach are orthogonal to the proposition in need of economic substantiation: that mergers resulting in three- or two-firm markets are likely to result in coordination. Indeed, one can find a variety of economically dubious propositions adopted in antitrust case law blessed by no less a legal authority than the Supreme Court.16 But courts' observations about the relationship between market structure and competition are not relevant to the Commission's adoption of a structural presumption in this case.

    15 Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 11, at 3 (citing Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. v. FTC, 534 F.3d 410, 423 (5th Cir. 2008) and FTC v. H.J. Heinz Co., 246 F.3d 708, 716 (D.C. Cir. 2001)).

    16 For example, well-established case law endorses the economic proposition that mergers that result in post-merger shares of greater than 30% are likely to harm competition, United States v. Philadelphia Nat'l Bank, 374 U.S. 321, 364-65 (1963), and that mergers resulting in post-merger shares of less than 10% harm competition when coupled with a trend toward concentration, United States v. Von's Grocery Co., 384 U.S. 270 (1966); United States v. Pabst Brewing Co., 384 U.S. 546 (1966).

    I therefore find any reliance upon structural changes alone to be economically untenable and insufficient to give me reason to believe the proposed transaction will violate Section 7 in the vast majority of Relevant Markets.

    II. Coordinated Effects Are Unlikely in Any Relevant Market

    The Merger Guidelines describe the conditions under which the antitrust agencies will challenge a proposed merger on the basis that it is likely to result in anticompetitive coordination. Specifically, the Merger Guidelines articulate three necessary conditions that must each be satisfied to support a coordinated effects theory: (1) A significant increase in concentration, leading to a moderately or highly concentrated market, (2) a market vulnerable to coordinated conduct, and (3) a credible basis for concluding the transaction will enhance that vulnerability.17 Thus, the Merger Guidelines establish clearly that a highly concentrated market that is already vulnerable to coordinated conduct is necessary but not sufficient to support a coordinated effects theory. Critically, the Commission must also have evidence sufficient to provide a credible basis to conclude the transaction will enhance the market's vulnerability to coordinated conduct. Such evidence must evince a change in the post-merger competitive market dynamics and, in particular, post-merger incentives to engage in coordinated pricing. The Merger Guidelines provide the elimination of a maverick firm as an illustrative example of the type of evidence that would satisfy the third condition and warrant a presumption of adverse coordinated effects.18 Importantly, the Merger Guidelines explain evidence that a merger will eliminate a maverick is given weight precisely because it changes post-merger incentives to coordinate.19

    17 Merger Guidelines, supra note 13, § 7.1; see also Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Joshua D. Wright 3, Fidelity National Financial, Inc., FTC File No. 131-0159 (Dec. 23, 2013) [hereinafter Wright, Fidelity Dissent].

    18 Merger Guidelines, supra note 13, § 7.1.

    19Id. § 2.1.5.

    The first and second elements of the Merger Guidelines' coordinated effects analysis are not at issue in this case. The Commission's investigation revealed evidence supporting a conclusion that the Relevant Markets are already highly concentrated and the proposed transaction will increase concentration.20 Furthermore, the evidence supports a conclusion that the markets are vulnerable to coordinated conduct.21 Nevertheless, the investigation failed to uncover any evidence to suggest the proposed transaction will increase post-merger incentives to coordinate—that is, there is no record evidence to provide a credible basis to conclude the merger alters the competitive dynamic in any Relevant Market in a manner that enhances its vulnerability to coordinated conduct.

    20See Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Orders to Aid Public Comment, supra note 2, at 2.

    21See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 11, at 2 (describing the characteristics of the Relevant Markets that render them vulnerable to coordination).

    The Commission asserts that the facts that the market is highly concentrated, that it is vulnerable to coordination, and that the merger reduces “the number of significant competitors to only two or three” 22 jointly satisfy the third necessary element that “the Agencies have a credible basis on which to conclude that the merger may enhance that vulnerability.”23 The Commission's analysis can be read in one of two ways. Each is tantamount to the application of a structural presumption for coordinated effects claims involving markets with three or two firms, each is problematic because it adopts an outdated and obsolete structural approach to coordinated effects, and each is in significant tension with the economic approach to coordinated effects embodied in the Merger Guidelines.

    22Id. at 2.

    23 Merger Guidelines, supra note 13, § 7.1.

    The first interpretation is that the satisfaction of the first and second elements of the Merger Guidelines analysis—and particularly the demonstration that the merger significantly increases concentration in an already concentrated market—is sufficient to simultaneously satisfy the third element that the merger enhance post-merger incentives to coordinate. This interpretation renders the third element of Section 7.1 entirely superfluous. The more logical explanation of the third element is that a crucial, additional type of information is required to illuminate how the merger changes the merged firm's incentives to coordinate. The Commission's application completely overlooks the economic relevance of the third element.

    The second plausible interpretation of the Commission's analysis is that the reduction in the number of competitors in a market is itself sufficient evidence to provide a credible basis that a merger will enhance a market's vulnerability to coordination and thus satisfy the third element of the Merger Guidelines' coordinated effects analysis. Under this reading, the Commission relies upon the fact that the proposed transaction reduces the number of competitors in each Relevant Market by one firm, either from four to three or from three to two.24 For example, the Majority Statement asserts that the proposed transaction might enhance the likelihood of coordination by “mak[ing] it easier for the remaining firms to coordinate, monitor compliance with, and retaliate against potential deviation from, a coordinated scheme.” 25 These are generic observations that are true of any merger that reduces the number of firms in a market; they are not particularized to the proposed transaction or to any Relevant Market nor do they establish a credible basis to conclude that post-merger incentives to coordinate will increase. The observation that a market with N firms will, after the merger, have N-1 firms is simply insufficient without more to establish the required credible basis. This is true even when a merger reduces the number of firms from four to three or from three to two. The Commission offers no explanation as to why the Merger Guidelines would go through the trouble of requiring a credible basis to believe a merger will change the market's competitive dynamics that enhances the market's vulnerability to coordinated conduct, in addition to an increase in market concentration, in order to substantiate a coordinated effects merger challenge if the latter were considered sufficient to satisfy both elements.

    24See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 11, at 2 (taking the view that a reduction of competitors to three or two firms in the relevant market justify a presumption of competitive harm).

    25Id. at 2.

    As I have stated previously, “there is no basis in modern economics to conclude with any modicum of reliability that increased concentration—without more—will increase post-merger incentives to coordinate.” 26 Janusz Ordover, in a leading treatment of the economics of coordinated effects, similarly explains that “[i]t is now well understood that it is not sufficient when gauging the likelihood of coordinated effects from a merger to simply observe that because the merger reduces the number of firms, it automatically lessens the coordination problem facing the firms and enhances their incentives to engage in tacit collusion; far from it.”27 Without particularized evidence that the proposed transaction will enhance incentives to coordinate post-merger, I am unable to conclude there is reason to believe it is likely to substantially lessen competition in violation of Section 7.

    26 Wright, Fidelity Dissent, supra note 17, at 3.

    27 Janusz A. Ordover, Coordinated Effects, in 2 Issues in Competition Law and Policy 1359, 1367 (ABA Section of Antitrust Law 2008) (“It is quite clear . . . that a reduction in the number of firms and concomitant increases in concentration do not necessarily make collusion inevitable or even more likely, stable, or complete.”).

    III. Unilateral Effects Are Unlikely in Some of the Relevant Markets

    The Commission alleges the proposed transaction is likely to result in unilateral price effects in the Relevant Markets. Unilateral effects arise when the reduction in direct competition between merging firms is sufficient to create post-merger market power. The Merger Guidelines articulate a variety of potential unilateral effects theories, including merger to monopoly, merger of firms producing very close substitutes in a differentiated products market, merger of sellers competing in bargaining and auction markets, and mergers in homogeneous goods markets making post-merger output suppression strategies more profitable.28 The unifying theme of the unilateral effects analysis contemplated by the Merger Guidelines is that a particularized showing that post-merger competitive constraints are weakened or eliminated by the merger is superior to relying solely upon inferences of competitive effects drawn from changes in market structure.29

    28 Merger Guidelines, supra note 13, § 6.

    29See Shapiro, supra note 11, Part III (explaining the Merger Guidelines' unilateral effects analysis, the types of evidence that support such analysis, and the relative analytical weakness of inferences of competitive harm drawn from changes in market structure).

    The potential unilateral effects theories in this case fall broadly within one of three categories. The first category involves straightforward merger-to-monopoly markets. In these markets, the theory of harm is that Holcim and Lafarge are the only two meaningful suppliers for all customers in the Relevant Market. The second category involves markets in which Holcim and Lafarge face some competition, but the proposed transaction will result in a merger to monopoly for a substantial subset of customers and will allow the merged entity to unilaterally increase market prices. The third category includes markets where the proposed transaction will reduce the number of competitors in the Relevant Market to three or two, and the remaining competitors will be unable or unwilling to compete for market share—for example, because of capacity constraints, leaving the merged entity with the ability to unilaterally raise prices. Each of these theories requires particularized evidence sufficient to establish reason to believe the proposed transaction violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act. I conclude the available evidence is sufficient to do so in some Relevant Markets and insufficient in others.

    Unilateral price effects are “most apparent in a merger to monopoly in a relevant market.” 30 Basic economic theory provides a robust and reliable inference that a merger to monopoly or near monopoly is likely to result in anticompetitive effects. A rational firm with little or no competitive constraints will set prices or choose output to maximize its profits; it can be expected that a rational firm acquiring such monopoly power will adjust prices and output accordingly. No further economic evidence is required to substantiate an enforcement action based upon likely unilateral price effects and to establish reason to believe a merger to monopoly or near monopoly is likely to violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. This analysis applies to at least one of the Relevant Markets.

    30 Merger Guidelines, supra note 13, § 6.

    The analysis is necessarily more nuanced for theories falling within the second category of theories of unilateral price effects. These theories involve Relevant Markets where the proposed transaction would reduce the number of competitors from four to three or three to two, and the market share for the merged entity would not be large enough to infer it would have the power to raise market prices unilaterally. In these markets, particularized evidence is required to establish reason to believe the merged firm will gain unilateral pricing power. In many Relevant Markets, staff was successful in uncovering the required evidence. For example, in some Relevant Markets, there was evidence of a significant subset of customers for whom a sole market participant would be the only remaining acceptable supplier, due either to physical proximity or to some other preference rendering alternatives an unacceptable source of portland or slag cement. The Commission's example of ready-mix concrete producers,31 a relevant subset of customers, is an illustrative example here. In some Relevant Markets, the evidence supports a finding that such customers would continue to find their vertically integrated rivals to be an unacceptable source of portland cement, even if the sole remaining vertically unintegrated portland cement producer raised its prices after the merger. In the Relevant Markets for which credible evidence of this type is available, I find it sufficient to create reason to believe the merger is likely to result in competitive harm. Several other Relevant Markets fall into this category.

    31See Statement of the Federal Trade Commission, supra note 11, at 2 n.5.

    In other Relevant Markets, the allegation that there will remain only one acceptable supplier for a significant subset of customers after the proposed transaction lacks evidentiary support. Specifically, in these markets, the record evidence does not indicate that a material number of customers view Holcim and Lafarge as closest supply alternatives or that they view other potential suppliers as unacceptable supply sources and would continue to do so in the face of a post-merger unilateral price increase.32

    32 The role of ready-mix customers in the competitive analysis is again illustrative. In some Relevant Markets the available evidence indicates there are some ready-mix customers that purchase from rivals and others that do not, but the totality of the evidence fails to establish the existence of a significant set of customers that view vertically integrated suppliers as unacceptable or would continue to do so in the face of a post-merger unilateral price increase.

    The final category of potential unilateral effects theories, like the second category, also involves Relevant Markets where the proposed transaction would reduce the number of competitors from four to three or three to two, but the post-merger market share would not be large enough to infer it would have the power to raise market prices unilaterally. However, unlike the second category, in these Relevant Markets, it is not customer preference that limits the number of available competitors to one. Rather, in these Relevant Markets, the proposed transaction is effectively a merger to monopoly or near monopoly because alternative suppliers would be unwilling or unable to compete with the merged entity in the face of a price increase. In some Relevant Markets, the investigation uncovered particularized evidence sufficient to establish a reason to believe such unilateral effects are likely, including evidence that other competitors are experiencing, or soon will experience, capacity constraints, rendering them unable or unwilling to compete for market share, or that other suppliers will not constrain the merged entity's prices. Several Relevant Markets fall into this third category.

    Relevant Markets where the “reason to believe” standard is not satisfied lacked record evidence necessary to corroborate any of these three theories.33 Indeed, with respect to the Relevant Markets for which I dissent from the Commission's decision, it is my view that the investigation failed to adduce particularized evidence to elevate the anticipated likelihood of competitive effects from “possible” to “likely” under any of these theories. Without this necessary evidence, the only remaining factual basis upon which the Commission rests its decision is the fact that the merger will reduce the number of competitors from four to three or three to two. This is simply not enough evidence to support a reason to believe the proposed transaction will violate the Clayton Act in these Relevant Markets.

    33 One other potentially plausible theory is that customers refuse to sole source their product, and therefore that two or more competitors are necessary to prevent post-merger unilateral effects. There is insufficient record evidence to indicate customers would be unwilling to switch from dual- to single-sourced supply in the event of a post-merger price increase.

    IV. Conclusion

    Prior to entering into a consent agreement with the merging parties, the Commission must first find reason to believe that a merger likely will substantially lessen competition under Section 7 of the Clayton Act. A presumption that such reason to believe exists when a merger decreases in the number of competitors in a market to three or two is misguided. Additionally, when the Commission alleges coordinated or unilateral effects arising from a proposed transaction, this standard requires more than a mere counting of pre- and post-merger firms. In particular, reason to believe a proposed transaction is likely to result in coordinated effects requires evidence—absent from the record here—that the merger will enhance a market's vulnerability to coordinated pricing, and not just that it takes place in a market that is already concentrated. In the absence of such a particularized showing, the Commission's approach to coordinated effects here reduces to a strict structural presumption unsupported by modern economics and at odds with the Merger Guidelines.

    Similarly, substantiating a unilateral effects theory requires particularized evidence—also absent from the record here in some Relevant Markets—that a merger will reduce or eliminate competitive constraints, permitting the merged entity to increase prices. Without such evidence, a unilateral effects theory reduces to little more than a complaint about market structure coupled with speculation about the circumstances under which unilateral effects might occur in a post-merger world. The Merger Guidelines contemplate a more rigorous analysis.

    This is not to suggest the “reason to believe” standard requires access to every piece of relevant information and a full and complete economic analysis of a proposed transaction, regardless of whether the parties wish to propose divestitures before complying with a Second Request. Rather, the standard requires only evidence sufficient to establish that competitive harm is likely. Such evidence, although quite minimal—indeed, a handful of facts in most instances—is indeed available in some Relevant Markets in this matter, and it is in those markets that I concur with the Commission's decision. While I appreciate the practical complications of requesting additional information during the course of a merger investigation, as well as the desire to conduct efficient investigations, these important pragmatic considerations do not trump the Commission's primary obligation to collect evidence sufficient to establish reason to believe the merger will harm competition before issuing a complaint and accepting a consent.

    For the reasons I explain above, I find reason to believe the proposed transaction is likely to result in unilateral price effects, and thus violate the Clayton Act, in the Twin Cities, Duluth, western Wisconsin, New Orleans, western Montana, Boston/Providence, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the western Great Lakes region. I conclude there is no reason to believe the proposed transaction will violate Section 7 in eastern Iowa, Memphis, Baton Rouge, Detroit, northern Michigan, and Grand Rapids; it follows that I believe the Commission should refrain from imposing a remedy in these markets.

    [FR Doc. 2015-11724 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6750-01-P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [OMB Control No. 3090-0205; Docket 2015-0001; Sequence 12] General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR; Information Collection; Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace AGENCY:

    Office of Acquisition Policy, General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of request for comments regarding the extension of a previously existing OMB clearance.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the General Services Administration 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 regarding Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before: July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by Information Collection 3090-02085 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 3090-0205, Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace”. Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “Information Collection 3090-0205, Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace” on your attached document.

    Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405. ATTN: Ms. Flowers/IC 3090-0205, Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace.

    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite Information Collection 3090-0205, Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace, 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:

    Kevin Funk, Procurement Analyst, General Services Acquisition Policy Division, GSA, at telephone 215-446-4860 or via email to [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A. Purpose

    The Federal Hazardous Substance Act and Hazardous Material Transportation Act prescribe standards for packaging of hazardous substances. To meet the requirements of the Acts, the General Services Administration Regulation prescribes provision 552.223-72, Hazardous Material Information, to be inserted in solicitations and contracts that provides for delivery of hazardous materials on an f.o.b. origin basis.

    This information collection will be accomplished by means of the provision which requires the contractor to identify for each National Stock Number, the DOT Shipping Name, DOT Hazards Class, and whether the item requires a DOT label. Contracting Officers and technical personnel use the information to monitor and ensure contract requirements based on law and regulation.

    Properly identified and labeled items of hazardous material allows for appropriate handling of such items throughout GSA's supply chain system. The information is used by GSA, stored in an NSN database and provided to GSA customers. Non-Collection and/or a less frequently conducted collection of the information resulting from provision 552.223-72 would prevent the Government from being properly notified. Government activities may be hindered from apprising their employees of; (1) All hazards to which they may be exposed; (2) Relative symptoms and appropriate emergency treatment; and (3) Proper conditions and precautions for safe use and exposure.

    B. Annual Reporting Burden

    Respondents: 563.

    Responses per Respondent: 3.

    Total Responses: 1689.

    Hours per Response: .67.

    Total Burden Hours: 1132.

    C. Public Comments

    Public Comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary 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; and ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected.

    Obtaining Copies of Proposals: Requesters may obtain a copy of the information collection documents from the General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat Division, 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, telephone 202-501-4755.

    Please cite OMB Control No. 3090-0205, Environmental Conservation, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace, in all correspondence.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Jeffrey A Koses, Director, Office of Acquisition Policy, Senior Procurement Executive.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11749 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-61-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [Document Identifiers: CMS-437A & CMS-437B] Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' intention to collect information from the public. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA), federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information (including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information) and to allow 60 days for public comment on the proposed action. Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding our burden estimates or any other aspect of this collection of information, including any of the following subjects: (1) The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    When commenting, please reference the document identifier or OMB control number. To be assured consideration, comments and recommendations must be submitted in any one of the following ways:

    1. Electronically. You may send your comments electronically to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for “Comment or Submission” or “More Search Options” to find the information collection document(s) that are accepting comments.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address: CMS, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs, Division of Regulations Development, Attention: Document Identifier/OMB Control Number ____, Room C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

    To obtain copies of a supporting statement and any related forms for the proposed collection(s) summarized in this notice, you may make your request using one of following:

    1. Access CMS' Web site address at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PaperworkReductionActof1995.

    2. Email your request, including your address, phone number, OMB number, and CMS document identifier, to [email protected].

    3. Call the Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Contents

    This notice sets out a summary of the use and burden associated with the following information collections. More detailed information can be found in each collection's supporting statement and associated materials (see ADDRESSES).

    CMS-437A & CMS-437B State Agency Sheets for Verifying Exclusions From the Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Supporting Regulations

    Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. The term “collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA requires federal agencies to publish a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, CMS is publishing this notice.

    Information Collection

    1. Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a currently approved collection. Title of Information Collection: State Agency Sheets for Verifying Exclusions from the Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Supporting Regulations Use: For first time verification requests for exclusion from the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS), a hospital/unit must notify the Regional Office (RO) servicing the State in which it is located that it believes it meets the criteria for exclusion from the IPPS. Currently, all new inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) must provide written certification that the inpatient population it intends to serve will meet the requirements of the IPPS exclusion criteria for IRFs. They must also complete the Form CMS-437A if they are a rehabilitation unit or complete Form CMS-437B if they are a rehabilitation hospital. This information is submitted to the State Agency (SA) no later than 5 months before the date the hospital/unit would become subject to IRF-PPS.

    We propose to continue to use the Criteria Worksheets (Forms CMS-437A and CMS-437B) for verifying first-time exclusions from the IPPS, for complaint surveys, for its annual 5 percent validation sample, and for facility self-attestation. These forms are related to the survey and certification and Medicare approval of the IPPS-excluded rehabilitation units and rehabilitation hospitals.

    For rehabilitation hospitals and rehabilitation units already excluded from the IPPS, annual onsite re-verification surveys by the SA are not required. These hospitals and units will be provided with a copy of the appropriate CMS-437 Worksheet at least 5-months prior to the beginning of its cost reporting period, so that the hospital/unit official may complete and sign an attestation statement and complete and return the appropriate CMS-437A or CMS-437B at least 5-months prior to the beginning of its cost reporting period. Fiscal Intermediaries will continue to verify, on an annual basis, compliance with the 60 percent rule (42 CFR 412.29(b)(2)) for rehabilitation hospitals and rehabilitation units through a sample of medical records and the SA will verify the medical director requirement.

    The SA will maintain the documents unless instructed otherwise by the RO. The SA will notify the RO at least 60 days prior to the end of the rehabilitation hospital's/unit's cost reporting period of the IRF's compliance or non-compliance with the payment requirements. The information collected on these forms, along with other information submitted by the IRF is necessary for determining exclusion from the IPPS. Hospitals and units that have already been excluded need not reapply for exclusion. These facilities will automatically be reevaluated yearly to determine whether they continue to meet the exclusion criteria.

    Form Number: CMS-437A and CMS-437B (OMB Control Number: 0938-0986); Frequency: Yearly; Affected Public: Private Sector (Business or other for-profits); Number of Respondents: 478; Total Annual Responses: 478; Total Annual Hours: 120. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact James Cowher at 410-786-1948).

    Dated: May 12, 2015. William N. Parham, III Director, Paperwork Reduction Staff, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11798 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-1484] Investigational New Drug Applications Prepared and Submitted by Sponsor-Investigators; 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 “Investigational New Drug Applications Prepared and Submitted by Sponsor-Investigators.” The purpose of this guidance is to assist sponsor-investigators in preparing and submitting complete investigational new drug applications (INDs) to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at FDA. Although not an exhaustive step-by-step instruction manual, this guidance highlights certain elements of this process to facilitate a sponsor-investigator's successful submission of an IND. This guidance also discusses the IND review process and general responsibilities of sponsor-investigators related to clinical investigations. Details of the informational content of an IND as well as information needed to complete required forms also are provided throughout this guidance.

    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 July 14, 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; or the Office of Communication, Outreach, and Development (HFM-40), Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, 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. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amalia Himaya, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 22, Rm. 6439, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-0700; or Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Investigational New Drug Applications Prepared and Submitted by Sponsor-Investigators.” The purpose of this guidance is to assist investigators in preparing and submitting complete INDs to CDER and CBER at FDA. Sponsor-investigators seeking to do clinical research often do not have the regulatory knowledge or the resources to hire experts to help them with the IND submission process. Although not an exhaustive step-by-step instruction manual, this guidance highlights certain elements of this process to facilitate a sponsor-investigator's successful submission of an IND. This guidance also discusses the IND review process and general responsibilities of sponsor-investigators related to clinical investigations. The guidance does not include discussions of all of the requirements that apply to the IND submission and review process or to conducting clinical research.

    This guidance is directed primarily at those sponsor-investigators who are seeking to evaluate a drug that is either currently approved or is being investigated under an existing IND for a different indication. This guidance is not intended for sponsor-investigators who are developing a drug for commercial purposes (i.e., seeking market approval or licensure). This guidance does not apply to clinical trials that do not need to be conducted under an IND (i.e., that qualify for an IND exemption). The guidance also is not intended to address expanded access INDs or biologic devices.

    This draft guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on INDs prepared and submitted by sponsor-investigators. It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

    II. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information that 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 312 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0014.

    III. 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. 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.

    IV. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the document at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm, http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/default.htm, or http://www.regulations.gov.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11685 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-0001] Food and Drug Administration-American Urological Association-Society of Urologic Oncology Workshop on Partial Gland Ablation for Prostate Cancer; Public Workshop AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public workshop.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the following public workshop entitled “AUA-FDA-SUO Workshop on Partial Gland Ablation for Prostate Cancer.” The topics to be discussed are the technologies and imaging used in partial gland ablation, and the design of clinical trials to measure the most appropriate endpoints for partial gland ablation for prostate cancer. The workshop will be part of the American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting in New Orleans, LA.

    DATES:

    The public workshop will be held on Sunday, May 17, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The workshop will be held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70130.

    Registration: Persons interested in attending this workshop must register online for the AUA annual meeting. The facilities are limited and, therefore, attendance may be limited. To register for the workshop, please visit the AUA Web site, http://www.aua2015.org/register/.

    If you need special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Ms. Susan Monahan, 301-796-5661, email: susan.monahan[email protected]

    For more information on the workshop, please visit FDA's Medical Devices News & Events—Workshops & Conferences calendar at http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/NewsEvents/WorkshopsConferences/default.htm. (Select this workshop from the posted events list.) No commercial or promotional material will be permitted to be presented or distributed at the workshop.

    Transcripts: Please be advised that as soon as a transcript is available, it will be accessible at http://www.regulations.gov. It may be viewed at the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. A transcript will also be available in either hardcopy or on CD-ROM, after submission of a Freedom of Information request. Written requests are to be sent to the Division of Freedom of Information (ELEM-1029), Food and Drug Administration, 12420 Parklawn Dr., Element Bldg., Rockville, MD 20857. A link to the transcripts will also be available on the Internet at http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/NewsEvents/WorkshopsConferences/default.htm (select this workshop from the posted events list), approximately 45 days after the workshop.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Baxley, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. G210, Silver Spring, MD 20993, 301-796-6549, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the AUA, and the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) are cosponsoring this workshop. The purpose is to provide a forum to discuss the development of products that ablate prostatic tissue, particularly products that target ablation to regions of known cancer while intentionally sparing the remainder of the prostate from treatment.

    The majority of cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the United States represent low risk, organ-confined disease, which may be overtreated if conventional treatment methods (i.e., radical prostatectomy and whole gland radiation therapy) are employed. Over the past decade, partial gland ablation therapies have emerged as treatment alternatives that can spare patients from many of the undesired side effects associated with standard, radical treatment. However, multiple challenges currently impede the adoption of partial gland ablation technologies, including the long natural history associated with this disease, imprecision in accurately diagnosing and targeting the tumor regions, and the lack of validated biomarkers or surrogate endpoints to establish clinical benefit in a reasonable period of time.

    The purposes of this public workshop are to: (1) Foster collaboration and receive input from experts within the scientific community; (2) obtain input from various stakeholders including patients, investigators and industry regarding the development of minimally invasive devices to ablate prostatic tissue; (3) foster clinical research; (4) discuss strategies to accelerate anticancer device development; and (5) provide transparency via a public forum regarding the regulatory challenges of developing products for management of patients with localized prostate cancer.

    II. Topics for Discussion at the Public Workshop

    The following topics will be discussed at this workshop:

    • Regulatory issues in partial gland ablation for prostate cancer;

    • overview of technology and consensus reports;

    • the use of imaging and biopsy for patient selection and treatment targeting; and

    • the design of clinical trials to measure cancer-specific and patient-centered outcomes.

    The workshop will consist of formal presentations examining these regulatory, scientific and clinical topics, followed by panel discussion. During panel discussion, there will also be the opportunity for public participation and input.

    Dated: May 12, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11897 Filed 5-13-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-1211] Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products; 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 document entitled “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products; Draft Guidance for Industry.” The draft guidance document provides blood establishments that collect blood or blood components, including Source Plasma, with revised donor deferral recommendations for individuals at increased risk for transmitting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The draft guidance document recommends corresponding revisions to donor education materials, donor history questionnaires and accompanying materials, along with revisions to donor requalification and product management procedures. The document also incorporates certain other recommendations related to donor education materials and testing contained in the memorandum to blood establishments entitled, “Revised Recommendations for the Prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Transmission by Blood and Blood Products,” dated April 23, 1992 (1992 blood memo). The draft guidance, when finalized, is intended to supersede the 1992 blood memo.

    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 July 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit written requests for single copies of the draft guidance to the Office of Communication, Outreach and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist the office in processing your requests. The draft guidance may also be obtained by mail by calling CBER at 1-800-835-4709 or 240-402-7800. 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. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Valerie A. Butler, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of a draft document entitled “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products; Draft Guidance for Industry.” The emergence of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the early 1980s and the recognition that it could be transmitted by blood and blood products had profound effects on the U.S. blood system. Although initially identified in men who have sex with men (MSM) and associated with male-to-male sexual contact, AIDS was soon noted to be potentially transmitted by transfusion of blood components, and by infusion of clotting factor concentrates in individuals with hemophilia. Beginning in 1983, the FDA, issued recommendations for providing donors with education material on risk factors for AIDS and for deferring donors with such risk factors in an effort to prevent transmission of AIDS (later understood to be caused by HIV) by blood and blood products.

    Since September 1985, FDA has recommended that blood establishments indefinitely defer male donors who have had sex with another male, even one time, since 1977, due to the strong clustering of AIDS illness in the MSM community and the subsequent discovery of high rates of HIV infection in that population. On April 23, 1992, FDA issued the 1992 blood memo, which contains the current recommendations regarding the deferral for MSM, as well as the deferral recommendations for other persons with behaviors associated with high rates of HIV exposure, namely commercial sex workers, intravenous drug users, and certain other individuals with other risk factors.

    The use of donor education material, specific deferral questions and advances in HIV donor testing have reduced the risk of HIV transmission from blood transfusion from about 1 in 2500 units prior to HIV testing to a current estimated residual risk of about 1 in 1.47 million transfusions. During the period from 1997 to 2014, FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a number of public meetings, including scientific workshops and meetings of the Blood Products Advisory Committee and the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability to further review evidence and discuss FDA's blood donor deferral policies to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV by blood and blood products. Studies that might support a policy change were carried out by the Public Health Service agencies in 2011-2014. A policy change to the blood donor deferral period for MSM from indefinite deferral to 1 year since the last sexual contact was announced by the FDA Commissioner in December 2014. The draft guidance, when finalized, will implement that policy change.

    In addition to providing donor deferral recommendations for individuals at increased risk for transmitting HIV infection, the draft guidance document incorporates certain recommendations contained in the 1992 blood memo. Certain other recommendations from the 1992 blood memo have not been included in the draft guidance document because they have become outdated over time, superseded by subsequent regulations or guidance documents, or have been incorporated into other guidance documents. However, to ensure that the final guidance document provides comprehensive recommendations for reducing the risk of HIV transmission by blood and blood products, we invite comments on the recommendations contained in the 1992 blood memo that have not been included in the draft guidance. Further, the draft guidance does not provide a specific list of recommended signs and symptoms associated with HIV for inclusion in the donor education materials. We invite comments and the submission of data on what specific signs and symptoms associated with HIV infection would be most appropriate for inclusion in education material in the blood donor setting. The draft guidance, when finalized, is intended to supersede the 1992 blood memo.

    The draft guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

    II. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The draft guidance 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 601.12 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0338; the collections of information in 21 CFR 606.171 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0458; and the collections of information in 21 CFR 610.46, 630.6, 640.3 and 640.63 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0116.

    III. Comments

    The draft guidance is being distributed for comment purposes only and is not intended for implementation at this time. 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. 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.

    IV. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the draft guidance at either http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm or http://www.regulations.gov.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11690 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0487] Agency Information Collection Activities; Announcement of Office of Management and Budget Approval; Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Food and Drug Administration Service Delivery AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that a collection of information entitled, “Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Food and Drug Administration Service Delivery” has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    FDA PRA Staff, Office of Operations, Food and Drug Administration, 8455 Colesville Rd., COLE-14526, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On September 24, 2014, the Agency submitted a proposed collection of information entitled, “Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Food and Drug Administration Service Delivery” to OMB for review and clearance under 44 U.S.C. 3507. An Agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. OMB has now approved the information collection and has assigned OMB control number 0910-0697. The approval expires on November 30, 2017. A copy of the supporting statement for this information collection is available on the Internet at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11689 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES U.S. National Authority for the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel; Notice of Public Meeting

    Time and date: Meeting will be held on June 10th, 2015, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT.

    Place: Room 405A, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 200 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    Status: Open, but requiring RSVP to [email protected] by June 3rd, 2015.

    Purpose: The purpose of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel (Global Code) is “to establish and promote voluntary principles and practices for the ethical international recruitment of health personnel and to facilitate the strengthening of health systems.” The United States Government has designated the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as co-National Authority to be the point of contact for implementation activities. The Global Code encourages WHO member states to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in their implementation efforts. This meeting is thus intended to provide an update to all interested stakeholders on U.S. Global Code implementation efforts to date and to provide a forum for questions on activities related to implementation of the Global Code.

    The meeting will be open to the public as indicated above, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify within their RSVP at least 10 business days prior to the meeting. Foreign nationals planning to attend the session in person will require additional paperwork for security clearance and that this clearance process requires a minimum of 10 business days.

    RSVP: Due to security restrictions for entry into the HHS Humphrey Federal Building, we will need to receive RSVPs for this event. Please send your full name and organization to [email protected] If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must RSVP no later than May 26th, 2015. Please note this in the subject line of your RSVP, and our office will contact you to gain additional biographical information for your clearance. For U.S. citizens, please RSVP no later than Friday, June 3rd, 2015. Written comments are welcome and encouraged, even if you are planning to attend in person. Please send these to the email address: [email protected]

    Dated: May 7, 2015. Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11785 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4150-38-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Collaborative Applications: Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology.

    Date: June 2-3, 2015.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hotel Palomar, 2121 P Street NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: George Vogler, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3140, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 237-2693, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Innate Immunity and Inflammation.

    Date: June 5, 2015.

    Time: 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: JW Marriott, 614 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.

    Contact Person: Tina McIntyre, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4202, MSC 7812, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-594-6375, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Oncology 2—Translational Clinical Integrated Review Group; Clinical Oncology Study Section.

    Date: June 8, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica, 530 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405.

    Contact Person: Malaya Chatterjee, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6192, MSC 7804, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-806-2515, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Macromolecular Structure and Function.

    Date: June 10, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Renaissance Washington DC, Dupont Circle, 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Nuria E. Assa-Munt, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4164, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301)451-1323, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Healthcare Delivery and Methodologies Integrated Review Group; Nursing and Related Clinical Sciences Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, 111 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802.

    Contact Person: Priscah Mujuru, DRPH, BSN, COHNS, Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3139, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-594-6594, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Digestive, Kidney and Urological Systems Integrated Review Group; Xenobiotic and Nutrient Disposition and Action Study Section.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Martha Garcia, Ph.D., Scientific Reviewer Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 2186, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1243, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Vascular and Hematology Integrated Review Group; Atherosclerosis and Inflammation of the Cardiovascular System Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101.

    Contact Person: Natalia Komissarova, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5207, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1206, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences Integrated Review Group; Cardiac Contractility, Hypertrophy, and Failure Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Warwick Seattle Hotel, 401 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121.

    Contact Person: Olga A. Tjurmina, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4030B, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 451-1375, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; RFA-RM-14-004: NIH Director's Early Independence Awards Review.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Pentagon City, 1250 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202.

    Contact Person: Weijia Ni, Ph.D., Chief/Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3100, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-3292, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences Integrated Review Group; Respiratory Integrative Biology and Translational Research Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Pier 5 Hotel, 711 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21202.

    Contact Person: Bradley Nuss, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4142, MSC7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-451-8754, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Risk, Prevention and Health Behavior Integrated Review Group; Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Admiral Fell Inn, 888 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.

    Contact Person: Marc Boulay, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3110, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 300-6541, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Oncology 1—Basic Translational Integrated Review Group; Cancer Molecular Pathobiology Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 1700 Tysons Boulevard, McLean, VA 22102.

    Contact Person: Manzoor Zarger, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6208, MSC 7804, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-2477, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Endocrinology, Metabolism, Nutrition and Reproductive Sciences Integrated Review Group; Integrative and Clinical Endocrinology and Reproduction Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Torrance Marriot South Bay, 3635 Fashion Way, Torrance, CA 90503.

    Contact Person: Dianne Hardy, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6175, MSC 7892, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1154, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Integrative, Functional and Cognitive Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Study Section.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Handlery Union Square Hotel, 351 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

    Contact Person: Wei-Qin Zhao, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive Room 5181 MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892-7846, 301-435-1236, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Cell Biology Integrated Review Group; Biology of the Visual System Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: InterContinental Chicago Hotel, 505 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

    Contact Person: Michael H. Chaitin, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5202, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-0910, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Population Sciences and Epidemiology Integrated Review Group; Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Melrose Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Heidi B. Friedman, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1012A, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1721, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Biological Chemistry and Macromolecular Biophysics Integrated Review Group; Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 6th Ave., Seattle, WA 98101.

    Contact Person: Mike Radtke, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4176, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1728, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Biological Chemistry and Macromolecular Biophysics Integrated Review Group; Macromolecular Structure and Function C Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Kinzie Hotel, 20 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654.

    Contact Person: William A. Greenberg, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4168, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1726, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Clinical Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration Study Section.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Melrose Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Samuel C. Edwards, Ph.D., Chief, Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5210, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1246, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Biophysics of Neural Systems Study Section.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Pier 2620 Hotel Fisherman's Wharf, 2620 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.

    Contact Person: Geoffrey G. Schofield, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4040-A, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1235, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road NW., Washington, DC 20015.

    Contact Person: Suzan Nadi, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5217B, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1259, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Bioengineering Sciences & Technologies Integrated Review Group; Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Doubletree Hotel Bethesda (Formerly Holiday Inn Select), 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Craig Giroux, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, BST IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5150, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-2204, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Healthcare Delivery and Methodologies Integrated Review Group; Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: InterContinental Chicago Hotel, 505 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

    Contact Person: Delia Olufokunbi Sam, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3158, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0684, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Immunology Integrated Review Group; Immunity and Host Defense Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hilton Washington/Rockville, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Scott Jakes, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4198, MSC 7812, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1506, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Integrated Review Group; Medical Imaging Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: Grant applications.

    Place: Hilton Washington/Rockville, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Xiang-Ning Li, MD, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5112, MSC 7854, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1744, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Integrated Review Group; Clinical Molecular Imaging and Probe Development.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hilton Washington/Rockville, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: David L. Williams, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5110, MSC 7854, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1174, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes Integrated Review Group; Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Mayflower Park Hotel, 405 Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98101.

    Contact Person: Maribeth Champoux, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3170, MSC 7848, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-3163, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Mobile Health: Technology and Outcomes in Low and Middle Income Countries.

    Date:June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Allen Richon, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6184, MSC 7892, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-379-9351, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes.

    Date: June 12, 2015.

    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Admiral Fell Inn, 888 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.

    Contact Person: Kristen Prentice, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3112, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 496-0726, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Development and Application of PET and SPECT Imaging Ligands as Biomarkers for Drug Discovery and for Pathophysiological Studies of CNS Disorders (R21).

    Date: June 12, 2015.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hilton Washington/Rockville, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: David L. Williams, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5110, MSC 7854, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301)435-1174, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Anna Snouffer, Deputy Director, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11717 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Special Emphasis Panel; Career Development Program to Promote Diversity in Health Research.

    Date: June 8, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Renaissance Washington DC, Dupont Circle, 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Stephanie L. Constant, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Scientific Review/DERA, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 7189, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-443-8784, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.233, National Center for Sleep Disorders Research; 93.837, Heart and Vascular Diseases Research; 93.838, Lung Diseases Research; 93.839, Blood Diseases and Resources Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Carolyn Baum, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11712 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research Committee.

    Date: June 16, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 5601 Fishers Lane, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: James T. Snyder, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities/NIAID, National Institutes of Health, 5601 Fishers Lane, 3G31B, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-669-5060, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.855, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research; 93.856, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11708 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in section 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Sherry L. Dupere, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304, (301) 451-3415, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.864, Population Research; 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children; 93.929, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 93.209, Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Carolyn Baum, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11711 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App. 2), notice is hereby given of the Joint meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) and NCI Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA).

    The meeting will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting. The open session will be videocast and can be accessed from the NIH Videocasting and Podcasting Web site (http://videocast.nih.gov).

    A portion of the National Cancer Advisory Board meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Advisory Board Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Global Cancer Research.

    Open: June 23, 2015, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    Agenda: Discussion on Global Cancer Research.

    Place: Hyatt Regency Bethesda, One Bethesda Metro Center, 7400 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Edward L. Trimble, M.D., Executive Secretary, NCAB Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Global Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute—Shady Grove, National Institutes of Health, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 3W562, Bethesda, MD 20892, (240) 276-5796, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Advisory Board and NCI Board of Scientific Advisors.

    Open: June 24, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: Joint meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board and NCI Board of Scientific Advisors; NCI Board of Scientific Advisors Concepts Review, NCI Director's report, and presentations.

    Closed: June 24, 2015, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Agenda: Review of NCAB grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Building 31, C-Wing, 6th Floor, Room 10, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Paulette S. Gray, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute—Shady Grove, National Institutes of Health, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W444, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-276-6340, [email protected]

    Any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding the statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus. All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver's license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: NCAB: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/ncab/ncab.htm, or BSA: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/bsa/bsa.htm where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.392, Cancer Construction; 93.393, Cancer Cause and Prevention Research; 93.394, Cancer Detection and Diagnosis Research; 93.395, Cancer Treatment Research; 93.396, Cancer Biology Research; 93.397, Cancer Centers Support; 93.398, Cancer Research Manpower; 93.399, Cancer Control, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11704 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Amended Notice of Meeting

    Notice is hereby given of a change in the meeting of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, June 10, 2015, 09:15 a.m. to June 10, 2015, 04:00 p.m., National Institutes of Health, 5635 Fishers Lane, Terrace Conference Rooms, Bethesda, MD 20892 which was published in the Federal Register on May 05, 2015, 80 FR 25703.

    This notice is being amended to change the start times of the closed session from 9:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the open session from 11:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on June 10, 2015. The meeting is partially closed to the public.

    Dated: May 11, 2015. Melanie J. Gray-Pantoja, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11706 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions.

    Date: June 4, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The Dupont Circle Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20036.

    Contact Person: Weijia Ni, Ph.D., Chief/Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3100, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-3292, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Healthcare Delivery and Methodologies Integrated Review Group; Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health Study Section.

    Date: June 8-9, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hyatt Regency Bethesda, 7400 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Martha L. Hare, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3154, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 451-8504, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Vascular and Hematology.

    Date: June 10, 2015.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Anshumali Chaudhari, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4124, MSC 7802, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1210, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Biological Chemistry and Macromolecular Biophysics Integrated Review Group; Macromolecular Structure and Function B Study Section.

    Date: June 11-12, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Doubletree Hotel Bethesda (Formerly Holiday Inn Select), 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: C-L- Albert Wang, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4146, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1016, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Neurotransporters, Receptors, and Calcium Signaling Study Section.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hotel Palomar, 2121 P Street NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Peter B. Guthrie, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4182, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1239, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR Panel: Investigations on Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Jin Huang, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4095G, MSC 7812, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1230, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Neural Oxidative Metabolism and Death Study Section.

    Date: June 15-16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Renaissance Washington DC, Dupont Circle, 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Carol Hamelink, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4192, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 213-9887, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Musculoskeletal, Oral and Skin Sciences Integrated Review Group; Skeletal Biology Structure and Regeneration Study Section.

    Date: June 15-16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Lord Baltimore Hotel, 20 West Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201.

    Contact Person: Daniel F. McDonald, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4110, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-1215, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes Integrated Review Group; Language and Communication Study Section.

    Date: June 15-16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road NW., Washington, DC 20015.

    Contact Person: Andrea B. Kelly, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3184, MSC 7770, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 455-1761, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Integrated Review Group; Clinical Research and Field Studies of Infectious Diseases Study Section.

    Date: June 15, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

    Contact Person: Soheyla Saadi, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3211, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0903, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Integrated Review Group; Brain Injury and Neurovascular Pathologies Study Section.

    Date: June 15-16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: The Westin Riverwalk Hotel, 420 West Market Street, San Antonio, TX 78205.

    Contact Person: Alexander Yakovlev, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5206, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1254, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Integrated Review Group; Bacterial Pathogenesis Study Section.

    Date: June 15-16, 2015.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Embassy Suites Alexandria-Old Town, 1900 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314.

    Contact Person: Marci Scidmore, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3192, MSC 7808, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1149, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Vascular and Hematology Integrated Review Group; Hemostasis and Thrombosis Study Section.

    Date: June 16, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Residence Inn Bethesda, 7335 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Bukhtiar H. Shah, Ph.D., DVM, Scientific Review Officer, Vascular and Hematology IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4120, MSC 7802, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 806-7314, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Small Business: Cancer Diagnostics and Treatments (CDT).

    Date: June 16-17, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Zhang-Zhi Hu, MD, Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6186, MSC 7804, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 594-2414, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11702 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; NIAID Investigator Initiated Program Project Applications (P01).

    Date: June 8, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Zhuqing (Charlie) Li, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Division of Extramural Activities, Room #3G41B, National Institutes of Health/NIAID, 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC9823, Bethesda, MD 20892-9823, (240) 669-5068, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.855, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research; 93.856, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11709 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in section 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel.

    Date: June 30, 2015.

    Time: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Sathasiva B. Kandasamy, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304, (301) 435-6680, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.864, Population Research; 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children; 93.929, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 93.209, Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Carolyn Baum, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11710 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Special Emphasis Panel; NIDCR Secondary data analysis R03 review.

    Date: June 9, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, One Democracy Plaza, 6701 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Jayalakshmi Raman, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, One Democracy Plaza, Room 670, Bethesda, MD 20892-4878, 301-594-2904, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Special Emphasis Panel; NIDCR Clinical Trials SEP.

    Date: June 11, 2015.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, One Democracy Plaza, 6701 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Crina Frincu, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health 6701 Democracy Blvd., Suite 662, Bethesda, MD 20892, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Special Emphasis Panel; Review of Planning Grants for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Tissue Regeneration Consortium Resource Center (R34) Applications.

    Date: June 15, 2015.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Two Democracy Plaza, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Victor Henriquez, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, DEA/SRB/NIDCR, 6701 Democracy Blvd., Room 668, Bethesda, MD 20892-4878, 301-451-2405, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.121, Oral Diseases and Disorders Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11707 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; Omnibus SEP-14 Review Meeting.

    Date: June 16, 2015.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Cancer Institute Shady Grove, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W608, Rockville, MD 20850, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Wlodek Lopaczynski, MD, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research Programs Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W608, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-6458, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute, Special Emphasis Panel Utilizing the PLCO Biospecimens Resource (U01).

    Date: June 23, 2015.

    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Cancer Institute Shady Grove, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 4W030, Rockville, MD 20850, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Gerald G. Lovinger, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research Technology and Contract Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W266, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-6385, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute, Special Emphasis Panel, SBIR Phase II, Bridge Awards (R44).

    Date: July 7-8, 2015.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Cancer Institute Shady Grove, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 2W032/2W034, Rockville, MD 20850, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Kenneth L. Bielat, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research and Technology and Contract Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W244, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-6373, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel, NCI Omnibus, R03 & R21, SEP-7.

    Date: July 9-10, 2015.

    Time: 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Stanislav Vukmanovic, MD, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Special Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W624, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-5188, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.392, Cancer Construction; 93.393, Cancer Cause and Prevention Research; 93.394, Cancer Detection and Diagnosis Research; 93.395, Cancer Treatment Research; 93.396, Cancer Biology Research; 93.397, Cancer Centers Support; 93.398, Cancer Research Manpower; 93.399, Cancer Control, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Melanie J. Gray-Pantoja, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11705 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(a) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of a meeting of the President's Cancer Panel.

    The meeting will be open to the public, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting.

    Name of Committee: President's Cancer Panel.

    Date: July 9, 2015.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: The Connected Cancer Patient: Vision for the Future.

    Place: W Chicago—Lakeshore Hotel, 644 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611.

    Contact Person: Abby B. Sandler, Ph.D., Executive Secretary, President's Cancer Panel, Special Assistant to the Director, Nci Center for Cancer Research, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 31, Room B2B37, MSC 2590, Bethesda, MD 20892-8349 (301) 451-9399 [email protected]

    Any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding the statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/index.htm, where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.392, Cancer Construction; 93.393, Cancer Cause and Prevention Research; 93.394, Cancer Detection and Diagnosis Research; 93.395, Cancer Treatment Research; 93.396, Cancer Biology Research; 93.397, Cancer Centers Support; 93.398, Cancer Research Manpower; 93.399, Cancer Control, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: May 11, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-11703 Filed 5-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2015-0268] Certificate of Alternative Compliance for the P/V LUCIA, 1257462 AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard announces that a Certificate of Alternative Compliance was issued for the passenger vessel LUCIA as required by 33 U.S.C. 1605(c) and 33 CFR 81.18.

    DATES:

    The Certificate of Alternative Compliance was issued on April 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this notice is available for inspection or copying at the Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also find this docket on the Internet by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-2015-0268 in the “Keyword” box, and then clicking “Search.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this notice, call LT Steven Melvin, District Nine, Prevention Branch, U.S. Coast Guard, telephone 216-902-6343. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background and Purpose

    As required by 33 U.S.C. 1605(c) and 33 CFR 81.18, the Coast Guard gives notice that it has issued a certificate